Dress Your Family In Moonboots And Awesome

February 8, 2011

(Disclosure! This content series and the giveaway below is brought to you by Old Navy. Check out the Kids & Baby Sale in store with great deals starting at $5. You will see how relevant this is if you read on!)

Emilia likes clothes. Emilia likes clothes a lot. Except when she doesn’t, during which times she embraces private nudism, but those times are mostly restricted to mornings, evenings, hot summer afternoons in the backyard, and pretty much anytime that she’s at home and we don’t have guests, but still. The rest of the time, she embraces fashion with a passion and eccentric flair that reminds one of Lady Gaga, or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

I’ve written about this before, about how she has a zeal for putting together her own (and, to a lesser degree of success, her brother’s) outfits and about how and why I more or less just leave her to it. My reasoning basically comes down to these two principles: a) I believe in allowing her to express herself creatively in any way that is reasonable and appropriate (so, for example, tagging cars with Crayola markers or going to the playground clad only in body paint are not acceptable forms of creative expression, whereas going to Picture Day at school in full Sk8r Grl Meets Snow White costume is), and b) I am too lazy to be bothered with battling her on the issue of whether she layers princess costumes over Spiderman pajamas and pairs the whole outfit with moon boots. Not everybody approves of this approach to fostering creative expression – for some, allowing children to express personal style is a surefire way to raise a quote-unquote freak (or, per the controversy around Nerdy Apple’s son, make them – horrors! – gay) – but whatever. I’d rather my daughter and son dress themselves in glitter and moon boots – or however they like – and face judgment from bland critics with Gymboree frequent shopper cards than that they experience even a moment of angst over whether I might disapprove of them putting on tutus over snowpants. Hell, I want to wear a tutu over snowpants. I want to live in a world where everyone does that.

Because, why not? Why do we not walk into shops – or our closets – and survey the shirts and skirts and pants and shoes and say to ourselves, I am in the mood for silver and sparkles and shiny things and, oh, maybe a touch of space ranger, and then just go ahead and layer it all on? Why do we not approach dressing ourselves as an opportunity to wrap ourselves in things that feel good and that make us happy and that make us smile and forget all about whether or not it’s slimming and/or age-appropriate and/or on-trend or whatever? Why do we not look in the mirror after we’ve put together an outfit and, instead of following the age-old rule that states remove one thing, we just go screw it and add some more bling? Why do we not wear tutus over snowpants with moon boots and mouse-eared baseball caps?

Why do we not put together outfits like this?

All of which is to say: I think that there might be something to Emilia’s I WEAR WHAT I LIKE BECAUSE I LIKE IT philosophy of fashion. I know, obviously, that we can’t all just turn up at the office wearing pajamas and moon boots or tutus and sneakers; I know that we can’t really turn up at parent-teacher meetings or weddings or job interviews that way, either. But we could – I could – make the effort, more often, to approach getting dressed from the position of what do I like / what makes me happy / what is going to make me feel good, rather than (primarily) according to considerations of what will people think and will I look fat in these pants. I think that we might be – that I might be – a little happier for doing so. Maybe we’d also start easing up a little bit on judgment – of ourselves, and of others.

We might also teach our kids a thing or two about how to really get the space ballerina effect with only a few artfully layered pajama tops, a tutu and some glitter. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

What lessons are your children teaching you about personal style? Or, to put it another way, what of your kids’ personal style – or just their wardrobe – would you borrow if you had the nerve (and they had your size?) What would you buy and wear if you weren’t worried about people would think? Would you wear a tutu over snowpants? (For the record, I totally would. I would also wear sundresses over pants and stripey tights under everything. And way more sparkles.) Or are you just totally against creative sartorial expression and wish that we could all just wear uniforms and be done with it? Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a $150 Old Navy gift card, with which you can go to Old Navy and have your kid pick out his or her own outfit, and also one for you. (Full contest rules here.)

(Coming up in this series: I let Emilia dress me. HILARITY ENSUES.)


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    { 175 comments }

    Jess February 9, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    At the moment, I’m pregnant and wish I could leave the house some days in pj’s – they are just so comfy!

    Rachel February 10, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I wish I didn’t care sometimes. I find myself in a battle with my 4 1/2 yr old about what she’s wearing, and then think, “Why do I care? She’s FOUR!” I also have an 8 yr old who is happiest in jeans and tshirts/sweatshirts, so I gave up battling long ago.
    I wish I had more courage with my own wardrobe – I see other people with cute skirts and leggings or boots and just don’t do it myself.

    Katy February 10, 2011 at 12:29 am

    My 2 1/2 year old son is the accessory king…I don’t know where he gets it-I am a simple jeans and tee kinda gal. But he has to have the right shoes and belt and a superhero cape and a hat and sunglasses! He is crazy:) And don’t even get me started on his shoes! HOLY HANNA!

    Melissa February 10, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I love dressing my brand new baby girl and think it’s way more fun than trying to dress myself with a very limited budget and a postbaby body!!! An ON giftcard would help!

    Shannon February 10, 2011 at 1:41 am

    I need to channel my feminine side and accessorize more and wear more dresses, this houseful of boys doesn’t encourage that much!

    Cat Hare February 10, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Would love to shop for my granddaughter!

    Craig Clarkson February 10, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Although the clothing selection is admirable I firmly believe that uniforms should remain within our schools wherever they are accepted

    Rita Sams February 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I wish I had a little girl to dress up, I think I need to take my niece shopping :)

    Alexis February 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

    My daughters (aged 4 and 6) wear what they want, when they want – my only rule is that in the winter, they must dress warmly enough for when they’re outside. If they want to wear sundresses under snowpants and parkas in -25C weather, I am fine with that. I decided a couple years ago that it wasn’t worth battling them over clothing. They don’t care what they look like in the mirror or what others think of them. Bright clashing colours and patterns are preferred. The oldest will be a tomboy one day (baggy pants and spiderman tshirt) and a princess the next day (wears a party dress from last christmas to SK). I want them to embrace this and enjoy it while they can, because one day peer pressure and mass media will reach them, and I dread the day one of them says to me “mom, does this make me look fat?” or “I can’t wear this, cause my friends will laugh at me”…

    Curry Winters February 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

    He is teaching me that dressing warmly for bed is better than a sexy nightgown…although lace has it’s place when it is freezing outside comfy is better!

    Sarah Gorman February 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    What would I buy and wear if I didn’t have to care that others though?

    Pretty much the same stuff I do now. I’d probably wear more dresses (much to my husband’s delight) because I could stop caring that I still (always) look pregnant in them. I’d wear more Woot Shirts than I already do.

    I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal, with stripey socks and crocs. Style and comfort run neck and neck in my world – I don’t have time for shoes that hurt.

    My son is teaching me though, that above all I need to dress to have fun. With him, with hubby, or by myself.

    Mary February 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I love the carefree style of elementary kids. I wish I could get away with the mismatched prints and have that “I don’t care attitude” when dressing. Even if I try and do it I don’t have attitude my daughter does to carry it off. I also love the accessorizing she does with scarfs, belts, lace etc….

    Liz Lemon February 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    My kids and style…. Exercise pants with a striped polo shirt sums it up. Or those – grew-out-of-them-a-year-ago sweat pants? Then I’d be stylin. Of course, as I’m tall, I always look like I’m wearing last year’s pants.

    Beth February 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    tights – polka dot, striped, i want to wear more tights and leggings too. she always seems so comfortable!

    Fern February 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I would love to wear the kinds of things my teenage daughter wears, you know real trendy & cool. I’m not sure I’m young enough to pull off that style anymore *sigh*
    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Mary February 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I would wear tutus every day (I was raised by parents who didn’t believe in tutus, and thus I was tutu deprived), prairie dresses, bonnets (which really are the most effective way of keeping the sun off), clothes that didn’t even slightly match, silky soft shirts, pants that were baggy and soft, and BRIGHT colors.

    Linda Noble February 11, 2011 at 3:51 am

    My parents allowed me to pick my own clothing when I was in elementary school. I chose what I felt I wanted to wear from my limited selection of items. I had a few flashy things, like my mother’s clip on gold hoop earrings, which were somewhat pirate-like. Mostly, I was a t-shirt kid or tights with skirts. But, as a teenager, that confidence to be myself and express myself in my clothing was there. I never fit in, but I also never tried that hard to fit in either. My parents’ confidence in me carried over and became my own confidence to wear what I wanted (including long underwear as tights, nightgowns over t-shirts as dresses and other creative combinations!)
    -Linda

    parodie February 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I do love Old Navy (entirely too much of my wardrobe comes from there!) but I was a bit sad to find a Canadian blogger running a contest only open to Americans. It’s bad enough that contests on American blogs are only open to them, but a fellow Canadian?

    *sigh*

    Her Bad Mother February 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    @parodie, more than half of my audience is American, and this series is being sponsored through my American ad network. That said, I do try balance these things – my last giveaway promotion, sponsored by Intel Canada and Sony, was only open to Canadians. It’s extremely difficult for contests to be run open to citizens of both countries, which is probably some kind of NAFTA issue, so! LOBBY THE GOVERNMENT ;)

    (And? Fashion-related Canadians-only giveaway coming up very soon!)

    Fern February 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Another lesson learned from my children about clothes: If it makes you feel pretty, then just wear it!!! :)
    Thanks for a great giveaway!

    Rosanne February 12, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I’m pretty conservative. One of them is a little fashion icon who can mix and match and look fantastic. The other wears stripes with polka dots in a variety of colors. I tend to like the dress of the first one a bit better though love them both

    Dia February 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

    If Old Navy had the girls pink glitter sneakers in my size, I would be sporting them all day! They are so cute and girly. Thanks for the giveaway.

    diacronan at hotmail dot com

    Fern February 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    One style tip I did pick up from my daughter is wearing layers. I used to never want to layer clothes. I thought it was too uncomfortable & created too much laundry, but with all the cute camis and tanks available from Old Navy and other stores as well, I have embraced the layering trend. I now love wearing a cute cami under a V neck tee, sweater or cardi. It still makes too much laundry though!

    suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} February 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    tutus and twirly dresses sound wonderful. i love dresses but have a hard time finding cute ones for me that don’t break the bank. my little one has a much more rockin’ closet!

    Fern February 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    One lesson my children have taught me is sometimes just go with the flow. Since our public schools have required uniforms, they accepted it with minimal complaints since they had to wear them. I love Old Navy for their school uniforms. They last the entire year and the girls uniforms look like girls clothes, not boys clothes with a girls label on it.

    sue February 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    My kids have taught me that socks NEVER EVER have to match.

    juliloquy February 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I think a great lesson is to wear what you like w/o caring what others think or worrying about making mistakes. If something doesn’t work, shrug and move on.

    And definitely accessorize.

    Thanks!

    Mama Bub February 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Big, flouncy dresses with leggings. I realize that these options are available to me as an adult, but they’re not nearly as cute as those made in sizes ending in “T.”

    Iman February 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    My kids have actually taught me to put more effort into what I wear. Usually I’m in jeans and a plain top.
    My daughter will give me accessories to throw on, and they totally work :)

    Maresa February 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I have a 15 month old- so she has yet to start exerting her own personal style. Her onesies do look mighty comfy though ;)

    rachelle February 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    My kids love to wear their superhero dress ups everywhere. Form then I’ve learned to have more fun with what I wear. I think I’d wear costumes everywhere too, if I could.

    Adelas February 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    My son isn’t too into style – but he will always pick a branded t-shirt over a plain colored one. (Yay Thomas!)

    My 17 month old doesn’t get to pick her clothes, but she is ALL about necklaces already! I don’t know where she picked up this desire for flair, but it wasn’t from me!

    That’s really what I’m learning from having kids – I spend the time to pull together an actual outfit for each of them, usually including accessories that match, but for myself, I don’t take the time. A lot of that is because nice outfits cost money, and a bigger part of it is that in the past year I’ve ballooned up about 40-50 lbs over my ideal healthy, trim weight. Why dress up when I’m going to look crummy anyway?

    But if I was even halfway there, if I was brave enough, I would love to wear my daughter’s rainbow-striped, polo-shirt-material, puff-sleeved, drop-waisted dress, and I would probably wear some fun leggings or tights – and some high top sneakers with it all.

    Adelas February 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm
    Naomi February 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Roo actually does make me try on her clothes on occasion. Her size 4-6 frilly tutu even fits and makes me feel like I’m back in the ’80s. Frightening.

    Brooke Macdonald February 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I love her cowgirl hat!

    macdonald.brooke@gmail.com

    Zoe February 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    If I were braver I would take my daughter’s daring mix of colors and patterns. She just turned 4 and puts together some crazy outfits for herself. Occasionally I have to work very hard at not asking her to change and then a few hour later I change my mind and see the beauty in the outfit.

    Di February 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    My daughter doesn’t follow the rules of fashion either – although not nearly as extremely as Emilia. Claire thinks that anything pink goes with anything else pink, that pants are for boys and if a skirt will do, then a tutu is better!

    So, I’m following her lead, and wearing dresses and skirts a lot more these days. Or tunics and leggings and boots. Turns out, dressing like a girl is a lot of fun!

    elle February 16, 2011 at 3:12 am

    I love the four year old’s sense of style when she puts her light up disney princess boots on the wrong feet and stomps around the house to make them twinkle. If I could, I would wear her dress up tiaras, a different one for every day of the week!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Deanna G. February 16, 2011 at 6:27 am

    If I wasn’t worried about what people think I’d probably walk around in my pajamas or maybe randomly wear a wedding dress to the supermarket :)

    Dia February 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I am all for creative expression. I want to wear what I want to wear!

    diacronan at hotmail dot com

    Patricia Treskovich February 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I like comfortable clothes that look good

    Claire February 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I think the world would be a much happier and less stressful place if we all wore what we wanted and what made us happy! I know I’d be decked out in all sorts of crazy things ;) Freedom of self-expression is a big step toward happiness, I think.

    Sarah Hirsch February 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    My kids are so non-particular about their fashion that it is hard to think of any lesson they might be teaching me through their style. I guess I could extrapolate not to care about what others think of you for your clothing choices? My kids still rely on me to select their outfits in general every morning, but when I tell them to pick out their own clothes, they will just grab the first pair of pants and first shirt on top of the pile.

    Christine February 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I think I’d say that I just love their imaginations and the way they have no fear about putting things and colors together and how they just work sometimes, the freedom of it all appeals to me.

    Carrie O February 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    my kids hit that tween age and started to feel the pressure to conform. not to stand out. This is where it starts. I think the think me teach me now. Is be comfortable. fashion is not fun if it isn’t comfortable.

    Emily February 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    When my brother was little, he had a Superman t-shirt that he adored. He always wore it inside-out so the logo was touching him. Thinking back on it, I love that idea–your clothes should make YOU happy, and who cares if the tag is on the wrong side?

    Stephanie V. February 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    little boy is three so into guitar and dinosaur shirts right now. I lean toward 60′s style clothes so no would not swap with him! hee hee
    tvollowitz at aol dot com

    Alison February 17, 2011 at 1:17 am

    My kids are teaching me that layers are totally cool and you can never layer on too many T-shirts.

    ferriz February 17, 2011 at 5:42 am

    My cousin’s little girl is the cutest 3 year old trend setter on the planet. She LOVES her funky leggings and tutu paired with a cute tanktop and heart shaped glasses. I would totally rock that look if I was younger or had the guts.

    Seriously, why cant tutus come in style for women? we all want to be a princess no matter how old we are, may as well start dressing like one!

    LeAndrew W. Taylor February 17, 2011 at 8:31 am

    One of the things my kids have taught me about fashion is……ANYTHING GOES!!! Don’t BE AFRAID to try new fashion trends! It’s OK to wear that expensive Brooks Brothers Blazer your wife bought you for your birthday over your favorite NFL logo-T! Fashion is all about being comfortable in your own skin!

    Christine February 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

    We have long since abdicated control over what my 3 year old daughter wears. She loves to dress herself and has adamant opinions about what she should wear–shorts layered over pants, sundresses layered over turtlenecks in the winter, splashy loud print tights with splashy loud print dresses. Her ensembles are anything but subtle but they are uniquely hers. I used to fight her for control over what she wore, so that she would wear her cutest outfits when we were going out to see family and friends. But eventually I gave up because what I realized–what she taught me–is that my job as a parent is not to dress her so that she looks cute for other people. My job is to let her become herself. I think in so much of parenting we are tempted to treat our kids as reflections of ourselves–but in what in she wears and everything else she does, she is not a reflection of me but she is herself. And I have learned to take pride in all of her crazy mismatched outfits in the same way other mothers take pride in their child’s perfectly coordinated outfits. Now I love them as I love her. So what I learned from her is how to let go, and to dress for yourself, not for others!

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