To top
15 Feb

Everything I Needed To Know About Style I Learned From My Kindergartner

(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. And maybe take the opportunity to apply Emilia’s Ten Rules Of Fashion, outlined below.)

Last week, I let Emilia be my stylist. It worked out well, all things considered.

But even though I threw myself wholeheartedly into this little experiment – I wore socks with heels, for pity’s sake – I didn’t end up wearing one of her fully-conceived outfits into public. I thought about it – I thought about it hard – but I came to the conclusion that a) I could better pay respect to her sartorial vision by adapting that vision appropriately to my needs than I could by making public appearances in a bedazzled pink cowboy hat, and b) I really didn’t want to make a public appearance in a bedazzled pink cowboy hat. So I took bits and pieces of her style advice – some skull socks and black patent heels here, a Hello Kitty sweater there – and incorporated them into my day-to-day look. And I think that I’m going to continue doing this – asking her for style advice and using it with my own grown-up tweaks and amendments – because, seriously: it’s fun and it’s awesome and I’m actually learning from her.

I’ve learned ten things, actually. Emilia calls them ‘Emilia’s Ten Sweet Rules About Fashion’, although she insists that they’re “not actually rules, Mommy, because you can break them and not get into trouble. They’re just really good suggestions.” NOTED.

1.) Wear it if it feels good. Is it soft? Would you sleep in it? Have all irritating tags and extraneous ribbons and clips and such been removed? Can you take scissors to it and have it be more comfortable? (All scissor use in this household is supervised, by the way. Okay, most scissor use.) Is it pajamas? Who ever said that pajamas couldn’t be worn in the daytime? If it feels good, it is worth wearing.

2.) Unless it’s so awesome that it doesn’t matter if it feels good. No armhole is too small, no pant too short if said shirt or pant is much-beloved and/or looks fabulous. Sizing is only a suggestion, and it’s up to you to decide whether those suggestions apply to you.

3.) Wear it if it makes you happy. Sometimes, you just love something so much that you have to wear it, even if it doesn’t fit/doesn’t match your pants/you wore it to bed last night. Love conquers all fashion rules.

4.) Wear it whenever you want. You’ll notice that ‘pajamas’ have come up more than once already on this list. That’s because pajamas are awesome. Pajamas are soft. Pajamas are comfortable. Pajamas usually have fabulous prints and designs that you don’t find on so-called ‘daytime’ clothes, presumably because pajama designers assume that pajamas will only be worn at nighttime, when it’s dark and no-one will be able to see their crazy cherries-and-rainbows print. But who says pajamas are only for nighttime? Why NOT wear them out of the house? And, for the matter, who says that costumes are only for costume parties and Halloween? Or that evening wear is just for formal events? THINK OUTSIDE THE CLOCK, PEOPLE. Emilia does.

5.) Wear it with whatever you want. Who ever said that dresses don’t go over pants, or that shorts don’t go over over tights, or that shorty wetsuits don’t go over pajamas (they maybe shouldn’t, but that’s beside the point), or that Snow White costumes don’t go over skateboard gear, or that tutus are only supposed to be worn with tights and leotards and ballet shoes? How can you know if any of these combinations don’t work if you don’t try them?

6.) So, yeah. EXPERIMENT. Try any combination of clothing that you want. And throw some non-clothing in there from time to time, too, just to keep things interesting. After all, that wrapping paper is so pretty, and just think of what you could do with some cardboard, a head lamp, some leaves and discarded doll parts?

You could do awesome, that’s what you could do.

7.) Accessorize like it’s the end of the world and you’ll never accessorize again. Accessories are your opportunity to really have fun with an outfit. Go crazy! Think outside the closet! Discarded doll parts make good epaulets. And bedazzled cowboy hats go with everything.

8.) And then accessorize some more. That old rule that after you’ve put an outfit together, you should look in the mirror and assess and then remove one accessory? Nonsense. There is nothing in this world that isn’t made better by more shiny things.

9.) Wear it if you like the color. Not, if the color looks good on you or if the color matches your pants, just if you like it. Because, as Emilia likes to say, “colors are pretty; that’s why there are rainbows.” And have you ever seen a small child dress themselves entirely in black?

10.) Nudity is a perfectly appropriate style choice under certain specific circumstances, and also, is awesome. This is not to say that you should embrace naturalism and go about your daily errands without pants. It is to say that there is something awesome about being so comfortable with your naked self that you would be quite happy to abandon your clothing whenever an appropriate opportunity presents itself. For Emilia, clothes serve a number of different purposes, none of which include covering up her body just for the sake of covering it up. Clothes are for decorating one’s self and for enjoying the feel of soft fabrics and for surrounding one’s self with color and sparkle and for indulging the imagination and for protecting one’s self against the elements (this last one is often only admitted grudgingly. Rain boots only get between bare feet and puddles, and can’t you make better snowmen with bare hands, and ‘I like the wind on my bum, Mommy!’) Clothes are not for concealing parts of ourselves that we don’t like, they’re for celebrating everything about ourselves – and everything else, including unicorn stickers – that we do like.

And that, I think, is the most important lesson for me. When I look in the mirror, I want to not see my perceived flaws and think about how I am going to overcome those flaws with cotton and Spandex; instead, I want to look at myself and go, oh, hello, you! How are we going to express ourselves today? Or, good morning, Self! Do you feel like being super duper comfy today? I sure do! Or, oh, hey Missus! Today feels like a good day for PINK! I want to look in the mirror in the spirit of love and self-satisfaction and play. I want to look in the mirror like a five year old does.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to do that. You should, too.

I’ve already asked you what the lessons are that your children are teaching you about personal style? And I’ve asked what you think your kids would dress you in, given the opportunity? Now I want to know: what do you want to be able to say to yourself when you look in the mirror? How do you want to feel about your relationship to clothes and style and expressing yourself and how your self – and your body – which, let’s face it, you’ve probably just been ‘covering up,’ haven’t you? – relates to clothes and style and expressing yourself? And: do you feel more ready now, like me, to introduce more glitter into that relationship? 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.) (You can also just follow this link and get a pretty sweet coupon.)

(Oh, and if you entered by leaving a comment at the last post? You get another entry by commenting again! There will be three winners in total, one selected from each of the comment threads to the posts in this series. So, if you haven’t already, be sure to go weigh in on the first post, and the second one, too.)

CONGRATULATIONS to Diane, Mary and Julie – you’re the winners of the gift cards. Check your email!