Experts say that kids should be allowed to choose their own clothes, as it fosters a sense of independence and allows them to express themselves in a world where they don’t get much of a say in their day-to-day activities. I’ve been letting my kids dress themselves from a very early age, and it only sometimes backfires.
My son’s clothing choices are pretty standard. Jeans or khakis and a graphic tee are his go-to, though he’s been known to rock some brightly colored hair and nail polish from time to time. I pretty much only need to intervene when he wants to wear shorts in the dead of winter. And I love when he decides to wear a button down shirt over his T-shirt because he says it makes him look “fancy like Hamilton.” He’s such a handsome fella no matter what he wears.
My daughter is another story. She takes the whole self-expression thing to another level with her fashion choices. She once said, when she was barely out of toddlerhood, that she had “a passion for fashion – I would die for fashion.” Dramatic much? While I respect her autonomy and want to let her wear what she wants, sometimes I need to put the kibosh on her wilder ideas. Color clashing is fine, and a fancy dress at the park is okay by me, but a full-length ball gown with a giant hoop skirt is too extra for school. But as long as it’s not a safety issue or a distraction to her classmates, I honestly don’t mind whatever she wants to put on her body so long as she’s clothed.
I know some of the things she wears are silly; recently, she wore a fancy white dress (it was probably supposed to be a flower girl or first communion dress) to her cousin’s backyard birthday party. Impractical? Yes – she got black frosting on her white skirt. A problem? Nah, I can wash it. She also wore a pioneer-style bonnet to school recently. Did I think it looked silly? Sure. But she was confident in her choice, so whatever.
Basically, I think kids will have enough self-doubt, insecurities and peer pressure to be just like everyone else during their tween and teen years. All I want is to encourage them to be fully themselves while they still have the unbridled confidence of youth. When they finally emerge as young adults I want them to feel comfortable being weird again, and to heck with the people who try to crush their spirits. Weird people are my kind of people.