It’s a casual Friday at the office. In a choice that shocked absolutely no one, I’m wearing jeans and a sweater. A gray sweater. And some black loafers. I’m about as boring as fashion comes. As Michael Kors likes to tell people on Project Runway, I’m the sartorial equivalent of a Xanax.
Wanna know what my daughter is wearing on this fine Friday? A blue Spiderman t-shirt she picked out from the boy’s department, a brown corduroy skirt, red tights with butterflies on them and tan cowboy boots. Needless to say, she picked out the outfit herself. And she’s completely and utterly adorable.
My daughter has officially entered the stage of development where she feels compelled to pick out her own clothes. She likes the independence associated with deciding what she’s going to wear, no matter what her mother actually wants her to do. In fact, I’m pretty sure that she avoids my favorite things on purpose.
Even though she’s old enough to pick out her own socks, she hasn’t hit the stage where she cares what the outside world thinks. She just assumes that everyone appreciates the unicorn on her shirt and the ginormous flower in her hair. And if they don’t, she considers them a meanie-kin. For my little girl, she puts outfits together simply based on whim and fancy.
And every time I watch her walk out of her room, I think about how wonderful it has to be. We see these little kids everywhere. They’re adorable in their ballerina slippers and sweatpants. They’re confident and enjoying their outfit, no matter how many different colors they’ve managed to cram into one look.
As an adult, I wish that I could recapture some of that fun in my fashion. I wish I could throw together anything that seems mildly inspiring and then strut around like I’ve created an amazing discovery. I want the ability to look at clothes for myself without even considering how anyone around me will think about it.
I realize that some adults manage to retain this quality long after elementary school. Some of us really just get excited about the shapes and colors, without worrying too much about the world’s take on it. But almost all of us are trying to project an image with our fashion choices. Even if they aren’t conventional, we’re trying to identify ourselves in some way. We want to show that we’re business people or that we’re trendy or that we’re different. We dress ourselves because someone else is looking at us.
Kids don’t. Kids wear things that make them happy without imagining that anyone else cares. And it makes for pretty amazing outfits.
Next time you’re feeling a little uninspired with your wardrobe, I suggest some little people watching. Try not to look like creeper hanging around a school or anything, but look at the fashion choices of some toddlers. It’ll open your eyes to just how fun clothes can be.