When he was a baby and toddler, I of course had full control over what he wore, and I was thankful for this, as I had set ideas of what I wanted his ‘look’ to be. At age 3, he became fussier about what he was wearing — yet as the mom I was still in full control of his wardrobe. By 4, the clothing battles started, but I still won most, if not all, of them. Yes, I could have let him wear what chose, however, wearing a tank top during winter, or short sleeves during a snowstorm wasn’t the direction I was going. Now, at 5, he is his own little guy with a full vocabulary, and we battle about his outfits every morning. I lose 5 out of 7 battles. I know most people would say, “Big deal, let him wear whatever he wants,” and they’re right. I definitely should let him exercise his independence, but it’s not easy for this fashion editor mom. You would think my best client would be related to me. Wrong.
As a fashion editor, my job is to find the trends, report back to my bosses, story board these ideas, and have numerous meetings until the final looks are shown either in the magazine or online. Although my bosses respect my opinion, I have about five editors I have to convince (by doing a bit of a style dance, you might say) to make my point from idea to final looks on page.
My mornings with my son are quite similar to my office job. I lay out at least three outfits. I literally feel like I am a work, pointing out the style points of why he should wear a certain shirt with this or that pant. Really, my having the final say of what he is wearing is about him having the right clothes that will get him through the day. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. My picks usually match, and as I have mentioned in past posts, I like him to wear one bright color so he can be seen when running through the park (he is a maniac when outdoors).
My husband tells me that I shouldn’t be surprised that my child has fashion opinions. He wears citrus colors during the summer and darker hues during the autumn (my son’s word). God forbid I suggest a white tee right now. He hisses that it is autumn, how can I expect him to wear white during the darker seasons? Who taught him to say this? Have I created a style monster? I actually think that you can wear white after Labor Day, but I hold my tongue. Where is my power? It is stuck somewhere between letting my boy be true to who he is and my natural instinct to say ‘I’m sorry sweetie, but monochromatic green is just not your color.”
My best friend April, a more seasoned madre then I and who I go to for mom on mom advice, says that for her it was around age 4 and 5 that her kids started up with the clothing tantrums. By kid #2 she realized that it was really more about them having a voice then about what they were wearing.
So, I’m working on treating my son like a celebrity client (I’ve dressed a ton), by delicately making suggestions on particular outfits. Sometimes I use reverse psychology to get the end result to be exactly what I wanted all along. I know I am a horrible person. I am working on letting go and having his choices be met with a joyful “yes- good choice papi.” After all, April is right, this is about fostering his independence. And obviously, let’s be truthful, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So as one fashionista to another, I’ll learn to support him on this fashion road just like my mom did for me. It’s going to be a tough road towards accepting his choices to wear patterns that do not match, but I’ll try. Most of the time.
Photo: Donna Ladd