Article from the BBC website here, 2 October 2008.
I believe it is a rite of passage or maybe many rites, to have sartorial sins committed against one as a child. (My DD is lucky having relatives and friends who know what styles and colours look lovely on her.) Parents are the chief offenders, dressing kids in appalling clothes, followed by grandparents and fond relatives. Here are some of the reasons I’ve found:
- There was a discount on a bolt of fabric. Since Sewing Relative had bought so much, it stood to reason to make four matching outfits – skirts, shirts, ties, even trousers if they felt up to it.
- It was on sale. Four famous last words.
- It looked nice in the shop. But appalling on the poor little tyke who got stuffed into that frilly jacket or maroon flares.
- You’ll look just like me! Sometimes, just sometimes, that can work. But if it involves plaid, paisley, corduroy, velveteen or sparkles, just put the outfit down and walk away from the cash register …
- I wore one like that when I was a child! Fashions change. Sure, if you had a neat blue skirt or a plain white shirt, that would work in nearly every decade. But fluffy mohair sleeveless jackets from the early 1960s are an acquired taste.
Some of the most humiliating moments of my childhood involved wearing the “wrong” thing. The wrong shorts for PE at school is a poor choice for a child who is already bullied. The out of date trousers, the haircut that was a decade out of date. I wish I could say that these were amusing incidents but judging by the embarrassment I recall from Young!Me, that’s unlikely. I know that some people say “Oh, you could be a trendsetter by wearing different things!” That presupposes that the poor blighter has a strong enough personality to rise above the humiliation of those who tease, chant, prod and pull remorselessly.
I enjoy reading Lindsay Weiss’s blog at Baby Center, who combines trendy tips and sensible advice with a good eye for proportion and co-ordination. She makes me think more about how I dress myself for my different roles and believe me, I haven’t given too much attention to that for a few years so it’s good to think about it. Now I need to think about how I dress my DD, my Pink and Purple Princess. She liked her ensemble of black and white striped babydoll top and black three-quarter leggings with pink transfer, plus hot pink shoes. She looked a whole lot better than me!
Of course I should think whether I am “spoiling” her with taking care over her choice of clothes. Or that I’m letting her get her own way because I had a rotten time with clothes as a kid. There are some who think I should “bend her” to my will rather than letting a 2.5 y-o choose her clothes in the morning. What would that achieve? I say “Pick your battles”. Establish ground rules (warm enough in winter, cool enough in summer), remove items from the wardrobe that are going to be contentious and hide them in my own, and then see what she comes up with. I’m not going to get fussed over what DD wears most times. If it looks odd I’ll say that DH chose the outfit. There are more important things to think about in this world.