The Kiddie Style Files: Unwritten Rules of Childhood Fashion


shopping (1)I’m mentally admiring the now-famous Instagram account of the little girl who, with the help of her super-creative mom, created adorable outfits out of paper that are now being made into real-life threads by J Crew… then I look at my daughters. They’re each rocking two pairs of sunglasses, an armful of bracelets, and mittens (after all, it is the middle of summer in Arizona). They’re ready to go to the store.

Pre-kids I had visions of dressing up my littles in the latest styles like mini mannequins and inspiring them to love fashion as much as I do. My daughters love fashion alright. We just have, um, different tastes at the moment.

By age two, my girls refused to wear the charming, stylish outfits I carefully chose for them each morning. My adorable selections were screeched at as they emptied their drawers to find what THEY wanted to wear. I panicked. I had years of cute outfitting to do! I tried to explain the risks of not properly mixing prints or that certain color combos were best left to indie fashion bloggers. This made them even more defiant. With a structured day and a million rules to follow, I knew that this was one way they could exercise some desperately desired independence. As much as it hurt me to do it, I decided to pick my battles and allow them to choose their own outfits each day. To me, it really wasn’t worth the tantrums and fighting.

Going through this with two kids, I’ve noticed striking similarities in their wardrobe choices. It’s like there’s an intrinsic early childhood fashion sense, an unspoken kiddie style manual. A manual that’s not exclusively for girls, just check out the Instagram account @whenchildrendressthemselves. As an adult, I’m not privy to these secret style files, but I’ve seen enough to be able to uncover…

The Unwritten Rules of Childhood Fashion*

  1. Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Glitter. Sequins. Shiny anything. Flashing lights. Even tulle. The more glitter the better, especially if it’s the type of glitter that sheds like mad and is still on your couch a year later. (Thanks Disney Store!)sparkle
  2. MPLM (Mix Prints Like Mad) Or wear the same print from head to toe. (Bonus points if you get your sibling to do it too)MIXED PRINTS 2
  3. You can never over-accessorize, even if you run out of space on your body. That’s what backpacks and purses are for.accessories
  4. Costumes. They’re not just for Halloween anymore. From running errands to housework to meeting your new sibling, they’re the go-to all-occasion wear.
  5. You do you. You want to be a ballerina and a firefighter? Rock ’em both at the same time! Princess and football player all at once? Yes you can!careers
  6. Dress the opposite of the current temperature. If it’s 100 degrees out, insist on a sweatshirt. If it’s freezing, put on shorts. Be “cutting edge” and wear winter and summer items at the same time.suns
  7. Or don’t wear clothes. You don’t need a top. Or bottoms. Or either of them. (We’ll skip the photos for this one!)

It’s actually pretty comical to see what my kids pick to wear each day, and I get great pics to use in their high school senior yearbook ads. Most importantly, they feel good that they were able to do something themselves. That is what makes the whole thing endearing to me. In fact, my family no longer buys the girls matched outfit sets, only separates, since they know they’ll just throw on some wacky combo that I’ll text them a photo of later.

What style rules does your little “fashionista” swear by? 

* Child style experts courtesy of the Grady Household. When they are older they will deny the existence of this blog post. 


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