I Let My 5-Year-Old Daughter Dress Me for a Week
Like lots of other happy-go-lucky kindergarteners, my daughter Kiera expresses herself through dance, art, rainbow clothing, and the biggest and brightest accessories she can find (usually from my jewelry box).
I'll admit to being a bit of a clothing and shoe hound, which may have influenced her interest in fashion. But more often than not these days - and especially since I gave birth to her little brother - Kiera is completely underwhelmed when I emerge from my bedroom wearing some variation of jeans, a striped shirt, and flat sandals or white tennis shoes.
Kindergartners just don't get French minimalist style.
When I told her she could be responsible for choosing my outfits for five consecutive days, that I would neither protest nor make suggestions, and I would wear her outfits from morning until night, Kiera literally jumped for joy.
"Yay!" she exclaimed. "But only five days? Mommy, I want to dress you for a month!"
We'll start on a trial basis and see how it goes, I told her.
Day 1: Florals, Poof, Heels, And Lots of Accessories
Kiera brought her A-game to this dress-up challenge. The first outfit she picked out for me was no joke: a vintage, A-line floral dress, which turns slightly "poofy" from the waist down; magenta patent leather T-strap 4-inch heels that I haven't worn in six years; and so many accessories I felt like Johnny Depp in 1950s housewife drag.
"It's so colorful - so happy, and so, so spring!" Kiera announced. "You have to wear your locket open today so everyone can see our pictures. Oh, and these mermaid bracelets are the perfect finishing touch!" (Most of the accessories she chose were made by the designer of MoJo's Jewelry, my childhood best friend, so that was a delightful surprise.)
I work from home and take care of a toddler, so parading around in vampy heels was an extraordinary feat that I'd usually recommend to no one. But I will say this: Being forced to slow down my movements actually worked to calm me down during stressful moments. "Mommy will be there in a minute to get the Play-Doh from the closet in order to keep you entertained so she can finish an article" became "Mommy will walk slowly around the house because if she doesn't she'll fall on her face so you'll get your Play-Doh in 10 minutes and will learn an important lesson in patience along the way."
And I tell you, children are totally fine without us losing our heads to satisfy their every whim. Also: You'll receive at least a dozen compliments from senior citizens at the grocery store when you go out to fetch bananas and milk dressed like their childhood sweethearts. My favorite sort-of compliment was: "Well, would you look at you…" without further explanation. It's possible this sentence could have ended with "… you look like the human embodiment of a craft store," but I like to stay positive.
Zen and the Art of Parenting In Saucy Heels = the book we need in our lives.
Day 2: Dress, Jeans, and More Heels
Proof that Kiera is secretly trying to torture me: Her day two outfit consisted of skinny grey jeans, a shapeless colorful sundress I had meant to donate years ago, a statement necklace and statement earrings, a lavender flower barrette for my hair, and another pair of four-inch Oxford brown heels.
"It looks spring-y and artsy," Kiera told me. "The brown shoes look like dirt and then you look like a flower on top. Also, it looks like something you'd get at Claire's!" (That would be Claire's accessories store, her favorite place on the planet, where she once found a necklace with bacon and eggs pendants).
After spending the previous day in heels, I wasn't looking forward to this and I was beyond happy I didn't have to interact with many adult humans that day. I almost removed the barrette before dropping off my son at nursery school, but felt guilty and left it in.
One of my son's teachers smiled when I greeted her and said, "You look like spring itself!"
I couldn't wait to tell Kiera her plan had worked: She had transformed me into a potted plant - "dirt" shoes and all.
Day 3: Flare Jeans, Leaf Shirt, Leopard Heels
I was nervous about day three because I actually had to interview a doctor for an upcoming story. Kiera chose a pair of 1970s flare jeans with a rainbow design down the leg (how she found them in the back of my drawer is a mystery), a leaf-print button-down shirt, leopard print heels, drop earrings, and a long pendant necklace. The accessories were wedding-day fancy for a Wednesday morning and made me look a bit wacky, and, of course, the leopard was a total outlier, but I was so grateful she chose this instead of a red lace cocktail dress she had been eyeing that I wore it with glee.
And besides, her explanation for choosing this outfit made total 5-year-old logical sense: "This shirt is part of spring because it's leaves and the pants have rainbows and are so pretty and, oh, my goodness, your shoes remind me of animals - you should wear them every day."
My interview subject loved my outfit (or did a really good job of pretending she did, bless her heart): "Those jeans are incredible! You look so fun!"
Got to admit: I felt fun. Must have been the leopard.
Day 4: Grunge Gone Wrong
Shit started to fall apart on day four. Coasting on the success of her first three days as my personal stylist, I feel Kiera really let success go to her head and drew upon Marc Jacobs 1992 to concoct this bugged out blend of daddy's plaid shirt, floral yoga leggings, and a marigold vintage grandma cardigan.
I'm sorry you can't see them, but underneath all this goodness there's yet another pair of heels - navy pumps. With yoga pants, remember.
"I think it looks cute," Kiera says. "It reminds me of England [my sweater has a cute gold crown print on it]. And, of course, you need these pants because you need flowers in the spring."
Since my day's schedule consisted mostly of working from home and picking up birthday gifts at a toy store, I can't report on how coworkers or interview subjects might have reacted to my interesting outfit. But no one batted an eye out in the real world. Perhaps we've become so used to seeing yoga pants as real pants and so accustomed to an "anything goes" fashion sensibility that this really isn't so off the wall after all?
That thought makes me just a little sad because this outfit is very problematic.
Day 5: Slinky Hippie
"It looks saggy, like my pajamas," Kiera explains as she instructs me to pair satin-y wide-legged drawstring Boho style pants with a coordinated beige slinky button-down blouse and simple black heels. I could have done without five straight days of heels, but it's pretty clear my daughter knows what she likes and what she likes is high pajama glam.
Of all the outfits she chose, this one was my favorite because it was comfortable for a day of work and for taking my toddler to an event at a museum. To be honest, Kiera was rushing because she wanted to finish coloring a picture before school so she spared me the usual onslaught of clunky bracelets and exquisite dangling earrings that would have transformed this outfit into cocktail party attire. That alone made me a very grateful mom on a pretty busy day.
As for the heels - after wearing them daily for a whole work week, you really do get used to them.
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