We moms have such different takes on kids fashion. I get it. On one hand, we want our littles to be in the cutest outfits for the snazziest photos. On the other hand, kids grow up so fast that there’s no need to put a ton of money into their clothes. By the time they wear outfits a few times, it’s time to get larger sizes. Initially I considered myself in the first group of moms. After a while, though, I decided to let go of “cutesy” clothes. Sort of.
Style as a Strategy
Dressing my boys up in adorable kids fashion has always been fun for me as a mom. I enjoyed the great photoshoots and matching-mom moments. To be honest, I REALLY had a great time finding outfits for my boys, especially matching outfits. But there were other reasons to strategize style for them as infants.
I had an ulterior motive for dressing my kids up in cute kids fashion. It had to do with societal acceptance in moments of kiddy meltdowns. I realized early on that people more easily forgave bad kid behavior when children are dressed well. As a parent and observer, I know this to be true. A baby crying like a banshee gets quicker acceptance and forgiveness from strangers if they’re in cute clothes. On the contrary, a kid with a runny nose in an unkempt Batman pajama set gets more of a side-eye and turned-up nose, generally speaking. So do the parents. I think that stinks, but it’s what happens.
My boys started molding their own individual tastes, and I saw them changing mentally. I noticed that my oldest son, Kingsley, began putting more emphasis on clothes that were important to him. He liked certain shirts with superheroes because a character was “a good guy, and he’s my favorite.” More and more he began choosing his clothes based on who he wanted to be that day. He wanted to become more responsible for his own choices, and I didn’t want to stunt that.
That’s not to say it was easy for me. It was actually very difficult for me to let go of dressing my boys at first. I put a lot of intentionality into selecting pieces for their wardrobes. Visual representation has always been extremely important to me in all aspects of my life, including my family. Plus, I just loved dressing my boys in matching outfits. I sensed that they started resenting it, though, and I didn’t want to be next. It wasn’t worth the fight.
So, instead of dressing Kingsley up in the kids fashion I deemed appropriate, I let him dress himself. Oftentimes that meant he went to school looking more like a homeless child in my opinion, but it’s what he wanted. Besides, I honestly didn’t care what other parents may have thought about him. I knew he was still a sweet, considerate boy in whatever clothes he wore. The “cute kid clothes” era faded slowly to black.
Looking back, I realize I was inevitably teaching him the wrong thing about acceptance and what it meant to “present” himself to others when I dressed him up. Kids shouldn’t necessarily have a mindset of being “put together” when it comes to how others see them at school. They shouldn’t worry about portraying this perfectionist version of themselves. Kids should just be kids! They should wear what’s comfortable to run, play and have fun in. As he matured, I sort of matured in that vein of dressing him.
Kids fashion should reflect individual, internal authenticity. Instead of focusing on how cute Kingsley could dress, I wanted his personality and inner beauty to shine brighter. I wanted him to focus more on his self-expression as he did more associating with kids in grade school.
Back Again…A Little
In this crazy COVID-19 world, I’ve been able to balance the world of kids clothing and growing independence with my boys. I tend to lean more towards matching or coordinated outfits for them when we are intentionally on social media projects, but I let them go against the grain off camera. On days that they have to match, I let Kingsley pick an outfit one day, Kensington the second day, and Mommy gets to pick on the third day. It’s a balance we can all live with.
Indulging in cute kids fashion is a fun thing to do with your children if you enjoy the visual appeal of it. At a certain point, though, you have to realize your kids aren’t you, and you have to let them find their independence. There’s a natural cycle to it, moms. When it’s time to let the cute clothes go, let them go.