One day when my son Eddie was 4, I got out of the car at preschool and realized that we were both wearing hoodies, Converse low-tops, jeans and T-shirts. My 36-year-old self and my toddler son were dressed identically.
These days, mother and child can get dressed within the confines of their own bedrooms and emerge, unknowingly, in the same outfit. Gender and age don’t seem to make a difference either: mothers of toddler boys and school-age girls can both fall into this trap.
So how does it happen? Did I, on that fateful preschool day, unconsciously select from my wardrobe items I imagined Eddie would choose? Was the line between child and self so terribly blurred that, as I slipped on the tee, I imagined I was in fact dressing my son?
Watch out women! There's no need to become the juvenile dresser your child is, just because you take care of him.
I knew that after weathering childbirth, breastfeeding, diaper-changing and drool-absorbing, I’d flushed all remaining dignity down the toilet. But Chucks and an American Apparel tee? Was I dressing like him, or was he dressing like me?
It’s natural that the two sensibilities — that of mother and child — should fuse, especially when all the clothing sections at Target look alike, only in different sizes. It’s a child-centric culture, where all ages play with the same toys, watch the same shows, master the same technology and listen to the same music.
Watch out, women! There’s no need to become the juvenile dresser your child is, just because you take care of him. That's why I came up with these rules to guide my wardrobe choices in future — you might find them useful too.
CAVEAT: Don't sweat this if you’re just going to the playground, grocery shopping and back home, but if you’re planning to venture into the world of grown-ups—say, have lunch with a friend, meet with your attorney or CPA, even take a night class at the local college, you might want to take a look in the hall mirror. Then avoid wearing these items, and take back your womanhood.
1. Conversesneakers. You don’t have to get rid of this classic shoe, but watch what you wear them with (and what color you get). Black Converse paired with something feminine could be fine, but if you a) have several pair in different colors, including pink or lavender, or b) consistently pair them with “boyfriend pants” and a beefy tee, you could have a problem.
2. Crocs. No one over the age of 15 should be wearing these plastic, candy-colored shoes, unless they're working in a hospital. I don’t care how easy they are to slip on, how insulated in fleece. Conversely, your child does not need Havaianas. Buy yourself another pair instead. They’re super cute, I know, but flip flops last about two months and are wildly impractical for running around, climbing trees, walking into lakes, etc.
3. Gisele Hair. Unless you have exceptionally amazing hair, hair that would be criminal to cut short (think Maria Shriver), think twice about keeping its length much longer than your shoulders. Do you want dads at the park oggling those tresses from afar, only to get close and feel bummed that you're not 22. (Yes, you're gorgeous in your own way. But not in that 22-year-old way.)
And if your Miss Clairol 'do comes with Daisy Duke short-shorts, knee-high socks (see below), and All Stars with glitter laces, it's time for a full, grown-up makeover.
4. Hello Kitty. I know, it’s so exciting to be back in the world of Sanrio, and to be able to get yourself all that cute kitty stuff your mom wouldn’t let you get when you were little. But just because you looked over into the car next to you and a teenager had HK dice hanging from her rear-view window, doesn’t mean you can too. Sorry, your nine lives are gone.
5. Knee-high socks. Have you heard the rule? If you’ve already worn it once in your life, don't wear it again. This usually applies to cyclical trends (think dayglo, bell-bottoms, peasant blouses), but it could apply to apparel of your youth as well (great example: Ugg boots are just the moon boots of yesteryear). Knee-high socks are generally the province of school girls and trashy teens, not 30- or 40-year-old women.