Kids Don’t Need To Be Fashionistas At School

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cute kidsI see it all over the ads for stores like Gap Kids, Crew Cuts, Janie and Jack and the like. There is a lot of pressure in society to make our kids look super precious with more accessories than we adult women have. I don’t buy into it now, but I used to- from my impressionable days as a brand-new mommy when I had outfits for my daughter that she outgrew before even having a chance to wear right up until she started kindergarten and I saw one adorable outfit after another come home destroyed. Now that she and my son are both school-age, I’ve been around the parenting block enough times that I feel very strongly about this- kids don’t need to be fashionistas at school.

I bought my daughter a wardrobe of perfect Gymboree outfits to start kindergarten with. I had not yet been totally bitch-slapped by motherhood and still held out hope that by buying expensive and high-quality clothing for my child, I was “making an investment”. Never mind the fact that my daughter outgrows clothing every 2-3 months, I was not to be deterred. I carefully cultivated a style that was very much “her”- bright colors, animals she liked, cute patterns, funky shoes. It was important to me that her individuality shown through.

After the first month of school, when most of her brand-new shirts had come home with varying stains of indeterminate origin, I decided to cut the shit. This was ridiculous. Why was I dressing up a 5-year old in clothes that she gave no effs about and did not at all take care of?? I had so many other things I could blow my money on. Like, my own clothes to stain. As my mother has always said, it’s not a Valerie Shirt until it has a big stain on it! My poor kid came by it honestly.

Over time, I began to realize that my small child did not need a “style”, she needed clothes on her back. She needed to be comfortable for phys ed class and story time and everything in between. Maybe some kids notice their clothes and care about that sort of thing but I would venture that the average small child does not. Once I realized this, I started saving all kinds of money buying things based on comfort and fit rather than adorableness. I still love the odd cutesy outfit here and there, but for the most part, I keep it super easy and versatile. I cannot tell you how many shirts I fell in love with that came home after one day at school with an irremovable Stain of Doom. I am done feeling that brand of frustration and disappointment. Trying to cultivate a “style” for an elementary school child is as futile as nailing Jell-O to the wall. I will keep my kids in their clearance Target jeans until they can prove to me that they have the ability to take care of their clothes reliably and not make me feel like I’m setting $100 bills on fire by purchasing carefully curated new outfits for them. Until then, I will keep buying myself all the Loft I can get my hands on. Providing I can learn to eat like a grown-up too.

 (Image: Andresr/Shutterstock)