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I mentioned over the weekend that I was taking my daughter to the mall to select some fall items for her wardrobe, and was shocked by how many mothers asked what she’d picked and how the adventure went, or had suggestions on this general topic! I think many of you related to my Instastories about “letting go” of getting my daughter dressed. It was such a joy and delight for me to doll my girl up for the first five years of her life. I loved the scalloped collars, the sashed dresses, the feminine patterns, the tiny knits, the oversized bows! I am so glad I indulged in dressing her to my heart’s content while she was young because now she has developed her own style and I’ve had to learn to let go of my preferences so that she can be her, and so that she knows that I value and respect who she is. I’ve taken a long and hard look at myself as a mother and realized that this — clothing! — is not the field I want to die on. Who knows — perhaps I over-indexed on the big bows and pink dresses and all of this is backlash; perhaps I’ve made my own bed! But we can only move forward from here.
Earlier this spring, we started butting heads over outfits — usually what I wanted her to wear to Church on Sundays — and it came to a head when I brought down a beautiful Doen dress I’d purchased her and she dug in her heels. After that contretemps, I decided I needed to give her more latitude to express herself in the way she dressed. Initially, I would bring down 2-3 options for her to pick from each morning. Over the summer, though, I further relaxed the regimen and told her to wear what she felt like wearing unless there were specific requirements for the day (e.g., at our country club, she must wear a collared shirt / no ripped jeans in certain areas; for birthday parties, a dress, etc.) I also stopped buying her as many dresses (the only ones she loves wearing are these ones from TBBC, which are adorable and I totally approve of! I think she owns six or seven patterns. She wears with these little shorts beneath). Instead, I’d pick up fun graphic tees (I love the European ones Danrie curates, like this — and you can get an extra 20% off sale with code MAGPIE20 — and some of the Crewcuts ones are adorable, too) to pair with jean shorts. She loved a paperbag waist pair of denim shorts I bought her from H&M (seem to be sold out, similar here), and the overall look was so her. But if she had her druthers, she’d wear athletic shorts (these and these are her favorites and the fit/colors are actually really cute — a short length!) and these performance tees every day of the week — she wore this combo A LOT this summer. As far as athletic wear goes, pretty cute. I like the colors and silhouette!
Anyway, even though I was changing what I was buying for her, and often seeking her input when ordering, I still found that a ton of the cute shorts and tops I bought her would languish in her drawers. I decided that this fall, I needed to engage her more thoroughly in the process, and I took her with me to Montgomery Mall — where my mother used to take me! My plan was clear: make two stops, one at J. Crew and one at Gap, and hopefully pick up a few items to base her wardrobe around, buy her candy at It’s Sugar, and leave within an hour. I had a sense that any longer (and any more dressing rooms) would test her patience and interest, and the sugar pit stop would be enough of a draw to keep her motivated. I was, frankly, delighted by how well the excursion went. It was really fun to see what she gravitated towards, and I was a little shocked by some of the cute items she picked.
From J. Crew, we bought (these were all entirely her picks! I kept urging her to consider sweaters but she declined) —
THIS DENIM JACKET (!!!)
From Gap, we bought —
*This was the only item I hesitated to buy — she had looked so cute in the fitting room wearing the jeans with this cropped sweatshirt, but she kept begging me for a hoodie, and I think a few of her little classmates have ones from the Gap, too, so I said yes. She got home and immediately put it on, so I guess that was what her little heart desired.
Now we’ll need to fill in the blanks with more tops (would love to get her a few of these Oso and Me striped/solids, these J. Crew pointelles, these Zara stripes, this denim H&M, and this inexpensive H&M set), leggings, and sweaters (thinking some unfussy ones like this or this could be up her alley) — and, yes, a few dresses. Something like this will probably be OK with her.
For shoes, I’ll buy her a pair of Uggs, and she already has some Golden Goose sneaks (The Real Real is a great source for gently used pairs) and fun lug sole boots. Wondering if she’d be game to try ballet flats this fall!
As always, nothing quite so humbling as parenting…! Still spinning myself into the mother I want to be.
P.P.S. On remaking ourselves as mothers.
P.P.P.S. Back to school finds!