Living with a 4 year old fashionista

2D274907659082-today-bratz-makeunder-tease-150121.blocks_desktop_largeSome days I stand my ground and tell my 4-year-old daughter what to wear. It is a coordinated outfit, contains no Disney characters and most importantly, it matches. Most days however, I lose the will to live and let her dress herself…

It’s a daily battle between mother (fighting for coordination and style – think Boden meets Jo Jo Maman Bebe) versus child (fighting for clashing and princesses – think Vivienne Westwood meets Marmalade Atkins).10614252_10152764216871554_4582009965868991046_n

The battle commences at approximately 7am every day:

Stage 1: 7.00am opening discussions

It’s groundhog day in our house. Every SINGLE day begins with a clothing debate along the lines of: “no you can’t wear a sundress, age 2 – 3. Not only because it’s 5 degrees outside, but because you’re a larger than average four-year-old and looking like a member of Bucks Fizz circa 1985 is frowned upon at pre-school.” Sometimes it goes likes this “no you can’t wear the same spotty dress you have been wearing for seven days straight”  and even “no you can’t model a Tinkerbell swimming costume with tights.” This usually leads us onto…

Stage 2: 7.10am negotiations

At this point I’ve usually spent around 10 valuable minutes in her bedroom selecting and suggesting suitable items. For a 4-year-old she has a pretty impressive wardrobe containing a large number of items which have yet to be worn. This is because they do not exactly match the criteria: must be pink / although will accept purple in exceptional circumstances, display gaudy princess images or at the very least a dog or cat, contain embroidery or stitching, must not bear creases or anything that is “sticky outy”, must not have pockets and ideally would feature at least one bow.

Stage 3: 7.30am breakdown in negotiations

At exactly 7.30am every single day I officially lose my temper and flounce out of her bedroom, morphing into my mother shouting as I go down the stairs not to “come running to me if she catches a cold” from wearing a nightie to pre-school.  She is now in a pyjama top, woolly hat and princess knickers.

Stage 4: 7.40am deadlock

At this stage of the process, the four-year-old is upstairs sulking in her bedroom and I am in the kitchen swearing as the innocent 2-year-old politely asks for some Shreddies. There’s lots of noise coming from upstairs which lets me know that she’s now emptying the contents of the wardrobe to find a compromise item of clothing.

Stage 5: 8.00am ceasefire

A temporary reprieve is granted whilst breakfast is served to 4-year-old who is now wearing a Frozen Elsa dress.

Stage 6: 8.15am defeat

It is now 8.15am. WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE IN 15 MINUTES. My mood has officially escalated from angry to uber-stressed trying to dress the two-year old who is asking to wear a flamenco dress instead of jeans today. It is at this point the 4-year-old usually appears (minus socks) in a mismatched, weather inappropriate ensemble. Sometimes it’s Christmas leggings with a toddler’s sundress, and other times it’s an eclectic mix of a princess dress with jeans and an oversized cardigan. Each outfit is complemented with a pair of red shoes and a fuschia pink coat (if not Peppa Pig wellies). 536224_10151393380997780_1973252708_n

Stage 7: 8.30am submission

With no available time left to argue about outfit and my stress levels much like a cartoon bomb with a lit fuse hastily burning away, we leave the house. I can’t bear to look in too much detail at what she’s thrown together, and find myself over-compensating to her pre-school teacher explaining she dresses herself, and how I long for the days of school uniform.

However, the teacher points out that I should be embracing this stage, that she’s displaying her creativity and independence. I hadn’t really thought of it this way, all I was upset about were the untouched Boden dresses longing to be worn. I also never actually have a good reason why she can’t wear mismatching clothes, or Christmas jumpers in summer – who am I to stifle her creativity? I wonder if  a career in fashion is on the cards, the next Stella McCartney perhaps? But then I notice she’s wearing woollen tights that don’t cover her bottom with an Elsa t-shirt (age 2) and think probably not.


6 thoughts on “Living with a 4 year old fashionista

  1. I decided early on (having been matchy matchy dressed by my grandmother up to about age 7 with my 18mth younger sister) and having clothing forced on me as an older child (ie free from cousin/neighbour/friends blah) that I would try not to interfere with choice based on anything other than appropriate clothing for appropriate weather and even then I always asked her if she thought it was enough/appropriate and if she answered the opposite to what I thought I would pop a cardi or a t shirt in a bag for nursery. And all in all its fine she is 10 now and has a very definite personal image and sense of fashion (I really don’t bother or know). There have been unworn things which is sad but then they were chosen for her rather than by her. I make sure she is involved in wardrobe clear outs and they are mainly based on has she grown out of it, never worn it, doesn’t ever want to wear it and I listen to her.


  2. I have a bit of a fashionisto, if that’s a word, 4yo, I only have clothing in his wardrobe that I will put up with him wearing, and I give him a choice of two tops and two pairs of trousers. The main problem is eye-strain inducing combinations (pink stripy top with boat on, plus rainbow striped baggy trousers) and fortunately he does not often ask to wear his baby sister’s clothes (almost all formerly his clothes) as he has worked out they are too small. But he frequently asks to wear shorts on one of those May days that are really like February (the shorts would have been in the loft in actual February).
    If he will accept the two choices of top, he usually doesn’t clash too much and doesn’t freeze. I’ll take not freezing if it doesn’t match!
    He also only owns one pair of shoes per season/size, apart from wellies, I suppose I do have it not too badly as he loves his penguin wellies but doesn’t insist on wearing them inappropriately more often than about once a week.


  3. My firstborn expressed very clear preferences from about 18mths (5 socks and a poncho, anyone..?) It’s about having choice and control for her, not about fashion (though that’s kicking in a bit now she’s nearly 9) and I figured that a) kids have such a small amount of control over their lives it’s worth giving some back where feasible and b) pick your battles. There are way more important things I’ll need to stand my ground on. Want to wear wellies, 2 dresses and a cowboy hat? Go for it. Yes, she looked nuts a fair proportion of the time but she was happy and I didn’t care. I also take the ‘so long as you’re not going to get hypothermia/heat rash/soaked to the skin it’s fine’ approach. I still have to invoke the ‘if I see goose bumps or your lips are turning blue, you put a layer on, no arguments’ rule with both kids (secondborn considerably less fussed about clothes in every way – she’d probably put on whatever I suggested most days) but even she needs occasional policing in the temperature department. And yes, DD1 is sometimes quite an eccentric dresser still. There’s a fine line between ‘individual’ and ‘bag lady’ but she’s getting better at negotiating that. She also themes her looks sometimes: this week Victorian urchin (quite hard in school uniform but she rocks a cap and her walking boots looked perfect), last week teenage detective (a different hat, sneakers, slouchy scarf). When the education systems seems intent on pressurising difference out of kids I’m going to celebrate her individuality. You’re right to too. Good for her.


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