What Not to Wear: Anything?

April 11, 2010

This morning, the three-year-old in our house had absolutely no interest in getting out of his pajamas.  Ready to go out and ride his bike, he approached me, proffering his “Max shoes” (black Converse All Stars that he wore for Halloween when dressed as Max from Where the Wild Things Are) and said, “I go outside now? I be careful in my ‘jamas.” 

Oddly, my first instinct was to say no — that he had to get dressed before going outside.  This is totally inopposite to my general philosophy of clothing children, which is usually that absolutely anything goes, as long as it’s weather-appropriate and doesn’t restrict mobility.  (No matter how cute the outfit, it does not fly if it interferes with going to the bathroom or crossing the street in a timely fashion.) 

I mean, I myself am not exactly the most conventional dresser.  Like many people, I wore pajamas throughout college, and actually considered myself dressed for the day if I donned a vintage nightgown, hoodie, pearls and boots.  I’ve been dressing Corrina in tutus since she was four weeks old, and I’m constantly amassing kids’ costumes and making them available for daily wear.

All of this came flashing to me as I reflected on the idea of the kid offering to be “careful” in his pajamas.  I don’t need him to be careful in his pajamas… pajamas are the epitome of coziness, and should be worn carefree.  Why wouldn’t you want to be cozy and carefree all day long, especially on a Sunday?  So, outside he went, in penguin pajamas and Max shoes, soonafter topped off with the purple teddybear bike helmet we got as a hand-me-down that he adores.  Awesome outfit completed.  

It seems there’s a pretty wide spectrum out there when it comes to dressing our children.  Some of my favorite dresses at the Goose get snatched up by mamas of kids who are biological identified as boys but who appreciate, for a variety of reasons, the perfection of a beautiful dress.  Recently, I found myself sheepishly explaining to a grandma customer that the tutu skirt I’d paired with a tank-top to hang near the register was, in our house at least, not actually a petticoat intended as an undergarment, but a stand-alone bottom piece.  When it comes down to it,  “To each his own, said the farmer as he kissed his cow.”  (My mom says that.  I don’t know where it comes from, but I think it’s a more colorful way of saying, “Whatevs.  People are different. Leave it be.”)

Where do you draw the line when it comes to your kids’ outfits?  Let’s start with my pajamas-outside question:

Now, for the larger issues.  Is it a wardrobe free-for-all in your house, or are there rules?  Does it make a difference whether you’re about to venture out in public or not?  Are certain items of clothing off-limits except for special occasions?  Tell me in the comments! 

-Meryl at the Goose

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7 Responses to “What Not to Wear: Anything?”

  1. Leslie Says:

    I do insist on “outside clothes” for more than just bumming around on the porch but it really isn’t a matter of propriety or stuffiness. Some clothes are more durable than others. Some clothes are more expensive than others.

    In my experience, flannel pajamas simply can’t survive getting snagged in a bike spoke or scuffed along the sidewalk the way jeans or even leggings can. They are not a durable fabric. Along the same lines, each kid has an outfit or two dedicated for dressy occasions… church while at the grandparents, etc. If the dressy outfits were worn for splashing in mudpuddles (an activity I fully endorse, btw!) they wouldn’t be available when they’re needed. Dress-up clothes may not be worn for eating, because ours are mostly cheap ex-costumes and can’t be easily washed without fraying. We are on a tight, tight budget. I have to think about whether an activity is likely to destroy the clothing. So I am concerned with activity-appropriate clothing, although eccentric combinations are just fine!

    That said, I am not especially concerned about “weather appropriate.” I don’t think children are injured by being a little too warm or too cold. The experience helps them learn what is weather appropriate for them. (Adults vary in this… why wouldn’t children?) Children drip-dry quite nicely 🙂

  2. Kriss Eckenrode Says:

    My Bella is only 10 months old so it’s definitely a wardrobe free-for-all at this point with her.
    And for the record I’m the one who purchased the tank (paired with the pink tu-tu at register), I already had the skirt at home!

  3. Laura Says:

    I don’t have specific rules about it, but when my mom takes the older two of my three boys out, she has a “no sweats or torn pants” rule. I’ve never really figured out why, but like you said, to each his own!

  4. Laura Says:

    You know what’s really hard? Believing you’re open-minded and then realizing you don’t reeeeeally want your three-year-old son to pick the pink mittens, even when you’ve just said, “You can choose any color you like.” (Of course he picked the pink, and wore them all winter.) It’s amazing and wonderful and hard how kids put us on the spot, make us put our money where our mouth is when it comes to our values, and push us outside our comfort zones! I grew to love those pink mittens.

  5. Asia Says:

    It’s every person for her- or himself at our house, though I sometimes suggest an alternate shirt for my husband… 🙂

  6. Ava Says:

    As long as it’s modest and clean, my boys can wear what they want. The 3 yr old wears his clunky snow boots all year round. No biggie! 🙂

  7. Sandra Sorensen Says:

    Exactly what Leslie said…right down to the eating in dress up clothes. Really exactly. Wow that was amazing!


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