Romper

I Let My Kids Dress Me For 5 Special Occasions & This Is What Happened

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I have a fairly minimalist wardrobe and I tend to wear my same favorite things in heavy rotation. I have a go-to outfit that I wear for date nights or a night out with friends (black shirt, black leggings, patent heels), a jeans and t-shirt uniform for school drop off and pick up, the classic MFA look for meeting with my writers' group (it varies by season, but usually includes a big scarf and skinny jeans), and my Aladdin-style sweatpants and Notorious R.B.G. top for days when I don't plan on leaving the house. I’m always trying to switch up my kids’ wardrobes to pull together fun new combinations, so I decided to reverse the tables and let my kids dress me for events throughout the month.

Between my 3-year-old daughter’s love for glitter and my 5-year-old son’s strong, self-assured sense of fashion (camouflage pants and bold striped shirt? Let’s throw on some dress shoes and this look is set!), I was sure to get some questionable, but no doubt fun, outfit combos.

The Experiment:

I decided to my kids dress me throughout the month for each event where I normally have a go-to look: school, writers' group, date night, girls’ night, and stay-at-home days. I was a little scared of how I would look out in public, but figured it was all in good fun and who knows? Maybe they would surprise me and find some looks I really liked.

Oufit Number 1: It's A School Day

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I decided to let my son take the lead on the first day, and he seemed a little confused when I asked him what I should wear. “Um, clothes?” he answered tentatively.

My daughter surprisingly agreed to the shoe change (I mean, I guess glitter is glitter) and I got dressed like a goddamn disco ball to go to dinner with my husband.

Then I asked him if he’d like to help me choose my outfit, and his face lit up. He takes getting dressed very seriously (why, I don’t know) and loves picking out outfits for himself. He took his time rummaging through my closet and settled on my Notorious R.B.G shirt, a pair of jeans, and a bright blue pair of flats — definitely his signature mark on my look.

I totally loved this outfit (actually, I’m wearing it again today!) and was surprised that he chose to stay in line with my personal style so well. More importantly though, I felt awesome because I could tell it made him feel so proud that I liked the outfit he chose for me.

Outfit Number 2: Date Night

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I let my daughter take the lead on date night, and she demanded that we get out many, many items of clothing. But she knew what she wanted me to wear the moment she laid her glitter-loving eyes on it: a sparkly mini dress that I wore in Vegas one time. OF COURSE she picked this dress out. I tried it on and it was far more of a shirt than the mini dress it used to be when I was 21, childless, and in Vegas, but my daughter's enthusiasm and excitement totally won me over.

I told her I needed to wear pants and suggested some leggings, to which she flippantly said “yes” as she busied herself picking out shoes for me. And before she even had her hands on them, I knew what shoes they were going to be: They’re a killer pair of heels in a fading gold to silver fine glitter. However, by the time the shoes were halfway out of the closet, my son had come in to help mediate, and pulled out a different pair of all over silver glitter heels. Why does I have multiple pairs of glitter-laden heels? I seriously could not tell you. Leave it to my children to find them, though.

This was most certainly their favorite outfit pick so far, and they were both tremendously pleased with it, so I decided to just roll with their selections. When I told them how much I liked it, they were beaming.

My daughter surprisingly agreed to the shoe change (I mean, I guess glitter is glitter) and I got dressed like a goddamn disco ball to go to dinner with my husband. I definitely felt a little out of place at the country-themed steakhouse (we had a gift card, don’t judge me), but thankfully we live in Reno and glitter is acceptable just about everywhere. Oddly enough, my husband really liked this look — maybe because it reminded him of our younger pre-baby years, and vacationing alone in Vegas? Ah, the memories.

Outfit Number 3: Writers' Group

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

When it came time for me to have my monthly writers' group meeting with a bunch of old colleagues from college, I was pretty much ready for any outfit my kids would throw my way. And on this occasion, it really was a team effort getting me dressed. My son picked out my bright blue and pink sneakers and my daughter was thrilled with his selection. She started rummaging through my things looking for more pink, and then promptly got mad at me when she realized I didn’t have any pink pants. She was, however, pleased to find my "Frozen shirt," which is just a pinkish-purple thermal with snowflakes on it. She demanded that I wear an Elsa braid to pull my look together, but at this point, I still didn’t have pants.

“What about a dress?” my son asked.

I pointed out that his sister had already picked out a shirt, but this did not deter him. And then they found an Elsa dress — a form-fitting satin thing I once wore for my bachelorette party — for me to pair with my top as a skirt. This was most certainly their favorite outfit pick so far, and they were both tremendously pleased with it, so I decided to just roll with their selections. When I told them how much I liked it, they were beaming. Their teamwork had even spilled over into a night of sibling love and fun. I may have looked ridiculous, but if it got my kids to get along and feel good about themselves, I’ll call that a win.

Outfit Number 4: Girls' Night

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I got together with a few friends to go grab dinner and catch up, but not before letting my son pick out an outfit for me. I told him who I was going out with, and he seemed to contemplate this and factor it into his decision making. Apparently he wanted me to wear what he would wear to go out with his friends, which happened to be exactly what he was already wearing. He picked out a striped shirt and those signature blue shoes again and to pull the look together, he suggested a pair of gray pants.

“I don’t have any gray pants,” I said. Of course, he was holding up my Aladdin-style Target sweatpants. I wear them all the time. It’s about the only thing he sees me in when we’re hanging out at home.

After a week of being disappointed with my pants, she found a pair of aztec print, faux fur-lined sweatpants she was completely pleased with, and topped off my look with my husband’s flannel shirt that she found on the bed.

I told him they weren’t really outside pants, but he was pretty insistent that they were the best match for my outfit, so I went to dinner in sweatpants. I felt a little uneasy being in public in sweatpants (OK, not really, but a restaurant is a bit out of my sweatpants comfort zone), but as soon as I got to dinner everyone else was supremely jealous of my soft, comfy pants. I felt like I definitely made the right choice, especially by the time our food arrived and there was no denim button restricting the large bowl of spaghetti and cheese-smothered meatballs I was ready to devour.

To be totally honest, I’m beginning to think my son should be my personal stylist all the time because he was hitting it out of the park with stylish practicality.

Outfit Number 5: Lazy Home Day

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Since I'd let my son take the lead on most of my outfits, I decided to let my daughter have full decision making over my at-home outfit. We were spending a Saturday doing projects around the house and the stakes were low... or so I thought. I asked her to pick out my outfit, and out came those golden glittered heels she decided to forgo on date night. She'd decided today that these heels were clearly meant for everyday, around-the-house wear. After a week of being disappointed with my pants, she found a pair of aztec print, faux fur-lined sweatpants she was completely pleased with, and topped off my look with my husband’s flannel shirt that she found on the bed.

To be honest, my look was a total hot mess. My husband could not stop laughing at me, but my son very seriously told me that I looked good, and "not that funny." Except he thought that wearing his dad's shirt was a little silly.

The heels didn’t last long, because there is only so much I can do in golden stilettos around the house without breaking my ankles and generally hating my life. However, as soon as I took them off my daughter was so disappointed. So as a compromise, I ended up leaving the house to go to Home Depot, golden heels and all. I definitely felt out of place, but every time I caught my daughter smiling and looking down at my shoes from the cart, it was worth it. After all, it’s just clothes.

Were My Kids Good Personal Stylists?

By the end of the month, I was a little sad to not have my kids dressing me for events. Even though it was a little ridiculous at times, I loved watching them take this “job” seriously and the pride they felt when I went through with wearing their outfit choices. Even when the outfits weren’t what I would have picked for myself, I found myself enjoying the memories the “special” clothes they pulled from my closet represented — the glittery top from Vegas, the golden shoes from my best friend’s wedding, the dress I wore for my bachelorette party.

They loved picking out clothes they didn’t see me wear often; these are clothes I keep because they're reminiscent of a special time or place, and it was a nice reminder that everyday life can be a special occasion too. And on the flip side, I've learned a very important lesson: sweatpants are totally acceptable for a night out. Thanks, kid.