Sorry, But I Care What My Kids Wear



This may make me unpopular, but I am “that” mom who always dresses her kids up, and generally, coordinates and matches their wardrobe. If I leave the house before my kids are dressed for the day I will leave out clothes for my husband or babysitter to put on them. I undoubtedly spend far more time, and likely resources on my kid’s attire than on my own, and I will not apologize for, rationalize, or defend my choice to dress-up my two young sons for just about any public outing. I can tell you without a shred of hesitation that you are more likely to see my kids streaking through Target naked (and I don’t totally discount that it could happen) before you will see them with bed-head and soiled or old clothing out in public. I don’t judge parents who choose to do otherwise and believe me as a mom of two young boys it would make life much easier if I didn’t constantly obsess over their appearance. So why do I feel the need to do it anyway?

Let me start by asking you a question: Would you show up to a job interview in your night clothes? How about out to lunch with your girlfriends in stained, mismatched sweats? Probably not; so why would you let your kids go out that way? Aren’t the impressions we make in this world important? Don’t we as humans make certain assumptions about people based on how they are dressed and how they present themselves? If you are saying no to this right now you are not being honest because you can’t honestly tell me that you don’t assume that someone in a suit is headed to the office, or similarly assume that a child dressed in a uniform is headed to school.

You see I am the type of person who generally dresses business-casual in a casual work environment. I will at least throw on clean clothes and brush my hair and teeth before running to the grocery store. I wouldn’t be caught dead out with my girl friends without makeup and venue appropriate attire. This is because I put a value on myself, and I want to present that to the world. I know that regardless of what I may wish were the case, other people’s perception of me DOES matter. People make the same presumptions about my children, and it reflects on me as a parent as well.

I know that if I entered a nice restaurant with two dirty, disheveled children the impression I would create would be one of a parent who doesn’t care much about how others perceive my children, which for all intents and purposes includes their behavior, manners, decorum, etc. Alternately, if I arrive with well-groomed children in blazers, slacks and loafers the opposite perception is likely true, and we will be treated accordingly.

Truth be told, I have been doing it for so long that my kids honestly love it!  My oldest had a meltdown about having to wear mismatched clothing on “Crazy Day” at school, and my youngest asks to, “get dressed up and go outside” just about every day.  That isn’t to say that I don’t let my kids wear t-shirts and jeans, or run around and get dirty when we are at home. My kids are like any kids who frequently turn up with popsicle mustaches and Cheeto-stained fingers, and the amount of clothing that is rapidly destroyed and disposed of in my house is too vast to contemplate. But when it comes to taking my kids out in public where they are on display for all to judge I make sure they are clean, neat and presentable at all times (at least until the next Slurpee disaster).



  1. Another perspective is that although you might think my kids look like dirty and disheveled pleebs, these whackadoo outfits are clean and important expressions of their autonomy. Yes, you’ve seen my kid wear the same long sleeve orange t-shirt everyday this week but what you don’t know,unless we’ve chatted, is that I’ve washed it everynight. I’ve even restitched the sleeves because of fraying hems and weird elbow sizing. I’Ve done this because he absolutely loves this shirt and loves to dress himself. And yes, my other son has on a shirt backwards and inside out and he has chosen long heavy winter pants too, in tbe middle of summer. And unless you know him, you may not know that today is red ninja day and these were the only peices a red ninja would wear. And that little girl in five patterns, rainbow boots and a ballet tutu? She’s mine and yep, she dresses herself too. Probably a large swath of the kids that you imagine are slovenly and dirty attired are like mine. They may look like hot messes but those outfits are clean and just as well thought out as your coordinated ones. They were just planned by our kids, who even have very different standards then we do. Some of us are just okay with letting clothing be an area of autonomy for our very scheduled kids. We may like cute clothes for us but know our kids. We know they have super specific texture and color preferences. We know that they will only wear certain pants, even by the same manufacturer, because the elastic is just right and this tag doesn’t itch. And some of us may just have stubborn fashionistas that knew at two that their style preferences were not the same as mommy’s and we are okay with it. As much as I love our coordinated Christmas pucture outfits, i also love that my kids are very creative individuals. My mom let me dress liike a fright when I was little and I am certain that helped shape my character. My kids are just as stubborn as I was, so I am letting them express themselves.

  2. Excellent perspective! There is nothing I love more than seeing a kid out and about with their parents who are very clearly wearing every one of their favorite things. Mine isn’t so much a post about forcing my preferences onto my kids, who have very strong opinions on a number of things, but more so about helping them put their best foot forward. Also, with my boys in particular, which I know isn’t every kid, they just don’t care enough to pick out clothes and will either pull the first thing out of the drawer, or the bottom of the clothes hamper. If they expressed a desire to wear something different it would definitely be open for discussion. Individuality can be expressed in a multitude of ways and at a multitude of different times.

  3. Loved reading this Lacey. I also love Annelyse’s reply. What we have in common is that we are all mothers trying to do the best we can. I admit I can relate more to Annelyse style of dressing her kids. My little girl still fights me on her outfit and hair choices. Let me tell you I am a cosmetologist and my daughter’s hair should look perfect all the time right? Well it is a fight everyday. I am willing to do any kind of braid, pony or style. She chooses not to take me up on any of it and reminds me she doesn’t need to look perfect all the time. This doesn’t stop me from trying. Absolutely I believe in teaching your children to dress nice and teach them how to match. Bottom line everyone has their own style, even kids.


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