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10 Tips For My Daughters on How to Dress Themselves

At preschool drop-off another mom pointed out,"Your daughter's socks don't match."

I turned my palms upward in a je ne sais pas and wrinkled my nose, "Rough morning. Can’t win ’em all.”

My then four-year-old was Little Miss Mismatched. She loved Disney princess dresses paired with rain boots and purple flowered leggings with her green and gold Packer t-shirt.

That morning, I picked my battle.

She walked into the kitchen dressed in a thin ballerina dress and no tights. I shook my head, unh-uh. It was January. In Chicago.

Without tears, she marched back to her bedroom to change. This time she dressed in weather-appropriate clothes, but her socks didn’t match (one Minnie Mouse, the other mini dalmatians and polka-dots.

Mismatched? Pheh. Not a battle worth fighting.

Now, at five and eight, many of our conversations are about fashion and what people are wearing. I mostly give my girls free reign selecting their outfits because I love their fearless sense of style and the random pairings that look unintentionally chic.

Yet now is the time to lay out our values. Now, before they are teens and tune me out and their friends in. I want to encourage my girls to express themselves, yet not without guidance.

10 Things I Want My Daughters to Know About Dressing Themselves

10 Tips For My Daughters on How to Dress Themselves
photo:womens formal dresses

1. Dress for You and You Alone: There will be pressure to follow trends worn by your peers. It'll be tempting to emulate Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez. Know this: I love and accept you for you. Please stay true to your personality and embrace your individuality. Pick your clothes for the right reasons: What makes you feel comfortable? What makes you sparkle?

Feeling good about yourself on the outside has an impact on your confidence and how you feel on the inside. Looking good, feeling good, right?

2. Find a Signature Look: Uncover your inner French girl and develop your personal style. Train your eye to spot a look that sings to you. When you're shopping at a store or in your closet, ask yourself: Does this shirt add a pep to my step? Do I walk a little taller, smile a little brighter when I'm wearing this dress? Do I love it? If so, you've landed on a keeper.

Rock your style with confidence and no apologies. You are beautiful if you’re dressed like Princess Elsa or the singer Lorde. Be true to yourself.

3. Be Mindful of Dress Codes: How you dress for school is different than how you dress for the daddy-daughter dance. That one you know, but there will be many more rules for dressing and they’ll probably shift as you age (like smart casual and business casual).

You’ll need to consider the setting, the culture, and even the country. Then you’ll need to know how to code switch. If you're uncertain about what's appropriate or inappropriate, ask someone you trust (You can always pick me. I’ve got your back, girl.)

4. It's Important to Know What Not To Wear: Let's chat about the runway outfits and the awards show glam in US Weekly Let's pore over In Style together and talk about what's in, what's out, and why? This way you know how prevent your crack from peeking out of your jeans. No whale tails, sweetie. If you aren’t yet familiar with the term, let’s keep it that way.

You’ve been begging me to get your makeup done at Macy’s and we’ll do that on a mommy-daughter day. It’s complimentary, yet you are expected to buy a product. I’ll spring for that 20-dollar palette of eyeshadow if you go halfsies. I know that sometimes an expert’s opinion will resonate more than mine. I’ll smile because I’ve been you. I remember.

5. Make Sure Your Logo Matches Your Mind: What do you want to say about yourself? I know, I know, it's just words on a t-shirt, but I read them and so did the boy sitting next to you in math class. If you're wearing a shirt that says, "I Call the Shots," do you know what that means? Do this words speak to you?

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