dressing just like momma…

momma's jewels

sweatshirt over jammies

big girl shoes!

my daughter’s 15 months old now, nearly 16 months, and growing up fast and furious. of late she’s been completely and totally enamored with clothes and accessories. her own, but also and especially, mine. she’s been wanting to wear my shoes (see her wearing my red clogs, above!), and has even taken to grabbing my shoes (various different pairs) and carrying them around the house with her like a lovey or fetish object. she could have hours of fun just sitting in the closet amongst my pile of shoes, and she’ll often grab a pair and bring them out to me, yearning to try them on. she’s been repeatedly wanting to put on a gold sparkly pair of her mary janes in recent weeks, and has also been grabbing various sweaters and sweatshirts of hers and demanding that they be put on her, sometimes several different ones in rapid succession until she’s satisfied.

it’s no surprise, to pete and i, anyway, that one of her first words was “shoe”.

these behaviors seem adorable, if not a little precocious, no? this being my first (and probably only) child, and also, not knowing much about kids in general beyond my own…help me out, if you know: is this kind of thing normal? other fashionable mommas of girls out there: do your baby girls do this??

at any rate, i think it’s pretty funny and very endearing. i’m wondering if she’ll continue this fascination with clothes and shoes and baubles, or if it’s just a passing toddler or childhood phase, wherein one’s child wants to be “just like mommy” (or daddy, as the case may be)…?

but, taking this further, i also wonder: how much of what we wear, what we love, what we’re into, is influenced by what we see our parents/siblings/family wearing? as i see it, those around us, our families and close associates, have a big influence over us and what we wear. this can and does usually seem to go one of two ways (sometimes both, or one way or the other depending on where you are in your life or development at a given juncture): one, you can dress just like/or similar to mom and/or dad (or like the rest of your family), or you can try and do the exact opposite, as a way to exert independence and set oneself apart from whom you sprang. going with what you know, or (un)consciously going against it.

i know for me, it was like this: it went both ways. i wanted, and still want to be a lot like my parents, i have some similarities in my tastes in relation to them, but have always had a stubborn streak that made me want to be my own person, stylistically, and otherwise.

my dad’s style is very trad, very new-england in the 1960s, very collegiate, very ivy league. and he looks amazing. i definitely see myself embracing similar tastes, a lot of times, leaning back on classics as foundation in my wardrobe, albeit usually wearing them with more than a little cheeky twist (unexpected fabrics, odd yet calculated pairings of pieces, colors, textures, etc.). dad also loves color, just like moi (boy howdy!)…we’re both unafraid to wear it. as for mom, i still have a picture of her in my mind’s eye that includes her sporting a chin-length blonde bob (my hair is usually some variation on the same), and if i could get my hands on some of the things she wore in the 1970s (like that long gone, camel-colored a-line wool jumper she had!) i’d be a happy, happy woman.

but…there are a good many things i love and wear that i doubt my parents would ever consider in a million eons…and that’s what makes me *me*, my tastes mine. and that’s fine. but my parents are, in many ways, the core of me, the jumping off point from which i come, stylistically.

maybe it’s a little like this: you take a little from what you know, mix it with who you are inside, and volia…you have your own personal style statement. or something like that.

i can’t wait to see who my little poppy flower becomes. will she continue to love all the bright colors, like i do? will she still be into the shoes, the jewelry, the clothes? will she love getting dressed up as much as i do? will she clamor to wear my old things when she’s older? or will she eschew it all, in favor of her own different and delightful tastes and whims? maybe she’ll indulge in a little of both, remixing things her own way, playing with influences and trends and all of it. either way, it will be fascinating to watch her grow and watch her evolve, stylistically, and otherwise.

17 comments

  1. Maven

    Well, I don’t have kids of my own, but having been in close & frequent proximity to my nephews and niece as they grow up, I think the most fascinating thing is how kids really do pick the things that they’re into, especially as they get older and are better able to articulate their preferences. My oldest nephew, for instance, had a massive Jerry Lee Lewis phase between the ages of 2 and 3, and it was completely uninfluenced by his parents. He got really into early rock and roll and wanted to brush his hair like JLL (and knock the piano bench over like JLL, but that’s another story). Later it was Houdini and magic, and the kid wore a tuxedo like every day, sometimes with a top hat and cane. He was into what he called “handsome clothes.” This was before kindergarten, I think. Now he’s pretty conventional for a 7 year old. What’s awesome is that his parents have just rolled with it–they’re as interested as anyone else is to see where his brain will take him. Same goes for the other kids, who are maybe a little less idiosyncratic (so far) but no less in charge of their destinies.

  2. Jocelyne

    According to my mom, I was obsessed with shoes as a child too. When we wold go visit my mom’s friends the first thing I would do was go raid the shoes in their closet and wear them around their houses. I still LOVE shoes and have LOTS so I guess it was just something I knew I loved at a very young age. Your daughter is beautiful!

  3. Becky

    What a cutie! You’re so lucky 🙂

    That first photo made me smile – I used to do the exact same with my nan’s jewellery, draping string after string of beads around my neck and try on ridiculous sunhats and refuse to take them off, even to go to the supermarket (the photos are great!). Now I’m applying to fashion colleges/unis, writing my fashion blog and generally obsessed with clothes..you may have a little fashionista on your hands!

  4. sarah

    Nice to see Poppy – that’s one cute kiddo you’ve got there, Tricia. I love her smile, she seems very joyous!

    I didn’t give two whits about clothes as a kid. Perhaps that’s partly because we grew up on the pretty low end of middle class; we had the basics, second-hand, and that was it. Clothes were more utilitarian than expressive, though we certainly picked out things we liked. What I find interesting is that in my adult life, my mother and I so frequently gravitate to the same fashions – there wasn’t really much of an opportunity for my mother to express her fashion sense when I was younger, and yet we both wound up with similar taste. Can’t explain it – maybe it’s just part and parcel (somehow) of the whole culture she and my father raised us into?

  5. Lexi

    My nephew was obsessed with my shoes when he was around that age. I’d visit weekly and each time he’d take my shoes off my feet and run into the living room to play with them. I’d say it’s totally normal for kids to be curious and exploring what’s around them, especially when it comes to their main role models.

    My own style comes from a mix of being independent and rejecting what my mom picked out for me (I picked out a floral turtleneck with a plaid jumper for my third grade photo with my reasoning of “they both have red in them!”) and being raised in a very religious house.
    I’m grateful my parents gave me room to grow and be creative. Otherwise, I might be like my mom and not wearing brown with blue!

  6. toveb

    I have a boy who is about a month younger than your daughter and he LOVES shoes, especially mine. He tries them on, moves them around, puts things in them. When his grandmother gave him a pair of indoor shoes just after his first birthday (he was walking by then), he wanted to wear them all the time. 🙂

  7. danielle

    i remember wanting to wear my mom and big sis’ shoes all of the time.

    i am soooo lucky to have had one of the most stylish ladies on the planet for a mother. i can only hope that her style resonates through me.

  8. Chloe Nightingale

    This is only half-answering your questions, but my mom loves to wear hokey sweaters with big appliqués and Mickey Mouse stuff. My dad is an engineer, but at home wears baseball caps and logo shirts that he gets for free when he runs 5ks. So, I don’t really dress like them. ;p

    I don’t know a lot about kids other than my 18 month old son, but he pretty much likes to do what he sees me doing, including (this one time) stomping around and yelling (and then grinning at me for approval) after seeing me yell at my husband about something dumb.
    He sees me reading a lot, so he is always flipping through his books (and any magazines and catalogues I have lying around) and he likes to sit in my lap and type on my computer.

    And style-wise, I like to dress Bert up like a wee old man. He will wear anything without a fuss — even wee neckscarves — except hats.

  9. Nichola

    My girls want to dress up all the time, particularly in my clothes, shoes and jewelry. One of Heidi’s first words was shoe too and she loves to totter around in mine.
    xx

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  11. Mary

    I think all kids are obsessed with shoes. I’ve worked in a store in a stroller-filled neighborhood and all the kids invariably end up putting them on and clomping around the store. Apparently I also loved shoes as a child. Since children are so close to the ground, they see them a lot, and I think the size and variety and colors and shapes kind of make them akin to toys.

    I read a Tori Spelling profile recently in In Touch or something (classy!) and she was like, “My son loves trucks- my husband bonds with him over them, whereas my daughter loves shoes! She’s so girly!” even though her daughter was basically a baby, like a year old. I think it’s a mistake to categorize this sort of behavior as innately feminine- it is just playtime/dressup and is more encouraged in girls, who are always getting told stuff like, “You look so pretty!” and “You’re a princess!” Plus they see other women and imitate them. I think if we encouraged little boys to do the same sort of stuff, they would love it too- it’s just already so gendered right away!

    My interest in clothing has everything to do with my mother’s long history of flea markets and dragging home Victorian dresses and tapestries and whatnot. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be wearing Sketchers and an oversized sweatshirt right now if I had just grown up with my dad!

  12. Lisa

    My daughter is 21 months and loves shoes and clothes, so it seems pretty normal to me. She wears bracelets and watches out of the house everyday so she’s already starting to accessorize. I’d suggest investing in some dress up clothes for your daughter (my daughter has a growing costume trunk (which she loves) with various pretty dresses, outfits, shoes, bracelets, and necklaces that I’ve picked up on sale or from thrift stores). That way you can play with clothes and different styles without her raiding your closet or tripping over your too big clothes and shoes. Have fun!

  13. Melanie

    what a great post/question/anecdote/analysis! My daughter is exactly like me in her use of clothes as expression of self, though certainly not in style. She has been known to wear 8 outfits in one day, loves playing fashion consultant to mama (as far as she’s concerned, I’m like a life-sized Groovy Girl), and we’ve been swapping clothes since she was 8 (she’s now a 5’8″ 12 year old with a well-defined style of her own).

    I remember needing to go to the grocery one day and waiting on her to get ready FOREVER only to have her four year old self appear in red and white leggings (with gold sparkles!), a big, green hoodie, a fat yellow belt, about 354765 necklaces, half her hair pinned back with every barrette she owned, the other half in a gazillion little pigtails, humongous sunglasses and cowboy boots – exclaiming ‘I’m ready! Let’s go!’ So we went. The cashier took a look at her and said something to effect of her being adorable, to which the daughter replied ‘I do not appreciate your condescension!’ The cashier handled it like a star and just giggle a bit and said ‘you’re right, but you DO look fabulous’.

    I like to think it all means that we fashionistas breed precocious children 😉