JFF - Your Children and Fashion

Updated on October 18, 2013
J.S. asks from Chandler, AZ
30 answers

At what age did you start having your kids pick out their clothes each morning for school? When they pick something out that clearly doesn't match, do you say something? Or let it go?

With our 6 kids, they mostly pick out their own clothes every day. For the most part, they do pretty well. But every once in a while, I wonder what in the world they were thinking. For my 4 year old, I usually let her pick out her clothes but I guide her if she doesn't match. She usually has no problem picking something else that looks better. For my 7 year old boy and 9 year old boy, I usually pick their clothes out the night before and lay them on their floor. They never have a problem with me doing this, and it makes it easier and bonus, they usually match. But this morning after I my 9 year old was dressed, I remembered the Cardinals were playing tonight and asked him if he wanted to wear his Cardinals shirt instead. So he changed his shirt, but it completely clashed with the shorts he was already wearing. I mentioned it, but he didn't seem to care, so I let it go. My 7 year old step daughter usually asks me if what she picks matches, or we pick her clothes out together. My 11 year old step daughter picks out her tom boy clothes on her own and does well for her style. My 13 year old step son picks out his own clothes and he often does not match, but I figure he's old enough to know his style, and keep my mouth shut.

Sometimes when I'm in the pick up line at school and see kids walking, I am surprised by how many kids don't match. I am no fashion police, but I do like cute, fashionable clothes (on a budget, or from second hand store) and I try to encourage my kids to dress with some style.

So what do you do?

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I let her pick out her own outfits as soon as she was able to express a preference. Didn't matter if it matched or not - SHE was the one wearing it, not me. I let her make combos SHE liked.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I started letting my kids pick their clothes at 2 years old. At first it was a choice between two things I'd hold up, then as they got older, I'd let them have free reign of their dressers.

It has never mattered to me if they matched or not, as long as their clothes were weather/season appropriate.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

This is one of the battles of parenting I don't engage in with my kids. 2 of them are VERY particular about what they wear (the almost-3 and 5 year old). I *could* insist that their outfits match, but I'd rather insist they eat their veggies at dinner :) 9/10 times the younger two choose outfits that make me shake my head. But they're happy, dressed age and weather appropriately and that's really all I can ask for! lol

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

I personally like it when kids dress mismatched or whimsical at times - it reflects both their immaturity and the fact that they feel perfectly happy with whatever they choose even if it does not conform to adult sensibilities.

There is so little room in kids life for them to express themselves without being coerced to conform to their parents expectation and so little time before peer pressure will get the best of them. So if my DD wants to wear a pink tutu with green leggings and an orange t-shirt... just because she can - I certainly won't tell her otherwise.

I despise womens fashion by the way. I am a normal built woman, not skinny, not overweight but well proportioned and curvy.
It is SOOO hard for me to find clothes that are practical while still professional. Most women's fashion is so uncomfortable if you are not a size 0 or too casual to wear to work. And don't even get me started on shoes...

Well I'll get off the soapbox... I hope my DD will wear whatever she likes for many years...

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

Kiddos are 5, 8 and 10. I can't remember the last time I picked their clothes for them. Maybe when they were 3 or 4.

My kids certainly pick different outfits than I would personally choose. But, I do feel like this is one of those things where THEY have to wear it so it should (in general) be something that they like and are comfortable in. I do hold veto power and will use it in the following cases:
1-clothing is too small (floods, belly shows if they lift arms, etc.)
2-clothing is embarrassingly damaged (holes, rips, stains, or dirty)
3- clothing is immodest/inappropriate for outside play
4-It is an important event (picture day, church, big family party) and therefore I want to ensure everyone looks very put-together

My 8 year old daughter often wears mismatched neon socks, pants with skirts over them, and all sorts of other crazy, mismatched outfits. A lot of the time, it actually looks super cute. I really don't care. She has a fun personality and her crazy outfits reflect that.
My 10 year old could not care less about clothes, fashion, or appearance. I consider it a "win" if he has the buttons done up correctly and no food stains.
My 5 year old hates "girl" clothes or anything with hearts, pink, purple or bows with a passion. She loves her character shirts or cowboy (flannel) shirts and refuses bows in her hair. That's fine with me, that is who she is, I just make sure that she looks clean and presentable.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

The only time I stop them is when they are dressed inappropriately for the situation - shorts in the snow, sweaters in the summer, holey jeans to church, nice dress to go tree-climbing, etc. Okay, I will admit that once or twice I've stopped my wildly colorful daughter at the door because I was afraid she'd trigger migraines in sensitive people with her outfit. "Honey, the orange, pink, green, and yellow are all good, but the red Santa socks must go..."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

I let my children pick their own clothes as soon as they show interest. Heck I even let my 21 mo ds wear tinkerbell shoes he found that were big sis'. I want my children to feel comfortable in their own skin and notice other people for their character, personality, kindness etc. my dd also refuses a jacket at times so I say " ok it's your body but well bring it along". I want my children to know they have the say so over their own body. Now if I need them to dress a certain way say for a special event I will pick 2-3 acceptable choices then maybe let her pick the barrettes. I also try to compliment people on their personality/talents instead of looks/clothes. Sorry if this seems like a rant l don't mean offense to anyone and each parents does things differently.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My son is six and most of the time, would rather have an adult just set some clothes out for him. When he picks clothes out and they don't 'work', I do not correct that (unless it's not weather-appropriate)... I figure that if he likes what he has on, that's great. If I make him worry about 'matching', A. he'll be less likely to want to be independent and B. it's somewhat of a no-confidence vote for him. If we say "pick out your clothes....oh, you got that wrong" --it's counter-intuitive to helping him develop his own sense of what 'feels good' for him.

Heck, I'm glad when I don't have to tell him his pants are on backward! I really don't care what his tastes are. Style shmyle. Just not a big thing in our house. As long as it relatively suits, is clean and in good condition (and as long as it isn't picture day) I could care less.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I don't usually pick out clothes. I tell them what the temperature will be like. So when it's cold I'll usually say "pants, tights or leggings & long sleeved shirts". My kids are 6 & 9. My 9 year old boy usually matches but it's not hard when his wardrobe consists of jeans, sport pants and t-shirts, sweatshirts. My 6 year old daughter will wear the strangest combinations and I don't make her change or anything. I figure let her express herself. I think it was when they started school that they picked their own clothes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Like Geneva L. I only make my kids change if the outfit is inappropriate for the situation. They are 10 & 11. The other day my daughter wore purple flowered jean shorts, a silver cowboys jersey, black shoes with black socks pulled all the way up to mid-calf, and one black glove. I just laughed and took a picture. I love that they are their own people. I figure peer pressure will beat it out of them soon enough, let them have their own fashion sense now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My oldest has sensory issues, and it's a struggle just to get her to put on clothes. So as long as she has on pants and a top/dress, I'm okay with it. It generally doesn't match, and quite often has already been worn once or twice. As long as it's weather appropriate and not obviously dirty or stinky, she can wear it.

She also rarely wears socks. Oh well. It's a fight I'm not willing to have.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I haven't dressed my kids or picked out their clothes for everyday wear since they were 3 (2 for my youngest, who was very "MY DO MYSELF!" at that age).

My 15 year old son is a fabulous dresser and always has been. His current look is a patterned dress shirt under a sweater or vest with colored slim jeans and subdued skater shoes. Sort of a "hipster" look.

My 15-year-old step daughter doesn't really have a flair for fashion. She's pretty much always in skinny jeans with a fitted, neutral top or maybe a knit dress. The only time I weigh in is when something is too short, too low, too tight or is showing bra straps.

My 9 year old son would wear nylon shorts and a tank top every day if allowed. He's picked out some more fashionable clothes this year but for the most part, he looks sloppy and clashy and uncoordinated and that's fine by him.

My 7 year old son is more like his older brother. He likes to look good. He frequently opts to wear dress shirts, ties, sweaters and vests to school and likes colored jeans and chinos.

I'm happy if they have on socks, matching shoes, and are dressed appropriately for the weather. Beyond that, unless it's a holiday or special event, they're in charge of what they wear.

LOL Isn'tthisfun I totally would have let her wear that cape! My oldest son wanted to wear a green morph suit to school one day (it was a day when they were doing activities and no classes). I figured that that would be distracting and that he would need to get permission first. He and his friends asked and were denied, so they packed the suits in their backpacks and changed after school walked home in them. I love the weird kids LOL!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Kids were in private schools with uniforms until son hit middle school and daughter went to 3rd grade. I let them choose from what was available. I get "my" say-so when the clothing is purchased (so nothing offensive or inappropriate as far as that goes)... they can decide how to put it together.

Except, daughter decided this week that she wanted to wear her Lucy cape (from Narnia when she was little) on the bus after school. Husband told her no. He is not going to be the parent of "that" girl who is the weird one who wears capes. She's 12 and in 7th grade, LOL.
He wasn't mean about it. It was said with a big laugh and smiles all around. She "fake" pouted and we moved on. I remember wanting to be quirky for the attention. I had already let her do it for one day. That was enough really, she got the attention she was after, without becoming "that" girl. Her older brother was embarrassed. LOL

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

You know, I thought I had pretty good taste. Kind of the J.Crew mentality (even though we only shop at second hand stores). I took some of my daughter's old but good condition clothes in to Once Upon A Child last week, and they refused fifteen outfits BECAUSE OF TASTE. It was a taste factor. Sheesh!

My 9 year old and 6 year old are perfectly happy with picking out their own clothes. I tell them what size sleeve, they choose. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I stopped picking out my girls' clothes about the same time I stopped actually putting the clothes on them (maybe age 2?) Of course I'd love my kids to always look cute, but they want to pick out their own clothes and I let them. Sometimes they do not look cute. Oh well. They are 12 and almost 10, so of course they aren't out buying clothes without me. So, everything they put on was purchased (and approved) by me at one point. I compliment them when they look nice, hoping they'll be encouraged to look nice more often. The other day my 12 year old came downstairs wearing leggings, a long top and tall boots (fake Uggs). She looked adorable, and I told her so! Hope she wears that outfit again. My 9 year old pretty much just wears t-shirts we have purchased at swim meets, with athletic shorts. Whatever. I imagine that eventually she'll grow out of that. So yeah, my kids are the ones you're looking at from the carpool line! I'm hoping most moms realize this is one of those battles I am choosing NOT to participate in :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My kid wore jeans just about everyday, like a uniform, to school. Whatever shirt they picked out was fine by me, as long as the didn't wear it the day before, lol. They dressed themselves by 4 or so. It was more important to me that they be independent, than they dress well.

Of course that does come with some snaffoos.. If you look at the searches on my 18 yr old's phone, you see, does navy blue go with maroon? Lol!

I helped pick out stuff for church or events.

It's always been funny to me that some little girls are so properly dressed till they get about 3rd grade when they start to dress themselves. Then they go through another crazy period of time when they suddenly have to CARE for their own clothes.

I taught K art as a volunteer. It was crazy to dress those kids up! It limited what they felt comfortable experiencing or it ruined good clothes. Learning is messy. I sound like Mrs. Frizzle on Magic School Bus. Let's take chances, make mistakes and let's get Messy!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My kids are 7 and almost 11.
They dress themselves.
From about when they were 4 or so, they would dress themselves.
Its really not a big deal for me, if they don't match.
They'll sometimes, ask me what I think of what they are wearing. But not usually.
They dress fine.
They each have their own taste.
If they don't match, its no biggie.
They like their outfit.

Kids generally have a different sense of "fashion" or what matches or not. Its a kids' view.
I work at an elementary school. So many combinations of clothes I see. Some really don't match. Oh well. The child is real pleased with it. I try to compliment a kid on their own sense of dressing. And its amazing what they say....from a big THANK YOU! to, "my Mom hates it..." to "I wanted to be different today..." and they all seem to be "proud" of their outfit.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids pick out there own clothes as soon as they show interest. My oldest did this at 13 months. My son around his third bday. If they clash, they clash.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

For the first few years of school, GD went to a uniform school so that was no problem. Once the school threw out the uniform policy, she was old enough to pick out her own clothes. If she picks something that doesn't match, I might mention it, but she usually likes what she's picked and still wears it.

Life is much too short and there are so many other things to worry about, that I let her wear what she wants as long as it is age appropriate.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I haven't picked out clothes in years. The only time I do is when we go on vacation - and part of that is because I take TONS of pictures and I want the kids looking decent. But even then, they still pick - I just approve. So no crazy mismatched outfits on vacation. I don't normally care for every day wear. I just shake my head at what the kids come home in.

We have a sitter that does the mornings with them, so she has to approve and I've never had a problem with what they wear. Sometimes they look silly, but it's all good.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have always helped my daughter pick out her clothes so long as she was okay with me helping her. I figure it's my job to teach her how to match colors and patterns.

If she insisted on wearing a particular outfit, then as long as it was weather appropriate, that was fine, even if it didn't match.

Usually she chose one item she wanted to wear, like a skirt, pants or a top and then we'd search for something that matched together.

She always chose her own clothes at the store, so long as they were appropriate for her age.

Now that she's older, she chooses all of her own clothing. Once in a while she'll ask if she matches. She's 12 now, and perfectly capable of dressing herself of course!

I think how much you help your child depends on their personality and how much they want your help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Never have we picked out clothes in the morning.
Clothes are picked out the night before.
Somewhere around 4th grade my son was picking out what he'd wear to school the next day.
He doesn't really have anything that doesn't match so he can't go wrong.
There was one day during the school's spirit week where they were deliberately going for a mismatched look - he wore different colored socks.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

My boys, 5 and 9, pick out their own clothes and not always do they match.
I do help them to pick out clothes for picture day, school programs and church.
Both my boys prefer t-shirts and shorts or track pants so it's pretty easy for them to get dressed on their own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I have varying degrees of choices for clothing that I taught my kids. When they were three, I laid out whole outfits and had them choose one. When they were six, I laid out shirts and pants in the same color arena and had them choose one of each, after having taught them about solid-plus-solid and solid-plus-pattern is okay, but patten-plus-pattern is not okay. When they were nine, they could choose the colors, after I taught them about what "goes" with each color. When they were 11, we went over what type of clothes would go with each occassion, so that they could choose appropriately. I never had to worry about it after that. Yes, teach them.



answers from Chicago on

Let them wear what they want to as long as it covers them. Let them have some clothing independence.


answers from San Francisco on

Mine always picked out their own. They mostly wore basic color (blue, black, brown) jeans, shorts and leggings and fairly basic (though more colorful) tops so "matching" was never an issue.



answers from Portland on

The only time I have said something is when my 8 year old son wore blue plaid shorts with an athletic style shirt that had a completely different color and pattern. He told me he liked it and I let it go. Usually my kids pick out great outfits. I do pick out their outfits for special occasions and they understand that they can have opinions, but I have veto power on those days.


answers from Chicago on

Well, my son's school is uniformed so we do not have that worry, however when we are going out as a family on the weekends I choose his clothes and allow room for his suggestions. My son is 7, I also guide his father in an appropriate direction when we go out.

In addition, one of the "on trend" things is bold prints mixing with each other and not always matching - it's possible they are all right on trend.


answers from Grand Forks on

Around grade one I stopped laying out their outfits. They do a pretty good job of putting outfits together, but then again they are boys. How hard is it to pair a t-shirt with a pair of jeans. If I do not like what they have put together I will suggest they change either the top or the bottom, only if there is time to. If we are in a hurry we live with it. I do put church outfits and special occasion outfits together. I will also have them change if they are wearing clothes that are totally inappropriate for the weather or occasion.



answers from Detroit on

Up until this week, my 8 year old son picked out his own outfits. He's a basic boy: sports t-shirts and shorts, rarely wears jeans, unfortunately. Well, I finally woke up this week and realized that he keeps wearing the same t-shirt and shorts at least 3 out of the 5 school days in the week; so, none of his new clothes are being worn:( I wash clothes daily, so I understand him doing this. But, from this point forward, I will be picking out his outfits making sure that most of the clothes are being worn, not just a few:) The men in my family have absolutely zilcho fashion sense, so I can see me doing this for a LONG time:)

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