Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

By the time our youngest daughter, Anika, was 3, she was a fashion queen. She was a confident and happy little girl who liked to make a statement.  She wore hats—a baseball cap to the side, or a flowery concoction, or even a winter cap as a part of her outfit. Fast-forward a decade-plus, and Anika’s fashion sense has matured, but it hasn’t changed. She still loves hats and wears unique combinations. She also wears wigs and lives for moments when she can get away with a little more than the school dress code typically allows.

Now, I feel like I’m reliving Anika’s toddlerhood through my granddaughter, Hallie. Hallie, who is not quite 2, has already learned how to dress herself – not because she wants to get dressed, as she prefers to be naked – but so that she can have control over what she wears. And l’m reminded of all the tricks we used to keep Anika dressed, especially when it was too cold for her skirts and sandals.


Don’t Restrict What They Wear – Just Add Layers

A pair of pants or leggings underneath a skirt will keep her legs warm while still letting her wear what she wants to wear.  She can do the same with a turtleneck underneath the top or dress to keep her arms warm.  Since hats of any kind make a great fashion statement, a collection of wool caps in all colors can help keep their little heads covered without forcing the stubborn little fashionistas from sacrificing their own personal style.

Let Them Have Control

Let your child feel like she is in control.  If she has to wear covered shoes instead of sandals, let her pick them out.  If she picks them and likes them, she will be more apt to wear them. Do the same with socks – and quit worrying whether or not the socks match.

Make Mornings Easier 

When Anika was young, we had to be out the door early in the morning to get her to daycare and me to school. To make it easier on everyone, we set out the clothes the night before—but I let her pick them. That way, she knew exactly what she would be wearing when she woke up.

My struggles with Anika and clothes started around the time she was 3. Hallie is not quite 2 and already demonstrating the same stubborn inflexibility about who gets to pick her clothes.


At the end of the day, though, no one is going to care if her socks match or whether or not she had coordinated her outfit with her shoes. And she’ll be happier for it.

Oh,  and it’s great practice for the wrestling you’ll do about clothes when they’re teens … But that’s another story!