Dressing A 2 Year Old Girl: Rules and Lessons Learned

So, some recent convos on Twitter got me thinking about my daughter’s wardrobe… how my views have evolved and pet peeves, and what I’ve learned in the 2.75 years I’ve had to dress her up.

Make no mistake, I love dressing my daughter. She is way funner to dress up than myself, and, cheesy as it may sound, she actually influences my style. To a greater degree than it is cool to admit…

In the beginning, I got an onslaught of little-girly, teeny and (mostly) free/gifted clothes. When they say “It’s a Girl,” it’s like an unstoppable impulse to go buy a tiny pink onesie with something cute written on it. (I remember folding freshly washed onesies reading “Cutie Pie” and “So sweet” just terrified it’d be “ironic” & my daughter wouldn’t be those things and therefore the shirt would be ridiculous… lol.)  I did it, my entire circle of friends & family did it. As she gets older and her personality is becoming apparent and she has real interests and opinions, I sorta don’t feel the same as I used to about some clothing things. I don’t follow a hard and fast set of rules, however these are some of my guiding principles.

My Kid Talks, Her Clothes Don’t*

My first rule is a strong limit on words on clothes for my kid. When you really start to think about it, uh, she can’t read. If I put her in a shirt that says “Rock Star,” isn’t that a little unfair? (Or maybe just odd?) She doesn’t even know what a Rock Star is, and is that something I want her to aspire to? Ok, that’s a different tangent, but worth noting, little girl clothes are notoriously off in the skanky direction. Not likely to find one that proclaims “I love Science and Math!” or something, you know, that we WOULD want to encourage. This summer I bought/inherited a few plain colored shirts that paired with plain shorts or skirts. It was easy (even a dad can match outfits!) and I wasn’t putting some sort of weird persona on my kid.

I’m not absolute, I did just buy a babyGap shirt the other day that says “Bonjour” and has a cat on it, because she loves “Happy Lion” and cats. Also, a Lifeguard shirt because she’s so obsessed with Lifeguards it just had to be done. So maybe I act as her power of attorney a little on the “if it has to have words, at least let them be relevant” rule. I know a common “I’ll never do that” -> “I totally ate my words and am doing it anyway” issue among toddler moms is “character t-shirts.” I don’t think I ever promised to avoid them altogether; we have a few (mostly Elmo). I have a t-rex shirt and a lion shirt for her for Christmas too, because, well, she loves them! And who can resist that happy moment when you get them something they love and feed an obsession…

Comfort first

Margo has always been a sturdy little lady. That said, the jeans I’m pulling out of the hand me down box now (3T) are the first jeans to really fit her well. The first year it was a joke… she’d been sitting up for several months and I put jeans on her and she couldn’t even sit. (But, they looked SO CUTE. Don’t worry, I didn’t make her wear them.) And last year sort of worked, though I didn’t subject her to them often because I could tell they weren’t comfortable. I have this weakness for babies and tots in jeans, this was a hard, hard concession for me. Don’t let them tell you you won’t grow as a mother, people.

(Aside: I LOVE jeggings on her for this very reason. They look so cute, but they’re more comfy than jeans. See? Oh, and bonus, they’re Circo and cost like $7 on sale. Win Win Win, to infinity. )

Here’s the thing that has come to be a guiding principle for me in the Comfort realm: kids play. She shouldn’t be limited in that because her clothes are limiting her or her shoes. And, in my experience/opinion, girls clothes are far more prone to inhibit play (not ALL, but there are some scary things out there, people.) Shoes are a big thing, in our experience. We’ve had several friends send hand me downs (which we’re so grateful for), so we have shoes to choose from (i.e., we have shoes in our closet that I didn’t pick out…) Several sandals (and even wedge heels…) just didn’t fit her right or she complained about them. At first it was a little sad – these dainty white thong sandals would go perfect with this dress – but then I realized “Dummy, she’s a kid! Throw some Crocs on her and move on.” And that’s the beauty of the hand me down – no guilt when you don’t use them.

Sidenote: do toddlers EVER like thong sandals? Margo wouldn’t tolerate them long enough to get the second shoe on!

Less is More
This is my hardest rule to follow. Even within the strict parameters mentioned above, I STILL always end up with too many clothes. (I know, first world problem.) I have been approaching it from the past year from a quality over quantity standpoint. Many of Margo’s clothes now are going to be worn for several seasons, if not years (like the dress-turned-into-tunic look!) I’ve been getting less at Target and more at Lands’ End and Zulily. I hate the feeling (which I’ve had every single season so far…) of having clothes that we hardly touched, or clothes I really loved that I didn’t feel she wore enough. I’m constantly reminding myself of this one, and breaking this rule. It’s just… freaking girls clothes! Irresistible.

Cute (not sexy)
Sad it has to be said, but there you go. This rule I am holding tightly, rocking in a corner. Will become ever more relevant as she gets bigger (and I like to think I don’t need to be reminded…) Maybe it’s more like a mantra. Or prayer.

So, what are your principles in dressing your little ROCK STAR/DIVA/CUTIE PIE? 🙂


8 thoughts on “Dressing A 2 Year Old Girl: Rules and Lessons Learned

  1. I am totally guilty of the shirts with words. What can I say? I wear them too. I guess we just like them in this family, especially if bacon is one of the words. I also dress him for comfort, and aim for it even the church clothes I buy. If he’s going to sit there and be quiet for an hour for me, that is the least I can do for him. It is cool when they stop growing out of stuff every season and you can actually reuse things. I didn’t even shop the consignment sales this year b/c we had so much stuff leftover from last winter. #winning

    • when I was thinking through where most of our current clothes are from I was sorta shocked at how few consignment clothes I have these days! A few, but I don’t hit them as hard as I used to… reusing our own stuff is such a pleasant change!

      Rock the words if you like them! Like I said, I’m not absolute. Bacon seems equivalent to lions and t-rexes for you, perhaps? What’s the male equiv of “diva”… like “hide your daughters?” or “studmuffin”…

      • He has one he loves now that has a pair of shoes and says Just Kickin It Old School Style, which means nothing to him but I find it hilarious. My other fave of his just says Dude. We use that word a lot at my house. I don’t shell out tons of cash for the words though. I’ve seen some really funny ones but can’t bring myself to pay $15 for a 3yo’s t-shirt. #cheap

  2. Amen, amen, amen. I’ve pretty much come to all the same rules. Susanna can be comfortable and play in jeans, but doesn’t like them. Elise, like Margo, is blessed with thighs that do not allow her to sit down in them. OR sometimes even pick up her legs to walk.

    I have really cracked down on the words and images on shirts for two reasons 1) I don’t wear shirts that say or show things I don’t value, why should they? 2) We also have the overabundance issue, and I have this luxury. Then the moral dilemma becomes – do I donate them and pass along horrid values and passive but damaging messages to the less fortunate? So far, I’ve decided on cleaning rags instead.

    I once found my child wearing a bib that said “It’s all about ME!”. Vomit.

    • *cringe* “it’s all about me!” So much of that early stuff is gifts though, so I do feel we should be given *some* pass on it. But you’re right, I wouldn’t, like, walk around wearing a Ohio State shirt. Or one that says “I love the symphany”… at some point putting irrelevant messaging on your kid becomes weird. Or, worse, self fulfilling. Like that Bonjour tshirt, everyone says “bonjour” to her when we go to school or the store or wherever in it. If it said Diva, or Spoiled… I dunno, could become bigger than a shirt.

      Anywho. I like the cleaning rag idea! lol!

      • My fear is the self-fulfilling, I guess. I get annoyed when older generations buy them this crap, and too much of it, and then b*tch about how self-centered and entitled “kids today”are…well, who told them they were “pretty, princess, rock star, diva, superhero, spoiled, bratz”????

  3. I’m so lucky to have a boy and not have to worry about some of these things! Boy clothes are so limited (helping with overabundance and styles), and my guy is on the small side so everything is big. Womp womp. I do try to stay away from character tees or anything overly cutesy, especially as he’s now a toddler. My primary focus, though, is durability. He’s a boy through and through, and I want to make sure what we get lasts and if it doesn’t, that I didn’t spend a lot on it. I have found great stuff at second hand shops and garage sales.

    • I bought a bunch up until this year at consignment sales… our hand me down channels really picked up, I guess! I just didn’t feel like I needed anything, but I do love consignment sale… and it’s a totally different ball game for boys! Girls typically have more clothes & I hear that it’s better consignment shopping for the little girls!

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