It should come as no surprise that my younger daughter is taking a year off her fine arts degree to attend a 12-month fashion design program. From the day she set foot in Kindergarten, she exhibited signs of fashion … determination.
I’ve heard some parents select and purchase clothes that their children actually wear. I used to see these children, splendidly groomed in cute, kid-sized versions of trendy clothes.
It’s not that I’m particularly trendy myself, but I always assumed my children would inherit my taste in clothing (i.e., they’d wear little jeans and denim jackets; maybe a Canucks’ jersey once in awhile). But Sierra shunned my beloved denim and clung to her own unique sense of dress.
The first sign that something was amiss occurred when I took her shopping, and she selected a dress for Kindergarten. A dress? “Sweetie, look at these cool jeans.” The dress had a black velour bodice (really? velour?) with little coloured buttons on the front and a multi-coloured, mostly pink (pink!) flowery skirt.
She clutched it as we drove home. She found a pair of tights and a pair of little black (shiny!) shoes and wore the outfit to Kindergarten the next day. And the following day. And the day after. And so on. In fact, she would wear nothing else for six months. Same dress. Same tights. Same shoes.
I tried luring her with other clothing, buying dresses and placing them in visible spots. But the growth of her wardrobe seemed to spur her determination to wear one dress.
Once in a while I found myself hiding the dress or slipping it into the wash. “Can’t find it! How about one of your other 25 dresses?”
Then I discovered she was hiding it, stuffing it in the bed or slipping it under a carefully placed blanket in her toy box.
Finally, its velvety bodice became threadbare and she agreed to retire it. I danced a little jig of happiness around the house.
A short time later we attended a niece’s birthday party where my mother-in-law excitedly brought out a bag. She explained that the child of a friend saw this dress and wanted Sierra to have it. Coincidence or bad karma? It was an identical dress. Sierra was thrilled; I admitted defeat.
A year later she attached herself to a single pair of Osh Kosh overalls; thankfully I found an identical pair in one size larger around Christmas time, because by then, she had gone through both knees and was close to bursting through the back side.
Every September, as school rolled around, I thought, this is it. This year, she will wear a variety of clothes (specifically, jeans and a denim jacket).
But every year, she found another attachment.
Shuddering, I sent her off to Grade 3 one morning wearing three-quarter length pants, big purple, rubber boots and the blue (velour) shirt she’d been wearing for the past four weeks.
But then I stopped short in the schoolyard, stunned as I looked around and saw the girls in Sierra’s class. All of them: short pants, velour shirts and boots. Sierra’s fashion “sense” had apparently caught on.
And perhaps that’s not a bad thing to have on your fashion school resume.