Creating a List of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Your Family
article by Cindy G. Foust
Oh, the dreaded e-mail, the e-mail I’ve been dreading since accepting this job as a feature writer for BayouLife. No, not the e-mail dismissing me or thanking me for my service that is no longer needed, but dreaded just the same. This email would be from my editor telling me that the September issue would be about fashion, and to feel free to contribute to the issue with all things apparel. Uh…excuse me? I tried to delete it quickly, thinking might be a hoax or maybe a cruel joke that the staff at my beloved BayouLife might be playing on me. Even worse, what if a virus had invaded my personal email space? Fashion? Really? Me?
Anyone who knows me will tell you there is absolutely no way to confuse me with anything fashionable. What’s worse, my husband depends on me periodically to help him match his outfits, a rather scary thought. No, what’s really worse is my nine-year old daughter can breeze through a department store and “put an outfit together” for her mother, with accessories and shoes, before I can even find the dressing room. It’s shameful. No, what’s actually the worst, is even when I think I’ve “put it all together” or found that “perfect swimsuit” to enhance or minimize “my assets,” then I find myself standing in the line at the waterpark, deciding how many people have seen the “hole” in the crack of my swimsuit. Now, does this sound like someone you want writing fashion tips for your child? I didn’t think so.
However, duty calls and I began to research feverishly for this month’s column. Oh, it was painful, but I’m am a professional, so rather than send an SOS email to Cassie, I trudged ahead with my research. As you know, the Internet is a wealth of knowledge on any subject in the world, and children’s fashion is no exception. As I continued to read article after article, hope began to replace the pensive, distressed look on my face; the air began to get lighter in the room; my fingers became antsy to get to the computer keys; and the joy of writing this column quickly returned. As it turns out, there are many experts that have similar “fashion rules” as we do at my house; we just have never labeled them that. Admittedly, my family doesn’t sit around the dinner table and discuss the do’s and don’ts on how to dress for success; however, we have had standing rules for as long as I’ve been dressing my children (it only took reading hundreds of other people’s fashion rules for their children, to realize that I wasn’t as much of a fashion risk as I thought I was). So, without further delay, I have committed to paper the following fashion must do’s (or must don’ts) for my family:
Number one, at our house, we must dress age appropriate. This rule really started after I had a little girl, because there was never a time my son asked to wear a suit or had Bieber Fever. There have been times, however, that my little girl wanted to look like Miley Cyrus, when I wanted her to look like Rebecca from Sunnybrook Farm. Therefore, this rule quickly shot to number one. I may not can match my earrings with my necklace, but I know how a nine year old should dress, so absolutely, the number one fashion rule at our house is to dress your age, not like the cover of Seventeen magazine.
Number two, which will seem like a contradiction to number one, but our children have always been able to make their own fashion choices. Yes, they were able to choose from the clothes that were purchased, washed and put in their closets. I’m just kidding, well sort of. During clothes shopping outings, my children are able to pick their clothes for themselves, after all, our house is not a military academy. If you refer to rule number one, however, there has always been a tremendous amount of input from their parents in making their decisions. Oftentimes, the opinions were not on the “same page,” but there have been occasions of compromise, and hopefully, a parenting “veto” to an outfit won’t have long lasting negative consequences for our children.
Number three, how do you smell? Are you wearing your deodorant? Have you brushed your teeth (fresh breath is a priority at our house)? Are your feet clean (for someone with no sense of style, I am, however, a person who leaves her house everyday with clean feet and polished toes)? What is your cologne choice for today (if I can smell you before you get downstairs, chances are your choice was a bit much)?
Number four, how is your hair working today? Is it washed? Brushed? Rats out (good grief, I sound like my 89-year old grandmother)? I’m of the now distinguished fashion opinion, that if your hair looks like someone fried a hamburger on it, then your outfit might as well be duct tape and staples, because no one is looking past your “do.” So, clean, well-groomed coiffure makes the list.
Finally, fashion rule number five, do you like what you are wearing? Even if I weigh in on my children’s fashion choices, I do want them to be comfortable and enjoy what they are wearing. As they are getting older, as contradictory as this may sound, I have begun to allow them a little more latitude in what they choose to wear. But anytime I get on the fence about something, I just refer to rule number one, and ask myself if they look like they are going to third grade or going to a punk rock dance for their sorority? That usually gives me a little perspective.
So there you have it…Fashion at the Foust’s. I’m sure every children’s label in the world will be calling me soon as a consultant, so, going forward, I am not sure how many articles I will have time to write for BayouLife.
Seriously, after you read this article, ask yourself what are the fashion rules at your house? I can assure you that if we polled our readers, everyone would have different rules, different expectations, but as much as we might not want to admit it, fashion can be important to some children. Most of the time, this fascination with clothes gets stronger as they get older.
I think we could do an entire column on putting too much pressure on children where clothes are concerned, or should every school have mandatory school uniforms? I don’t know the answer, remember, I’m the girl who wore yellow boat shoes in high school. I do know it wouldn’t hurt for every family to have their own “dress code”; for parents, including myself, to be a little flexible with wardrobe choices; and for parents to teach their children that just because they don’t have Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (yo-yo a blast from the past), the world will not come to an end.
Speaking of an end, I am so grateful to the journalistic gods that this column is over…and I just pray it’s a long time before someone asks for my input on skinny jeans and rhinestone accessories. After this column, I bet, that’s not likely to ever happen again.