Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fancy pants

We have friends whose daughter is just a few months younger than E and is a delightful tomboy. She doesn’t want her hair pulled back. She wears Tshirts and sweatpants. She runs around comfortably and unaffected by her mother’s pleas for permission to add a hair clip or a ponytail or wear a skirt or a dress or a sweater. That mom looks at E and apologizes for her daughter’s ruffian wear; I look at E and remind that mom that we’re not pushing this dressy stuff on her – it’s what she picks. Both girls know what they like.

E comments every morning that she wants to get dressed in something “fancy.” I know fancy means more, but beyond that I’ve had a hard time learning its definition. I know which outfits are considered fancy and I know anything is made more fancy by the addition of a cardigan (even if it doesn’t match) and I know anything is made more fancy by an elaborate hairdo. (Sometimes the girl wants as many as four ponytails. And FYI, four ponytails is a very high number to wrangle out of a fine-haired head. And every ponytail has both a stretchy and a fuzzy rubberband as well as a clip, and in general no color may be used anywhere twice upon her head, unless of course the colors have been purposefully coordinated, such as a pink fuzzy with a purple stretchy with a green clip on the left and a green fuzzy with a pink stretchy with a purple clip on the right. These decisions must be carefully weighed and nuanced, which is why on weekdays I might just suggest a headband.)

E was particularly exasperated with my ignorance of Fancy today and finally laid out for me the Fancy Manifesto:

It shall be called Fancy if it includes a Hood, or Pockets, or Especially Kangaroo Pockets, or Pom-Poms, or Sparkles. It shall be called Fancy if it has a Twirly Skirt, or a Poofy Skirt, or Anything Shiny, or it Zips Up, or it Ties with a Bow. It shall be called Fancy if it has Matching Tights, or Matching Leggings, or a Matching Sweater, or Matching Hair Accessories, or Matching Jewelry.

It shall be called Very Fancy if it Has Two or More of the Above.

It may be Made Fancy if it does not come with any of the above, but can be supplemented with some of the above.

Balance those daily requirements against the other Rule of Law, the Declaration of Comfort:

Rule #1: Nothing that sweats me.
--No fleece
--No polyester
--Almost no other artificial fibers
--No turtlenecks
--No denim
--No sweatshirts (unless they have hoods and full, openable zippers)
--No sweatpants

Rule #2: Nothing constraining
--No top buttons shall be fastened
--No shirt/sweatshirt/vest/jacket zippers shall be zipped all the way to the top
--No pants with zippers at the waist at all
--No pants or skirts with button- or snap-closure waists
--No collars
--No rigid waists
--No elastic wrists
--No elastic empire waists
--Nothing high-waisted in shape
--Nothing too form fitting

Rule #3: Nothing that’s scratching
--No metallic threads
--No seams in unusual places
--No crinolines or stiff fabrics without full linings

And then, there are the Matters of Taste.

1) She will tell you that all the colors are my favorite colors except for white. She won’t wear any garment that’s majority white. That’s BORING!, she’ll stomp.
2) Further, she prefers bright colors over muted or pastel colors.
3) Further yet, she prefers intricate prints and patterns over solids.
4) She likes to coordinate the colors of her unders to the colors of her outfit. This means you cannot even encourage her to begin to get dressed – because the whole master plan must be conceived before Initiation of Fancy commences.

What does this all mean? That she is very slow, and very naked, every morning. It frazzles a time-bound mama’s patience. And yet? She knows what she likes, and I believe in women with strong vision. I believe she will become a woman of strong vision.

August 2007
E at 18 months:
Portrait of an early accessorizer

This is where it starts. It starts with what power she can hold in her not-yet-four-year-old hands. Would these be my choices? Emphatically, no -- because I would be choosing for simplicity and speed of dressing. However, it cannot be denied:

the girl’s got style. Pin It

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