Friday, 14 November 2014

Ready for a whole new look? Let them choose an outfit for you!

My son has never been happy with the clothes I wear. “Why don’t you dress like the other mummys?” he asked me at 4-years-old after he’d been at school a month or two. So one day, when he was nine, I decided to give myself over to him like a Barbie Doll: I took him shopping and let him freely choose and buy me an outfit, the kind of thing he’d like to see me in. Better than that, I promised (gulp) that whatever it was, I would wear it out and about with him for the rest of the day. (The results are fully recorded in my book!)

Turns out my daughter, age 8, feels the same way. She wanted the pleasure of dressing me up too. So last weekend, I did it all over again, though this time I didn’t volunteer to parade around in public afterwards (I think I was too scarred by the first time!). But I’d put the whole outfit on for her in the changing room and do a few twirls.

Her aim, she told me on the way to town, was to make me look “less scruffy, less multi-coloured and less clashy.” Smashing!

To set the scene and enable you to enjoy the full impact of BEFORE and AFTER, I’ve scrabbled together a few whole body pictures of myself so you can see my normal look. It doesn’t actually deserve the word look. It's just stuff I wear.
I like sleeveless dresses, but always over jeans or trousers – I never, ever get my legs out. I have lots of scarves, but don’t do jewellery. I wear boots in winter, flip-flops in summer. I go for blues, greens, browns and the occasional splash of purple or pink. And I steer clear of black, white and red.

We headed straight for Primark because it has tonnes of clothes to choose from, as well as shoes and accessories, all under the one roof. The rules were that I had no say whatsoever in my daughter’s choice. I was to make no comment – or even facial expression – that gave away what I thought of the items she was putting in the basket.

I suggested she grab any item at all that caught her eye as we went round and then she could assess it all at the end and make her final decision. And boy oh boy, did some interesting ‘maybes’ go in: floral leggings, turquoise slacks, super-skinny jeans with zips at the ankle. Was she having a laugh?

But she knew what she liked alright. “I totally love this cardigan,” she said. “The sparkly bits and the way the neck scoops round, instead of like you usually wear [pulls a face and gestures a V-shape]. “This dress is a lovely shade of red.” “Yep, the shoes must be slip-on.”

The changing room girl thought it was very odd I wanted to take the tights and shoes and necklace in with me, not just the main items. “Yes,” I said awkwardly, “I want to see what the whole lot looks like together.” I’m sure I saw her smirk.

As I changed into the clothes, my daughter shivered with anticipation. “The moment of truth!” she grinned ...

“Well, does it suit me?” I asked her in a neutral voice. “Yes, you look really nice! All you need now is a squirt of a very ladylike perfume! [pause] What do you think mummy?”

Mmm, let me see ...
There was red.
There was jewellery - and sparkly bits.
And there were legs!

"I think I look hideous!” I blurted.
I was laughing, but I felt completely disorientated and my self-esteem had plummeted into my suede, slip-on shoes with bows. I dodged behind the curtain quickly whenever another customer walked past. 

I didn't think it was a badly put together outfit for an 8-year-old, but I couldn’t even pretend to like it – any of it. I thought I looked like a frump who’d tried to dress up sexily for an office Christmas party and got it very, very wrong.

We had to capture this look with a photo! “Ha ha, the camera thinks your breasts are your face,” my daughter giggled, referring to the auto-focus thingy. I wasn’t surprised it was confused. It had never seen me in anything so clingy.

On the way home, she chatted happily about how the idea could be turned into a TV programme, where the mum has to wear a blindfold until the very end. “It could be called Make me hideous!” she laughed.

Meanwhile, I was simply enjoying the relief of being reunited with my normal clothes. At the same time, I was wondering just how much she secretly wished for a mother who dressed more like that woman in the changing room mirror.

At home, I showed my husband the photo. He snorted his cup of tea and said, “It looks like your head has been cut and pasted onto someone else’s body!”


  1. You are beautiful no matter what you wear! I have to say I really do like the combo of the dress, necklace, and the cardigan that your daughter picked. I probably would wear those! I think that you need to wear what YOU fell comfy in though. Go you for being such a good sport! What a fun mom!

  2. Thank you Melissande! Maybe I'll reconsider red at least...!!!

  3. I think she's done pretty well - it is at least a complete outfit - but definitely a massive change from your usual look!!

  4. She certainly achieved her aim Carie!

  5. Hahaha! Love this!! My daughter picks some pretty sweet outfits for me too :-)

  6. It's a good game, isn't it Erin?!

  7. Thank you, this story made me laugh! I love your normal look, by the way. I'm sure my kids would dress me like a florescent rainbow if I let them :)

  8. Brilliant - not sure I'd be brave enough for it, given what Dollop's wearing after school today!

    Thanks for sharing with #WASO

  9. I wonder what Dollop is wearing.....?!!

  10. you look so lovely in your normal clothes..v cool, relaxed and approachable. haha your daughter's makeover, er.. not so much! what an interesting combination of 6 year-old girl tights, 80 year-old granny cardy and well, the bizarrely-styled dress with the jewellery OVER the high neckline..! :// my 13 year-old would so match my style (cardies, blouses, big boots or 50s pin-up heels, tattoos on display ;) ) whereas my 10 year-old would have me in trainers and a head-to-toe adventure time-themed something!! hehe. fab game :))

  11. Ha - very funny analysis of the clothes she picked! "Head-to-toe adventure time-themed something"?!! Bring it on!

  12. Haha, wonderful. That was very brave, but I bet your daughter enjoyed it!
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    1. You should see how my son dressed me when I did this with him!

  13. Oh I don't think I would be brave enough for this! Sounds like your daughter had fun though. I live in jeans so I bet my boys would choose a dress for me. Definitely would make a great TV programme! #FabFridayPost

  14. Haha this is fab! My kids would LOVE to choose my outfit, the girls especially at 3 and 4 would have me in head to toe pink and sparkles! #fabfridaypost

  15. Kids eh?! I think I may have to try this experiment myself, I'm intrigued! I am comfortable in what I wear now and could not begin to imagine what they would choose. Sarah #FabFridayPost

  16. Clearly you are a super fun mom! And I hope that I am not out of line when I tell you girl-to-girl that you have a lovely shape and you SHOULD celebrate it! Do not be afraid to have a clingy but still classy dress in your closet. Or two....#FabFridayPost