What Not To Wear, The Teen Years

Magical, I tell you, magical.  It was the feeling I had one day last week when I decided to surprise my daughter Abby by cleaning out her closet.  She had been having too many of "those" mornings lately. . . mornings I can clearly remember from my own teenage years. Those frustrating days of “I have nothing to wear!” and “I have to leave in 7 minutes and I can’t find my jeans!”  


To be clear, she has something to wear.  Lots.  But while she is scrambling for the perfect jeans, skirt, or dress, I am remembering those frantic mornings of digging through my own sock drawer trying to find that matching blue knee sock.  Some were patterened, some had cables, some were wool. . . I know the frustration of “nothing to wear” amidst lots of “somethings.”


I set up my iPad in her room so I could watch a movie or two, and got to work.   I pulled lots and lots of clothes out of her closet so that I could begin to sort.  My goal was to make outfits that I thought she would like, so that she could simply pick up a hanger, and find an outfit-- tops, skirts, jeans, scarves, even jewelry.  Wouldn't that be fun?  YAY!  But it was going to get messy before it got wonderful. 



I worked most of the afternoon, and to be fair, there were some bonuses in this for me, as her mother.  If I came across some shortie-short-shorts that I didn't like, OUT.  If I found an old tank top or some shoes that were past their expiration date, OUT.  I had donation bags in the hall that made it into my car before anyone ever got home from school.  I sent a text to Abby at about 2:00 PM that read:
"Hey Abbygirl!  I am having so much fun in your room!  I've got about 14 new outfits for you out of clothes you already have!  I can't wait for you to see! XXOO"
Radio silence.
Well, she was in history class, so I waited until she got home.  At about 3:15 I heard her downstairs making a snack.  Making a snack???  Why wasn't she running up to see the beautiful creations hanging in her closet?  
I had paired skirts with tops, dresses with cute sweaters, tights and leggings with tunics and cute flats, cardigans and blouses and boots and . . . where was she????
"Hi, Mom!"
"Did you get my text?"
"What text?"
"About your clothes?"
"You got me new clothes?"
This was not going well.
"Just come upstairs and see."  She came up to her room, but unfortunately, I wasn't quite finished.
"What happened to my room?" 
Fair question. 
"Wait," she said.  "Your text is just coming now!  Outfits?  Can you show me? "  She flopped back on her bed.  
"Don't you want to try them on?"  I felt forlorn, standing in the closet amongst my creations. 
"I do," she said.  "But why don't you show me on the hangers like a fashion show first."  She seemed skeptical of my taste.  Why, I wondered, as I looked down at my leggings, jean shirt and red slippers.  Why would she be skeptical? 
But as I pulled out the first "look," a black skirt, white blouse, pink cardigan, combat boots and tights, she clapped and said she LOVED it -- and she tried them all on.  Oh, except one, which she claimed looked like the mom on "Eighteen Kids and Counting."  She was right.  (Except for the fact that it's now "Nineteen Kids and Counting," which totally floored her. . .)
As we looked through the outfits, she tweaked and played and adjusted and suddenly the clothes looked more like her and less like me.  What to wear, Abby-style.  She was grateful for the closet clean-out and a fresh perspective.  I was thankful to see her look at her own clothes in a new way.  She made me want to go into my own closet and look at it differently.  Actually, I now want her to go into my closet and look at it with me.  Maybe I can find a new take on my own style; not as young as Abby Chafe, not as buttoned up as "Nineteen Kids. . ."
The next morning, Abby had an abundance of new looks in her closet, along with her ever-present One Direction sunglass holder.  It was less stressful all the way around.  
She has a new respect for my taste, and I noticed great thankfulness on her birthday last Friday, when she actually did receive new clothes. 
So, what not to wear?  Seems like most anything goes.  But what I really learned from watching Abby try on her own clothes and sort and pick and choose was what TO wear.  Wear what makes you feel the most like you.  Wear your favorite leggings and your favorite boots with a girlie skirt and a pretty necklace.   If your friends give you gifts, wear them, because they are special.   Wear a meaningful item whenever possible.  
But, dear God, it is my biggest wish for her that she will always wear her heart on her sleeve and a smile on her face.  For if I can teach her this, then I will have taught her well :) 
Like Mother, Like Daughter


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