As a graphic designer, I naturally think creatively and outside the box.
This train of thought often flows over to the development play of my kids who are 3 and 4. So I thought it would be fun, engaging and possibly a learning curve to ask them to pick out my outfits for an entire week.
I usually play it safe when it comes to dressing myself and never dress in bold styles or combinations so the thought of having all that torn apart and having little or no control was both terrifying and exciting.
I have no wardrobe for my clothes so I literally dragged out all the boxes from under the bed, opened up all my chest of drawers and allowed access to all my footwear. From Monday through to Sunday they were going to rummage through everything and choose what they were going to dress me in. We were never going to have time to do all this before 8 am every morning for Montessori so at midday when I had both girls home, we did it! Now usually I get some errands out of the way in the morning while one child isn't with me but this would have been cheating as it would be very easy to sit at home all day in whatever ensemble avoiding the public humiliation. So with that in mind, I left anything I had to do till after midday every day.
DAY 1: MONDAY
So today was the first day of this crazy idea! All clothes boxes were dragged out into Harper's (4) room. Within 2 minutes the two of them had completely lost sight of the plan with both trying on my clothes and shoes and modelling themselves. A quick "what are ye going to pick out for mummy to wear?" brought their attention back, albeit dressed as me now!
I watch nervously as Dakota (3) veers towards Saturday night attire, conscious of the fact I am wearing no fake tan and haven't worked out in 4 months! After a couple of suggestion changes from Harper (4) she settles on a short black and white sleeveless dress and an even shorter sequined mini skirt completing it with my black high heeled studded ankle boots. I advise her that I can only wear either the dress or skirt as you don't wear both items together...... how wrong was I!
This is what followed "No mummy, you put on the dress first and then tuck it into the skirt!!" Well, that was a new one on me but I couldn't refuse as that would be breaking the rules. I ask 'do I wear anything on my legs and feet, like tights or socks?' and the answer was a confident 'No'. It confirmed my worst fear....... daytime legs!
Like I had mentioned before I had not prepared with fake tan so in I go to the bathroom to smear my legs with a wash off one! Not a Saturday night amount but a 'take the white down a notch' amount while hoping the rain outside would stop. Putting bare feet into ankle boots feels rotten and walking around in them feels worse! A sudden exclamation of "Mummy, you're so beautiful" from Harper did not even ease me and I begged her for me to wear a coat so 1) I don't die from hypothermia and 2) to shield myself a little from the judging looks I know I'm going to receive.
She agrees begrudgingly and I put on my usual red winter coat that comes to around the thigh area. I never knew just how "5-dolla" a red coat could look with bare legs and heeled ankle boots so I opted for a black coat of the same length but different style and we were off to run some errands!
I was so self-conscious at what was looking back at me in the mirror. I couldn't possibly be seen in this, in the daytime, in winter, could I?! I was seriously going to end the mission and put on normal clothes ending this silly idea, but I didn't, somehow I left that house!
First off was the post office to post some orders from my online business. Of course, my usual post office is within a small shopping centre so more people to give me looks! And my god, did I get looks! I met my mam who announced to me that had I told her about my new plan and my outfit she would have passed on meeting up! Thanks, mum!
But I was glad to have a normal responsible looking adult with me to tone down the fact of a half-dressed woman walking around with two young kids [one wearing a fake pigtails hairband]. After the post office visit, where I wanted to tell the tellers who see me on a weekly basis why I was dressed like I was out to make a quick buck, we ventured upstairs to the cafe. I insisted we took the lift, nobody sitting under the stairs needed to see whatever they could see! Again, in this cafe we are regulars in and chose to sit in the exterior area to avoid many looks, this was my mam's suggestion!
Now the coat comes off and the looks get worse, I really wanted to at this point tell everyone why I was dressed this way. One more errand to run on the way home, I had to get a sheet photocopied! While my mam stayed in the car with the girls I ran in [literally] to a stationery shop where a pleasant girl served me with no judging looks. I'm not sure if she didn't actually see me come in properly but she most definitely heard me from the jingling of my studded boots across the wooden floor in a thankfully empty shop. I scurried back to the car bringing an end to day one... I was going home to get into my PJs!
DAY 2: TUESDAY
Having recovered from the shame of yesterday's outfit choice, I could only hope that today was going to be a better day!
I brought out all my boxes of clothes as the girls rifled through them and proceeded to dress themselves once again in my clothes and shoes. It was at this point I realised maybe they had to dress like me to think like me. The choices that followed were surprisingly on point! Dakota (3) picked out a pair of blue activewear leggings for me. I love my activewear! While Harper (4) complemented the leggings with one of my favourite pink hoodies.
I always wear a tank top underneath my hoodies to help hide my 'leggings ass' but I was told no when I enquired about another layer. But hey super, I was delighted with this normal and comfortable attire nevertheless. However, shortly after a massive row ensued over what footwear was most suitable. Dakota choosing my most uncomfortable purple peep toe high heels and Harper choosing a sensible pair of runners. Unfortunately for me the 3-year-old put up a good fight and won.
I'm now starting to think I should take the 3-year-old out of this plan completely or at least not allow her on footwear duty. So sporty leggings and high heels it is. I once again go and fake tan my feet because chicken trotters are just not a good look! Then there's the task of nail varnishing. I can't find any pink so my only option is blue. I try to convince myself matching blue nail varnish to the blue leggings will make this look not so bad!
The overall look reminded me of when the celebrities on 'Strictly Come Dancing' practice their routines in normal clothes but wearing heels. So with this in mind, I thought to myself if anyone asks I'll say I'm taking part in Strictly Déise Dancing and breaking in my shoes.
Of course, today had to be a day that we got post for our neighbour and with that, I had to go knocking in above attire on their door. Not going to lie, I stood at the best angle I could possibly come up with to try to hide my heels from the opening doorway. As I walked away, I cringed at the fact he could now see the full outfit and was probably wondering what amount of crazy had I been hiding these past few years. The next errand was a letter to give into a possible choice of school for the girls.
We got there just before pick-up time so at least I got to avoid many parents who I'm sure would be thinking WTF seeing a Strictly dancer (ha) walking up the school drive. I'm thankful for reception desks that can only see from the waist up.
My brother-in-law's family was next to get an eyeful as we had arranged to call later that day. As soon as I got out of the car I couldn't get the words "there's a reason I'm dressed like this" out of me quick enough. Thankfully for me, they know I'm half crazy but love me enough to accept me into their home for the next 3 hours.
We were due to do our big shop today but as it was too late it had to wait for tomorrow and god knows what delight awaits. I also learned today that my mirror needs cleaning.
DAY 3: WEDNESDAY
I thought by today that the novelty of dressing mummy would have worn off..... and it had!
For at least one child anyway. Dakota (3) decided to sit this one out today leaving Harper (4) to go all Gok Wan on me alone. We had planned to go out for breakfast so I thought I best try to get her to do it quickly before Montessori as it would be a bit cheating otherwise waiting until midday today.
Having looked out the bedroom window to a blanket of thick frost, I could only hope I wouldn't be put into a dress or skirt or summer top. The outfit picking was a bit more formal and rushed today as Harper seemed to know exactly what she wanted to go for.
Straight away she picked me out my Minnie Mouse blue hoody and a pair of navy blue leggings. Once again there was no option of a tank top safety net. I asked my husband "Is this a bit boring that she's picked out a hoody and leggings again?" to which his reply was "Well, she chose it and you can't change it". Which was true but it made me think just how often I must wear these two items if this is all she can choose out of all my clothes.
This hoody choice wasn't the most flattering as it's kind of small on me now and really needs an extra layer to help as a length extension. The leggings were low rise too, so we have a short hoody and low rise leggings. If I wasn't pulling one down, I was pulling one up. Next, she gave me my black lace up knee boots to complete the outfit. At first, there was a slight horror feeling until I looked in the mirror and slowly realised I had actually worn this complete outfit before [with tank top]. The relief on my husband's face said it all as to how I should be grateful for this combo and he was happy enough to be seen out in public with me! :)
So, today was actually going to be OK, a normal dressed day. This is what happens when the more mature one is in control. We had a lovely breakfast with no strange looks, well not any stranger than normal anyway. Then we popped into town for some shopping and a grocery shop on the way home. It was nice to take a break from the glances like the last couple of days to being comfortable and within the norm of societies expectation.
Tomorrow, however, Karl Lagerfeld 'herself' is going to have full reign over me as a solo stylist. If she styles me like she styles herself I have everything to be worried about.
DAY 4: THURSDAY
Today it happens, Dakota (3) having sole responsibility for dressing me. Her eagerness from 9 am to get started did not extinguish any worries I had about this. What intensified my worries even more was today we had a check-up appointment for her [nothing big] in Crumlin Hospital.
This meant I was going to be in a very busy waiting room with other parents for hours and communicating with medical staff. I needed her to pick me something decent and not totally ridiculous. To make matters worse, my husband decided to sit in on this one while I shot him daggers not to be coercing her.
We watched as she rummaged through the clothes relishing this opportunity, though conflicted in her options. Changing her mind countless times from bad to worse combinations. She eventually settled on a light sleeveless flowery print summer dress with an open back, a pair of jeans, a snakeskin print belt and pink peep toe high heels.
As I went to get dressed she ran in whipped away the jeans and gave me high waisted hotpants instead. I was to wear these under the dress and yes bare legs. I couldn't, could I? I got fake tanning, usually, I do my own back but as I was pressed for time I asked my husband to do it. Worst. Mistake. Ever!
I ended up looking like I had a skin condition so I washed it off and got started on my legs.
I don't know if it was the cold or that I was rushing or what, but I couldn't get the fake tan to get onto my legs evenly. It looked like I had diarrhoea running down them.
There was no saving this and definitely no leaving the house like this. I ran in begging Dakota if I could cover my legs while my husband laughed saying "You got to wear what she picks"......"Well, you're gonna have to be seen with this" I barked back. 'No' Dakota said unsympathetically.
That was it, the 3-year-old broke me, this was going to be the day that this plan failed and ended as there was no way I could agree to 'diarrhoea legs' or worse 'bottle white, blue-veiny, bruised legs'. Just then she took pity on me and announced I could wear the jeans, the original outfit she had chosen!
Ah ha, I thought, this is not cheating as she had picked out that from the start anyway, we're just reverting! I never thought I'd be so happy to wear jeans under a dress!
Now I still had to drive over 2 hours in these heels and spend 8 hours in them, but thankfully she had chosen my most comfortable pair. At the hospital, I can't deny there were looks but I reassured myself that people had better things to be thinking about than what I'm wearing so I was more relaxed than I thought I'd be.
Almost 4 hours later we were on our way home with a trip into Mc Donalds. It was freezing at this point so I was wearing my coat but the peep toes were screaming out to all who looked. Who wears peep toes in Ireland in November...... who aren't on a night out?! My husband drove back giving my feet a break. I was never so glad to get home into a pair of socks and of course pjs!
DAY 5: FRIDAY
The novelty of dressing mummy has well and truly worn off everyone.
It took a bit of convincing to get them back on track, although they still had no problem immersing into my clothes for themselves. They don't really care what I wear anymore which I'm not sure is something to be more or less worried about.
Finally, I started getting clothes thrown at me, literally, without a second look at much else. Dakota (3) threw me a pink pair of jeans and a blue cut out mini dress while Harper (4) finished off the look with a pink jumper and black high heel ankle boots. I think she got the idea of the jumper to go under the dress because I sometimes dress them in long sleeve tops under short sleeve dresses or t-shirts to get the Autumn/Winter out of them.
You can't beat layering! Just as I finish getting dressed, Harper comes into me with a black waistcoat that she also wanted me to wear. Meanwhile, Dakota has a major tantrum because she doesn't want me to wear it. They verbally fight it out while I finish getting ready. Much to Dakota's dismay I wear the waistcoat. Why? Because it's November and freezing and they won't let me wear a coat so I'm going to take the layers no matter how ridiculous it looks. Also, it hides the cutouts in the sides of my dress.
We were fairly late leaving the house today but we had to stop off at the post office first with a couple of orders. It wasn't my regular one which was a good thing because after Monday's outfit they would surely think I was after losing my marbles seeing today's rigout.
Unfortunately for me, this post office was in town in the middle of roadworks meaning I had to walk totally out of my way to get to it.
This wouldn't ordinarily be a problem except for today I was wearing 5" heels while holding a 3-year-old in one arm, holding hands with a 4-year-old all while walking over a cobbled street. I recently sold my double buggy, if there was ever a day I needed it it was today. All I could think was please don't trip, bringing 2 kids down with me. There were also the looks of 'why is that woman wearing such high heels with her hands so full and on cobbled streets?!'. Next into Penneys, where I met my mam in the cafe. She's used to the ridiculousness of it now and didn't bat an eyelid. While there we met another parent from the girl's Montessori. I only know her to say hi when passing the doorway at drop off and collection. I was a bit mortified but then I thought at least now she knows I actually do dress in human clothes and wear make-up. My typical clothing for Montessori drop off and collection leave a lot to be desired. A quick shop around the store and any attention to my fashion faux pas was quickly distracted by Harper and Dakota holding hands and singing Christmas songs at the top of their voices. Thank you girls...... thank you! I was supposed to go to Woodies but my toes were killing me in those heels so I left that for another day.
DAY 6: SATURDAY
We are almost at the end of the week. It's turned into a chore for all involved and the fun element seems to have died out. But I'm determined to see it out until the end. It would appear Harper (4) shared the same feelings as when I came out of the shower she had my clothes already chosen on the bed. I suspect she just picked up the first thing she saw without any thought. Today's outfit consisted of a pink sleeveless dress that I used to wear in work (with tights, mind) and the same studded black ankle boots from Monday.
Fake tan was needed once again. I used a different brand this time, one that said would develop in 1-2 hours. Great, I thought, until I started smearing it on and saw it was green. Does fake tan go off?! Anyway, I continued because green legs are better than ghost white ones. After a few hours, I washed it off to reveal..... pearly white legs again so the wash off stuff was needed after all. Finally, we were ready to leave the house.
First stop was Woodies which I didn't get to yesterday. Let it be noted that today it was cold and lashing rain. I hoped people thought upon seeing me dressed like this in a DIY shop that I had to quickly pick up a few drill bits with my children before attending a wedding or something.
Luckily though, it was the homeware area I had to shop at and not weave myself through the aisles of drills and hammers and the likes. I've learnt at this point to avoid looking at people's faces. After a quick transaction with a young female cashier, who I felt possibly appreciated this look, we were out of there. Next up was on to a local cafe to meet my brother for lunch. He had no idea of my plan this week. I deliberately refrained from divulging this information beforehand for fear of him not showing up. So, of course, when he saw my totally inappropriate outfit he said...... well, I'd rather not publish. :)
Luckily we sat upstairs away from the main hustle and bustle of the cafe. Which I was thankful for - not only because my outfit screamed 'look at me' but also Dakota (3) was in a rather bold humour so she would only have drawn more attention to me downstairs. En route home, my mam kindly offered to pop into the shop for me to get milk saving me from further embarrassment. One more day and we're done!
DAY 7: SUNDAY
We did it, we made it to the final day. Hallelujah! The only problem was that not one child wanted to dress me. Nope, we were so over it.
So was I, but I wasn't going to flake out on the last day. So I needed to give them an incentive to dress me. "Who wants to go to the cinema?" I asked joyfully. Both started jumping up and down chanting "Me, me, me, me!"
"Ok," I said, "Let's get mummy dressed and we can go now". I never saw two children start pulling and dragging out of clothes so unceremoniously. Together they pulled out black pleather leggings (no that's not a typo, fake leather at it's finest and cheapest), a grey spotty sleeveless dress I used to wear for work (again with tights only) although way too short now, a flamingo crop top, a red belt and 90's black wedge lace-up knee boots.
I'm not even joking, these boots I got in the 90's when they were all the rage. I don't know why they are even still in with all my winter boots. I'm certain one year I even brought them skiing with me. But here I am in 2017 wearing them, amazing.
So I promised the cinema and the cinema we went to.
At least it was late morning/early afternoon and basically sitting in the dark where nobody could see for that time what I was wearing. Although I did ask a staff member to take a picture of us. I could only imagine she was thinking.... why is this 20-something-year-old wearing boots from the 90's. Ok, Ok.... 30-something!
It was absolutely baltic out so I'm not going to lie, I did wear my coat when outside. The first time I did all week. But believe me, the boots were the worst part of this outfit and there was no hiding them. Looking back at this cinema picture I can only imagine people thinking I wanted to dress like my children.
Movie over, and we ventured out to my home village to meet up with my mam and brother for a light bite. I was bound to meet people I knew, so made very unsubtle gestures in the cafe that this was all part of a plan. But to be honest, few seemed more focused on what the girls were wearing than me - so it took the heat off me, thankfully. A visit home to see my dad who was not at all surprised at my clothes, or my idea. He gave up on my sanity a long time ago. And that was it.... thank the lord the week where I let my 3-year-old and 4-year-old dress me was finished!
Conclusion?! Ha! Well, I think we all know it is never let your 3-year-old and 4-year-old dress you.
I don't know what I was expecting out of it. But overall I learnt that I wear leggings and hoodies much too often and should utilise my full wardrobe more.
I have so many nice clothes not being worn anymore since I became a mummy. Comfort and laziness always seem to win. I also realise how badly I need to buy an actual wardrobe to make this easier to happen. I've learnt that I should wear make-up more often as it makes me look human. I'd gotten too used to the walking dead look.
This article was written for my Facebook blog Mummy's Burnt The Toast Again. https://www.facebook.com/mummysburntthetoastagain
I'd love to hear your thoughts on my crazy experiment!