Thursday, July 30, 2009

School Clothes Shopping

Last weekend, I took Valerie to Kohl's for some school clothes shopping. This girl, I tell you, has had some growth spurt this summer! Clothes that fit her just right two months ago are now quite, quite noticeably short. And shoes. She had to stop squeezing her now size 11 (kids) feet into her favorite size 9 "party shoes". She has outgrown some shoes she never even got the chance (or is it inclination?) to wear.

So, it's not that I am a regular Kohl's shopper, but Mervyn's is gone (I miss Merv's), and Kohl's is the next best thing we have in our area. And while I'm waiting for the next Gymboree coupon to come in the mail (so I can use it on the sale rack clothes, mind you), it will have to do. The Kohl's girl's section for Valerie's size is like a sea of magenta, pink, and purple. Which works, I guess, because those are the colors Valerie is most interested in right now. Though, I'd love to see her in a beautiful blue to match her eyes...

After convincing her that even though she is 5 years old, she needs size 6 clothes because she is a tall girl, and no, your age does not have to be the same as your clothes size ('cause Whoa, Nelly, I'd be wearing much bigger clothes if that were the case!), I had a large armload of magenta, pink, and purple garments. We went into the dressing room with many times the 5 item limit, since there was no attendant there to count. And Valerie must have missed the sign, because had she seen it, I'm sure she would have asked if we had more than 5 items. I know this because every time we go to Trader Joe's and are about to go to the check-out line, she asks if I have 12 items or less, which I never do, of course.

So we go into the dressing room and I am just tickled with how everything, and I mean every single thing, she puts on she does a little dance in and with a kicky little kick says, "It's perfect!", or "I love it!" It actually was quite fun. A little too fun, really. Because in all that fun new clothes bliss, I'd forgotten the objective. We were there to buy a few things and then see if she actually wore them before buying her more new clothes. We would have to figure out a way to put back about 90% of the items she had tried on.

There was some whining, but I can't say I blame Valerie too much. It was her first time going school clothes shopping. It was exciting! And she'd only actually tried on something in a dressing room a few times before, the last time about a year ago in a search of a swimsuit. In the end we left with the " few" things we had come for. And since then, she has worn about half of them. She is a very determined little darling, so I'm sure she will get through the rest of them in a few more days, like the cute dress and leggings ensemble above.

And in the meantime, we have a number of bags of hand-me-downs from a second cousin to go through. Most of Valerie's current wardrobe consists of this cousin's used clothes, in fact. I just love hand-me-downs. When I was a kid, I used to get hand-me-ups from a younger, but much taller cousin...

I have always really enjoyed dressing Valerie. Her clothes have always been so cute and stylish, unlike my own which are mostly pretty old, since I don't need to buy a new set every few months because of growth spurts, thank goodness. (Which reminds me of what my teaching wardrobe used to be, but that's another story.) And I have really, truly enjoyed watching Valerie put together her own outfits to wear to preschool this past year. I've taken many pictures for posterity.

Now that she is taking a much more active role in choosing her new clothes, I'm getting a feel for her tastes and also a view into how she is beginning to see herself, at 5 years old. It is going to be very interesting observing her self image evolve and seeing what kinds of clothes she fancies as she grows. I had a bittersweet moment in that dressing room last weekend realizing that Valerie is taking another small step towards independence from me, and from my own opinions about style. I'm so excited to see what she will do, but apprehensive about it at the same time. And I suspect these feelings will only intensify as the years go by.

At least, for the time being, she still wants me to sew for her--as long as she gets to pick out the pattern and the fabric! Here's a little preview of her first-day-of-school-dress-to-be.

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