Parenting a picky dresser

The battle of parenting the picky dresser.
The battle of parenting the picky dresser. Photo: Getty

Picture the scene: It's the middle of winter, outside it's cold, drizzly and blowing a gale. My four-year-old is busy getting herself dressed, a task that she has been doing independently for years. I'm in my bedroom, also getting dressed. I pull on layer after layer of warm winter clothing, including a thermal vest and thick woollen socks.

In wanders Miss C. Wearing a singlet and a tutu. "Ta da!" she says giving me a twirl. And that's how we begin round 700 of a little game we call "battle of the wardrobe."

My four-year-old is what the creative team at Fruit of the Loom would call a 'picky dresser'. They have teamed up with bloggers What's Up Moms to put together this hilarious music video, which perfectly illustrates the frustration of having a child who is fussy about their clothing. 

The video, which parodies Icona Pop's 'I love it', features a series of exasperated parents battling with their offspring over what they are wearing. This includes the age old "it's too cold to wear a swimsuit" and "you can't wear PJ's to school!"

Parents with their own picky dressers will recognise lines such as, "I wear my tutu every day, but I won't brush my hair," "I wear 10 bracelets and five necklaces when I go play" and "I've had this costume on since Halloween, and now it's May."

The line that rang the most bells for me was, "my kid, she dressed herself." It's a line I use on an almost daily basis, when passes by clock the weird and wonderful outfits my daughters concoct.

While four-year-old C is all about the tutu's, glitter and the colour pink, her older sister is all about Spiderman, jeans and a tatty old pair of pants we brought her in Thailand two years ago. My girls are polar opposite in terms of taste, but when it comes to stubborn determination they are two peas in a pod.

I asked family therapist Martine Oglethorpe why some kids are so particular about their clothes. The simple answer, she says, is "because they can be."


"They see this as an area where they have some control and can make some of their own choices and express themselves as they see fit," she explains.

While she notes that it can be incredibly frustrating, Martine's advice for coping with a picky dresser is to pick your battles.

"Most times I would say don't worry if they want to wear crazy combinations of clothing. If they are going to daycare or a play-date it really doesn't matter what they wear as long as it is relatively sensible! 

"I think if we give them certain times when they can make the decisions but then negotiate that at other times we have more of a say then that tends to work better than trying to dictate every single time," she says.

Of course there are times that parents have to be firmer – perhaps if you are going to a wedding or formal function, or if the weather appropriate attire is important ("No, you can't wear that wooly hat, it's 40 degrees outside!")

In these situations Martine suggests that parents limit the choices available. "You can either give them a choice of one or two options that you have picked out," she says.

"Or make it clear that there are some times when mum has to decide what to wear."

What is the craziest outfit your child had put together and worn? Let us know in the comments below.