I live with three girls (Noodle included), and let’s be honest, I probably have another girl on the way. So as a dude properly drowning in femininity, I’ve adapted for survival. I’m now the perfect imaginary doll tea party guest, I know what a French braid is, and I even hit the high notes in “Let it Go.” What I’m trying to say is that every day is a learning opportunity to get in touch with my girly side, and while I’ve learned a lot in two years, I still struggle when it comes time to get Emma dressed in the morning. (Which I’m doing a lot more of these days because Kelly’s pregnant and not getting enough sleep.) It’s just so freaking hard. But I have developed some guidelines that should help any dude who’s in my shoes, and I’m sharing them with you today. Enjoy!
Outfit details. Yeah, I did this.
Mitch’s Manly Tips for Dressing a Little Girl
1. Use bribery
Though left out of many baby books, a good bribe is the most effective solution to a screaming child. Candy, toys, puppies, iPads… I’ve done them all, and simply put, they work every time. When it comes to convincing a kid to put on her daytime clothes and nothing is helping, I suggest making sure the bribe isn’t chocolatey or gooey enough to ruin said daytime clothes because that would ruin the point of the whole endeavor in the first place. Also, don’t tell your wife about the bribe. It’s a secret between you and your toddler, who, thankfully, has garbled speech patterns.
2. Keep your hands up
Emma can fight. She’s super strong and knows where my pressure points are. Apparently she’s been sneaking off to Krav Maga classes in between nap time and daycare. She has ultimate control of her body, uses her weight well, and will kick me straight in the junk if it suits her purpose. What I’m saying is that at go time, if I don’t bring my A-game, she’ll stomp all over me, throw her clothes across the room and run out of the place screaming bloody murder.
So to successfully dress a baby girl, one must use their superior wit to both dupe and dress her. I employ a system of sneak attack and camouflage to pounce and get her shirt over her head. At this point, the shirt can be used as a sort of leash to immobilize the kid until at least one of the arms are successfully in. If you can just achieve a sleeve, you might be able to convince the young one that the path of least resistance is to finish with the outfit once and for all, but be careful employing logic, as it can enrage the child and cause a meltdown, stifling all forward progress.
In comparison, pants are super simple. What I do is I put Emma on my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, immobilizing her and protecting me from most body blows and head shots. I’ve gotten good at wrangling her pants on around her flailing legs like I’m a cowboy in a rodeo. This technique works well for jeans, but if tights or leggings or whatever are on the menu, it’s harder, and I suggest going back to Tip #1.
3. Mix and match
Shirt, pants, shoes. Say it with me now. Shirt. Pants. Shoes. That’s an outfit you can set your watch to. I use it every day and I’m kind of a professional fashion blogger now. So why complicate the issue any further? But planning a little girl’s outfit is an endeavor full of pitfalls and boobytraps. There are mythical rules and ancient codes hardwired into female brains that are unbreakable and mysterious. For example, did you know that certain COLORS are off limits for most of the calendar year? Whole swaths of the rainbow needlessly cast asunder. And did you know that, depending on the season, leggings can be employed to turn a dress into a shirt? It’s a wild world out there. Oh, and TIGHTS ARE NOT PANTS, even though they look JUST LIKE PANTS. (Ridiculous.)
I’m not going to stand here and tell you that I have any insight into little girls’ fashion, but I do have a method. A little girl’s outfit can be loud on top or on bottom, but never both. Plaid leggings call for a solid shirt. A floral blouse needs a pair of solid pants. But if you have doubts, just put the kids coat on in the nursery and hope you get out the door before anyone notices.
4. Let her help
Our mornings are hectic. Emma wakes up full of requests: Snack now! Water bottle, stat! Deliver Noodle to my crib! Ew, get her away; she stinks! Oh, god. Where is my Elsa dress? Find my Elsa dress! I NEED MY ELSA DRESS OR I WILL DIE!
And after all that, it would be easiest to just shove her in the first thing you grab and get her out the door. But, as a dad, it’s important to remember that involving her in the process of selecting her outfit is an all around good move. Plus, it’s hilarious. Once in a while, she hits on a nice little outfit which is great, as I get bonus points for dressing her well AND for being a great dad. Win-win!
Other times, though, not so much and she ends up looking crazy, IMO. Still, Kelly often likes it. For example, Emma picked out a polka dot blue dress and paired it with a pink floral shirt the other day and SNOW BOOTS, and Kelly was like, “Oh my god. You’re a genius, Mitch.” And I was like, “Yep.”
(Yes. This suggests that I still have no idea what I’m doing and you might want to disregard all my tips.)
Also, Emma, if you’re reading this, No. You may not wear your Elsa dress to daycare. It’s not happening. FORGET IT.
5. Be prepared for criticism
In all my life, I think I’ve had maybe two comments on an outfit from a guy. Hey, bro. Nice pants today. Too cute. Keep it up. (Hi, Tom.) But when I push Emma down the street, it’s a chorus of comments from random strangers, bus drivers and shopkeepers. Oh my god, the boots! Look at the pink bow! Lookin’ good, Girlfriend!
What I’m trying to say here is that women notice. They’re paying attention. And if you misfire on an outfit, you’ll hear about it all day. Sometimes I screw it up so bad that Kelly literally calls her mom to talk about it.
I know it’s taboo to lean on gender roles too hard this day and age, but I think we can all agree that women are absolutely bizarre. Luckily for us, they all kind of get it and agree, and cut us guys some slack when necessary. I get plenty of credit for trying to dress my daughter, and I’ll take that consideration right to the bank.
I’ve won and lost many a battle in that nursery, and with another baby on the horizon, I’m ready to do it all over again. Thanks for reading, and as always…