I'll go ahead a admit that I'm a bit prudish when it comes to clothing. I am not a fan of most modern clothing-especially for little girls. I am always shocked at what I see in the stores for young ladies to wear.
I get a lot of questions from mothers at our parish, and some of the times fellow bloggers, about how I dress the girls. So, I thought I'd jot down a couple of things that have helped me. Now, please keep in mind that these are decisions that I have made for my girls. I have no intention of trying to tell anyone else how to dress their children. We each do what we are able and what we think is best.
The most frequently asked question is if I make our girls wear dresses all the time. No, I don't. We did do that for a time (and I loved it) but the girls complained about not being able to play in them and I also got tired of digging dress hems out of bike chains. Also, I've lost several perfectly good dresses to stains from outdoor play and painting, etc. So, I threw that idea out the window.
My rule for dresses is this: Anytime we go anywhere we put on a dress. If we are at home they can wear whatever they want but if we leave the house for a special reason (grocery store doesn't count, besides I go without them) or if we are having guests, we put on a dress. Of course, vacation is different too (except when we go to church). They have no problems with these rules and don't even really think about them.
Another frequently asked question is where I get dresses for the girls that are modest, that is, below the knees. I purchase their dresses a couple of sizes too big. If the dress is sleeveless, they put a t-shirt on underneath.
Another question is where I get their pantaloons. If you look up pantaloons on the internet, they can be pretty pricey. The cheapest I've ever paid for pantaloons was at the thrift store. The second cheapest was on Etsy. Just do a search for girls/toddler pantaloons and there are tons of them. My girls don't always wear pantaloons. I keep an eye out at the thrift store for crop pants and things that I know would work well under a dress. (For those of you who sew, pantaloons are easy to make!)
I am adamant about my girls having something at least knee length on under their dresses-from newborn up-in church. When they were babies I would leave the bloomers in the drawer when it was time for church and put on leggings, crop pants or pantaloons. I saved the bloomers for home use. I dress the girls the most modestly in church.
The last question is where I get their dresses. I do all my shopping at thrift stores. I buy their underwear and socks and shoes at a retail store, but all else comes from the thrift stores. About once a month I hit all the thrift stores in town looking for any items we might need. Typically, I look for Katherine dresses because she is the oldest and outgrows her dresses. The other two get hand me downs.
I have Fr. watch the girls while I do a little round at the shops. This gives me a little time away and plus I can shop faster without them. The other reason I don't take them is so that Thea and Zoe don't feel left out. Katherine is usually the one that gets the new dresses, but occasionally I'll pick up something for the little ones. When I get a new item I just come home, throw it in the wash and it appears in their closet. Usually when Katherine gets a new dress, I'll pull a dress from her collection that's getting too short and pass it to Thea, I'll do the same for Zoe. No attention or fuss is made.
I just had a nice little revelation at the thrift store last week. Katherine has outgrown her play shorts so I stopped in to one thrift store close by to see what they had. As I perused the girl's shorts I couldn't believe how short they were (this is always a problem for me). I looked around and saw the boys shorts hanging there. I went over and looked through the rack. I was surprise at the length (long-which young boy wears hot pants?) and the price (much cheaper than the girls). So, I went over to the size 8 and got her four neutral colored, knee length shorts for $2.00 each! I was so excited!
Now, it may seem like I'm a bit obsessed with the way the girls dress. I'm really not. I'm just trying to cultivate a few modest and feminine habits in my ladies. If I expect them to dress modestly later, it must start early. At this point the girls know how we dress, when and where. I don't even have to tell them anymore.
I hope this helps any of you who have the same goals for dressing your ladies.