What We Can Learn From Kids About Personal Style

Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
By Maria Benetos

You may not think you can learn a lot from a child when it comes to style. Perhaps you recall your own fashion approach when you were a five-year-old, and naturally chalk up kids’ style to My Little Pony T-shirts and frilly pink dresses. How wrong you are, my friend.

As someone who has been obsessed with fashion all her life and has worked in the field since graduating from college, I was pretty sure I had my look down pat and knew all I needed to know on the subject of style. Not much changed when I had kids — I found cute gray and black onesies, dressed my girls in my likeness, and all was well (not to mention simple). Then they got older and actually started having opinions on what they wore. It startled me at first, but I eventually came to appreciate their distinct choices.

Like learning to say "no," they were exerting a sense of self, of independence in letting me know they had style preferences. It reminded me that personal style is a true form of expression. Besides, they were having fun with it, and that rubbed off on me. If you open your mind to it, you might just be able to learn a thing or two about style from the little ones.

Ahead, what my four- and five-year-old daughters taught me about style:

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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Happiness, not fear, is a better emotion to follow when figuring out what to wear.
If you find yourself drawn to this season’s crop tops and high-waisted skirts but fear the look is just not “you,” remember not to take yourself so seriously — wear the clothes with confidence. My kids are fine with bringing on the fashion drama every now and again, as should you be.
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Embrace your own personal style — you don’t have to be like everyone else.
It takes a strong sense of awareness to understand what is your true style, and kids effortlessly possess that awareness.

They don’t fear not looking like everybody else, and that's a lesson we can all take from. Once you learn to accept your signature style, you’ll look and feel your best at all times, and what’s more empowering than that?
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Try some color; a pop of pink does indeed lift your mood.
I see the pure joy in my daughter’s face when she wears her favorite pink dress — and realize I haven’t had that feeling in a while. From fuchsia to electric blue to pea green (you do you!), it’s easy to find the right shade, and once you do, it will amp up your style (and attitude!) in a way you never expected.

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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Be open to trying a new trend, even if it seems a bit out there.
With each season comes a new wave of inspiration. There are trends to try (or avoid), but the important part is that you don’t overthink it.

My kids aren't thinking about trends per se, but they are constantly experimenting with their look and trying new things. We'd do well to follow suit. Remember, nothing is permanent — the pastel hair chalk washed out, the bright lipstick wiped off, the mirrored sunglasses set aside — so why not transform yourself, at least temporarily?
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
When you’re feeling unsure of what to wear, go classic.
We all have them: those days in which you try on half your closet and nothing seems right. That’s when you should be breaking out those pieces that are simple, chic, and comforting. Add a pair of high-tops or a statement accessory to make the look your own.
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
It’s often the small details that take an outfit from blah to awe. The simple addition of cool sunnies, a bit of bijoux, or a fringed handbag can give a familiar outfit new life. My minis’ dress-up sessions constantly remind me that accessorizing is an affordable way to lend my wardrobe some extra punch when it's feeling dull.
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Try a print every now and again.
Live in a world of solids? I always have, until I saw how my girls wowed me with their carefree style in their patterned pieces. From floral to pinstripes, or perhaps even something more novel (cowboy hats, anyone?), prints add a lightheartedness to fashion that’s always important.

Related: Why You Need These Bag Styles
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
If you’re going to wear something outside the norm, rock it.
Kids choose a fashion item or concept and they go with it, which often makes you sit up and take notice. So if you're going to try cat-themed, then go full-on with a feline-faced ruffled swimsuit — and don’t you dare apologize for it! If nothing else, the playfulness of it all will put a smile on your face. Maybe you wear it again, maybe you forget about it forever. All that matters is that you rocked it.
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Bold hair accessories make you look cool and confident.
There are times when an accessory is not intended to simply enhance a look; it is the look. Take a page from the kids’ playbook and kick it up a notch with your hair accessories this fall. From crowns to flowers, the key is to go simple with your hairstyle and let the adornment take center stage.
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Photo: Courtesy of Maria Benetos.
Embrace your imperfections instead of trying to hide them.
Kids aren’t looking for perfection. As I often hear in their classrooms, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” As an adult, it's enormously freeing to embrace what is and stop holding yourself to insanely high standards. After all, the good, the bad, and the ugly all contribute to your uniqueness.

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