When Do Little Girls Become "Clothes Conscious"

I had to return something at Target and there was a mother and a small girl, who looked about 5 years old, and the little girl says:

Now the statement seemed, at least to me, indicate that the little girl not only didn’t like the dress but she was aware others around her would notice too. Perhaps I’m wrong.

But in any case when do girls (or little boys) start becoming aware of their clothes and realize they aren’t necessarily for warmth only?

Um… perhaps you’ve never heard that (many) little girls enjoy playing with dolls. Dolls come with clothes, many with “outfits” and “accessories.”

So I’d say, depending on the girl, as soon as she’s old enough to hold a doll.

I can remember refusing to put on an “ugly” dress when I was three years old. I know I was three because my mother eventually got me into it and took that year’s Christmas pictures.

My beautiful sister number three was about four years old when I took her with me shopping and she informed me that my choice of a suit was too boring. She has been telling me that regularly for the ensuing two decades or so. Some are born with a sense of fashion, some develop it, some have it thrust upon us by our clotheshorse sisters.

My eldest child began to develop a sense of fashion at about six years old (he favors a sort of urban hip thing), my youngest will turn eight in a week and does not care at all – would put on a three piece suit or boxer shorts and a wifebeater without comment if I laid it out for him to wear.

In short it sort of depends on the kid I think.

My mom says I told the minister not to “get my pretty dress wet” when I was baptized as a toddler.

In my case? Not entirely yet.

In my daughter’s case, I’d say around 8 or 9. That’s when she was seriously excited about receiving clothes for gifts and was very particular about what she did and didn’t like. She’s 11 now, so it’s full blast.

As far as pure preferences go - my anecdotal data is it can vary widely, and isn’t necessarily sex-linked. So in our case:

Daughter #1 - gradually developed preferences at about 5 or 6. Before that, clothes were things you put on yourself so mum and dad would let you outside to play.

Daughter #2 - decided overnight she wouldn’t wear any colour but pink, at age 2. Remains very girly 2 years on.

Son - started developing very decided clothes preferences at about 20 months, mostly based on function (eg gumboots so he can jump in puddles … it may have been a week since the last rainfall, but he lives in hope!) but also on the colour red, which is always a winner. Complains VERY loudly if put into the wrong clothes.

As far as being aware of what other people think of their clothes - I don’t think any of them are at that stage yet. The Taller Girl just likes things because she likes them - she’s equally happy putting me into nice clothes as herself, or creating a nice picture in her favourite colours. I may have a different take on it when the Smaller Girl reaches school age, however.

I imagine there’s a big socialisation component. I don’t pay a huge amount of attention to clothes, so there’s not a lot of pressure on my own kids in that way.

Looking around, I would say 5 or 6 is a good guess for a minimum age of “clothes-consciousness”. I remember a lot of my daughter’s preschool friends had very definite opinions about their clothes, but it was all very individual - boys who turned up in their batman outfits week after week, or little girls who wore a tutu all year. School seems to be where the peer pressure in general starts to kick in.

My daughter began trying to dress herself at about 18 months and showed a preference for shirts with kitties on them. Certainly she’s not fashion conscious, but I think those are the early buds of what will eventually bloom into a sense of personal style.

I never did that. Until I was a teenager, I pretty much just wore whatever my mother gave me to wear. Over the years I may have had a couple of favourite garments, and a few that I didn’t like, but I couldn’t say I ever got interested in clothes as a kid. It looks like my daughter is going to be a girlier girl than I was.

My daughter is 3 and has very strong opinions about what she wants to wear (which we routinely ignore). She also disappears into her room and changes her clothes 2-3 times a day.

Our daughter is 10, and she doesn’t really care, as long as she’s dressed and her pants have a pocket for her insulin pump. Our 11 year old son, however, has been fashion conscious since he was 6.

My mother says I had a very clear opinion on what clothes I wanted to wear pretty much from the age I had enough words to make said opinion known… which would be ~18 months. Apparently, if an outfit wasn’t colour coordinated to pass muster, I’d sulk for the rest of the day.

As you can see from this thread, though, this obviously varies quite a bit from one girl to the next. I’m sure it’s equal parts innate sense of aesthetics and external influences from socialization.

What initally surprised me was the way the kid phrased it. She didn’t say “That’s ugly,” I could see that from a kid at any age, but to say, “how could you even think I’d wear something like that?” Well somehow, at least to me implies that the kid has a sense of style, whatever that is.

I believe a girl that age could say that, but to me it says she is mimicking, not really meaning it. She is aping the tv shows and movies she watches endlessly, and the mother, as evidenced both by the tv babysitter and the failure to realize the mimicking and taking it seriously, is not doing a good job at parenting.

[flamesuit on]

Since before I could remember. I used to throw a fit when we’d go somewhere and my mom would want me to wear pants. If we were at home, I didn’t care, but going out? No, I HAD to wear a dress. And it had to be a cute one.

I’ve always been very girly. I LOVE love love LOVE clothes. Probably why I loved my Barbies. (And still like to collect them. Gotta love the clothes)

Look at the target age group in this Gap ad.

My nephew has been clothes-conscious since before he could speak in coherent sentences. It’s part of the whole “control” and “the world must be stable” thing, in his case: if This Shirt goes with This Pants, then it can No Way go with Those Other Pants.

I was laughing my ass off, as I’ve had conversations with my mother where she held a similar point of view: she said “that blouse goes with that skirt!” and I said “Mom, it’s a white blouse! It goes with anything, and even if it wasn’t white, there’s no reason a blouse that goes with a navy skirt wouldn’t go with navy slacks.” The Kidlet’s Mom belongs to the same school of thought as her son and her mother-in-law.

I’m told I ripped the frilly edge with the pink ribbon off the cradle as soon as I could reach it (repeatedly); trying to insert me into anything pink, frilly or involving bows was one of the very few things that triggered a tantrum (top o’ the lungs, too).

It seems to happen at younger and younger ages on average with each passing generation.

Beautiful sister number three was like that, too. Once I was with her and my brother for several weeks while our mother was handlign a family crisis elsewhere, and I got a note home from school demanding that I send her to school in pants as it was winter. (I had her in knitted tights). In the end after a battle royal I sent her to school with the pants in a bag, wishing them the best of luck getting them on her as I had no plans to upend her and yank them on.:smiley:

I was amazed when I had kids, both boys, because they began to care about brand names and “style” as soon as they began school. I didn’t recall really caring much ever. In fact I had mocked my younger brother for buying expensive name jeans, shoes and clothes during the disco era. Then, in my day, a t-shirt or sweater or top didn’t have a brand printed on it and anyone of several makes of jeans were OK.