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Voices

Mom genes? No way.

Unlike mom, daughter has a sense of style — and she’s not even 2

By Louise Kennedy
Globe Staff / May 28, 2010

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No one, least of all me, would tell you that I am a fashion plate. Many of my favorite clothes would not look out of place at a boys’ summer camp, and not a particularly spiffy one at that. I hate to shop, I’m not interested in trends, and I’d rather spend money on just about anything than pants. Even so, it was shocking to realize something the other day: My toddler already dresses better than I do.

Let’s inventory the outfits we were wearing, so you can see what I mean.

Mine: comfortable but hardly form-fitting jeans (I suppose a crueler person, or a less self-deceiving one, would call them “mom jeans’’); brown T-shirt bought on clearance at some outlet or other, with a few grease stains accenting the front; tiny earrings chosen only to keep the toddler from yanking them, and not because they actually went with anything else; and — well, I suppose it could have been worse, because at least they weren’t my Crocs — army-green Keen sandals.

Hers: Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas; over them, a sleeveless floral-patterned dress that, incredibly, matched all of the colors of the little annoying steam engines; purple sandals, purple-framed sunglasses, and a necklace she took from my dresser. I hasten to say that she picked everything out herself — and that, unlike my ragtag ensemble, it looked funky but fabulous.

The thing is, she does it every single day. Orange striped dress and pink shoes — fabulous. Tiny blue jeans and a hand-me-down T-shirt with a puppy on it — fabulous. A diaper, a plastic tiara, and purple sneakers — so fabulous you wouldn’t believe it.

Now, obviously I think she’s adorable because she’s my kid. But I am not just saying I thought she looked great in these outfits — everyone who saw her in them, or in anything else she has ever put on, thinks she looks great. And she does. She looks cool, sophisticated, put-together, and beautifully accessorized. (Yes, even in diaper and tiara — somehow, she makes it chic.) And she’s not even 2.

Did I mention that she can also walk in high heels?

As a lifelong slob (and someone who has been known actually to fall off her high heels, even though they were not that high), I truly do not know what to make of all this. On one hand, I’m delighted to see that T.T. has such a clear sense of what she wants to wear and what will look good on her. On the other hand, I am — what is the word? — oh, yes. Jealous.

Jealous, and a little embarrassed. Because, seeing her, I realize that my one hitherto foolproof excuse for my own dowdiness is completely kaput. I always used to rationalize that I didn’t dress particularly well because no one had ever shown me how to do it. My mother enjoyed clothes, but our tastes were very different, and I never felt confident that she would help me find the right proportions for my body, the right colors for my complexion, or whatever it is that stylish mothers do to help their daughters be stylish, too. But I didn’t mind, exactly, because that meant that how I looked wasn’t really my fault.

So now here comes little T.T., seizing a neglected silk scarf out of my closet and flinging it about her neck as if she’d been doing it all her life, and how the heck am I supposed to explain either her or myself? How can she already know how to drape a scarf like a Frenchwoman while I, if I try to wrap it around my neck, end up looking more like a French poodle? Yeah, no one taught me. But no one taught her, either, and yet somehow she just knows.

Right now, all this is mostly just amusing, but I worry. If she’s this far ahead of me already, how is she even going to let me out of the house when she’s 13?

Fortunately, I’ve got a few years left to watch what she’s doing and see if I can try to catch up. Does anyone know where I can buy an adult-size tiara, cheap?

Louise Kennedy can be reached at kennedy@globe.com.