When one of my colleagues asked if she could borrow something from my closet to recreate her childhood outfit for this story, I didn’t think much of it. When another colleague asked me the same thing a day later, I was confronted with an unavoidable revelation: I, a fully grown 27-year old woman, must have a wardrobe akin to that of a little kid. This suspicion was confirmed mere hours later, when I surveyed my own childhood photos and realized I could easily approximate any of them with the clothes I had on hand. Easily!
So while I may not be the most objective choice of writer to make a case for taking styling tips from your younger self, I can certainly claim some degree of expertise. Upon reflection, the benefits of doing so are crystal clear: When children dress themselves, they prioritize joy. Comfort. Impulse. Emotion. Play. You know–the important stuff. The stuff that reminds you that the daily task of getting dressed is really just a never-ending game of dress-up. What better time than Growing Up month on Man Repeller to tap back into that sentiment? Scroll down to read which style tips five MR team members (myself included) are taking from their younger selves, and feel free to add yours in the comments.
Dasha Faires, Director of Product Development
Age of Little Dasha: I have no idea, maybe 12?
The story behind the outfit: Relatively certain by the bible I’m holding that I was on my way to church and this also looks like an Easter dress—or I want to believe it was given the floral and puffy sleeves that I was dressing up for something.
Recreating it for today: I love the puffy sleeves and the tea length! Puffy sleeves aren’t an everyday occasion for me, but it was fun to mix it up and wear a similar shape but in a very me way, over 20 years later: all black with sneakers.
Elizabeth Tamkin, Market Strategist
Age of Little Eliz: Nine years old, first day of fourth grade
The story behind the outfit: I was a big fan of Mary-Kate and Ashley (still am) and loved their outfits in the opening theme song of their then “hit” show So Little Time, where they wear oversized wrap sweaters and jeans with huge cuffs while running around on the beach. I became obsessed with recreating the look for the first day of school (it was still 80+ degrees, mind you), so I found this sweater at Abercrombie Kids in San Francisco. They only had it in blue rather than the preferred camel, but I settled.
Recreating it for today: I am fairly impressed with my use of the giant cuff as a nine-year-old. I recall that the jeans HAD to be raw denim, nothing else would do, and they had to be long enough to have such a massive cuff. It was so important to me. It still is! I think a stiff raw denim jean is the only kind that successfully works with such a styling trick. The wrap sweater was a cool touch (if physically very hot), I respected the pairing.
Matt Little, Head of Business Development
Age of Little Matt: 6
The story behind the outfit: It was Easter morning and this outfit was likely the result of a hurried rush to get the egg-stravaganza started. Looking back at my childhood photos, a lot of my outfits consisted of clothing meant for football/basketball/baseball practice (lol) worn as daywear and, apparently at times, holiday formal attire.
Recreating it for today: Lesson learned–when in doubt, and particularly when in a candy-incentivized rush, stick with something monochromatic and comfortable. It’s also interesting how looking back at such a mundane and convenience-based outfit could so seamlessly translate to the uniform dressing of today. If my younger self taught me anything it’s that there’s no shame in doubling down on the things you love and the importance of balancing the form/function equation in my day-to-day sartorial choices.
Patty Carnevale, Head of Partnerships
Age of Little Patty: 6!
The story behind the outfit: It was dance recital day, but when I tell you I felt perfectly myself in this outfit I really and truly mean it. I loved it, every extravagant detail down to the little pink bows my mom tied onto my dance shoes. I even asked my mom at one point to take photos in the neighbor’s yard because her flower bed matched my outfit. I was a spectacle and I was into it.
Recreating it for today: It’s not uncommon to see me in sequins and feathers, but all very tastefully, like you have to pay attention to catch it. It is pretty uncommon these days to see me in a swath of COLOR color—really out there and seeking attention, though the truth is I was and always will be a ham. Wearing this strawberry, jammy frock made me feel bright from the inside out.
Harling Ross, Fashion Director and Brand Strategist (Me!)
Age of Little Harling: I think I’m around 8 years old.
The story behind the outfit: Well, since it’s a nightgown, it was clearly getting close to bedtime. My sisters and I had all just had a bath. We’re in my childhood bedroom. I love that it looks like a scene from The Virgin Suicides or something.
Recreating it for today: This photo is ample evidence that a nightgown makes an excellent dress, no matter what time of day you happen to be wearing it. I wish I had the precise one I’m wearing way back then (I love the lace details at the top, and the pale pink satin bow), but any long white cotton nightgown will do. In the updated version, I’ve paired one with suede loafers, a hair-kerchief, and sunglasses, all accents that definitely announce I am not, in fact, about to go to sleep.
Andrea Araujo, Director of Client Services and Production
Age of Little Andrea: 4
The story behind the outfit: According to my mom, it was just a typical day. She’d also like you to know that the “beautiful Italian leather Mary Janes” I was wearing are sadly cut off in this photo.
Recreating it for today: Don’t underestimate a short-sleeved button-down (or any button down)! I love the way they make otherwise baggy or frumpy bottoms look instantly more put-together.