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Dear Ali,

My 5-year-old wants to dress in costumes everywhere we go. I think it’s fine that she dresses this way, but one of my best friends says it’s completely inappropriate and won’t allow her daughter to leave the house unless properly dressed.  I see how her daughter looks longingly at my daughter when we are out. Who is right?  

Sincerely ,

Princess at Heart.




Dear Princess,

I agree with you. As long as she is dressed appropriately for the weather, and she’s covered appropriately, and the costume gets washed on a fairly regular basis (or you have more than one and can swap it out to wash each day), let her wear what she wants. She is discovering who she is. She’s individuating, expressing her individuality. I think I’ve mentioned in the past, that my daughter wore a Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz costume including the two braids and sparkly red shoes every day for a good year at the same age. Might she get mocked? Perhaps. But if it’s important to her, she’ll do it in spite of looks and comments.  

As for your friend, commenting on what your daughter is wearing is completely inappropriate. I’m sorry for her daughter who isn’t free to express herself.

As your daughter gets older, her ways of expressing herself may challenge what you think is appropriate.  I urge you to ask yourself if this is a battle you want to pick. If she can’t dress the way she wants, what will she do to express herself. Clothing is usually pretty benign. But if you question modesty or safety, talk to her about it. Tell her why you are concerned. But, please continue to allow her to be herself!


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