At what age do you let your child decide what to wear?

As soon as my girls took an interest in and wanted to choose their own clothes I had to change the way I dressed them. They were around 2 years old when they suddenly had strong opinions about what to wear, like their favourite nightie to a party, bright red tights on a hot summer day and summer sandals in the middle of a snowy winter. We had our battles before I realised the trick that worked for us. I really didn’t wont to kill their genuine interest for fashion either as I strongly believe that children also express themselves with what they wear. So I found a few steps I followed in order to allow my children to be dressed appropriate and at the same they they felt like they had freedom and a choice.

1. Clear out
Clear out seasonal clothes and shoes, away in boxes and out of sight. Keep dressing up clothes away, with the toys. Keep swimwear with the towels. Clothes that are too big need to be away, in your wardrobe perhaps. And the clothes they have outgrown must go, even if it’s their favourite tee. I’ve created a “treasure box” with their absolutely favourites that they’ve outgrown, that we’ll give them one when they’ve become adults themselves. As a child hood memory box, together with their favourite toys.

2. Limited selection
Give them 2-3 options that they can choose from. Be aware of the occasion, and explain why you have laid out 3 dresses if you’re going to a party and why they only can choose between jogging bottoms or shorts if you’re visiting a farm. Leave enough time for them to choose, at least 5-10 minutes.

3. Leaving the house rule
In the house at home I let them experiment and choose completely, but as soon as we’re leaving the house they need to follow the above steps.

They are now 6 and 9 years old. My 9 year old chooses clothes that are practical and comfortable. My 6 year old loves to experiment, mixing colours and fabrics, and dress in layers. But most importantly it seems like both girls have found their style that will allow them to be their own person and to grow up and flourish.

To make a long answer short;
As soon as they show an interest they should have a say with your guidance. Best of luck finding a way that works for your family!


  1. Great ideas! I occasionally ‘hide’ the sparkly dresses when summer rolls around so my 6yo can’t find it and therefore, can *not* wear it to summer day camp. 😀

  2. Nice and practical steps.
    My 3 y old doghter wants always use party dress at home. I totally accept it, but when we are leaving home, she got to choose more functional clothes.

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