The Wardrobe Chronicles: Molly and the Orange Dress
Welcome to "The Wardrobe Chronicles," a series of stories from parents and kids who have gone to extremes in their clothing preferences. Whether it's a tutu mandate or a denim boycott, we'll hear how moms and dads made it through the quirkiest of style phases. First up: Brooklyn mom Libby Mayward explains how her then-three-year-old, Molly, ended up wearing one dress, every day, for a year. Yes, 365 days.
All families have them: memories that have a title. Like the time that Molly’s chocolate mouse went flying across the dining room at Alice’s Tea Cup or Margaux’s major wipe out on the black ice.
Everyone remembers them a little differently, some family members hold onto more details than others. In our family, we all remember Molly and The Orange Dress. Any time that one of us mentions it, we all take a deep breath, smile, and comment how glad we are to be through with that.
When you’re a mom of two, life rushes by so fast that you often don’t have time until later to dig a little deeper to gain some perspective and try to figure out what the heck was really happening with your child at the time. So when a friend put a post on Facebook asking about kids and their wardrobe quirks, I got to thinking about that Orange Dress…where did it even come from? Oh yeah—I needed summer nighties for the girls and went to a local kids' clothing store. She didn’t have any but she showed me a sweet orange tank dress from Petit Bateau, which was perfect for the hot, sweaty nights ahead of us. I bought two, one for each daughter. I had no idea the torture these sweet orange dresses would bring me in the year to come.
Those nighties were with us on all our trips that summer, from Key West to Long Island, packed and unpacked many times with no particular attention given to them. And then, school started. Something changed. Molly had to have the Orange Dress on EVERY DAY—under clothes, over clothes, it didn’t matter but she wasn’t leaving the house without it on. At the time I was at least intuitive enough to recognize that it had become like a lovey to her, but I had no idea why. But as weeks turned into months, I began to get really worried. Then frustrated. Then embarrassed. Fights erupted. It smelled. She wouldn’t let us wash it. We had to rip it off her. The dress grew stained and torn.
Molly at the playground in winter, with her orange dress peeking out.
Finally, she agreed we could recycle hers and she could wear Margaux’s. It was longer than hers and peeked out from under all her dresses. There was no hiding it from anyone. Everyone knew she was still wearing The Orange Dress. Now thinking back, I recognize why. It seems so obvious. It wasn’t just that she is a super tactile kid who experiences the world through touch and was going through a quirky stage—that was part of it, but it was so much more.
If She's Going To Wear One Dress All Year, Make It a Durable, Washable One
Molly was off to her playschool and Margaux to Kindergarten. There was a huge shift in Molly’s world. Molly and Margaux had the very unique and special experience the year before to be at school together. Now Molly was there without her big sister and her sister was a world away in another neighborhood deep in Brooklyn. Margaux cried every day for the first three weeks and so did I. But Molly plugged along, going to playschool seemingly happy and well adjusted. The only caveat was that now, she had to have the Orange Dress on EVERY DAY. Even though we didn’t get why at the time, eventually, we accepted it.
Sleepwear Cute Enough To Wear All Year (If Necessary)
And then one time the laundry came back and there was no Orange Dress—just like that, gone. For this go-round of the Orange Dress, we were not frustrated, but devastated. We had come to accept that Molly needed it. We scoured the internet frantically looking for a replacement. And then, my mothering instincts kicked in. That’s it—time to move on. She was sad and cried and asked about it for a couple days but it wasn't as traumatic as anyone would have guessed. I think it often goes like that with kids and major transitions—you think it's going to be a much bigger deal than it is. We did move on, and now it's just a memory entitled, “The Orange Dress.”