I thought I knew everything I needed to know about personal style and fashion until I started teaching elementary school. I had more fashion lessons this year than a makeover-show contestant, courtesy of 6-year-old girls. I'd love to say (for gender balance) that little boys taught me something too, but they honestly don't care — at all. Here's what the mini-fashionistas taught me about fashion, accessories, and signature style:
1. Rompers sometimes look like PJs. One day, I walked into the room wearing my favorite full-length Anthropologie romper, and a little girl looked me in the eye and shouted, "Are you wearing your pajamas?" Fail.
2. There's always time and place for pink. Not to be gender-stereotypical, but some of the girls incorporated pink with such flair that I ended up giving pink more chances than usual — and I loved it.
3. Don't be afraid to wear an item more than once. Hell, you can wear it all week if you want to — as shown by a girl who wore the same traditional Chinese dress every day I saw her. And it totally worked.
4. You can wear animal print, tie-dye and stripes together. As proven by a 2nd grade student with an exotic name, who dressed with such abandon, it put my adventurous taste to shame.
5. Oversized princess dresses pair nicely with cowboy boots. As demonstrated by one particular freckled cutie, who clearly had a thing for boho-chic as early as the first grade.
6. Sneakers are a girl's best friend. Kids never wear heels, wedges, narrow-toed boots, or other devices of torture — they need to run around and play. They opt for sneakers each and every day. Try this and it may change your life.
7. When in doubt, wear leggings. This is the most popular item among little girls (and some boys, if my eyesight didn't fail me) — they're practical, comfortable, and go with everything. Although it looks like every woman in my neighborhood might already know this trick.
8. Go big on accessories. I noticed the items that attracted most favorable feedback from young fashionistas were big, bright, bold, and unapologetic. Earrings shaped like corn husks and a dress with ladybugs on it were the biggest hits.
9. Headbands are not dead. Adored by girls up to 4th grade, headbands are everything, actually. They keep your hair back, add color, and prove your love for Hello Kitty, Frozen, or whatever you're into now. When are they going to start making headbands with Breaking Bad characters on them?
10. And finally, no matter what, being yourself is your best bet. No one dressed with more character than these little girls. Crazy colors, wacky combos, humorous accessories — they had it all, without even trying. They inspired me to 'be myself' more than any women's magazine ever did, and because of that, I hit my summer vacation fashionably braver than ever.
Can't wait to see you all next year!