My daughter never cared much about dressing up dolls, paper or otherwise. We went through an early phase with Barbies and their "sweeties," little Kelly dolls. She had a collection of Madame Alexanders on shelves in her room. And, since she was a middle-class child of the early aughts, we had lots and lots of American Girls and even more of their outfits.
But, acquisition is one thing (one thing that my daughter has always been quite good at). Actually playing, dressing and undressing, is another.
I, on the other hand, loved dolls. Especially paper dolls. I had a vast collection of Betsy McCalls (a new one arrived in my mother's magazine every month). They went to "boarding school" in a long shoebox and each lived in her own "room," a plain white envelope that contained each Betsy, her two outfits plus various possessions I cut out of my grandmother's Sears and Spiegel catalogs each summer.
In keeping with my true packrat (I prefer "archivist") ways, I still have them. My daughter has never shown any interest whatsoever. Not. One. Iota.
For a while, having a baby girl was sort of like having a wonderful, living, breathing paper doll. She was a little on the small size when she was born (probably all that booze and all those cigarettes while I was pregnant ... kidding!). So, the first couple of weeks, she wore preemie pajamas and onesies donated by the generous mother of twin boys. They were blue and green and since my daughter was rather hair-challenged (try completely bald), the young lady was constantly mistaken for a young gentlemen. Soon enough though, she grew some hair and grew into the countless pink ensembles various friends and family had showered us with from the moment they heard "It's a girl." I was fortunate that she wasn't much of a blurper. Her clothes stayed crisp and clean and sweet and p-i-n-k.
Once she had a mind of her own, she took the pinkness even further. There were about two years of preschool when she would only wear pink and she would only wear dresses. Basically, if I was at Marshalls or the Gap or the Children's Place or pretty much anywhere and I saw a pink dress on sale, I bought it. She paired these feminine frocks with red sparkle Mary Janes (think Dorothy after she landed in Oz) from Target. They only sold them during the holidays so I tended to buy up a good stock in her current size and a size or two up. (All that glitter made them particularly scuffable.)
There was a brief period in elementary school when she wanted horses on all her clothes (you'd be amazed how many My Little Pony options there are). Then, as if all that dressing up was just a dream, it was over.
Don't get me wrong, my now teenage daughter still puts a lot of thought and effort (and my money) into her wardrobe. It's just that, at this point, I have very little say about it. There also seems to be an aversion to anything that's new looking ... well ... new. Tee shirts are pre-faded; jeans are pre-ripped. I had a bit of luck on the sale page of Urban Outfitter's website last Christmas. But, most of the time, I let her make clothing decisions for herself.
Nevertheless, I think she and I would agree that a new site launched to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Clueless could make the whole dressing up (or down) thing a lot more fun. If you remember that iconic movie, Cher Horowitz (the ditzy and adorable Alicia Silverstone) had a special closet interface that allowed her to mix and match outfits until she found the perfect fit. It was kind of Betsy McCall meets Steve Jobs. Today, a company called Metail has created a virtual fitting room called "CherWears." You put in your height, weight (you'll need to convert it to "stone"), select a head and start trying on. There are outfiits inspired by the movie's main characters, as well as categories called Glamour, Stand Out and Wedding.
Cherwears is a great way for teens (and, let's face it, moms) to try some wardrobe additions in a no-risk way. And, as I sit at my desk — with deadlines looming — it's also proving to be fun.
Almost as fun as my Betsy McCalls.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.