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Style Tips From an Unexpected Source

05/01/2013 12:20 EDT | Updated 07/01/2013 05:12 EDT
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Before I had kids, I decided that I wanted to raise my children to be free thinkers and have their own views and opinions. Now that they're 11 and 9, I kind of wish I had amended that belief to include: as long as their views and opinions are the same as my own. Life would sure be a whole lot easier.

There are however, benefits to raising free thinkers -- one of them being that you get to see life in a whole new and different way. Take my daughter Annabelle. Technically she's 11 years, 7 months old. (Practically 16, if you ask her.)

Annabelle's had an opinion on every single one of her (and my) outfit's since I can remember. In fact, I think she had an opinion about the onesie I put on her in the hospital -- the day after she was born.

I realized early on that I needed to let her wear what she wanted to wear and buy what she wanted to buy (within reason). I learned that like most women and girls, she had her own likes and dislikes and I had to let her develop her own style -- regardless of whether or not I approved.

And as a result, the most amazing thing happened. I have learned so many lessons from this little girl -- especially when it comes to style and being true to yourself.

Here are just two of the lessons that my little spitfire has taught me...

1. Turn Something Expected into the Unexpected

A few months ago, when shopping for sneakers, Annabelle found herself unable to decide between two colours of Converse. So what do you do when you can't decide which colour shoe to wear? You wear both. At the same time.

Making sure to clear the purchase of both pairs with me (the one with the credit card), she regularly wears one colour on one foot and the other colour on the other foot. Never, ever does she wear the same colour on both feet. Come to think of it, my son wears two different socks all the time too. Maybe it's genetic.

Annabelle took something that was expected, put her own spin on it and turned it into something completely unexpected. Would I ever wear two different coloured shoes? Not intentionally. But it made me realize that I needed to open my mind, think outside the box and try something different.

Take a look into your closet and see if there's something that you could put your own spin on. Maybe you have a long statement necklace that could be worn as a belt or an outfit that could be worn a different way. We often do things the same way day in and day out, so it might be nice to look at things in a new way. You never know what might come out of it.

2. You Can Never Have too Many Lip Glosses

My daughter loves lip gloss. In fact, she spends most of her money on these shiny little flavoured sticks of fun. While we've lost count of how many she has and her lip gloss container overflows, she insists that there's always room for more.

For me it's shoes. I love, love, love shoes. I could have a whole closet full and it wouldn't be enough. So what's stopping me? Other than things like mortgage payments, food and bills, it's a question of how much is too much. How many pairs of shoes do I really need?

According to Annabelle, the sky's the limit. If you have the means (and it's not an addiction or putting you into debt), why would you stop yourself from buying something you love? Something that makes you feel good when you put it on? Something that brings you so much joy when you look in the mirror?

I think that sometimes we let our heads win over our hearts and deny ourselves the little things that make us feel good because we think they're frivolous or that we should or shouldn't do certain things or be a certain way.

So whether it's shoes or makeup, handbags or hair products -- if there's something that you love, that brings you joy and makes you feel amazing -- follow your heart and don't let anyone stop you from being true to you.

I'm going to take a page from my daughter's book and keep on buying shoes. Not only that, I'm going to enjoy the process and fully experience the joy my shoes bring me every time I put them on. If my husband questions my purchases, I'll inform him that I love my shoes and he'll just have to deal with the overflowing closet. And if that doesn't work, I'll just tell him that Annabelle made me do it.

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