Mama Madison: The fall school wardrobe

Check out a carefully curated resale this weekend in McFarland

My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."

Or, to borrow the words of UW Regents, what she was really doing was "sifting and winnowing" through her wardrobe, making the incredibly important (at least to her) decision on which clothes from fifth grade would still be deemed acceptable (not to mention still fit) now that she's a sixth-grader. It was kind of a Midwestern middle school equivalent of New York Fashion Week, with my daughter walking a very short runway (from her dresser to her bed) in an attempt to decide whether things like last year's jeggings with the holes in the knees should be allowed back in her bureau.

As it turns out, well-worn stretch jeans are still fine, as long the holes look "fashiony," not messy (it's not a difference that anyone over the age of 14, I don't think, can discern). And t-shirts, especially when emblazoned with the logo of a camp or summer experience she loved were absolute keepers, as well. But anything deemed too pink, sparkly, satiny, or "too fifth grade" was carefully placed in the "no" pile. As was the enormous collection of long forgotten toddler socks and size 6X underwear that appeared to be breeding in her dresser drawers.

By the end of the weekend, she had at least five or six yard-sized trash bags of "too somethings" to be handed down to the current fifth grade girl on our street. But I realized that had I been even a tad more industrious we might have been able to earn a few bucks toward the more sophisticated sixth grade wardrobe she's pining for by participating in this weekend's 12th semi-annual Half-Pint Resale,the Madison-area's largest children's consignment "boutique", taking place in McFarland on September 14-15.

The free, community-oriented event, founded, organized and run by entrepreneurial Madison moms Lisa Seidel and Ellen Carlson, has items for kids ages 0-12 (sizes go up to 14/16), as well as for the grown-ups in their lives. Sure, there are tons of seasonally appropriate, carefully curated clothes in terrific condition. The sale though also deals in such things as nursing and lactation supplies, cloth diapers, bassinets, sportswear (gently used ballet leotards or karate uniforms, anyone?), parenting books, video games, and Cozy Coups.

But according to the Half-Pint website, in the understandable interest of quality control, pants with holes in the knees are not accepted. So if my daughter and I take a trip over this weekend to check out the pre-teen tables (and since she's given away most of her wardrobe, we really do need some affordable shopping options) I'll let her in on a key piece of style advice.

Yes, I'm sure even the swankest sartorialists at New York fashion week would agree with me. The very best rips, tears and holes of all are always the ones you create yourself.

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