Friday, March 16, 2012

Raising Little Fashionistas - Virtue or Vice?

Before my recent J.Crew centered clothing obsession (I blogged about it HERE) I went through a phase of buying clothes for my daughter.

It started quite innocently. I was actually trying to be prudent and was looking to buy some clothes on ebay. Very quickly, I discovered ebay mom community, buying and selling mostly Euro brands kids clothes. I moved from GAP and Gymboree to Hanna Andersson, Catimini, Mini Boden, Oilily, and Jottum. Very soon I thought nothing of spending $200 on a Jottum outfit for my 3 year old, who of course couldn't care less about what she was wearing (I would resell it later for close to the same price, that's what got me hooked).

From Oilily catalog
This was my baby at 35, after long time of waiting and contrary to my first one at 21, I could now afford to buy much more.  It was also the time when the all-American plaid lined strollers were being replaced with red Boogaboo and other colorful Euro baby gear. Celebrities were suddenly getting pregnant and the baby became the latest and greatest fashion accessory.  How could I resist it...

Mini Boden

I think I was living a fantasy of perfect family life. There is laughter and jumping on mattresses and kissing of the dogs in it, but it is also a fantasy where cute little girls in pretty dresses play with their German made wooden toys in whimsically decorated bedrooms.  They later sleep peacefully in patchwork covered beds, dressed in Hanna Andersson organic pajamas.  So I also decorated my daughter's room with vintage looking teddy bears, Kathe Cruse dolls, Selecta Dollhouse and crystal chandelier (that broke into thousand pieces when we moved). Seriously, I was a toy snob and I think my daughter did not have a single plastic toy when she was a toddler.

Cute Little Girls

In pretty outfits

Patchwork bedding

fantasy bedrooms

Waldorf toys

Selecta Dollhouses

Kathe Kruse Dolls
What finally stopped me, was one day looking at our pictures (I blogged HERE about the importance of pictures). I realized, that while my daughter indeed looked cute and fashionable, I was shlepping around in oversized t-shirt and old leggings, dreaming about yet another perfect outfit for her. This is when I decided it is time to go shopping for myself and I stopped at J.Crew to get some basics. You know the rest of the story...

I still buy cute clothes for my daughter.  Every year I would buy her just couple of Jottum outfits, because I really love the brand, but mostly I stick to Crewcuts, GAP and Target. Needless to say, she is perfectly happy with Target.
Jottum for Winter

Jottum in the summer
I was also concerned about a striking a right balance between teaching her about good taste and style and putting too much emphasis on looks and material things. Plus, I didn't want to give her false impression that our life is centered around her clothes or that we somehow live the life of celebrities or have means to do it.

Now at 9, she is a little fashionista herself, but she likes to describes herself as 'soccer playing girlie-girl'. Did I have anything to do with it one way or another, I am not sure.

Happy in Crewcuts
I have to admit that with all the years of wearing quirky, whimsical outfits, last Christmas she had asked for North Face jacket and a pair of Uggs, 'just like everybody else is wearing'.  I bought it for her, thinking that not buying it would make even a bigger deal out of it. Now, she is wearing them with her Oilily gypsy skirt, striped top and flower headband from Crewcuts (she selects her own outfits, I only check if they are weather appropriate).

My little Princess

And let me tell you, she owns her style like I never did at her age.


Where do you buy clothes for your kids?
Do you encourage your children if they are interested in fashion?
Do you think we have any influence over the style our kids will eventually develop (or not)? Do you think we live vicariously through our children and it is not healthy?

Please share, it would be no fun without you!!! 



  1. oh my- I love it when kids dress themselves with weird and wonky combinations (I guess the key is to give them the right wardrobe to work with!) but I'm sure I would go as overboard with them as I do on myself if I had kids...I want that grey Jottum dress!

    1. You know I was wondering if the biggest of the Jottum sizes could work, lol. I'll tell you, the quality of this stuff is better than almost anything I buy for myself...

  2. Ha! I am wondering now if you belong to any of my children's clothing chat groups, know one needs to know I have my on clothing problem just as much as my daughter's (although for her now, I am a lot better)

    I became addicted to oilily, jacadi, bonpoint, jottum, cakewalk, room seven etc.. Before she was even born. She is wearing jottum for Easter Sunday and oilily for the egg hunts. The summer oilily is just too cute.
    My worst those was buying her custom made stuff from designers on ebay, I want even say the insane prices I paid for the outfits and the my absolute favorite was her jottum remembrandt pieces.

    Now she has a taste and style of her on and I miss get approval of everything or it won't get worn

    1. simplydreaming, I knew there must be some among us that were in the same boat at one point. People think it is too much knowing J.Crew clothes by names? Try doing that in Dutch!!! I loved the Rembrandt line and my daughter wanted to wear her tulip set forever. This Easter she will wear this dress.

  3. ajc we were meant to be friends. I was laughing through this entire post because I had this exact same experience right down to the Waldorf toys!
    My youngest daughter, who is also 9, was born just before I turned 32. I had my older 2 children when I was 22 and 24, was then a single mom, then married again but I had 3 miscarriages and a stillbirth before she was born. Needless to say it was joyous when we had her!
    I've had more money to spend on her though I have stuck to crewcuts and Gap. I went through a catimini stage with my older daughter when she was 9 or so, but I can see the influence I've had on both of my daughter's around clothes. They both love to dress up and I've always let them pick their own outfits. They have great clothes, my older daughter, who is almost 17, loves dresses and skirts and does NOT wear jeans. My younger daughter is a girlie-girl with a flair for drama, she wears crewcuts boys ties as sashes over her dresses, and just yesterday when we were shopping at JCrew Toronto picked out some new earrings: the crystal turtles!

    1. Oh Dani, isn't it crazy how many things we have in common? I am so grateful for the blogosphere that connects me with like-minded people, have a glimpse of their lives and share some of mine, it is comforting to know we are not alone!
      I think Crewcuts and GAP have perfectly cute clothes for this age group. Even Target because their tees are thicker and not so delicate.
      Funny, my daughter is bugging me about earings but I told her she has to wait until she is 10.

  4. ajc, I was laughing at your remark about trying to say the names of the items, you don't want to know how long it took me figure out I was pronouncing Jottum all wrong. I love the dress your daughter will be wearing for Easter, these our ours

    I am still horrible and do not like her playing with plastic toys, but I have relented and allow the mini lalaloopsy's

  5. ajc,you have a talent for writing and i really enjoyed reading this post.
    here in germany american brands like ralph lauren,hilfiger and GAP are very thought after in kids clothing.

    1. thank you Ina, I think we are always yearning for life a little more 'exotic' and what seems common to us maybe attractive and sought after for others...

  6. My daughters are 4 and 2 1/2 years old, they're completely different in terms of their fashion choices. I easily understood what you were describing in your post because like you I love European fashion such as Jacadi, Petit Bateau but not so much the prices. The most I've ever spent was $60 for a Jacadi dress and though I've been sorely tempted by the beautiful spring dresses for Easter I've been able to talk myself out of spending $100 because I feel that they get out so much more out of me spending $100 for their gym class or music class. Both of my girls love comfortable dresses and honestly whether they come from Marshall's or Jacadi they honestly do not cared. Well, maybe my little one who definitely prefers pink dresses to pink leggings.

    1. You are definitely right Joelle, music or gym class is definitely money better spend, aas long as you don;t go crazy researching 'the right kind' of music class, as I could do, lol. And I recently marched in Target with my daughter, picked up several peace sign themed outfits and they quickly become favorites. I think I paid about $50 for at least 4 outfits, go figure...

    2. AJC- I love the way you write, you're right Target is def a good option for girls. Right now, I don't know where you live but I've always had good luck with Music Together and it's a national program so you might find it in your area. I've moved several times and was in different states but with Music Together I've always found great teachers (ps: I have no affiliation with Music Together).

  7. I love those photos of your daughter. Brings back so many memories of when my D was little, and the complexities of what we express or realize in their wardrobes, and what happens when they start to care. I also remember one of my D's friends who wore something like that Jottum tutu every day to kindergarten. She grew up and graduated from Yale and is working for, oh I don't know, Google or someone? But I will always remember her as Caitlin in the tutu. I hope she still has a heart full of tutu wherever she goes.

    1. LPC, you say it so beautifully, "still has a heart full of tutu wherever she goes"...
      Thank you!

  8. I haven't had this particular virtue/vice, probably because I don't have a daughter, but if I had one, I think I'd have been in a world of trouble if I'd ever seen these clothes. They are really amazing.

    1. cate, it is true, even stepping aside and looking with a distance, those European brands childres clothes ARE indeed amazing and they are made so well. I don't know how they do it, but those colorful t-shirts never fade, even after many washes (although I hang it to dry because many Euro brands are not made for dryers). I often wish they would make navy and black t-shirts for women like that.