Ever wonder where those magazine-worthy, pint-sized fashionistas got their start? Who was the brilliant person who figured out that we would drop hundreds – or thousands – on those can’t-live-without-them looks for our tiny tots?
Fashionbi reports that Dior was the first designer to realize the potential in the children’s clothing market, and unleashed the wonder of ultra kids’ fashion on the world. Not to be outdone, Ralph Lauren soon followed suit. Let’s say thanks to these industry giants for these outrageously adorable and fashionable kids’ clothes, as well as the hefty price tag that comes with them.
Today, we’ve got lots of choices for toddlers and big kids alike. Just take this $1,300 Girls Gold Brocade Cape with fur trim Dolce & Gabbana jacket. It’s definitely to die for, especially when the bill comes. On the other end of the spectrum, the price of that jacket could probably buy the entire clothing department at Target.
But let’s face it: it can be confusing to navigate kids’ fashion when half are bargain-basement priced and the other half are as much as your mortgage. Are designer toddlers really worth the price? Or is this just another excuse to open up our wallets and let the fashion world bleed us dry over fur-lined boots and diamond encrusted pacifiers? Yes, they exist too.
Before you take out a small loan for your child’s wardrobe, here are a few things to consider as you walk down the runway of designer toddler fashion.
According to an article in The New York Times, designer toddler clothes can often actually offer better quality than their bargain counterparts. Of course, not all fashion-worthy garments are created equally. The New York Times article asked fashion and garment experts to evaluate a selection of designer kids’ clothes. It turns out that several showed evidence of shoddy craftsmanship and mismatched seams. Other pieces, including those from Oscar de la Renta, proved to be high-quality, trend-setting fashions that were worth the price.
So it’s possible you’re getting an heirloom-quality dress or pea coat that will turn your little one into a tiny fashionista. But your kids are also likely to outgrow those clothes before you finish reading this blog post, and suddenly you’re left with a closet full of designer duds.
How long do you actually want to hold onto your toddler clothes? If you’re planning to have an army of little toddlers one day, then you can pass down these quality pieces over and over again. You’ll be that obnoxious, perfectly-dressed family on the block that everyone envies.
Otherwise, it may be best to focus on just a select handful of special occasion dresses, darling little suits, and dashing outfits. Once your wardrobe base is complete, you can furnish the rest of your kids’ wardrobes with less-expensive options.
However, for some Moms, the point of designer clothing is all about fun fashions that change in the blink of an eye. They want to indulge their little ones and have fun dressing their kids like models. In this situation, it’s really not about holding onto your most precious pieces for years to come. Depending on your budget, you can achieve the same thing simply by keeping an eye out for less expensive brands that emulate the eye-popping pieces you love.
Your own parent-sized closet may include a handful of work clothes, one or two fancy outfits, and enough comfortable clothing to withstand a week’s worth of milk stains and yogurt disasters. Meanwhile, your own kids need several week’s worth of clothing that they will likely tear through in just a few days. And we suspect a steady stream of crumpled laundry is probably the norm at your house.
Consider just how many shirts, pants, special occasion outfits, shoes you can’t live without, and drop-dead cute leggings your child needs. And that count doesn’t even include jackets, swimsuits, and undergarments. Stocking an entire closet with the latest designer clothes is probably akin to throwing a few months’ worth of preschool tuition out the window. Parents on a budget – or those who just don’t have an emergency budget for fashion disasters – can find select designer pieces and weave them into their kids’ everyday wardrobes.
Think Social Proof
At the end of the day, it’s actually pretty difficult to figure out if those designer toddler clothes turning your kids into reality-star divas are worth it. After all, you have no idea how the clothing was actually made, or how it will stand up against an entire pouch of raspberry applesauce being squeezed onto it.
But you can at least figure out what everyone else thinks and how they fared. Let them make the investment first and learn from their successes and mistakes. Act like an online super sleuth and turn to friends, family, and online reviews to hunt down the social proof you need. Put on your detective fashion hat. Are people talking about how completely adorable the clothing is? Or are they complaining about tears, fraying, and fading within just a few washes? Collect all of your evidence to determine which pieces make the most sense for your budget and style sensibilities.
Think Fashionable Alternatives
Let those fashion industry giants vie for your attention. Take advantage of what’s out there and look for pieces that emulate the looks you love. Walmart has no shortage of cute and bargain-priced kids’ clothes. Or go online and hunt down that gorgeous fairy dress at a fraction of the price. It may not feature the same quality material as its fashion-industry-giant counterpart, but it still provides that look you love.
Remember that adding in shoes, hats, and accessories can also make or break your toddler’s fashion-forward look. To achieve that designer look you want, pepper in the very best headbands, fedoras, and sweet little coats to set the tone. And that tone is that your toddler commands the fashion corner of the playground.
Think Special Occasion Splurges
We’re going to assume you’re not feeding the family ramen to offset the costs of your toddler’s designer wardrobe. If you have enough disposable income, go ahead and buy a few fabulous designer pieces. Soon you’ll have a wardrobe full of cute finds that suit your toddler’s sparkling personality.
But remember to make those special occasion outfits count. Playdates at the playground require comfortable and durable clothing. Patterns and colors don’t really matter when it’s all about mud pies and climbing. Instead, save those special pieces for dinner with relatives, family photography sessions, and a trip to a kids’ show. Of course, when it comes to your fashion-forward kid, they are the show.
Think Fashion Swap
Don’t keep fighting the toddler fashion urge if you’re waking up in a cold sweat over the latest Dolce & Gabbana kids’ runway show and how you can emulate that style. There are always ways to fund your fashion lifestyle without breaking the bank. Start by sharing the wealth and getting more moms on board in your quest for recreating the runway.
Get friends together every season for a fashion swap, and mix and match old favorites and new finds. Soon you’ll have a brand-new wardrobe that’s already been vetted by the most fashionable moms in your neighborhood. And best of all, there’s no need to take a small loan to fund your fashion dreams.
Think High-End Consignment Shops
Toddler consignment shops and sales have hit their stride, with some only catering to name-brand clothing and big-ticket items. Scour your community for upcoming sales, and vet which ones are worth your time. Some sales even offer volunteers a preview night where they can snatch up the best items at a discount. The thrill of beating out those suckers who wait until the public sale day is as exciting as the loot you pick up.
Remember you can also consign some of your own fashionable coats, shoes, and dresses to offset the costs of picking up gently-used fashion finds. You’ll leave with a bagful of new pieces and the smug satisfaction of knowing you paid half of the retail price. If you’re still coming up empty, start your own sale and create a toddler frenzy in your community.
Do you think designer toddler clothes are worth the price? Or are they a ridiculous indulgence? Let us know by leaving a comment below: