Nov 17, 2010
Dear readers, you know I do not have any children. In fact, I avoid children whenever possible and when it isn't possible, interact minimally and hope the elevator door opens ASAP.
But I do have strong opinions about the way children should dress. This is based on a lifetime of watching Shirley Temple musicals and Our Gang comedies, and a strong appreciation for the young Haley Mills. I want kids to look like kids. The girls don't have to have ribbons in their hair (though that's cute); the boys don't have to wear short pants with knee socks -- it's not 1935 anymore, alas -- but children should be unobtrusive and clearly identifiable as creatures who spend most of the day in the sandbox.
When I was a child, I wore my brother's hand-me-downs. My clothes were functional, comfortable, sometimes color-coordinated, and nothing more. Perfect for an afternoon at the World's Fair:
Or playing in the grass.
Back then you didn't spend a lot of money on kids' clothes for three reasons: 1) children quickly outgrew them, unless 2) children wore them out first, plus 3) expensive children's clothes weren't readily available.
That's why I nearly threw up when I stumbled up on this new fashion line from the prolific Marc Jacobs.
And Marc isn't alone.
Friends, what kind of person would buy their toddler Gucci? Perhaps someone like this:
The list of major fashion designers designing for kids -- and not just kids, toddlers -- is long and growing: Paul Smith, Fendi, Donna Karan, Dolce & Gabbana, and many more. It's big business. Designers and the global fashion companies know that even in a recession, parents are going to splurge on their kids. And since a lot of kids clothes is purchased as gifts, it's a very resilient market.
Now I know that there were always little French boutiques on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where wealthy families bought expensive clothes for their children. But the clothes weren't advertised and the average person (let alone the average kid) knew nothing about them. The clothes posted above are advertised, and designer lines like these are just one more way our society reinforces social and economic stratification.
I would be embarrassed to send my child to school looking like this, frankly.
Or wearing these...
Anyway, you know where I stand. How about you? Is this an issue you've had to deal with? Is this designer fashion for kids really as awful as I depict it, or is it just another sign of the power of the global brand?
If the kid picks it out for him or herself, should the parent veto it? What do you think?
Do you, like me, long for the days of Margaret O'Brien? How do you like kids to dress?