I have a daughter who’s into fashion. She didn’t get it from me. I’m a jeans and t-shirts and sneakers kind of person. When I was a kid not much older than Adi, I used to get disappointed when people gifted me clothes instead of toys. Adi is the polar opposite. She’ll ask for “new new outfit” almost every day. Sometimes, she’ll refuse to put on any clothes at all unless it’s a brand new outfit. My two-year-old would rather walk around naked than wear a dress she already wore.
If anyone is considering a Real Toddlers of New York show, Adi would be perfect.
One of my generous hand-me-down friends is, bless her heart, a design label junkie. Her daughter, who’s a year older than mine, has a wardrobe that would make many adult women jealous. Adi got an outfit from her older stylish friend that she looked really adorable in. I loved it so much that I wanted to get it in a bigger size. I went online and almost fell out of my chair. The complete outfit Adi was wearing retailed at $250. I’m not paying that kind of money for a soon-to-be urinated on baby outfit. I rarely pay that kind of money for an outfit for myself — and I pee on myself considerably less than the average baby.
Gucci and Calvin Klein and Burberry all make baby clothes — and people (non celebrity people) actually buy them. People are paying out the nose for designer clothing that’s going to get spit up on and be too small in a couple of months. Why? I promise you, your infant doesn’t care who they are wearing. If the people you surround yourself with care who your baby is wearing, you need to surround yourself with new people.
The only two things you should look for in baby clothes are quality, and material. Something that won’t fall apart, and that’s a nice material to have against baby’s skin. The rest? Leave it up to the kid.
I take Adi with me with me to buy clothes, and I let her pick out her own outfits. As long as the outfit she picks out is weather appropriate, she can wear it. She doesn’t gravitate towards labels. This is probably due to the fact that she can’t read yet, but it’s also because slapping a brand name on the front of a garment doesn’t make it look good. Adi has style, true style, unchained by preconceived notions (and literacy) as to what should look good.
Of course, letting a toddler choose her own clothes can result in you walking around the city with a…funky…looking kid. I’ve gotten side-eye looks from other parents for “letting” Adi walk around wearing what she does. Her favorite accessories are glitter sneakers and green tinted aviator goggles. She’ll pair a pink tutu with a skull and crossbones shirt and a giraffe hat.
We live in a stylish neighborhood, in a stylish city. Every time we go out, Adi sees what other people are wearing and absorbs it. If I insisted on choosing Adi’s outfits for her, or didn’t include her in buying her own clothes I would have never gotten to know this incredibly artistic and aesthetically-inclined side to Adi’s personality. Girl has style. When she learns to write I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up writing a fashion blog.
Many parents spend too much time caring what/who their kids wear. Some parents even argue with their kids over outfit choices. I have seen too many miserable toddler faces wearing skinny jeans.
They actually make skinny jeans for toddlers.
If you have a kid who wants to wear something “crazy” you should let them. You can see on Adi’s face that she’s proud of what she’s wearing. Why would anyone want to stifle that?
A mom (whose toddler son was wearing some overly preppy Polo getup) walked up to me at the playground and asked me what what was wrong with Adi’s eyes.
“Then why is she wearing those goggles?”
“Because she’s awesome.”
Toddlers are awesome. Let them be awesome.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.