Dressing up is an important part of childhood but you don’t need to keep up with the Kardashians by draping your toddler in the latest designer gear, writes Andrea Mara.
FROM her Balmain jackets to her Phoebe Philo shoes, two-year-old North West is arguably one of the best-dressed tots on the planet.
Mum Kim Kardashian teams black tutus with tiny biker jackets on her pint-sized model, and poses with her daughter as they sport matching LBDs.
Is it all just a bit of fun, or should kids be allowed to dress like, well, kids?
With gifts of Alexander Wang dresses, Lanvin skirts, and a customised Bambi t-shirt from Givenchy, it’s not surprising that North is a rather well turned out toddler.
She’s not the only celebrity child in designer clothes: Suri Cruise has been spotted in Burberry coats, Stella McCartney and Little Marc Jacobs dresses, and Roger Vivier shoes, while Harper Beckham has worn clothes by Roksanda Ilincic, Chloe, and Gucci, and she’s not even five years old.
There are pages and pages on magazine websites showcasing photos of celebrity children in designer clothes, and blogs dedicated solely to fashion worn by these famous offspring.
And it’s a little bit addictive — cute kids in gorgeous clothes, what’s not to love?
But even with the assumption that designer clothes are sometimes gifts, and sharing pictures is part of the deal, is a biker jacket the most comfortable thing for a two-year-old to wear?
“I think there’s something about living vicariously through your children which can be worrying,” says psychologist Leisha McGrath.
“The whole thing about the child as an accessory is an issue — it’s better to let a child have her own identity.
“It’s fundamentally a part of them to want to exert some control in their own lives — to establish what feels comfortable and what their preferences are.
“It’s an important part of parenting to be able to validate that for your kids and give them safe boundaries.”
There’s often a distinction between the version of ourselves we share online, and the look most of us wear every day — no doubt it’s the same for celebrities.
Similarly, we all dress up from time to time, and parents dress their kids up too .
As a mum of two girls, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with putting on a “good” dress for parties, or the odd Hollywood premiere as the case may be, as long as there’s plenty of time in the more comfortable everyday clothes that take kids effortlessly from playground to naptime.
And children love to dress up as part of play, as McGrath points out: “Dressing up and role play is a very normal part of growing up.
"It allows children to use their imagination and play act different roles — all very healthy and to be encouraged. This is very different from being ‘on parade’.
“However occasional persuasion to wear a dress for a family party is clearly going to be less damaging than daily coercion to wear something that fundamentally upsets the very being of a child.”
So what kind of clothes do little girls need to wear?
“They need to be comfortable and functional and of course colourful!” says Sunniva Kelly, kidswear buyer with Penneys.
“Clothing should be easy to wear, soft, and breathable. Layering pieces are best, as they can easily be pulled on and off.”
Jenny Erwin, children’s wear buyer with Arnotts, agrees: “For younger girls we find that the clothes need to be colourful and playful; for example if they have a horse or a unicorn on them then we know they will definitely sell.”
Once younger girls start to decide for themselves what they want to wear, it helps to bring them along when shopping, says Erwin.
“It’s easier for parents if they like the clothing and have an affinity with it. Most girls like tutus and dresses, with matching leggings and tights.”
She has also noticed that little girls are becoming more interested in grown-up clothes.
“We’re starting to get a feel for demand in skinny jeans and blouses which is very much a ‘mini me’ look but harder to wear and not very play-friendly.”
But basics like leggings and t-shirts are the perennial favourites.
“Easy to wear, layering pieces are the main staple for everyday wear,” says Kelly.
And the essential wardrobe for young girls? “Tutus, dresses, leggings, funky t-shirts, jeans, cardigans, fleece and rain coats would be key items,” says Erwin.
With that advice on board, and our handy tips right keeping up with the Kardashians should be child’s play.
Eight tips on clothes for girls:
1. Bring your daughter shopping with you and let her have input into what you buy.
2. Leggings, long and short-sleeved T-shirts, and cardigans are practical, usually wash well, and can be layered.
3. Tunic dresses worn with leggings or tights are handy for everyday wear.
4. Knitted jumpers and dresses look great, but check that your child doesn’t find them too scratchy, otherwise they’ll hang in the wardrobe unworn.
5. Tutus might not seem practical but lots of little girls love them, and they’re usually not expensive.
6. Pretty party dresses can be less comfortable for playtime, but have one or two in the wardrobe for special occasions.
7. Make sure she has a warm, rainproof jacket and reasonably sensible boots.
8. Let her mix and match and clash and wear things you wouldn’t normally wear.
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