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How to inspire sartorial elegance in children

Mix-matched garments, inappropriate headgear… dressing is a rite of passage




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Sartorial fashion

A dreary grey day, with storm clouds gathering and the threat of rain. Why, just the perfect weather for your toddler to don her favourite swimming costume, teamed with odd socks and a pair of flip-flops. A gorgeous sunny day? Well, then that must be perfect for a raincoat and a pair of wellington boots. Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite so contrary as a toddler starting to exert her very personal and individual sartorial style.

For parents, there’s a delicate balancing act to negotiate between offering due praise for your toddler’s accomplishment of tackling tricky buttons and fastenings and trying to proffer subtle suggestions as to what type of garments might be appropriate for different types of weather and social occasions (though we’ve yet to find a situation in which a girl doesn’t feel better clad in a tutu and feather boa).

While no parent relishes the idea of bringing a tinfoil-sporting Cyberman along to a formal family occasion, your child’s youthful individuality and creative flair is a wonderful quality that should be encouraged. You only have to look at Britain’s fashion luminaries to see that eccentricity is a much celebrated attribute; one girl’s pirate costume is another’s Vivienne Westwood.

The easiest way to handle the knotty problem of creativity versus common sense is to give your child limited choices. Select three items that you’re satisfied suit the occasion and let her take control, thus not stifling your child’s need for independence and natural flair yet preventing her choosing anything overtly unsuitable. And always remember, to misquote footballing legend Bill Shankly: “Fashion is not a matter of life and death. It’s much more important than that”. 

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 This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article


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