Of course there are days when just getting your kids into clean underwear and changing your baby into a drool and spit-up free onesie is a huge accomplishment. But for when they need to be presentable and you’re feeling well-rested and ambitious, here are some style guidelines.
Objectively assess your baby or child:
One of the keys to looking stylish is wearing the right size. Of course it’s OK to have items a bit big for babies and children, because they grow so quickly, but ideally they are not swimming in their clothing, because this will look sloppy. Also, if you happen upon a great sale and your little ones are not with you, you can shop, because you know their sizes. Just as with adult clothing, different brands have different cuts. American brands tend to run bigger than European brands and more casual clothing like the Gap and Old Navy run big. The Swedish brand Polarn O. Pyret runs big as well, Swedish people are tall. French brands like Au Bonpoint and Le Petit Bateau cut smaller, as do Italian brands.
Hair color and eye color are clearly easy to assess, skin tone is less obvious, but the chances are pretty high they have a similar skin tone to either you or their father. If you’re unsure, try and approximate whether their skin seems warmer or cooler. Warm and cool refer to the undertone, the skin beneath the surface, which determines how colors reflect on the skin, and if that color flatters or detracts. There’s also a neutral tone, but a higher percentage of the population has a warmer skin tone, so guessing warm is the safest choice. Red, orange and yellow are warm colors (think sun and fire) green, blue and indigo/violet are cool colors (think sky and sea). Of course there are “warm blues” and “cool blues”, but that’s getting complicated and artistic. It’s better to stick to the general warm and cool tones.
If the skin-tone question is too challenging, forget it! Remember this: your child’s hair color is their “neutral”. For example if they have dark brown hair, any clothing or accessory that’s dark brown will work, because it will blend with their hair. The same with eye color; if your child has hazel green eyes, a green shirt will look good because it will match their eyes. When you become sensitized, you you will be able to pick the exact shade of green that matches their eyes. These are easy, fool-proof ways to ensure your child will look good, without blowing your budget. It costs the same to choose the green shirt as it does to choose the brown shirt, of the same design, so you should pick the one that will bring out their features.
My son has bright, clear sky-blue eyes, so I almost always dress him in shades of blue: sky, light, navy, midnight, turquoise, cerulean, aqua, etc. If he gets something that does not suit his coloring like, orange, rust, muddy brown, olive green, mustard yellow, etc. I try to exchange it, return it for something else entirely, re-gift it or donate it. I hate dressing him in something that doesn’t suit him. It also makes getting dressed simple. Almost everything in his wardrobe looks good or amazing, so outfit choices are quick and easy. You should follow the same rule with accessories like, hats, coats, scarves, etc. Choose ONE colorway- blue, red, yellow or green and just get varying shades, then everything is coordinated and it’s efficient. You can even choose one color for each child that best suits them, leading to less confusion when getting ready, doing laundry and tidying up. Additionally, when family and friends want to buy clothing tell them what colors and styles work best. People love direction and are usually happy to get requests, it simplifies gift giving.
Once you know your child’s measurements and sizes, you need to know when and where to shop, to spend the least and get the most for your money. Obviously try hand-me-downs from siblings, family, friends and neighbors, first.
Next, know what to shop for, when. The fashion industry has its own calendar and is always a season ahead. Try to shop end-of-season, discounts abound because retailers need to clear floor and shelf space for the upcoming season. At the end of December/beginning of January you can find wonderful deals on winter clothing and accessories, think ski jackets, warm boots, and other typically high-priced items. Even though you feel like winter will never end and you’re living in your coat, the fashion industry is launching their spring collections.
Apart from above, if you can avoid traditional retail stores you’ll save more and get more interesting things. Here’s a list of off-the-beaten-path shopping options:
Join MeetUps in your area, https://www.meetup.com/
Go to clothing swaps at your local house of worship
Shop at local consignment shops.
For example, in NYC, I like…
Join online services or apps. You can buy gently used second hand clothing, sell your children’s clothing (and use that money to fund new purchases) and in some cases swap. There are big names like Ebay, Etsy, etc, but below are some lesser known sites.
As the fashion capital of the US, NYC has tons of sample sales and you can sign up for email notifications, but check to see what’s available in your area. And finally, you can always sew your own clothing. My mom used to design matching outfits for my sister and I, and sometimes coordinated them to hers! I’m not suggesting you go this far, but you can certainly save money and you’ll have a creative outlet too.
Although it takes some effort and attention to create a stylish wardrobe on a budget, you will be pleased with the results when you discover how much money you can save and how effortless it will become to dress your child well.