I recently read two newspaper articles that got me thinking about how my attitude to children’s clothes changed dramatically once I became a Mum. The first was about the retailer John Lewis deciding to abandon girls and boys labelling on their clothing:
The second was by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian writing about how designer children’s clothes are basically a waste of time:
Before I became a Mum I was all about fancy (and expensive!) baby clothes. I loved buying clothes for my nieces and nephews. Clothes that I thought were cute or trendy or pretty. If my friends had baby girls I’d especially enjoying picking out the pinkest frilliest baby outfit I could find. When I think back now on some of the more ridiculous items of clothing that I gifted to people I cringe!
During my pregnancy I was very cautious about buying baby things so I only had six white vests, six white babygros and one white cardigan for my hospital bag. Knowing me pre baby my family obviously bought loads of dresses and pink cutesy things for Little P when she was born. But suddenly dressing my own baby felt very different. I didn’t really care about cute outfits, to me she was the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen and dressing her in fancy outfits just seemed unnecessary. Also the cuter the outfit the more uncomfortable it seemed to be! My only real concerns were soft fabric, comfort and warmth (but not too warm!). What the clothing looked like was bottom of my list. When I dressed her in fancy dresses or mini adult style outfits it just seemed like we were putting her in costume or treating her like a little doll.
Now that she’s an active toddler comfort and warmth are still priorities. But now I also love to buy clothes that SHE loves. So, last winter she was fascinated with pirates and bears. Now it is virtually impossible to find either of those things on girls clothing so I bought a number of boy’s tops and t-shirts for her. She loved putting them on and showing them to people. Now, she loves cats and Micky Mouse! These are more ubiquitous so I can nearly always find them in the girls section. But often vests and tops in nice strong primary colours can only be found in boys sections (or expensive unisex ranges which I love but just can’t afford). So, when shopping I always look at everything on offer in her age range and ignore the gender labels. By now she has a good mix of both boys and girls clothing in her wardrobe!
Recently she has started to show an interest in selecting clothes in the morning and wanting to dress herself (Minnie Mouse shorts and her red wellies are the look dejour!). I’d like her to see that clothes can be fun, creative and an interesting way to express herself, if she so chooses. They are not necessarily about looking pretty or ‘nice’ for others but more about feeling good in herself. They don’t need to be expensive, fashionable or new. They can be homemade, secondhand or borrowed. One of Little P’s favourite pieces of clothing at the moment is a cardigan knitted by my Auntie who Phoebe just adores! A piece of clothing made by hand and with love – isn’t that the best label that anything could boast?