Image: Styling the Tribe
Start a conversation with any parent about their kids and you’re likely to be riddled with lamentations along the lines of “They grow up too fast!” or “I remember when they were only THIS tall”. It’s a universal feeling, fuelled by an outpouring of protective instincts and the perceived loss of innocence before its time. So it’s no surprise that people are taking issue with the way kids dress nowadays.
3-year old girls sporting heels…boys in debonair suits and fedoras… It’s the only time the term “adulting” (to behave in an adult manner) comes to mind without it being satire. While some parents are gleefully playing dress-up with their kids, others are wagging their fingers and judging them for it.
Fashion and lifestyle rags were the first to hone in on this trend. Celebrity tykes such as Suri Cruise, Harper Beckham and Blue Ivy Carter are recurring features in fashion and entertainment magazines, often photographed with their stylish parents in trendy and ultra-coordinated outfits that belie their tender age.
The stylish kids of Seoul Fashion Week ’16
Images via Vogue
Pint-size fashion also stole the limelight at Seoul Fashion Week in March this year. Many of the guests were distracted by groups of kids hanging outside the tents, most of whom didn’t look a day past 5, decked in outfits even grown-ups would be envious of. From technical layers to miniature 8-eyelet Doc Marts style lace-ups, these kids’ knocked hipster dressing out of the park. More surprising perhaps is the fact that these weren’t the children of A-listers or front-row status fashion editors; many of them were “planted outside the shows by brands as part of an Instagram-led marketing strategy”, according to The Telegraph. While most fell prey to their cute charms, some like fashion blogger Susie Bubble revealed her sense of unease:
“It was so weird because they’d be like quite normally dressed parents (not that trendy looking), bringing their kids trussed up in these uber trendy, super co-ordinated outfits,” she tells The Telegraph. “And they’d be telling their kids to do cute things like pose, eat potato chips or play with their toys and generally play up to the cameras.”
Left: Mr Cory, Kids Fashion Blogger
It’s hard not to smile at the sight of well-dressed little tots, but soon, other thoughts start to creep in: Wouldn’t he or she feel stuffy in those layers? Aren’t those boots too heavy to run about in? Kids under 6 are living dynamos; this is probably the messiest and most active phase of their lives, and any outfit that requires more than your basic coordination would probably be too confining. Around age 3 is when gross motor development is running at a peak — just look at the how an adolescent lives for sand, paint, dirt and adventurous romps in the Great Outdoors and you’ll know what to do. Naturally, practicality and comfort rests uppermost among a list of concerns, including size, fit and affordability. Less fuss, less muss, we say. Uncomfortable clothing sends out the message that it’s more important that kids look good for other people rather than feel good and have fun.
The message that kids should dress for themselves is an important one. Many young kids watch their closest parental figures and model their sense of style after them. While it may be tempting for parents to turn their kids into tiny reproductions of themselves, it matters more for role models to create ample space and opportunity for kids to safely explore and form their own identity.
Left: Laerta, Luisa Fernanda Espinosa
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