For­get Bar­bie, bring me Burberry

Once the lit­tlies dis­cover de­signer la­bels, shop­ping will never be the same again. Brigit Grant braves the bou­tiques with Madi­son, her fash­ion­ista-in-train­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Fashion -

IN­EVER thought it would hap­pen so fast. One minute she was a gur­gling tiny mite in a romper suit, the next she was a yelling baby ban­shee in­tent on wear­ing welling­tons with a swim­suit. Of course, I couldn’t ar­gue with my daugh­ter’s logic, as the theme of her at­tire was en­tirely aquatic, but ar­gu­ing with a two-year-old about any as­pect of fash­ion is in it­self a very child­ish thing to do.

Child psy­chol­o­gists are gen­er­ally dis­parag­ing about par­ents who barter with their kids, not least of all over what to wear. “Be firm and don’t ever of­fer them a choice,” say the ex­perts. And there lies the rub. For any­one who loves fash­ion — and I do — “choice” is what it’s all about. Choice is the rea­son I’ve yet to travel any­where with­out paying an ex­cess bag­gage fine. Af­ter all, it is only with a se­lec­tion of tops, bot­toms and shoes that one can hope to co­or­di­nate cor­rectly.

Of course, by ad­her­ing to this par­tic­u­lar fash­ion com­mand­ment, I was com­pletely re­spon­si­ble for Madi­son’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to self­style as a tod­dler, though “freestyle” was really the only way to de­scribe her sum­mer dress/woolly tights/ tiara com­bi­na­tion.

No doubt those of you with boys will have had sim­i­lar bat­tles over sar­to­rial pref­er­ences, but then given up and al­lowed them to wear that Sonic the Hedge­hog cos­tume to a func­tion, just for a quiet life.

Thank­fully things change. Now at the ten­der age of six, my daugh­ter is not only happy to be dressed (by me), but she has been draw­ing her own cap­sule col­lec­tion in felt tips. So acute is her in­ter­est in fash­ion that I half ex­pect to see her sit­ting next to Anna Win­tour dur­ing Lon­don Fash­ion Week and who knows in years to come she might be de­sign­ing for Suri Cruise or even Harper Seven Beck­ham.

Hav­ing es­tab­lished her­self as the ar­biter of tod­dler taste, Harper is def­i­nitely the one to aim for and watch if you want your child to be bang on trend, but as you can imag­ine it’s a look that doesn’t come cheap. The 2012 state­ment pieces picked out by her mum in­cluded a hooded cape by Burberry (£185), Ruby Lupin trousers (£63) and Bon Ton over­alls (£64), all of which she has prob­a­bly now out­grown, but then they’re so last sea­son it doesn’t mat­ter.

With the cost of Harper’s wardrobe es­ti­mated at £3,544.56, fol­low­ing in her Chloe-clad foot­steps is not an op­tion for most of us, though it’s amaz­ing how flex­i­ble one’s bud­get can be­come when your child steps out of the chang­ing room look­ing ed­i­ble. Ru­mour has it that Tar­tan Tur­tle in Mill Hill contributed to Harper’s early-stage at­tire and so we went to look at its spring/sum­mer 2013 col­lec­tion. “We’re only look­ing,” I told Madi­son, but the sight of a Gre­cian-style sum­mer dress by French la­bel Cher­ries was all it took to get her into cat­walk mode.

De­lib­er­at­ing over whether to try the Wild Fox pink sweat­shirt be­fore the So­phie Belle shorts and vest, Madi­son con­fessed to charm­ing sales as­sis­tant Paula that she liked dresses best, but that was be­fore she no­ticed a frothy black tutu skirt and a Most Wanted track­suit. “It’s so soft,” she said, eyes wide with ex­pec­ta­tion and I had to agree. Well, I’m a mother.

At the risk of un­der­min­ing those who make their liv­ing dic­tat­ing fash­ion trends, nail­ing down ex­act-

ly what ‘s in and what’s out gets harder ev­ery sea­son and this is par­tic­u­larly true of chil­dren’s cloth­ing. Un­like adults, kids have the ad­van­tage off be­ing cute from the word go and can pull of any com­bi­na­tion, so you don’t have to stick rigidly to the 2013 colour theme of yel­low, neon pink and or­ange set against sor­bet pas­tels and me­tallics.

Bro­cade is big news, along with 1960s shapes for dresses, softly tai­lored blaz­ers and glit­ter for shoes, though I can’t think of a time when glit­ter wasn’t the rage in kids shoes — at least for girls. For guid­ance on just how much glit­ter is de rigueur, go to Brian’s Shoes in Tem­ple For­tune, north west Lon­don, where the pa­tient staff care­fully mea­sure lit­tle feet, so that fash­ion doesn’t get in the way of a good fit. Madi­son gets all her bal­let shoes at Brian’s and they don’t let her leave the shop with them on, which is an achieve­ment in it­self.

When shop­ping for kids’ clothes, not only is the cus­tomer al­ways right, she can also stand on the fur­ni­ture, wave a sippy cup around and sit on the floor. Un­der­stand­ing a small per­son’s fash­ion needs and foibles is sec­ond-na­ture at Jou­jou and Lucy in Maida Vale, where they stock Tar­tine et Cho­co­lat and Kenzo.

Woody’s Boyswear, in Whet­stone, north Lon­don (woodys­boyswear. co.uk) makes a point of get­ting to know what a young man likes be­fore it sets about mak­ing him look a mil­lion dol­lars. Graf­fiti-ing and cus­tomis­ing shirts, footwear and more are all part of cre­at­ing a boy’s in­di­vid­ual look.

There is noth­ing quite like the me­mory of a melt­down in a de­part­ment store to make you ap­pre­ci­ate the ben­e­fits of a home de­liv­ery. Next is a favourite of mine and its 2013 col­lec­tion is full of flow­ers, notably daisies, on ev­ery­thing from sweat­shirts to high-top train­ers. There are fewer blooms for the boys, but the stripes on trousers and shirts are spot-on.

H&M runs a good on­line ser­vice and on price it is highly com­pet­i­tive, which is some­thing to con­sider when growth spurts oc­cur overnight, while you can turn to The Gap when you have one in your wardrobe. If you have a pen­chant for de­signer names, how­ever, go to Deben­hams, for J by Jasper Conran, John Rocha, Matthew Wil­liamson and Ted Baker clothes, re­al­is­ti­cally priced, for boys and girls.

For all the ease of the high street, I still like to hunt down un­usual clothes and prod­ucts for Madi­son. It’s thanks to me that, as a baby, she wore por­trait pants of politi­cians (twist­edtwee.co.uk) and bathed in Tiare blos­soms.

Re­cently I’ve dis­cov­ered Childs Farm or­ganic prod­ucts, whose clean­ing pow­ers have been demon­strated on born-on-the-farm trac­tor-rid­ing, mucky chil­dren — as good as it gets for a clean­ing rec­om­men­da­tion.

Bet­ter still I’ve found stick-onand-play t-shirts for chil­dren (lit­tlepun­klon­don.com). At last, Madi­son can de­sign her own T-shirt with the stick­ers sup­plied, in­stead of cut­ting up her own clothes to ful­fil her cre­ative needs. Harper Seven watch this space.

As a baby, my daugh­ter wore “por­trait pants” of politi­cians

Madi­son goes style-spot­ting Madi­son’s choice: So­phie Belle shorts and vest Op­po­site page: F&F pink rose and polka dot dress £10 This page: 1. Next meadow print dress £16 2. Mother­care swim­suit and hat £12 3. Rocha.John Rocha party dress at Deben­hams...

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