Style for the Undersized

On The Runway Section

Even in today’s fashion-forward society, it seems that outfitting babies, toddlers, and preschoolers remains an untamed frontier—the wild west of fashion, you might say. No rules. Parents shopping around amuck, dashing from one homogenous big box store to another, waving their credit cards, and paying little attention to anything. Snatching up something that has been mass-produced in a third-world country, so it can be mass-marketed as style—when, in fact, it’s the farthest thing from it.

Mom and Dad want their kid to fit in, so every child looks like every other in town, and hardly any look presentable.

Growing up, I always had a fitted black suit in my closet, just in case of an unexpected funeral. I used the same tired clip-on tie for years, but I was dressed.

Mom has a suitable dress, and Junior? Well, Junior has a portrait of John Lennon on his T-shirt, even though he clearly doesn’t hold an opinion as to whether Yoko was a muse or a distraction. Mom and Dad think that’s cool, and maybe it is.

But is it style?

I suggest that style is individual, and as parents, we not only are obligated to teach our children the ABCs, and how to navigate the pitfalls of society, but also to do it as individuals unlike anyone before us—with style.

Here are some children’s clothing don’ts I’d like to think everyone could live by:

• For those of you who clothe your children in hoodies that have huge corporate logos on them, I ask: Why are you selling cheap ad space on your children? Is it some kind of Old Navy profit-sharing plan I’m not aware of?

• There is a time and a place for plastic roses on formal gowns. The time is a very, very long time from now, and the place is a location I refuse to divulge.

• I’d be remiss to forget boys hats with dog ears or any other animal accoutrement. Now, kids aren’t terribly sophisticated, and I understand that, but my advice is: October 31 is the only day your kid should be working a tail.

• Mothers-in-law, please accept your role in clothing your grandchild. Your buying power most often is appreciated, but your clothing opinions, rarely so.

• Never ask your 2-year-old if he likes something you’re buying him to wear. Tell him he likes it. He will follow your lead, because—well, because he’s 2, that’s why.

• In most every instance, crystals and sequins are better bedazzling a potholder or Kleenex caddy than your offspring’s wardrobe.

Wayne Martin is the owner of Basil and Lizzie Fine Children’s Clothing in Edgewater, New Jersey. Visit

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