Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How Young Is Too Young For Fashion?

3.1 Philip Lim Daffodil Shift Dress, $325 at www.neimanmarcus.com

"Your children will be the best dressed kids on the block," a teenager once told me. I frowned, and jokingly said, "They'll be dressed in K-Mart clothes till they're fifteen." Even though I was only half-kidding, I have always felt very strongly about separating childhood from fashion. This is not to say that I don't gush like any normal woman when I see a cutely dressed baby (my friend told me about a baby boy dressed in a vest with corduroys and I melted). Nor does this mean that I wouldn't dress my future nonexistent children in well-coordinated outfits. It simply means that I question the effect of pushing fashion on the very young, who have not yet formed their own internal sense of self. For me, fashion is tied in with my identity and growth as a mature human being, and it's so much about choice, responsibility, and self-expression; but I am also aware of the potential dangers of materialism and selfishness in those too immature to handle it. I wouldn't want my children to base their self-worth on the label they're wearing, nor would I want them to base the value of their clothing on the price paid for them. While I do not judge those who do choose designer duds for their children--that is a choice, after all--I do ponder my future decisions as a mother, and ultimately, I will promote self-expression and responsibility rather than labels and status--even if it means that I disagree with their fashion aesthetic.

1 comment:

miss cavendish said...

A timely post for some of us who are currently wringing our hands over securing spring clothing for daughters with two completely different builds (long and lean or compact and muscular).

When I shop for my girls I avoid anything outfit-y or precious. I'd rather thay have a mish mash of patterns and colors that they can literally mix and match.

I never dress them like Astor's pet goat (a great phrase from my Brooklyn- bred m-i-l), but perhaps like Astor's bohemian cousin, so they can play with their own combinations and, ultimately, express themselves.