It’s hard to explain. While my Maternal Clock has yet to start ticking, I think kids are fascinating. They live in their own little goofy world, and usually have something more interesting, hilarious or insightful to say than one would overhear at a cocktail party. Despite my propensity toward awkwardness around little ones, I spent the majority of my high school and college years babysitting and it honestly wasn’t about the money. It worked out in the end; the triplets I cared for for two and a half years in college taught me that kids can be downright awesome.
But these girls also taught me something else, something I find utterly relatable: Kids –especially girls- love clothes. I swear, it’s just engrained in us, like some kind of girly helix on our DNA. A self-confessed tomboy for the majority of my formative years, more often than not I was barefoot in the dirt. Actually, I’m fairly certain “shoes” were not in my vocabulary during the summer months of my childhood. That didn’t stop me-or my mom- from amassing a vast amount of very girly dresses. Sure, I fought her tooth-and-nail over those frilly baby doll dresses she had a tailor make me for holidays, but did I hate it as much as I proclaimed? Not really. I liked wearing fun clothes, weird outfits and even those über-girly frocks.
Summertime is here and that means a fresh new crop of mini style mavens. Forget the boring pastel clothing of Easter yore; summer fashions for boys and girls are all about bright punchy colors and fun embellishments. And while my shoe obsession may have taken a few years to come to fruition, there are plenty of little girls out there who love a new pair of kicks.
Along the boutique-heaven that is Magazine Street stands Little Laughter. This store is a great eclectic mix of funky threads and home décor for little ones. They carry sizes ranging from newborn up to a 14 for girls and a size seven for boys. Owner Kim Elms stocks great lines like Hartstrings and Mulberry Bush for boys and girls, and more familiar names like Roxy for the older set. I must say, perusing through their wide assortment made wish they were made in adult sizes … or that I was about nine inches shorter. Employee Kay Gant says cute sandals from L’Amour, Ralph Lauren and Saltwater are flying off the shelves.
“Summer is definitely the time parents buy a lot of sundresses and shoes,” she says. “We have to do a ton of reordering on sandals each season.”
Gant also says “the brighter the better” has been the trend, be it a Roxy bathing suit, Funtasia swim trunks or a day dress, bold color is a true sign of summer fashions.
“Parents are buying a little bit of everything,” she says. “But the bright greens, hot pinks, yellow, and turquoise are really popular.”
Nestled behind Metairie Road is Banbury Cross, another fun little store for tykes. Housed in the old library building and named after a popular English nursery rhyme, the store carries their own line of clothing for boys and girls. The mostly smocked clothing comes in a wide assortment of colors and embroidered patterns. Owner Peggy Roth says the Disney-inspired ones are some of the most popular. Collars have bright appliqués featuring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Alice in Wonderland, to name just two. Willoughby is one of the many very cute lines for girls that can be found here. Bright dresses and rompers with pinks, lime greens and tangerine orange pop up on much of Roth’s inventory.
The same trend of bright colors holds true for the boys clothing as well. In addition to the typical genre of pale blue shorts or short-alls and soft white tees, there are plenty of fun clothes with great graphics- dinosaurs, alligators, etc.- for your son or nephew to express his individualism.
Banbury Cross carries sizes infant to 12 for boys and infant to 16 for girls. They also have a wide array of shoes and accessories, perfect you’re your little fashionista. Make sure you check out their section of princess-worthy crowns, scepters and glittery fun products, and also their books. You’ll be the coolest mom on the block when it comes time for you to host the inevitable “Princess Sleepover.”
Further downtown in the Garden District is hidden gem Mignon for Children. Owner Karen Ludwig has a great mix of clothes for the younger set, and tons of toys, books and collectibles for parents. They can custom embroider your youngster’s favorite Oshkosh overalls, giving new life to them if they are looking a bit worn. There are also great little bedazzles tees for your little ballerina, and fun tutus in pretty pinks and whites. Reed and Barton silver keepsakes can be found on the counter, and can be engraved to your taste. Ludwig is always on-hand to assist customers, and can offer some really great advice to steer you toward a great purchase. Mignon stocks everything from bucket hats to umbrellas to Communion clothing, making it great one-stop shopping for busy parents.
Clothing is a great way to express your individuality, a fact most stylish adults relish. But it’s a great way for kids to let their personality shine through as well. Some kids enjoy polos and khakis; some treat everyday like it’s Halloween. Kids are only kids for a short time and they should dress accordingly. Tutus and Dorothy-esque red slippers on a Tuesday? Why not. I know as a wee one I was obsessed with a particularly adorable set of white overalls, replete with colorful fish; I wore them until I outgrew them (although I’m sure my mom could attest to the fact I probably continued to try). Summer is a great time for kids to put on their most coveted bright dresses with adorably mismatched accessories. But hey, if they’re happy, that’s all that matters. Cheers to running around outside in your favorite warm-weather apparel, little ones.