by A.A. Milne
John had a
John had a
Baby clothes, in my opinion, should conform to two key principles:
- Keep the baby warm and dry
- Be easy to get off and clean when they inevitably end up covered in a substance seemingly more adhesive than superglue and so foul-smelling David Bowie should confine it to the Bog of Eternal Stench (That’s a Labyrinth reference. If you didn’t get it, you clearly didn’t grow up in the 80s)
However we all know that children’s clothes, like adult clothes, can often be more to us than simply functional items. They are an outward message to the world: ‘This is who I am’. They can tell you more about a person than a thousand Facebook updates.
And while babies can’t access social media, their clothes too can be more than just a simple cover up. They can be fun; they give the people who choose them endless joy; and while babies can only show limited aspects of their personality, what they wear can tell us endless amounts about their parents.
So what on earth am I to conclude about parents who choose to dress their child in this monstrosity…
Where Facebook has failed, Mylene Klass and Mothercare have stepped in, at last allowing babies to truly express themselves by making a “fashion statement!”
On a run-of-the mill shopping trip in Mothercare this week I happened upon this dress, so brash I would only have expected it to appear on Bette Lynch in Coronation Street circa 1988; a full leopard print party dress with frills and a ‘heart cut out back’ available for girls as young as 6 months. Well, while the style may not exactly be practical for a baby learning to crawl, the garish pattern may well help to disguise the results of a leaking nappy!
If the dress alone is not enough for you, you can accessorise (yes, apparently babies should accessorise) with matching leopard print socks and headband! I immediately snapped a picture and sent it to a friend who was in hospital having just given birth to a baby girl.
“Do you want me to pick this up for the new arrival?” I offered.
“Only if it comes with matching stilettos” she swiftly responded.
Sadly, Baby K at Mothercare hasn’t quite reached that stage yet. No imagination that place. Though if they ever get sight of this post, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found them as a new addition on my next shopping trip. I’ll take a cut of the profits – but for god’s sake don’t put my name on it.
Why are people so desperate for their children to grow up? Why dress them like mini-adults rather than just accepting that babies are babies. Even if we are going to a party – which Mothercare assures us this dress is “perfect” for and “sure to turn heads” – does anyone there really expect the babies to abandon practicality the way we do in order to look stylish? And do we really expect toddlers to make a “fashion statement”?
Dressing babies like mini-adults is nonsensical for so many reasons.
Firstly, the cost.
Last year, Marks and Spencer released the results of a survey (albeit one designed to support and promote their ‘Shwopping’ scheme, but it’s in a good cause so we’ll let them off) which revealed that the average under one year old owned 56 different outfits, totalling an average of £327. Now, unless you are willing to spend your life chained to the washing machine, you do need a significant amount of clothes as by the end of the day at least one set will be ruined by dribble/milk/sick/food/urine/poo or a mixture of all these things. But, for these same reasons, only a moron would invest in loads of clothes, or expensive ones.
A quick internet search for ‘designer baby clothes’ (a ridiculous phrase in itself), reveals some outrageously unsuitable options:
– If you feel three matching leopard print items just isn’t enough, you could always invest in some matching Ugg Boots. That’s right, for the bargain price of £45 you could equip your not-yet-walking child with boots which restrict her ankles and render her unable to move, making it much easier for you to sit on the computer searching for yet more inappropriate baby clothes.
– You could invest in beautiful striped Tommy Hilfiger babygrow for roughly the same price. If your little one is going to ruin an outfit with explosions from his backside which could rival Vesuvius for their force, let them at least do it in style!
– Or if you’re looking to splash out that little bit more, how about £101 for a fruity themed dress. Let’s skip past the frankly ludicrous cost and worry instead about the idea of labelling your young child “fresh and juicy”
Which brings me to my other point: if we do insist on dressing up little girls (there are a few mini-adult boys outfits, but nowhere near as many), must we force them into stereotypical, almost sexualised outfits? Mention leopard print to most people today and the majority will think of Kat Moon, the busty bawdy barmaid from EastEnders – hardly the ideal role model for a child so young they wouldn’t even recognise Ian Beale if he delivered fish and chips to their house in person. I don’t particularly want a brassy, saucy toddler – and I certainly don’t want Shane Richie for a son-in-law.
I guess I can’t totally rail against the idea of dressing up babies like dolls. On the same shopping trip I discovered the animal print nightmare, I bought this…
Ok, I’ll justify it. As is so beautifully illustrated by AA Milne’s ‘Happiness’, a child’s clothes should be first practical and second allow them to enjoy the fact that they are actually a child. The bumblebee outfit is very soft and comfortable and I challenge you to find me any child who isn’t unfeasibly amused by an adult blowing raspberries and whispering “BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ” into their ears.
And anyway, he’s my bloody son and I’ll dress him how I want. Who the hell do you think you are to tell me otherwise?