16 November, 2006

The Best Dressed Kid

WARNING: If you do not have young children nor do you care about holiday attire for said young children, then be prepared for me to bore the pants off of you with the following post if you opt to continue reading.

We all know the holidays are literally right around the corner. And if you guys are anything like me, you’re not only focused and losing sleep over what to do about your holiday cards, but also finding suitable holiday attire for your kids. And usually, I am much more prepared than I am this year. It has sort of crept up on me out of nowhere and I admit, I am not prepared. I have gone back and forth about what I’m going to put the boys in and yes, I *think* I have finally decided. While I bought these beautiful candlelight silk dupioni litte heirloom outfits for formal portraits, I don’t think I will put them on the boys for Christmas (I really hope Mr. Monogram is not reading this part). If we were still in Atlanta, then yes. But the fact is, where I live it’s a good bit less formal so while my children will still look nice, I don’t think I’ll put them in silk again. So this year they will be wearing navy and white pinwale corduroy in coordinating outfits. Mini #2 will, be in an age appropriate longall with a white peter pan collared shirt, and mini #1 will be in matching trousers, a navy vest and white peter pan collared shirt as well. They will both, of course be wearing the classic white saddle. I don’t know what it is about the little saddles, but I can never get enough of them at Christmas and Easter. Being the traditionalist that I am, my boys are usually in shortalls or button-ons with saddle oxfords and knee-socks too.

And let me tell you I have taken a lot of flack from my friends who don’t have children and don’t understand the importance of traditional holiday attire for young children. Especially traditional Southern attire where the shortalls are either smocked or monogrammed. You can see a small sampling of the mini’s better dress attire in the inset. And no, you can not send me a “LOL” comment or email that my children have a rather large collection of smocked attire. You see, I am very big on age appropriate dressing. I don’t want to put my 3 year old in a suit, or even my 4 year old in a suit for the holidays because well, unless they’re getting up and going to work in corporate America and have a paycheck to show for it, then really my children have no business wearing a suit. But hey, that’s just my opinion because I’m sure lots of people will think it’s “sissy” the way I formally dress the mini’s. They’re toddlers, after all, so I want to dress them to reflect their age, and this is just very commonplace in the South. This is the same reason why I don’t dress them in the baggy pant “skater” look a lot of these stores think is so “cute” on 3 and 4 year olds. I do not find that amusing, in case anyone from the Old Navy is reading.

But getting back to holiday attire, if you too are searching and hunting around for nice holiday and portrait attire, then I’ve laid out a few of my favorite resources for you. Of course, don’t forget ebay too because we all know there are some fabulous deals to be had on ebay! So if you hop online (which really shouldn’t be difficult since you’re already there), click over to One of a Kind Kid, where I have been shopping for years. They’ve got a huge selection of better clothing (read: holiday wear) for children, and gobs of brother-sister outfits as well, which let me tell you, can be pretty difficult to find. A few of the brands they carry that I personally really like include Absorba, Anavini, Carriage Boutique, & Feltman Brothers just to name a few. You can search by brand or by category whether you’re looking for every day wear or special occasion wear. Okay, so a few of the brands are a tad pricey. I mean, if I had a little girl you can bet your bottom dollar she would be wearing this Isabel Garreton Hand Smocked Mint Green Silk Infant Dress (I think it’s already been established on this blog how much I adore fine silks and that goes beyond dressing my windows and pillows and onto the mini monograms as well). But if you want to buy nice holiday or special occasion wear for you children, you’re pretty much going to have to be prepared to spend a pretty penny to keep your own mini’s looking pretty for the holidays so just brace yourself.

Another store I really like to check out at the Holidays is Childrens Cottage. Now you know I am all about supporting the South, and located in Mobile, AL where they aim to dress “…your children beautifully and traditionally,” this store must know that is exactly what monogram momma is looking for. Over the past year or two, they have really increased their product line, because when I first started shopping there (4 years ago), there was a very small selection of hand-made button-on and jon-jons and lovely monogrammed portrait collars for boys (and girls), so I am pleased to see they are growing and love their new stuff! It almost makes me want to have another baby (but then again, maybe not, now that both of mine are potty trained!).

The Wooden Soldier is another classic old-school catalog for dress apparel for your little ones as well. I have literally called them every single holiday for the past 4 years that I've been a mom to see if they were online. Alas, I noticed in the new catalog 3 weeks ago that while they FINALLY decided to join the 21st century and secure a website, they are not yet offering online shopping. I’m hoping this is going to change in the near future (perhaps by Easter?). Anyhow, their things are really beautiful and last year I fell in love with a brown velvet jon-jon with baby blue peter pan collar for the mini's but it sold out. I have frequently found this to be the case in fact, that they tend to sell out quickly so I have not had good luck with the Wooden Soldier. Here's hoping you have better luck. Also, for some reason they keep their brand names under lock and key and will also not reveal to you the brand on a particular outfit you may like no matter how much you bribe them. For me, I like to know this because different brands fit better and are made better than others. I think we all know this little fact though. So since my boys are on the larger and taller side, I really need to know a brand so I can determine myself how it's going to fit my children. Measurements just aren't accurate as you never know who is taking them and jotting them down. And call me crazy, but if I’m going to spend $200+ on a couple of children’s outfits, then I think I have the right to know what it is exactly I’m buying.

Another company worth checking out if you’ve got a large wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket, is Best & Co. Their holiday attire, particularly for girls, is truly gorgeous. Lots of silks and pretty silk smocked numbers so it’s a good thing I don’t have a little girl or I can tell you I would be in quite a lot of trouble with Mr. Monogram keeping her dressed in this finery. Now, after you stop drooling over there, you must check out Olive Juice Kids if you haven’t already. I am picking up those tartan plaid wool trousers for sure! They have the mini monogram’s names all over them. In fact, Mr. Monogram even has a similar pair of pants so how cute would that look? Very cute, indeed!

If you happen to be looking for beautiful traditional Southern smocked and monogrammed outfits, jon-jons, button-ons and peter pan collars for truly remarkable prices, I can't recommend Orient Expressed enough. I have bought loads of things from them and love their products. It’s well made and very affordable and I have been really happy with everything I’ve purchased from them so rush on over there as quickly as you can. But another small company that offers unique and beautiful better children’s wear is Rachel Riley. Her things are much different than what’s offered at Orient Expressed and also a good bit more expensive, but it’s very traditional and classic. Rachel Riley is a Brit and her designs are very pretty and conservative so you know I must really love her things. She has a good assortment of everyday casual wear too.

And while I am not a big fan of hitting the concrete corridors of the mall, I do recommend running into Neiman's. Case in point, included in the special occasion apparel collection that my boys have is a red velvet with white peter pan collar jon-jon that mini #1 wore when he was 10 months old at Christmas. And I also have a gorgeous black watch plaid silk dupioni outfit mini monogram #1 wore for Christmas when he was 22 months old (his baby brother and cousin matched also, as we have all the children match at the holiday's). They have always had beautiful children’s wear, especially at the holiday's. I can even remember going dress shopping there when I was a little girl myself, sporting my white rabbit fur coat and patent leather mary janes. Now, if you find the prices a little steep for your budget, then I really recommend setting aside some time EARLY the day after Christmas to go through the Holiday attire sale racks (and by early I do mean, you'd better be the first one there when the door opens, hot cocoa in hand for the nice saleslady you expect to schlep your things around for you). Buy larger sizes for the following year for you children and I promise you won't be disappointed. Plus, that's one less thing you've got to worry about come next holiday season, right?

Now, I know you're all wondering what my own personal preference is for holiday dressing and because of that, I’ve saved what I feel is the best for last. Say it with me STRASBURG. Again, I grew up wearing the impeccably smocked Strasburg day gowns and bishops dresses, so this is a true staple in the mini’s closets. Pricey? A little. But you have to remember, this is true heirloom clothing so no I quite honestly don't mind spending a few hundred dollars on Strasburg. It is worth every penny when I see it on my boys, creating a little angelic glow around their faces and see their portraits (ok, so I am imagining the angelic glow, but just humor me).
Finishing up, I think we can all agree there are a lot of additional resources for children's holiday attire. And some of you may prefer to stick with the less formal but still traditional Brooks Brothers for boys, Talbots Kids, Hanna Anderson (big Thanksgiving sale right now, BTW) or even Mini Boden might have something that will work for you. Even popping your head into everyday stores like The Gap or Gymboree or Childrens Place might offer you the exact sweater and cords or sweet little dress you are looking for. So keep your eyes open and wherever you decide to purchase your mini's holiday attire from, they will surely be the best dressed kids around.


Melissa said...

MM, you ignore your friends and just keep dressing the minis in those beautiful clothes! I don't have kids yet, but I am so with you on this one. I fully believe that children should be dressed like children, not mini grown ups. Why do some people think that at 6 months, they can no longer dress like babies any more! They grow up quick enough - just let them be little for as long as they can!

Ok, I am from Mobile and still live in that area, but have never heard of The Children's Cottage. How in the world have I missed this place? Maybe because I don't have kids yet... But I will have to check it out sometime.

LoneStarScarlett said...

I am so with you on this subject. I want my little girl to look like a *little* girl! I am addicted to smocked pieces!

I must put in a plug for my company...I am a home show sales rep. for Ragsland. Classic, quality preppy clothing and hand-smocked pieces! The preferred customer sale began today- 30% off the Fall collection (includes Christmas pieces). And if anyone orders I'd love it if they'd put my name in as the Sales Rep---- M. Thompson.

:) Scarlett

sewgracious said...

I agree....children should look like children. :-)

I was born & raised in the South and have enjoyed dressing our daughter in dresses that I've smocked myself. I love sewing & smocking for her and thank goodness...she still loves Mommy-Mades. :-)

thepreppyprincess said...

It was all about smocked dresses for me when I was a kid AND my mother made a lot of my clothes!

My brother to this day still says he is emotionally scarred from my mother making him wear "traditional outfits", saddle shoes, etc. but what did he wear on his wedding day of his own free will? Saddle shoes!

I love the traditional velvets, etc. and your minis will appreciate it when they look back on their school and holiday pictures to see that they did have the ska8er dude look.

Monogram Momma said...

Thanks, everyone! It's good toknow I am in good company when it comes to traditional southern attire for chidren! For God's sake if i see another 3 month old in a button down and tie and khaki pants I think I will scream!

Lonestar Scarlett, how could I have forgotten Ragsland! Ahh! Thanks for putting that in here.

Sewgracious, I wish I could smock. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to learn!

Elizabeth H. said...

It is dangerous for babies to wear ties, not to mention icky. I was a smocked dress girl and my husband was scarred by saddle shoes. He also had some traditional European outfits complete with the leggings. Any child of ours will be sporting some cute outfits. Our nieces wear really cute clothes, smocked dresses, whale pants, and lots of pink and green. Huey has a tradtional collar, and will be getting a Polo shirt and Barbour jacket for Christmas.

Elizabeth H. said...

MM, you will like Pears and Bears. it is really cute stuff.

cel said...

can we pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease have a show me yours christmas pretty baby clothes fest- no contest necessary- just the joy of sharing!

Marsha said...

I have a 6 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. This Christmas will be my son's first Christmas in long pants and I am *insanely* excited about it - we have a lovely Kitestrings outfit for him but I am wavering between it and a very sweet combo from The Wooden Soldier.

My daughter will have a made-for-her dress with a very cute and classic Christmas plaid skirt (and matching hairband) with velvet accents. I saw a similar dress at Strasburg but when someone offers to make your daughter a custom dress, I think the answer needs to be "yes!".

With this information it shouldn't surprise you to hear that I heartily agree with your recommendations. I cannot stand to shop for children's clothes and find that some shops apparently think my son should dress as a thug and my daughter a hussy. We love Talbots (wonderful sales here and worth opening an in-house charge to accumulate rewards points on my own clothes that I then use on the kids'), Heartstrings/Kitestrings and Janie and Jack for school, Sunday School and play, and either home sewn, Strasburg Kids or Wooden Soldier for dress. Childhood is so fleeting - why rush kids into adult clothing styles so soon (most of which adults might also do well to pass up!)

Mollie said...


You certainly could learn to smock, especially given your knack for all things crafty. It's not as tough as it looks, and believe me, if I can do it, you can too! I love to buy the pre-made, ready to smock dresses and jon-jons, so all I have to do is concentrate on the smocked design I want to use. I smock my daughter's dresses every year for Christmas....can't get enough of the bishop dresses!!

emma's pulse said...

Thank you, MM :D I appreciate all of the work that went into that post :D My problem is that I have a 3 year old who wears a size 6...he's a very tall boy.

So I'm very depressed that I can no longer dress him in smocked johnjohns, or other traditional attire...it's breaking my heart. Still haven't decided what to wear.
His feet are too big for new saddle shoes now, too. Alas.

STL Sarah said...

Oh goodness. My fiance thinks I spend too much money on clothes NOW. He's in for a rude awakening once we have kids. This stuff is too cute for words.

Anonymous said...

Agreed; clothing should be age appropriate. Toddlers in suits just don't look right, but also the skater look doesn't look good on tinies either. I resisted putting my 11 year old from sk8ter dude stuff until he was about 9, and now I am sneaking Preppy/Sloaney stuff into his cupboards! I've told him girls will like it!

Your minis are going to look fab!

suburban prep said...

I don't have children but my sisters and brothers kids areall 7 and younger and there are 6 right now with two on the way. I love looking at children't clothing and being able to dress them up. Thank you for all the different sites and I will forward them onto my siblings.

dmmlandcruiser said...

Another great resource is Janie and Jack. I am keeping my eye on one of the silk dresses for Christmas this year

ElleBee said...

LOVE all this talk about kids' clothes. My sweet boys are 10 mos. and 6 yrs. I'm taking their pics today. I absolutely hate little ones in suits (my m.i.l. thinks differently), but today's photo is a bit more casual. A cute red plaid shirt with khaki twills for the 6 y/o and an absolutely darling red cable knit sweater with khaki twills for the 10 m/o. If I had a girl, I'd have to take out a second mortgage. My nieces are totally darling, but their mommy has a completely different idea of what is cute for little girls. Think "Bratz"... ugh!

sewgracious said...

MM, you can certainly learn to smock. You are so creative already, I think you'd be a natural.

I was lucky to have a local shop where I took classes. Our DD was 8 months old at the time so I missed out on sweet baby day gowns and such, but after that, she's had smocked bishops, jumpers & yoke dresses for church & special occasions. :-)

Tod said...

As i just said on another blog; i can't believe we are talking about Christmas already. Time is going way to fast...

Belle-ah said...

I completely understand where you are on this subject! When my ds#2 was smaller we lived in the NY and they thought me bizarre with all my smocking fixation. It seemed no one dressed up (particularly their boys!). BTW, we live a few miles from the Wooden Soldier designer and her factory and she had amazing sales twice a year (unfortunately she moved south I heard and I don't know where and if she still holds those amazing sales)... The ladies at my church couldn't believe that DS#2 had smocking all the time but with access to deals like that it was as inexpensive as dressing them from GAP. Now we are back South and both DS's are older so it isn't an issue.

Another great one is Amanda Remembered! www.amandaremembered.com I love their stuff.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember what I wore when I was itty bitty. The pictures of me before the age of 4 have me in a cute cotton infant dress, a sundress (two) and my easter dress (3 1/2 I think). After that, my mother basically dressed me in a bazillion play jumpers she made herself. I'm a huge fan of DIY if you know how with kiddie clothes. I know how to make basic dresses/jumpers, pinafores, and pantaloons. With those under my belt, I can make my future daughters anything from sturdy cotton play clothes to lace heirloom pinafores.

While I'm on little kid clothes, was anyone else wearing itchy wool school uniforms by the age of 3? Or was that just me?

Monogram Momma said...

Thanks, Bell-ah. i totally forgot about Amanda Remembered as well.

And yes, Amber Lee, we were in the uniforms as well!

Sidney said...

I am in love with little girls Biscotti Dresses. They are so beautiful, and, if you look you can get a great deal on them!

Anonymous said...

I live in England and I had a ball last night reading your blogs. I came across them when I googled smocking, which is one of my obsessions!(Iam mentally dressing my future granddaughters.)Loved reading about you and your family. I raised girls (now 17 and 24), but my husband (American, I am Norwegian) jokes that I could open a shop selling smocked dresses. I am saving the dresses and the traditional navy, velvet collared coats for my future grandchildren.

Hope to read more in the future!


creppy@comcast.net said...

check out www.grammies-attic.com for more classic and smocked clothes for little ones!

christy said...

i love the smocked clothes!

SouthernBabies said...

You must check out my website, I am in Mobile, AL and own a children's boutique, that is exclusively online for now and have been for 3 years now. www.southernbabies.com
Specializing in handmade, monogrammed baby and toddler clothing, hair bows, gifts, baby items, and squeaker shoes.

georgia said...

I realize that this post is two years old - but I am in need of serious help.

Situation: Mississippi Mom raising son in Oregon.

Son: 13 months - size 2T. Will be dressed in green velvet jon jon this Christmas with white knee socks.

2 Questions: Monogram Jon Jon? Does velvet monogram well?

And what shoes? Black, White, Saddle?

I really would appreciate your input. I want him to look great.

Anonymous said...

Like most of you, I love beautiful, old-fashioned clothing for children. But to me, they represent more than pleasing the eye and making parents proud. Against the general trend nowadays, I am of the opinion that a conservative dressing education contributes to discipline and respect, while completing the learning of obedience and good manners. A child that is truly dressed like a child – that is, with clothing articles that differ from adults – will better learn his place in the family and at school. Therefore, I dress my two children in a very classic and exclusively childlike way, inside and outside the home.
My 5-year young daughter wears, everyday, either a Peter Pan-collared blouse and knee-length skirt or a dress, with a nice hairband or barrette, white socks, and one- or two-bar Sonnet Mary Jane shoes (I admit I love this top-quality brand, which is undoubtedly the quintessence of classic, European-style children’s shoes. And the children find it very comfortable). On Sunday and special occasions, hair ribbons, smocked dress, tights with frilly ankle socks, and patent Mary Janes are de rigueur. For a wedding, I might add hat and gloves.
My boy (3 years young) wears on a daily basis a Peter Pan-collared shirt and traditional, above-the-knee short pants, with white socks and T-bar, one-bar, or two-bar Sonnet Mary Janes. For mass and special occasions, Eton/Fauntleroy outfit, long white socks, and patent one- or two-bar Mary Janes.
If the weather requires it (we live in the South), I add an elegant pullover, coat, and/or boots. Except for a few clothes that are strictly reserved for sports, sea, or snow-related activities, my children’s wardrobe contains absolutely no jacket, tie, t-shirt, long pants, denim material, laced shoes, sneakers, open sandals, heels above half an inch, as well as no teenager, adult, lax, or bad-taste clothes and shoes.