I hope all of you had a most lovely holiday weekend. We are stuffed to the gills with delicious chocolates, candies and...well, more chocolate, and more candy! Every year I try to go for less candy and it seems like every year we end up with just a bit more than the year before (I think it's all those extra egg hunts that I wasn't calculating into my candy consumtion ratio). I'm definitely going to have to figure out the formula for the perfect balance one of these years. Well at least I did have a slew of stickers in the mix to help things out a bit.
And remember when I mentioned that I had no idea what my Littles would be wearing this year? Well, that was no lie. And I can't deny, that made me a little sad. I love to sew for my children and feel like I haven't been able to do so as much as I'd like to as of late. So I was really counting on Easter to sink my teeth into a great project, such as a pair vintage inspired suits or something equally inspiring.
Well, I didn't manage to sneak in enough time to sew any suits this year...but I did at least get a little sewing in. Thanks to Leisel of Oliver & S, I managed to sew two bunny hoods adapted from her Cozy Winter Hood pattern found in her Little Things to Sew book. (And I can't help but give a shout out to two friends involved in the identity of the Oliver & S brand; designer friend, Brooke Reynolds, and illustrator friend Dan Andreasen [he illustrates their paper dolls]. OK and my own little shout out and teeny, tiny, contribution: I helped Brooke find Dan for the job back when I worked in NY as an illustration agent. And he's just so perfect, don't you think?! So needless to say, I'm pretty much in love with all things Oliver & S - and that's not even getting into how utterly darling Liesel's patterns are!).
So back to the hoods. To make these I used the Cozy Winter Hood pattern from the book and changed up the ears to be two long and floppy bunny ears - to fit the festive occasion of course. I really wanted use fabric I had on hand so I used some of Jon's old pants and blue fleece for Little O's bunny hood and some brown velvet and leftover tan fabric for Little A's. And once I was finished with these, and placed them on their little heads, I couldn't hold back my motherly squeals of delight. The boys just looked too darn cute. (And something tells me that this is the last year I'm going to get away with such "cute" items of clothing for Little A. In fact, it took him realizing that these looked like their hooded bath towels [something I hadn't even thought of] to help him feel like they were cool enough to wear. That and a Belgium chocolate bunny).
As for the rest of their Easter ensemble, well if you follow my blog at all, you'll quickly see that it ended up being an mix-n-match amalgamation of clothing from the past. And you know what, I really couldn't be more pleased with how it all came together. I might even like how it turned out better than if I had planned the whole look out from the beginning.
I've always been a big proponent of finding great style by using a large percentage what you already have in your closet. I believe "styling" an outfit is 80% of what makes a person look stylish or well put together. In fact, my dear friend Mara blogged about just such a concept when she invited J.Crew stylist, Marina Dobreva, to share a few tips. Some of my favorite tips from Marina are:
-"Force yourself to try new things with your wardrobe. Take some items from your own closet that you never thought you'd wear together and try new ways to put together an outfit."
-"Mistakes and Lack of Finances often make for the best style ideas!"
I believe that this holds true not only for our own closets, but for our little ones as well! So when I was up against a wall this Easter, I went scrounging through my Littles closets to see what sort of magic I could muster up. And if you care to take a look at a few of these posts from the past, you'll see where just about everything came from (OK, and you'll be forced to go down memory lane with me, realizing just how little my Littles once were and wonder with me "where did those chunky cheeks and legs go to anyway?"). Take a look here: 1, 2, 3, 4.
I really love the eclectic, "Mexican wedding shirt, meets little story book French boy, meets a hint of something Scandinavian", look to the final overall ensemble. Again, something I couldn't have planned if I hadn't been forced to get creative.
And if you are wanting to do something similar, I think it helps to have slowly built up an arsenal of items that you are fond of and can work with. Here are just a few tips I would share with you on how to build up your child's wardrobe so that you can make some mix-n-match magic any time, and for any occasion.
TIPS FOR CREATING A GREAT KIDS WARDROBE THAT BOTH YOU AND YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE:
- Have an assortment of some really great and simple staples that you can use to layer and mix-n-match (i.e. solid knit shirts, button ups, sweaters, French striped tees, staple jeans and slacks, dresses, skirts, etc.)
- Throw in an mix of vintage/thrifted goods to keep things fresh, unique and unexpected. I love the timeless quality you get whenever you introduce something vintage. And you can pretty much bet that now one else will have that same piece.
- Buy just a few unique, statement pieces from some of your favorite kids designers. They don't have to be outrageously expensive (I love to buy from Etsy) but don't be afraid to stretch just a bit on one or two unique shirts, that one-of-a-kind sweater, a stand out colorful skirt or those bright yellow pants that are sure to make any outfit pop. (And I confess, if you know another kid will be wearing it down the road, it makes more sense to buy a few pieces that stand the test of time both in design and quality). Read more about my thoughts on mixing hi+low here.
- Make some of you own clothes! You don't have to sew to do this. You could dress up a few t-shirts with freezer paper stencils, freehand a fun illustration with fabric paint, or refashion thrifted finds. And if you do know how to sew, by all means, do it! Find whatever time you can to sew something special here or there. It will make a big impact on your kids closet. In fact, 75% of the clothing found in this years Easter ensembles are from past items I have sewn.
- Don't be afraid to play with sizing. I know that this might sound odd, but I'm telling you, don't feel like you have to stick with what the tag says. I know a number of t-shirts and jackets that look better a bit more snug than the tag suggests. And when you are working with skirts, capris and gauchos, well there is quite a range of sizes you can work with (adjusting the waist to fit of course). Just don't be afraid to try it. You never know what might end up creating the perfect balance. That slightly snug sweater from 2 years ago, slung over that boxy blouse, paired with a tutu and tiara must might be the right ticket. And if you don't like it, well just go back to what you were doing before. No harm done.
- Let your kids have a say in it. Oft times letting them mix that batman shirt with those tailored dress pants and flip flops turns out to be better than anything you could have preplanned. Kids are seriously some of the best stylists...seriously. In fact, I actually try to put together my little ones wardrobes to that they can pull out pretty much anything they want and it more or less works. And if not, well, just pat yourself on the back for fostering independence. (See that sliver of red sports shorts, worn by Little A, seen ever so slightly in this pic? Do I love how they go with that much adored Winter Water Factory top. No. Not really. But our house rule is that when you get home from school, you can change into whatever you want...so that means that Little A is wearing comfortable sport shorts pretty much every afternoon. But hey, if he stuck it out with the skinny jeans at school, I think he's entitled.) *Oh and another soap box side note: Having your kids give input doesn't mean you have to only have a wardrobe entirely comprised of Dora and Buzz Light year because that is what your kid is into and you don't want to "squash their identity". Well guess what, Nick Jr. or Disney already chose their "identity" and they are just responding to what they were exposed/enticed to (I can appreciate both of these networks btw, but just in moderation, and when using thoughtful selection) . You are in charge of giving them a gamut of options and have a great opportunity here to teach them diversity of design and trying new things.
- Buy fun/great shoes! An ordinary grey knit shirt with some simple dark jeans turns into the perfect outfit with paired with some really great orange converse.
- Just try it and don't over think it. Kids fashion should be fun, easy, unexpected, and a reflection of them! Sometimes it might look silly and others might not appreciate it. Buy hey, they are kids! you can get away with it. And fashion should be fun and just a little unexpected. I once had a friend tell me that "If I didn't feel just a little silly at first when trying something new, then I wasn't approaching fashion right".
Well anyway, we had fun. The boys enjoyed seeing their old clothes brought out again and were right there with me in deciding which boy would wear what and found it rather humorous that both of them got to wear elements of the same suit at the same time.
And I was pleased with how Little O's look continued to surprise and delight even when deconstructed. I was afraid that this Gap Kids embroidered guayabera shirt would not pair well with the rest of things but ended up loving the element of the unexpected.
And my two little bunnies? Well if nothing else, in the end they were happy to have devoured an entire chocolate bunny and then happily hop onto other things such shredding apart those much anticipated surprise balls. And me, well I couldn't have been more pleased with how things serendipitously turned out.
So what about you? What are some of your favorite staples or tricks to styling your kids wardrobes? Any favorite places to shop? I always love to hear new ideas and great resources!