The other day someone offered to let me interview a ‘stylist’ on my blog. I was sat in the hospital with Amelie at the time, her leg up to the knee in plaster looking (as she always does) like a model while wearing a pair of scruffy shorts and an old t-shirt. I told her of the offer and she said “but you don’t do style, you are just mumsy”. It wasn’t an insult… although she could probably do with working on tact a bit. Truth is though, I don’t. I buy all my clothes cheaply in supermarkets or high street shops, I don’t wear make up and I own 2 pairs of shoes. My one vanity is that I get my hair cut and coloured every 3 months, because I’ve been going grey since I was 23 and I don’t want to be short, chubby and grey just yet. But nails, face, clothes – I can take it or leave it. Mostly, I leave it.
It fascinates me that my daughters all have very different approaches to clothes and style to each other and me. Fran is happiest in sportswear and has only very recently dipped her tow in the world of nail varnish and a bit of hair colour for the summer. Maddy has a quiet style that she puts together from an eclectic mix of hand-me-downs and pocket money purchases while Josie still belongs to what I’d say was an entirely appropriate 8 year old disinterest in how she looks. I can’t get any of them to wear skirts or dresses; they are leggings and trousers girls all the way.
Amelie, on the other hand, can make a bin bag look good.
She’s the one who cares how she looks, does her hair, thinks about outfits and would adore being dressed up to the nine’s in pretties if the option presented itself (so long as it didn’t involve a skirt). She has hankered after a pair kids Converse trainers (sneakers, shoes, things with laces?) for a very long time, but I can’t bring myself to pay money for something that I’ll have to wait for her to tie every time we want to leave the house.
We aren’t a household that can afford designer clothes for children on a regular basis, or even at all. It’s not that I am anti-label particularly, more that I simply can’t afford to spend too much on something that stands an outsized chance of being lost, trashed or worn out before its time. In the olden days, when clothes really were clothes, I handed stuff down from girl to girl but these days most stuff is cheap, lasts a few months and doesn’t appeal to the person next in line anyway. We nearly expired under the tidal swell of clothing waiting to be handed down, till I gave up and took it all to one of the places that gives you £5 for 10kg. I couldn’t face ebaying it and most of it would have made a charity shop roll their eyes and weep.
And I suppose that did give me pause for thought. Occasionally, for Christmas or a birthday, I spend that little bit more on clothing for them that I think about in advance, buy from reputable and affordable designer shops and try to co-ordinate a set of mix and match outfits to last a season or two. And they do last longer, get handed down, become favourites and things I’m happy to pass on to another sister or a cousin. I’m not fussed on buying a branded label just for the fun of owning a name, but perhaps I should try to do more long term planning and buy longer lasting, harder working, better quality clothing that costs a bit more but gives more back too.
What about you? Do you buy cheap, cheerful and short term kids clothing or longer lasting, more costly classics?
Disclosure: I have received recompense to write this post. My thoughts and opinions are my own.