Fancy That: Kids Dress Up or Down for Holidays

By Becky Homan Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor Photos by Jerry Naunheim Jr. Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 29, 1995 | Go to article overview

Fancy That: Kids Dress Up or Down for Holidays


Becky Homan Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor Photos by Jerry Naunheim Jr. Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Holidays are casual times, especially for kids who like to tumble under the dinner table after the last of Thanksgiving's turkey is cleared away.

But for Aunt Martha and Grandma, or even for a harried Mom and Dad, the holidays are occasions to dress up - especially when family photos, special dinners or visits to the homes of friends are at stake.

And herein lies the source of a double message coming out of trends in children's clothes this time of year.

One trend says let kids be kids and go completely casual, just as most of the grownup world appears to be doing, year-round. Look at your latest J. Crew catalog, for instance. Models posing as Mom, Dad, kids, cousins and grandparents all appear to be dressed in oversized sweaters, button-placketed cotton henley T-shirts, leggings and khakis for an ultra-comfortable holiday gathering.

Another trend says that the holidays may be the one time of year to get kids dressed up in some velvet confection or in a hunter-green sport coat, shirt, tie and pants.

"This holiday kind of goes from one extreme to another," says Karen Molina, owner of Los Ninos, a children's shop at Saint Louis Galleria.

"Dresses are important, and they are Victorian, old-fashioned satin and velvet and ruffles.

"But the other important story," Molina continues, using the word "story" instead of "trend" in the lingo of fashion buyers, "is sweaters with separates and novelty knits, in mixed textures but in real vibrant colors." Sweaters, of course, are good, warm, fashionable items for kids all through the fall and winter. And Molina is one of the first to recognize that.

But the value she sees in certain kids' sweaters this holiday time is their fashion flexibility.

"Sweaters are important," Molina says, "because you can get so much use out of them, from casual to dressy, depending on what you put them with. And kids are comfortable in them."

The newest holiday sweaters - to her trained eye - have lots of "bulky hand-knit looks that really aren't bulky at all," plus novelty prints mixed together and "wools that you can wash."

"It's kind of that look back to the past, again," Molina says, "where it's kind of what we used to wear when we were little kids - when grandma used to make them, but she really didn't."

Speaking of grandma, she's clearly the focus of styling at the other end of the children's-wear spectrum.

Dresses that look as though they just stepped out of "Victoria" magazine are readily available for her to buy. "Grandmother bait" is what some fashion wags actually call such clothes.

And Nonna's, a 1-year-old shop in Ladue with a name that means "grandmother" in Italian, features many of these traditional, if romantic, dresses for holiday events. …

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