The New Style Craze: Wearing Your Kids’ Clothes

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Considering how chic and expensive kids’ clothes are becoming, it doesn’t seem all that far-reaching to see a designer outfit on a child and wonder if they have that in your size. Some top designers like Stella McCartney and now Diane Von Furstenberg are designing for kids nowadays, and while some ensembles are perhaps more appropriate for adults than children, the sophisticated design is still there. But when I read the The New York Times piece on fashionable “lithe-framed women” flocking to purchase designer kids’ clothes, I had to roll my eyes.

Athena Calderone is featured commenting on her signature style piece: a kids’ jean jacket from GAP. When describing how versatile and stylish the jacket is, she mentions that when people compliment her on the jacket, it’s an opportunity to brag about herself, specifically her weight:

“If people compliment you on the look,” she said, “it implies you’re slim and cool and crafty.”

Because nothing says jealousy-inducing glamor like being able to fit into your daughter’s sweaters and call it “crafty.” As if women don’t already have to confront enough misconceptions about weight and health through our culture’s constant emulation of double zero frames. Now apparently those sizes aren’t even small enough, as the new “cool” is being able to donne a child’s size 14 and be called “slim.”

We’re told that this trend is being followed by all kinds of fashionable women who just happen to find these sizes to fit better:

The children’s collection, sizes 2 to 14 (and up to 18 online), appeals to matchstick-slender types like the actress Kristin Chenoweth, who call herself a fan, and Jenne Lombardo, a branding consultant. Ms. Lombardo, a mother of three, shops at the chain for her sons, and for herself as well. She said she found the children’s line to fit better, and to be more distinctive, than Gap’s adult-size offerings.

That all may very well be true and as narrow-framed woman myself, I empathize with the need for clothing to fit — regardless of marketed size.  But upholding successful women who wear kids’ clothes as “chic,” and in a style section no less, implies that these types of child-sized frames on women are enviable — and not say coincidental.

Also, what are teenage girls supposed to make of this bit of style news? That they’re already over the hill at 16 because they no longer have a 14 year old’s gangly frame? That their developing figures are already being shunned by an industry that finds a size four repulsive?

And exactly how small are women getting these days anyway that a shopping trip for the kids also turns into a shopping opportunity for mothers? Even as someone who has thrown on a little girls’ cardigan from time to time, this is a fashion trend I can’t get behind.

(photo: Shutterstock)