I'm Five Feet Tall and I Love Wearing Designer Kids Clothes
A recent wave of high-fashion childrenswear makes shopping as a short girl surprisingly awesome.
Karl Lagerfeld and Hudson Kroenig. Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
This Black Friday, I decided that I would buy a coat, my first in three years. I’ve always had trouble buying outerwear—I’m five feet tall, with the figure of a Grecian youth or an American gymnast without the muscles, and anything slightly oversized swallows my frame like a circus tent. But this coat would be different; I’d do my research, take measurements. I’d look at three million options. I curled up on my dad’s couch, opened three million tabs and got to work.
I finally settled on this Samuji coat: conservative, ovoid, cut from crisp virgin wool with a horizontal seam at the hip disguising two welt pockets. “This will be my adult coat,” I said to myself on the train home from New Jersey, an enigmatic smile dancing on my lips. Reader, the coat was perfect; I was not. It was too long, and when I tucked my hands into the welt pockets I discovered that my short arms didn’t reach all the way in. I was reminded of middle-school gym class, straining and flexing my fingertips to reach the pull-up bar.
On the subway back to Brooklyn, I sighed and started looking, once again, for children’s coats.
Out of necessity, I’ve learned to cobble together a wardrobe of oversized womenswear plus normally-fitting kids’ clothing. And although my favorite designers fall into two camps not tremendously popular with children—androgynous minimalism (Jil Sander and Studio Nicholson) and arcane visual puns (Jacquemus, Vetements, J.W. Anderson, Vaquera)—there’s been a recent explosion of lines that cater to the child with preternaturally experimental taste. Kim Kardashian has Kids Supply, which recently came under fire for its too-direct nods to Vetements and Comme des Garcons; Givenchy debuted a children’s line this spring, and Balenciaga’s first childrenswear collection dropped Wednesday (per Hypekids, the pint-sized Hypebeast offshoot you never knew you needed).
“There are a few things happening: First, we’re entering a time where millennials are becoming parents and they’re taking their own style and identity, and transferring it down to their children; and second, the exposure to celebrities kids is affecting how people are dressing their children,” Maureen Dempsey, the editorial director at kids' clothing retailer Boomdash, told Billboard last month. “And I also think influencers of the Instagram world are changing the landscape.”
Although I’ll never know the joy of ordering ballooning Studio Nicholson trousers and having them fit properly, the petite woman’s best-kept secret is that designer kids clothes are now cooler than their adult counterparts. Plus, I don’t have to worry about anyone wearing the same outfit, other than Coco Pink Princess or Michael Chabon’s cool son.
This guide will be useful to about twelve fellow adults. For everyone else, file this for your very awesome offspring.
Même kidswear offers monochromatic unisex designs that Hypekids likens to Rei Kawakubo or Yohji Yamamoto. Japanese minimalism-inspired kidswear is awesome; I am also simply excited at the prospect of culottes that fit.
I decided that I need a pair of grandfather pajamas: a boxy button-front top and wide pants, satin piping. Women’s styles were too girly, men’s too big, so I went to Maisonette, whose slogan—“your style, only smaller”—does not technically stipulate that their smaller customer is usually a child.
I have fallen in love with Vivetta’s delightfully weird oxford with trompe-l'oeil hands as the collar and cuff, but the detailing on the sleeves would make it impossible to shorten. Luckily, Vivetta Kids offers an almost identical version.
I am piously rejoicing that the trend of dressing for the Oregon Trail has reached childrenswear! Barcelona-based Little Creative Factory exceeds Creatures of Comfort’s Sequoia dress in prairie dourness. I have my eye on their velvet sack dress, industrial jumpsuit and these theatrical woolen oversleeves.
Would an adult designer suggest that you wear a green faux fur coat with a matching green faux fur toque, green faux fur stole and green faux fur pom-pom bag? They would not. Thanks to Hucklebones, I have given up the adult coat strategy and will thrive in fluffy monocolor instead.
At the urging of this hoodie from Balenciaga Kids, I will Think Big, although I have obviously reached my peak height! Thanks for the support, guys.
I’m including the Demna Dress from Kim Kardashian’s Kids Supply, okay? I know this sucks because I don’t endorse ripping off designs but I love Vetements and the deconstructed jeans will never fit me because you really can’t get them tailored and Kim’s replica of the Vetements silver dress is probably the closest I will get!
About two months ago, I was reading in a park frequented by intimidatingly cool high school stoners. “Hey,” I heard someone say—I looked up—a teen carrying a skateboard. “I like your suit. Do you have an Instagram where you post other awesome outfits?”
I was moved. A teen had never asked for my Instagram before; I didn’t even know that was what teens did these days. I told him my handle, already visualizing my life as an influencer.
I was wearing a shirt and pants set, black with a narrow white windowpane pattern, that I’d scored in the boy’s section at Unique Thrift.