Part 2 in a series. Part 1.
When Miss M was in Pre-K, her wonderful teacher told us in no uncertain terms that her students were going to get dirty. They did a lot of cooking, playing outside, planting things, experimenting with various art media. Her number one instruction? Dress for the mess.
Luckily, this totally matches my philosophy on dressing my children for school, home, synagogue, the park, etc. When I buy them clothes, I seriously consider how things are going to look after they get washed. In the washing machine. Of course. Because my kids play outside and dribble food and do kid things. That includes in their “nicer” clothes: We go straight from synagogue to the park. Even better if the clothes truly hold up, because I have a niece who is four years younger than Miss M.
My other kids’ clothing philosophy is that it has to be age-appropriate. This means I don’t want my six-year-old dressing like a mini-16-year-old. (This makes me crazy and ranty; please put away all sharp objects.)
Turning little girls into sex objects before they know how to write in cursive and little boys into skateboarders before they know how to ride a bike makes me furious. I’m not going to spend my money supporting that. A few sequins or rhinestones or even faux fur (assuming it doesn’t affect washability–see above) don’t bother me, but if an outfit looks like it belongs on a grown woman who is out clubbing in four-inch heels, chances are I am not even going to go into your store to see if there’s something I do like.
I don’t want graphics or slogans slapped all over them, turning them into unwilling billboards for clothing companies* or worse.
From here I apply the same rules to kids’ clothes that I do to my own: comfortable, weather-appropriate, vaguely matching. Because kids grow at unpredictable rates, I love things like overalls and denim jumpers for babies and toddlers–they can be matched with shirts or bodysuits with different sleeve lengths. We owned a lot of Oshkosh B’gosh, once upon a time.
Brands I have bought a lot of over the years? Lands End (passes all my tests); Gap (though I quickly learned to skip the matching socks; certain babies had fat feet); Carter’s (more for babies, but I love their 3-piece PJ sets up to size 7); Old Navy & Children’s Place (don’t hold up as well, but are usually at a lower price point). Little Me clothes I found very cute, but they never looked as nice after washing.
So, in sum: practical. Or, in other words: pretty staid.
Naturally, I was shocked beyond belief to get an email from the head of social media and internet PR for the Israeli part of EPK, a clothing retailer with stores in South America, Florida, Spain, and Israel, inviting me and the kids to the opening of their new store in Herzliya. Shocked because I know what’s going on in my kids’ closet, and it’s not exactly thrilling.
He pitched their brand as French-designed but affordable. I got scared at the French-designed part. I’ve watched Project Runway. French fashion is code for “designed for skinny white chicks who have to show a lot of skin.” (Or maybe I’ve watched The Devil Wears Prada more than once.)
I hemmed and hawed and blogged and then said yes.
Next in the series: Unexpectedly happy with EPK…
* Admittedly, I do have some shirts and sweatshirts like this. Inevitably bought on deep sale from the Woodbury Common outlets–from brands I know to last.