Like any good parent, I want the best for my daughter. Fortunately for the sake of my wallet and style identity for that matter, I understand that “best” doesn't always mean the newest, biggest, brightest or most expensive. Kim Kardashian may be hand-me down resistant, but when it comes to kids clothes; especially babies, toddlers and littlies, it's chic and smart to share, swap and reuse.
I remember at 6 months pregnant, a friend gave me shopping bags worth of her baby's outgrown clothing. Some items had been passed on to her and so on and so on but you'd never know their use history because they had been recycled with great care. My friend's abundant offerings needed to be supplemented with only a few registered picks and newly store-bought gifts; and those items were selected in sizes my daughter would need immediately or would take several months to grow into.
How lucky was I - my little princess had acquired a year's worth of clothing before she was even born. Who cared if they had been previously used before, after all some of my closet faves were vintage. Fortunately, the majority of the clothes were classic sweet neutrals instead of saccharin frills, bubble gum pinks and Hello Kitty. The few pieces I wasn't fond of, were never put into circulation and were passed on, sooner than later.
Rather than stuff her nursery drawers and closets with all the goods, only clothes from 0-3months were made accessible. Every thing else was stored away. Out of sight, out of use but not out of mind. Although I was easily tempted by Restoration Hardware's plush baby collection, I resisted because I knew exactly what she had and needed. As her little body filled out and plumped up into baby fat cuteness, her little ensembles naturally became snug. Those items were rotated out (and put aside for pregnant friends) and larger ones from my mini inventory were rotated in. This system saved time as much as money - no more than 3 minutes spent piecing together an outfit, fewer loads of laundry washed and at 3 months old, my bambina’s capsule wardrobe was established. This dressing system still works today now that she is four - the only difference is she handles the coordinating and accessorizing. She’s a preKista and incredibly picky about her shoes.
What are the social politics of hand-me-downs? I am picky about the source of my kid's hand-me-downs. For me it has more to do with the “energy of clothes” (its a little like Billy Ray Thorton's “ism” with antiques), than anything else. I prefer giving and receiving from a pool of friends and relatives, whom I know have good taste and who's items are well- preserved (this system is ideal for newbies and germaphobes). When I receive goods, I am gracious about the offering and discreetly recycle items that are not appropriate or appealing, these days mostly as per my daughter. I don't throw them out just because I don't want them. Some items are given on loan, so I am clear about this. The items I do buy are usually high quality classics – no cheap cotton tees that last a mere two wash cycles. And of course, I take excellent care of her things. What's the point of sharing, swapping or reusing all those adorable little outfits if they are stained, ripped or frayed. Even in dressing your kids - it takes a village.