Teaching kids the ins and outs of being able to physically dress themselves is one thing, but teaching them how to do it with style is a whole other matter. While we can’t stress enough the importance of letting kids express themselves, whether they have no interest in the clothes they put on or they insist on wearing their swimsuit to the shops every single day, it's your job to encourage them to follow their interests. We spoke to expert stylists on the best way to help nurture your little one to develop their own personal style, which ultimately leads to self-confidence and independence.
Read on for some fun ways to teach your children how to pick up stylish habits.
1. Make a colour wheel.
Done the right way colour clashing and mismatched prints can be so cute in kid's fashion. Rather than jumping up to switch out that bright pink T-shirt they have teamed with their favourite red jeans, encourage them to play around with colours.
“One of the tricks I always use to help my kids learn about fashion is using a colour wheel. It’s just like the one they have in elementary school,” says Dubai-based fashion consultant, stylist, and mum Marianna Azhari. “The wheel is the entire rainbow in a circle. Let the kids choose their favourite colours and find them in their wardrobe, then wear it and be totally creative. You can even play opposites with it, teaching them that just because they're on different sides of the chart doesn't mean that they don't go together in an ensemble.”
2. Show them dressing up isn’t just for parties.
Who made the rule that you can only dress up on a special occasion? UK Stylist Lindsay Punch says there's really no point in saving their fanciest clothes for parties when they could be enjoying them at the park and the playground too.
“Encourage and let your children wear their Sunday best...every day. My big motto even in adult life is to dress like you’re going somewhere better later and don’t save your best. Their fanciest piece is likely to be the garment they love and adore wearing. So let them jump in muddy puddles or paint in their fanciest dress. At the end of the day everything is washable, worst case replaceable, and they grow out of clothes so quickly, let them enjoy wearing them.”
3. Teach them good hygiene.
There's no avoiding the fact that children and their clothes get dirty, so teaching them good hygiene is a fundamental part of the styling process — especially if they are determined to wear the same outfit day in day out, which kids so often are.
Stylist, fashion editor and mum-of-two Sulky Doll — AKA Donna McCulloch — has a helpful tip to making your children understand the effort and time that goes into cleaning their clothes. “Get them to help you or your partner with the washing load. Ask your child to empty the laundry basket — use a timer because they love games! — and ask them to put the clothes in piles…dirty, very dirty and super dirty and then together put the super dirty ones in the washing machine and ask them to press the buttons to start it.” It might make them see that clothing doesn’t just magically get clean.
4. Have respect for clothes
“Ensure they understand that a 'floordrobe' isn’t a good thing (trust me when they’re teenagers, you will thank me),” explains McCulloch. “Set a timer on your phone for four - six minutes and play their current favourite tune and get them to fold, put away or hang as many items as they can in the allotted time, you join in and whomever has folded, put away or hung up the most items gets a reward. You could even try setting a target of; four items folded, two hung up by the end of the game.”
5. Ask them why?
It’s important to try to establish why they want to dress a certain way. Perhaps the reason they always wear their Darth Vader mask is because they’re shy and they like hiding behind it. Or it could be as simple as their best friend has the same shoes. “Asking why is key,” says McCulloch, who says opening up this conversation can be done with a simple and crafty technique. “Look through comics and magazines with your children and cut out pictures to make a collage. Get them to tell you why they liked the picture. It gives you an insight into who they want to emulate.”
Click play to see the highlights from Juniors Day at House of Bazaar 2018.