Someone asked me recently if I thought parents should teach kids how to dress.
My initial reaction was I’m not sure you can actually teach them anything at all, but I would presume some sort of sartorial style may be passed on by parental osmosis.
In the case of my twin sons, everything started swimmingly.
We were living in Paris, so I had that nation’s innate taste at my disposal, stores full of tiny striped matelot t-shirts, jaunty denim pitsuits, little wool caban jackets.
I recall buying two wildly expensive hand-knitted cardigans in pale brown, buttoned up over pale blue and green plaid shirts – they looked like miniature philosophy professors.
I can’t even imagine how crazy I would have gone if I had girls.
I made a rule that they were not allowed to wear anything Disney, anything that was printed with lame words, pictures or illustrations.
It had to be all blue, grey, stripes, white, beige, denim, a dictate which in retrospect was pretty challenging for my poor in-laws who just wanted to shower them with cute stuff that had bunnies on it.
People who work in fashion are often extremely conservative when it comes to dressing their children, preferring old-school items such as pretty smocked cotton dresses and blouses, bloomers, wool coats with velvet buttons, bloomers and pleated skirts.
British royal baby George and his sister are the latest exponents of this upper classicism.
Ballet falls in this realm too. I remember visiting a friend whose four-year-old daughter was wearing pale pink tights, the wrap cardigan, ballet slippers and a beige tulle skirt.
“Does she like ballet class?” I asked.
“Oh, she doesn’t actually do ballet,” her mother replied.
Beyonce dresses daughter Blue Ivy in mini designer dresses:
My son Sam started to assert his independence in clothing choices early in the piece when I was folding him into some very trendy, very stiff jeans at age two.
He could barely talk but he did manage to get out perhaps the most tellingly honest and intelligent sentence that has ever been said in the world of fashion: “No Mummy. I want soft pants.”
Don’t we all kiddo, don’t we all.
Back in Australia, they headed into the national staple for boys who live beachside – t-shirts and boardies.
The look morphed into awful, over-sized black WWF wrestling t-shirts, which are now very popular again, in an ironic sense, which is what happens in fashion.
We began to strike problems about the age of 12 when they decided that they didn’t want to wear shoes. I deserted them in the Westfied car park one time when I realised they had both actually left the house barefoot.
Then, one day, I asked Sam what sort of jeans he would like me to buy them. The answer was they didn’t like jeans. Chinos? Cargo shorts? No. I was the editor of Vogue and it turns out that my sons didn’t like “pants”.
Kim Kardashian likes her daughter North to match:
A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on
The next six years I ignored their style completely, occasionally sneaking things into their wardrobe on occasion like a lovely suede blazer, or a designer sweater which were left untouched.
I spent a fortune on two super skinny black suits for their formal because I like a suit that fits and I convinced myself they were an investment but one pair of pants were mysteriously lost the week after and the jackets were never worn again.
They are 21 now, buy their own clothes and have a cool preppy style, that is sort of part Pharrell, part NBA influenced.
The palette is grey, blue, denim, white, beige. Something must have worked. I’m looking forward to seeing a brown cardigan and a plaid shirt soon.
Kirstie with her now-21-year-old sons:
A photo posted by Kirstie Clements (@kirstie_clements) on