April 7, 2008

Cher?? This "Hip" Parenting Racket's Freakin' Groundhog Day, Dude

THERE WAS CHER ON JOAN RIVERS' NEW SQUAWK SHOW, wearing tight pants with a gossamer bustle, a well-distressed T-shirt, rhinestone suspenders. Cher was distraught over her daughter Chastity's fashion faux pas. She'd rebelled and gone preppy. The kid wore Izods, Cher lamented. Top-Siders. Joan clucked in sympathy. What's a hip mom to do?

I can't remember what odd combination of search terms led me to--oh, wait, yes I can, never mind. The point is, swap out J. Lo for Cher and Ellen DeGeneres for Joan Rivers, and tell me this article couldn't have been written in 2008 instead of 1986:

Fashion has crept into the cradle. Before solid food, there is Baby Dior. And from newborn to teen, kids' clothes are cloned and cut from the fabric of adult style. There are Weeboks and baby Nikes, mini-jogging suits and tiny tuxes. Little girls pretend to be butterflies in real Capezio dance-wear. Five-year-olds know to ask for Esprit. Izod, Ralph Lauren, Jordach, Guess? And Liz Claiborn's Liz Kids are turning out pint-sized versions of their adult sportswear and dress-up clothes. And since the stores began to open in the United States this spring, there's been Aprica stroller grid- lock in the aisles of Benetton 012.

Kiddie fash speaks to a wide range of income brackets, from $18 GapKids denims to the $100 sweatshirts by Armani Bambino, Giorgio's line of rug-rat ready-to-wear. I've seen denim diaper covers by Calvin Klein, leather bomber jackets by Cerutti for about $200-in size 2T. And to help parents pull it all together, there is even a glossy new kiddie life-style magazine, Child. Child advocated Nouveau Prep in its premiere issue ("a style with a funny little fashion twist that mixes playful paisley with the entire junior varsity").

Now, all of this may look swell on cleanly designed magazine pages, but how does it hold up in mud puddles? Dressed in Laura Ashley, can you get down with She-Ra?

I decided to do a little reality testing with my pal Nick, a 20-month-old denizen of Dupont Circle. Nick's parents are young professionals. Daddy drives a BMW; Morn makes a stand-up salmon mousse. Nick goes for the gusto.

On that same site, an odd mismash of texts called the Boys Historical Clothes Web Page, is another eerie article from a generation earlier. Seems "The Jon-Jon" was The Maddox of 1966:
In 1966, Mrs. Kennedy directed the barbers at the Carlyle Hotel, where her son had his hair tended, to lengthen the sideburns and to shorten the bangs over the eyebrows so that at least the width of an adult finger was visible. In back, the hair was shaped to hang straight and long from the crown almost to the collar. These subtle changes, which were almost identical to tonsorial developments in such jet-set barbershops as Jerry's on Madison Avenue and Alexandre's men's salon in Paris, had their repercussions on the kiddie circuit. Sideburns descended to the tragus-the fleshy, cartilaginous protrusion at the front and mid-point of the ear-unless a mother was terribly stubborn or stylishly obtuse.
Seriously, people,

The 1986 article turns out to be by "Dressed To Spill," by Gerri Hirshey for the Washington Post, full text at: Boys' clothes during the 1980s [tripod]

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