As a rule, kids’ clothing is ephemeral. It gets spilled on, puked on, pooped on, and only fits for a few months. Needing to change our son so frequently in the beginning of his life, my wife and I were fairly indiscriminate with his clothing choices, grabbing whatever we’d bought, gotten as a hand-me-down or been gifted. That included everything from footie pajamas with alligators, sailor striped pants and various items hand tie-dyed in Vermont by my sister.
Like any first-time parent with a smartphone and social media, we took a lot of photos. He looked like an angel in all of them, of course, but the photos we returned to most were the ones where he was the focus, not his outfit. He was dashing in a mustard-colored pointelle one-piece, or in cornflower-blue pants and a white T-shirt. Over time, though, we began to gravitate toward only buying him clothes with minimal embellishment, then eventually none at all. Now, the biggest pizazz in his wardrobe is stripes.
I know that’s kind of boring. I admire (and follow on Instagram) parents who have fully embraced the slapdash way kids live and synthesize that into their wardrobe with bright colors and a Jackson Pollock-esque approach to pattern. Take for instance Leo, son of Sunny Shokrae, a photographer and the author of a recent children’s book on Farsi. Leo always looks fantastic, wearing black and yellow pants that are checked on one leg and striped on the other, full-on leopard print or a denim jacket with a big ’70s collar.
Leo is not blending in. And he pulls that off because Sunny does, too. She loves color, patterns and stripes; think M.C. Escher gone Day-Glo. “I buy clothes for Leo the way I would buy clothes for myself, and that’s the only way I think I can,” she said. “If I were to buy clothes any other way he’d look like a clown, because I wouldn’t know what I’m doing.”
Perhaps I don’t have enough confidence in my own taste for Renzo to splash out the way Leo and Sunny do, but I’m scared of setting him up for something he doesn’t want to be. Still, looking at their photos, you don’t get the feeling that Leo is upset at his mom’s sense of adventure.