Traditional vs. hip: Kids’ clothes take a new twist

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Hip flower girl
The hip flower girl at home.

My 8-year-old granddaughter served as a flower girl at two weddings last fall.

For her Uncle Dan’s outdoor California wedding she wore a delicate white lace dress with angelic puff sleeves and a ribbon sash. At Uncle Reid’s hipster Hudson, New York wedding, held in a former wheel factory, she marched down the aisle in a black leather motorcycle jacket, a tulle ball skirt, and sequined Converse sneakers.

Two different ideas of “making it work” junior style. 

Satisfying both tastes in kiddie clothing is easy, according to Bridget Quinn Stickline, owner of Wee Chic, the independent children’s clothing shop launched nine years ago by the former women’s fashion guru. The Green Spring Station store caters to “modern babies, kids & tweens,” … emphasis on ‘modern.’

Just as 30-something brides have different aesthetics for dressing their flower girls, so do
Stickline’s clientele, whether New York City transplants or fifth-generation Roland Parkers.

Bridget says they can find the perfect outfit for a country club brunch or a friend’s “glamping” backyard sleepover. Problems often arise when a child, who loves what she loves and what she’s comfortable in, firmly rebels against the more traditional look she may be expected to wear on certain occasions. The key is letting her try different items and see that she can feel cool in a style she may not be used to wearing.

The store sees many a grandma dragging in a recalcitrant girl who is convinced there will be nothing for her in the store because all she wears is athletic wear. Bridget might put her in a very chic pair of light-weight, gorgeously cut camouflage pants and thrill both of them.

Stickline wants to inspire, above all. She sees fashion, even for kids, as a way to do that. “Kids assert their identities through clothes,” she says. She wants to make all kids feel special by helping them put together things they genuinely like and help each one find his or her style.

“We attack all our categories outside the box,” she says. “Take little boys. They still love choo-choo trains and dinosaurs and fire trucks but through a more original lens. It’s the same with girls.”

I saw what she meant when my eye was caught by a coral-colored swing trench coat for a 9-MONTH-OLD!!! The said baby wouldn’t even be walking yet, but she’d surely sense she was highly hip, starting even then to hone her style.

Stickline launched Wee Chic as a post-recession business: “I want you to feel you are making a $125 purchase even when making a $20 purchase,” she says. She does this by offering customers a curated selection, a stimulating environment and a level of service “you don’t expect when making a $20 purchase. Selection and convenience aren’t enough anymore. This is the way forward. You need a connection with the store and the people there.”

That’s why she employs mostly parents on staff, so they know what customers need. They can act as personal shoppers for busy parents and grandparents, too.

She takes her pint-sized customers feelings, both physically and emotionally, into account when buying for the store. She stocks labels you won’t find anywhere else in town, but no matter how good the item looks, “If it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t make the cut,” she says. “No itchy labels, for instance; we’ll walk away from a whole line if things don’t feel good. And fabric is really important to me.”

No matter how Pinterest crazed a kid might be, as the mother of an 11-year-old girl herself
Stickline knows what’s appropriate in clothing for the younger set, saying, “We’re trend-right but in an appropriate way.” She carries the ever popular crop tops but in a length that shows no skin. “We call it a meet and greet.”

Fully half of Wee Chic customers are grandmothers, and I can see why.

When my baby girl was born 38 years ago, there weren’t a lot of interesting clothing choices for babies. I loathed the ubiquitous pink corduroy overalls with ruffled straps that seemed to be all I could find in children’s stores. So I shopped in the boys’ section where at least I could get clothes for her in navy or red.

Now I can correct that prior injustice and indulge my passion for my three Los Angeles grandkids (girl 8, boy 6, boy 2) by buying at Wee Chic.

I was in just yesterday and could not walk out the door without a pair of soft plush shorts in flamingo and palm tree pattern for Alexandra, as well as a “destroyed” white A-line wrap-around tank by Erge and a navy-check linen cap-sleeve shirt by Rails. Of course, I couldn’t go out to L.A. next week with all that for her and nothing for her next-younger-brother. But then I noticed a “Top Secret Spy Kit” for 6-year-olds and up, containing rear-view spy glasses, a magnifying glass, fake mustache, invisible ink pen and more. Just the thing for inquisitive Ellis!

As I was leaving, I turned for a last look at the show window and saw a preppy young male
dummy wearing the most gorgeous yellow and blue plaid button-down shirt with khaki cuffed shorts. I made a quick U-turn and bought both in Ellis’s size.

I figured two-year-old Rory wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t getting anything.

However … upon further reflection, I thought it wasn’t too early to start him on a board book about Rosa Parks; grabbed it!

As you can see, the store doesn’t merely carry great clothing for newborns to 8-year-old boys and up to 16-year-old girls. There’s a carefully chosen collection of toys, books, candy, and accessories for all of them.

Working with kids is “just fun,” says Stickline. “They don’t care what their butts look like at that age!”

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