Friday, August 14, 2015

Three Things You Should Know When Shopping For Kid's School Outfits

It's hard to believe, but time flew by so fast and summer's almost over.  And for us parents, that also means another thing -- school is almost here!

To help parents prepare for the upcoming school year, we are holding Chichi Mary Kid’s Boutique Back To School Sale!  Since the month of August is a very hectic and busy month for us parents to shop for clothing and school supplies, Chichi Mary has prepared a collection of outfits that are just perfect for those busy school days.  And what's great, we have amazing deals to kick off the school year!

Back To School Sale | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
Mary in her Siaomimi skirt matched with a plain organic t-shirt and Sophie Catalou necklace.

To make the clothes-shopping experience better, we are also sharing our top three things to consider when buying school outfits for our kids.

 1. Comfort

On average, our kids stay at school for almost 6 hours.  And for some kids, it’s even longer.  Because of this, it's not enough for a dress to simply be beautiful. With the long school days, it’s also very important to ensure that our kids are as comfortable as they can be.

One thing to remember when choosing clothes is that softness doesn't guarantee comfort.  In order for clothing to be comfortable, it should be breathable.  If the clothing doesn't absorb moisture, your kids will end up sweaty the whole time. Clothes that have great absorbency will feel significantly more comfortable to the skin, and this is something that our kids will definitely benefit from.

One of our top choices for school are our Petit Lem Dresses because the fabric is really soft and breathable. It’s almost like wearing their pajamas in school. No wonder -- Petit Lem is also known for its sleepwear.  These particular styles have extra soft fabric and definitely absorb moisture.

Back To School Petit Lem Dress | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
Mary wearing a Petit Lem Plaid Dress.  We love the layered skirt and the combination of colors.  Definitely both stylish & comfortable. 

Back To School Dress | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique

2. Quality

When it comes to children's clothes, I'm a firm believer in choosing quality over quantity. Ideally, our kids clothing should be worn for more than a year or two. It’s better to have a few pieces with great quality that last this long, rather than having a lot of pieces that will just be out of shape after 5-6 washes. Typically, you get what you pay for when buying clothes, and shopping for inexpensive clothes might seem to make sense initially, right until we get the urge to replace them after the 3rd time they've been worn.

When our kids are in school, they run & play. Kids being kids, their clothes get stained and stretched.  With high quality clothes, you can wash these multiple times and they will still have the right form & shape. Their colors and prints also last significantly longer.  Cheaper clothes get washed a few times and start losing their form and color (not to mention a few threads here and there).

In our case -- for this year my daughter Mary will be wearing dresses from Chichi Mary that have been in her closet since at least the start of last school year. Some styles (see #3 later) are especially adaptable for wearing at different ages as she grows, and these she's actually been wearing for almost three years now.  But looking at her, it's hard to notice that these clothes have been worn for a long time.  The forms are still good, the colors are still vibrant, and the prints are still intact.

One great tip so you don't really have to spend so much more for high quality clothes -- if you don't care as much to buy in-season collections of good quality brands, you can instead shop for their past season collections (or those already in clearance). This will yield you significant savings while still getting high quality stuff.

Another thing I'd like to highlight when talking about quality is the importance of clothes being made of natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool (silk is actually a great choice for grown-ups, but is less practical for kids clothing). It's important for clothes to have these breathable fabrics especially if your kids have skin problems like eczema. Case in point -- clothes composed of natural fibers don’t have those tiny fibrous dots you see after washing (this is called "pilling"). Synthetic materials like polyester (especially the knitted type), usually pill after a few washes, not to mention the material is poorly absorbent in the first place so it is less comfortable.

Although synthetic materials are typically not so good in this regard, there are exceptions of cases of manufactured fiber that still has good absorbency and do not pill.  One example is viscose rayon. Rayon is made from regenerated cellulose that came from wood pulp, cotton linters and other vegetable matters. Imoga is known for its signature viscose jersey fabric.  Imoga's Patricia Dress is another great school outfit choice because it is soft and comfortable for the kids.

Imoga Patricia Dress | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
Mary in her Imoga Patricia Dress in Boston's Public Garden.  We love this dress not only because she wears it to school but because she can wear it anywhere.  The fabric is soft and breathable and the dress has side pockets.  Every little girl loves to have pockets.  It is also one of Mary's favorite outfits during travel.

Imoga Patricia Dress Petite Parade | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
The Patricia Dress in a different print shown at the Petite Parade Show in New York City. Picture courtesy of Imoga.
At Chichi Mary, most of our girls’ clothing are made of natural fibers.  Clothes made of natural fiber are made to be breathable and exhibit no static buildup and no pilling during washing.  If you can’t find clothes that are made of 100% natural fiber, choose something with as high a percentage of natural fiber as you can.  This works as well when buying tights for our girls especially during the chilly months.  We actually found out about this the hard way when Mary first started going to school and wearing your typical department-store bought winter tights.  She would be so itchy at the end of the day that she can't wait to take them off.  That really motivated me to look for better options and make these available at Chichi Mary.  The brand I found -- Jefferies Socks -- is now what Mary wears all the time and she's perfectly happy with the looks, comfort and insulation.

So how do we check the clothes' composition?  Check out the care labels usually located inside the clothing.  For online shopping, it's usually written in the product description.  If it's not indicated, please feel free to call or email the store.  You as the customer should have the right to know exactly what you're buying.

Care Label | Chichi Mary Blog
An example of a care label where the fiber composition is usually indicated.


Another thing that contributes to quality is the construction of the clothes itself. Generally speaking, woven fabrics are more durable than knitted ones because you need at least two yarns to produce a woven fabric.  But if you are dealing with reputable brands, you are ensured that the clothes are properly sewn and the fabrics are constructed very well.  Like for Siaomimi, all clothing are proudly handmade and made of 100% cotton.  Mary started to wear Siaomimi when I found the brand two years ago and she's still wearing the same collection of dresses until now.

Siaomimi Lauren Dress | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
Siaomimi Lauren Dress.  It's timeless design and good fabric construction ensure quality that can be passed on to siblings and friends.  The fabric is double gauze, made of two layers of thin cotton woven together.
Siaomimi Mia Dress | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
Siaomimi Mia Dress, which is also made of the same fabric - double gauze.

3. Flexibility

For our girls, a great way to extend their wardrobe is to choose designs that are flexible enough to be worn on different occasions.  What better way to enjoy her favorite summer dress than enjoying it during the colder months as well by layering it with cardigans, cropped jackets, or coats.

Another great thing about children's dresses in general is that the silhouettes are typically simplified, and this lends itself to the dress being worn as a tunic as it gets shorter.  A knee-high dress for a three year old then becomes a tunic for a five or six-year old.

This is one of the great considerations that we should have when buying clothes for kids.  Since they grow up so fast, it’s better to buy clothes that can be used in multiple occasions with just the right mix & match of accessories & shoes rather than having a lot of clothes made of lower quality materials.  Let’s not compromise the comfort of our kids.

Djaknamela Stella Cove | Chichi Mary Kid's Boutique
One of my all time favorites is the Djaknemala dress worn with a jacket, tights and boots.  Djaknemala and Stella Cove are known for its summer dresses but with layering, the dress is suitable for a chilly weather.  This picture is shot in Paris for Earnshaw's Magazine.
With just these three important things (comfort, quality, and flexibility), I guarantee that your kids will feel good in their clothing, and that they can enjoy their dresses for a long time.  At Chichi Mary, we always believe that when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good you're empowered to do many wonderful things ;)

Back To School Plaid Dress | Chichi Mary KId's Boutique
Our happy Mary in her Petit Lem Plaid Dress feeling excited with just a thought that school will begin soon!

Cheers,
Mitshi

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