Lots of you have asked me how I’ve approached dressing Faye, so here’s my imperfect response:
Faye has one drawer of clothes. Like unpacking a diaper bag at the end of the day, or wiping down a high chair tray, or washing out breast pump parts, the drawer requires some amount of regular maintenance to keep under control. There are the too-smalls to sift through, the popped off snaps to decide whether to repair, the playground knee smudges to soak in a mixture of hot water and suds. Every few weeks I pull out the drawer and have a look at the contents. On the shelf at the top of Faye’s closet-turned-alcove I keep a lidded box where I’ve been stashing the most favorite of the clothes that she’s grown out of. I’ve carefully tucked away tiny playsuits and cozy rompers and hand-knitted hats. Like I said, it’s hard not to be sentimental about clothes in miniature. Fold up a tiny onesie for safe-keeping and memories of sleep deprivation and spit up and mustard plasters fade away and all you feel is one hundred percent heart pangs and hope for a future tiny person of your own or someone else’s. Still, clothes that I never loved in the first place or that had one too many run-ins with spaghetti sauce and banana to justify making space for, have gone out on the stoop, or off to the thrift store, or bundled up for someone else’s baby.
We’ve been on the receiving end of this cycle, too. Many of Faye’s clothes have been the recycled remainders from cousins (first and once removed). Because space is at a premium and because I’d rather have less than more, I’ve sifted through these piles and kept what was lovely or useful and passed along everything else. With baby clothes and other things in a tiny apartment (or anywhere), it’s important to give yourself permission to edit. For clothes that I’ve bought for Faye myself—and when approaching what I dress her in in general—I try to think of Faye’s wardrobe in the same way that I think of mine. I try to make a few careful investments for special pieces, to stock up on basics that will carry us through squashed strawberries and mushed avocado, and to do my best to make choices that will harm as few people along the way as possible while also not ignoring the business of budget.
No surprise, I’m drawn to neutrals and tiny florals and baby clothes that are more classic than contemporary, so I often seek out muted colors and simple stripes in natural fibers. I’ve found that shopping in both the little girl and boy sections of shops gets me the most variety. (And that people will wonder at your child’s gender whether she’s dressed in pink ruffles or blue stripes.)
Here are the basics that I’ve found to be most useful:
White bodysuits: Yes, they get dirty. But so does everything else and a white bodysuit matches with everything. A good soak in the sink with detergent and hot water does a world of good.
Tiny pants: Good for protecting tiny knees and staying warm—I’ve taken to packing a slim pair of leggings with me when we plan to spend the day out of the house.
Overalls: I’d make this argument for mamas and babies alike: a good pair of overalls means an insta-outfit. Gender-neutral enough to pass along to a baby boy or girl, a beautiful pair of overalls feels like an investment worth making.
Bloomers: Like those overalls, pop a pair of bloomers over a onesie and you’ve got an outfit. Word to the wise: size up if you’re looking to cover an enormous cloth-diapered booty.
Smock dresses: Now that it’s summertime, I’ve been putting Faye into little dresses to keep cool and comfortable.
Shoes: I admit that I fall into the camp of thinking that babies don’t really need shoes before they start to walk—and even then, really just to protect those little toes. I bought a pair of little knit booties on sale last winter to keep her feet warm during endless subway rides but I upgraded to sneaks this spring when the playground came into our lives. These lace-up Converse worked best for us because they stay on and they’ve got that nice rubber toe to withstand the constant scuffing of a baby still crawling around. I went for white because I have weird childhood nostalgia about white canvas sneakers getting progressively dirtier over the course of a well-spent summer. We also bought her a little pair of Seawees.
To be clear, this is the fun part. Much of my baby shopping is done on Pinterest, which is to say it’s virtual, not actual. But because there are so many people making really lovely things out there, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite children’s clothing lines here. Many of these shops make clothes that might seem more practical when viewed as special gifts than everyday basics. Though I would make an argument here: One tiny linen dress that can be worn over and over again without showing signs of wear is a wiser investment than three bodysuits that unravel on first washing. Clothing purchases always come down to a matter of preference and personal taste and money in a bank account, but I do think that the idea of quality over quantity is as useful when shopping for babies as for anyone. Despite some initial sticker shock, I’ve found that buying one or two special pieces for Faye and relying on hand-me-downs and affordable basics for everything else has been the best route for us. I have no qualms about putting Faye into the same few things over and over again and a nightly ritual of setting clothes to soak in the bathroom sink means they don’t get lost in laundry purgatory.
Here’s what’s caught my attention, as always, feel free to add ideas in the comments section:
American Apparel: The pants in their organic baby line have been a mainstay in Faye’s wardrobe since last fall and she’s had her own and a hand-me-down hoodie from here, too. The baby clothes are relatively affordable and not so precious that I mind them getting blasted to oblivion on the playground.
Burt’s Bees Baby: Lots of clean, neutral, and affordable options in certified organic cotton. Their Henley Tee and Pajama Pant Set is a favorite of mine, but I also like the Underbees collection for simple logo-free tees and camisoles. Also: tights.
Hannah Andersson: I loved this catalog as a kid—all those colorful tights!—but as a parent, I really love their organic cotton pajamas. A little warm for this time of year sans air-conditioning, but perfect for crisp nights and in a range of super brights and mellow neutrals.
Indego Africa: 100% of profits from this clothing line go back to support the women who make these clothes. Their Pineapple Romper is adorable.
Local Parity Goods: This Etsy shop is currently on vacation, but add it to your favorites and check back in. Faye has their adorable handknit Rumi Sunsuit in robin’s egg blue and every single thing in the shop is beautiful and made by hand.
Mabo: I bought Faye this Willa Dress and she wears it at least three times a week. It’s getting soft and rumply in the wash and holding up beautifully in the midst of rambunctious cousin tumbling. Over the winter she wore a pair of their overalls (like these ones).
Makie: A shop full of the sweetest baby things in every shade of gray ;). Faye had one of their terrycloth rompers when she was teeny tiny.
Misha and Puff: Faye’s little woolen booties that she wore all winter came from here. We got a pair that went all the way up to her knees which meant that I didn’t spend the winter wondering if her pants were riding up in the carrier.
Petit Bateau: You can buy this stuff at the grocery store in France, but it’s harder to come by affordably in the US. Still, the quality is really terrific. Thick cotton body suits, classic camisoles. I’m partial to the Bodysuits and Underwear section of this shop, too.
Purl Bee: Purl Soho’s blog is a tremendous resource for anyone with the wherewithal to make their own baby clothes. Faye has been the extremely lucky recipient of sweet handmade treasures made from these patterns.
Primary: A new shop committed to stocking basic baby clothes in primary and pastel colors, made with Pima cotton. I haven’t tried these myself, but the idea is a great one.
Soor Ploom: Another Brooklyn-made clothing line making all sorts of lovely and timeless baby goodies. The Ines Romper is just the sweetest.
Tea Collection: Faye’s gotten a few of these as hand-me-downs and gifts. Some of the designs are little more flashy than I’d typically choose but the quality is lovely and their comittment to ethical fashion really admirable.
Willaby: Faye wore a pair of these pantaloons from Willaby pulled up over cotton leggings nearly every single day this winter. This summer she’s been loving one of last season’s smock dresses. (Lots on sale here!)
Winter Water Factory: We bought Faye two of these organic cotton rompers this winter and she wore them endlessly. The mini June Leaf romper in deep blue is one of my favorites this season.
PS. I’ve mentioned this before in my post about affordability, but it might be worth the reminder that in nearly every case I’ve been able to buy these items on sale by following accounts on Instagram and taking advantage of their special sales.
More baby proof posts, RIGHT HERE.