When money is scarce, we all love to save a few bucks when we can. But as soon as we walk into our local baby clothes store, it can be difficult to resist buying mini versions of the latest Armani gear. What is it about small versions of funky clothes that gets us parents all excited?!
Been there, done that. My little girl had cute little Rothschild coats (the traditional looking ones for that funky retro look), while her younger brother’s style ranged from golfing outfits (complete with argyle sleeveless sweater) to 1975-era Kiss t-shirts with skinny jeans… rock on!
To be honest, most of the funkiest baby clothes we received were actually gifts. I mean, if you were going to buy some clothes on the birth of your best friend’s first child, you’re going to make an effort too, right? So before you rush out and fill baby’s wardrobe before they’re even born, keep in mind that baby showers, and indeed, the birth itself, will bring countless adorable outfits, ranging from the traditional, to the downright outlandish. And yes, you’ll love them all!
But day-to-day wear is different: unless you’ve got an unusually tidy baby, you’ll need lots of comfortable, practical clothes, which presents a slight dilemma to budding fashionistas on a budget: how can you balance functional clothes, that are affordable, easy to change and gentle on delicate skin, with the arguably more important factor of making an impact!
The key is simplicity!
Keep buying the essentials, lots of bodysuits, bibs, sleep-suits, booties, and so on, all of which can be bought at low cost. Avoid fussy designs, logos, slogans and other distractions for the most part, and stick to basic, single colors. The trick to adding some funk is to then add just one feature item: if everything else is simple, it won’t dilute the effect. Usually what you’re looking for is contrast, so here are some ideas:
- Add a flamboyant sun hat, or trendy baby baseball cap: practical for sunny days, and nobody will notice if the rest of their clothes are plain, second hand items;
- Bibs are incredibly cheap, and available in just about any shade and pattern imaginable. Go for something brave that contrasts completely with the rest of their outfit;
- A t-shirt with a very simple graphic works great. Stick to bold, graphic shapes rather than fussy, detailed illustrations, like a bright Day-Glo love heart, or a metallic gold star. Simple slogans sometimes work too;
- Waistcoats and gilets can give plain clothing a lift. Adds a touch of sophistication that everyone will notice;
That’s just the start however. How about embellishing existing clothes yourself? It’s not that difficult, and there’s something for every skill level! For example, with a few stencils and some paint, there’s no limit to the patterns you can add. The easiest, and often most effective, involves one color, and one shape. Pick a color that contrasts totally with the garment, and stick to bold, simple shapes. Alternatively, a single handprint from your baby can work just as well, and add a real personal touch!
If you’re comfortable with sewing, of course, there are many other improvements you can make to existing clothes: add ruffles, frills, and use applique techniques with bold contrasting patterns.
The most effective funky items stand out a mile from the rest of your baby’s clothing, so here are some ideas for adding contrast:
- Shade: If your baby is wearing white, add a black bib. Pastel baby blue? Add something dark blue;
- Color: Add a color from the opposite side of the color wheel (see below), so add an orange feature to a blue outfit. If there’s no color to start with (e.g. a white bodysuit), you can add any dramatic color;
- Pattern: Any plain clothes benefit from a small, strong pattern. Think checkerboard, dots, argyle, or any simple motif;
- Material: Most baby clothes will be made from a soft cotton, but anything goes once it’s not touching their skin. Go crazy with frills and other additions!
The Color Wheel
Color theory can get very complicated, but with the help of a color wheel like the one opposite, you can get some great starting points. For a real impact, pick one color from the wheel (e.g. yellow), then accent it with a color from the opposite side of the wheel (violet in this example). These are called ‘complementary colors’, and boy, is it high contrast! Perfect for funky extroverts in training!
However, there are other ways of picking color pairs from the color wheel, and if it’s done deliberately, and logically, the results will usually work great. Try picking a base color, then choosing one or two others directly beside it. Subtle, but it works. Or pick 3 evenly spaced colors (like green, orange and violet) for a more balanced range of funky colors.
So be brave! You don’t need to buy an expensive, co-ordinated, designer baby outfit for your little one. With a little thought, most of their clothes can still be used and/or cheap, but the end result can only be funky and fabulous!
Image Credit: stock.xchng