The announcement that yet another fashion week is being added to the roster had me in utter disbelief. We’ve already covered, spring, summer, fall, winter, resort, couture, menswear–what else could they possibly squeeze into the 365 days of the year? The answer: kids fashion week London. Groan. Yet another opportunity to cause a frenzied rush for designer brands, this time in teacup human sizes. Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times, said it best, “The catwalk, in other words, delivers the total look to the viewer; like film, you receive it fully formed. Kids’ fashion, on the other hand, should be – even more than adult fashion – a place of freedom for children to start playing around with identity and perception. It should be flexible in the extreme.” I couldn’t agree more. Children should not be fed stylist-approved looks, they should be encouraged to explore their own aesthetics. So where then do I stand vis-a-vis kids and jewelry?
Alexander Wang’s munchkin of a niece. Photo from here.
I often say that jewelry should be a reflection of a woman’s experience. In one’s teens certain pieces look appropriate or funky on us and as we mature, those same pieces may grow to look too dainty or childish. The opposite also holds true–I still play in my mother’s jewelry and it breaks my heart to say it but there are certain pieces in her collection that I cannot yet carry. Funny how diamonds and gems have a way of putting one in one’s place no? Very humbling.
Do I then believe that children should not be allowed to wear jewelry? Of course not. As with fashion, children should be encouraged to experiment–it is a process of discovery. Personally, I don’t think ear piercings should be had too early but it’s mostly for developmental reasons (here is why). However, if your children have a tendency towards accessories, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to experiment. That goes for boys and girls. The first thing to think about is choking hazards–children should be old enough that they won’t swallow the damn thing. Children don’t need gold and diamonds, give them some string, teach them how to tie knots and poof you’ve got a DIY friendship bracelet that will keep them occupied for days and an end product that they will sport around proudly. Thinking back to my childhood, Jewelry Tyrant Father always gave me dainty little pieces of age-appropriate jewelry but I was never allowed to wear any of them to school so I didn’t see the point. I much preferred my macaroni necklaces and lanyard bracelets.
As a child gets older, into his or her teen years, friendship bracelets still stick around but then leather strap jewelry will start making an appearance as well as the first inkling of costume jewelry. This phase is crucial as costume jewelry will evolve and stay with us for the rest of our lives. I still buy and wear costume jewelry with relish but my taste in costume jewelry has gained some dimensionality along the way. At this age, as long as your child looks like an accessorized child and not a midget street-walker, I’d say you’re fine. It is not for us to edit their aesthetic; it will likely only lead to rebellion anyway. The best way to battle a midget street-walker is to ignore it and let her get bored with the look herself.
The case of the child who is always rummaging and borrowing your jewelry without your permission is another situation that requires careful maneuvering. Forbidding them would not curb their tendencies as they would try to sneak out of the house with your jewelry anyway. I think the best way to combat the sticky-fingered fashionista is to set some ground rules: a) fine jewelry is out-of-bounds; b) set aside pieces that he/she is allowed to borrow in a separate area so that they feel like they have some freedom and have earned your trust; and c) you break it you buy it. It’s a fine line between encouraging experimentation and salvaging your own beloved jewelry collection from the claws of a greedy little predator (I should know, I was one) but if done with finesse, it might be a great way to bond with your spawn and build a trusting relationship.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,