I’m thrilled to finally publish an extensive guide to my favorite sources for classic children’s clothing and shoes . I get asked all the time about my favorite children’s shoes, affordable brands, and appropriate clothing for older girls. For this reason, this guide will live permanently under the SHOP tab on DoSayGive’s homepage and be updated seasonally with some of my favorite finds in all price points. Be sure to browse the entire post for some precious spring finds. And please share your favorite sources in the comment section because I am sure I missed some (and I love to learn about new brands!).
(Top photo: dress is custom from Red Beans, shoes are Footmates, socks from Hip Hip Hooray Dallas)
ALL ABOUT CLASSIC CLOTHING
Why do I prefer classic children’s clothing?
First, I believe children are only children once. Their preciousness and innocence is short-lived and I want to savor every bit of it while I can. Timeless clothing helps me to do that. Dress children like children…not like mini adults.
Second, I want people notice my children first, not the clothes they are wearing. That’s why I don’t dress my babies in loud or overpowering attire, or things with characters or pop culture references. I prefer clothing that accentuates a child’s sweet demeanor rather than diminishes it.
On that note, and third, we all reflect the clothes we are wearing (which is why we dress up for interviews!). If I dress my girls in sassy clothing I can guarantee it will so much for natural for them to put their hands on their hips and act sassy. I don’t need any more of that in my house!
What makes clothing “classic”?
Generally a soft or simple color palette, clean lines, and simple designs. Children who were dressed in classic clothing will never look back upon childhood photos and ask, “why did my mother dress me in that!?”
Signatures of classic children’s clothing include (but are limited to): smocking, shadow embroidery, liberty and other small floral prints, and gingham, eyelet, seersucker in the summer . Daygowns (babies), jon jons and button-ons (boys), bubbles (babies) and pinafores (girls) are hallmarks of classic children’s clothing clothing.
Is classic clothing always expensive?
No. Of course it can be, but once you know what to look for (see above) you will start noticing timeless-looking pieces at Target and Old Navy. I have found some precious things below.
FAVORITE CLASSIC CHILDREN’S BRANDS
Whether you are interested in special occasion dresses, nightgowns, shoes, trunk shows, or budget play clothes, you will find my favorite brands listed below and where you can find online. Of course you local children’s boutiques can be your best friend when searching for the right outfits and accessories for your children, especially when it comes to coordinating. Even if you don’t have a local boutique, you can shop many on their Instagram feeds and they will ship the clothes right to you! Several of the dresses in this post are from Hip Hip Hooray in Dallas.
Baby Layette and Baby/Toddler:
- Kissy Kissy
- Smocked Auctions – I just saw they carried the timeless Remember Nguyen brand. How precious is this lamb gown with shadow embroidery? Don’t miss these adorable monogrammable baby shoes.
- Lullaby Set – Available only at select boutiques like Layette in Dallas.
- The Beaufort Bonnet Company – This darling debut set makes a great baby gift.
- Magnolia Baby – In boutiques and on Amazon!
- Pixie Lily – Online but more selection in boutique stores.
- Feltman Brothers – Timeless! Something to keep for grandchildren! In select boutiques and at Dillards (so check for sales!).
- Little English
- Boden – They sometimes have sweaters that look like what Princess Charlotte wears. This one is adorable.
- Hanna Andersson – They have some really sweet footed pajamas and gowns. Louise has this wearable blanket which is a calm alternative to some of the other blanket sleeper options on the market.
Favorite Online Sources for Boys and Girls Classic Clothing
(Note: many of these are also in fine boutiques!)
- Neiman Marcus – Tucked into their children’s selections you will find some classic brands often found at boutiques. Like this Luli & Me line that I love. Better yet they often go on sale!
- The Beaufort Bonnet Company – What started as a bonnet company now offers a full line of adorable baby and children’s clothing (mostly under size 5). I also love their pajamas, swimsuits and this their pima cotton shirts are a wardrobe staple.
- The Proper Peony – Known for their sweet embroidered dresses and of course their tulip dress and bubble.
- Frances Rose Boutique – Darling ready-made lines in addition to custom line.
- Dondolo – This company has a really neat mission to help empower the women who make their beautiful clothing. You have to keep checking their website though because they don’t always have inventory online.
- Instagram – It is so easy to shop small boutiques on Instagram!
- La Coqueta – Did you know the Spanish often dress their children in classic clothing? I love browsing through this site. So many timeless clothes and shoes. Like you’re in a storybook!
- Florence Eiseman – Darling applique clothing that I wore as a child – available at Neiman Marcus, Saks, and other fine retailers too.
- Rachel Riley (girl and boy). This is an English brand and you can tell! It’s just darling. Prince George and Princess Charlotte have both worn this line.
- Smocked Auctions(smocked dresses and sets)
- Little English
- Lilly Pulitzer – A Lilly shift dress is timeless! I usually buy one dress a summer. Great for church, dinner, play. They are pricey but oh so durable. We have hand-me-downs from friends that are 10 years old and still look new! Oh and they have matching dresses for mom!
- Ralph Lauren – I know, you probably didn’t think of this one! But they have darling things, especially for bigger kids. And, better yet, often have great sales.
- Grace and James Kids
- Dillards – Yes! You can find some treasures online. Love the price point of the Petit Ami brand. They also have their own in-house brand called Edgehill that has darling dresses, bubbles, and jon jons.
- Nordstrom – Hit or miss but sometimes you can find darling things from the Peek brand which has darling clothes. I wrote about it here.
- The Tot – They are definitely a modern company but funny how it’s becoming trendy to dress a little classic. I’ve seen darling dresses and coats here.
- Bailey Boys
- Six Honeybees – Shop your favorite high-end brands at a discount here.
- The Yellow Lamb – Beautiful heirloom quality everyday classic children’s clothing.
Affordable Classic Brands Online
- Smocked Auctions – If you don’t know about Smocked Auctions (which you probably do!) they have an enormous selection of play clothes, church attire, swimsuits, bubbles, boys’ jon jons and even cute things like children’s sunglasses and fun toys. Definitely follow on social media for flash sales.
- Eyelet and Ivy – This is the company I get so many questions about when I post. The clothes are so sweet, but soft so my children like wearing them all the time. I ordered a bunch of things for spring. I also wrote about this company here.
- Boden – You can find some gems at Boden, especially when on sale. I often find smocked dresses and tops and Liberty or Liberty-inspired fabrics. Boden is an English company and the clothes definitely reflect that. Also available at Nordstrom with free shipping.
- Smockingbird Clothing – Easy to shop on their social media feed!
- Cecil and Lou – Also easy to shop on their social media feeds. Darling pre-orders.
- J.Crew Factory – Seek out basics for boys and girls here.
- Old Navy – Once you know what to look for when it comes to timeless clothes, it’s easy to spot budget items. Also a great place for basics.
- Hanna Andersson – Their loud prints might not qualify as classic but you can find things along the lines of Florence Eiseman. Or gems like these Old Sole shoes.(Obviously better when on sale!) Great for durable basics like tees and leggings, too.
Special Occasion and Custom (Flower Girl, Baptism)
- Little English – Beautiful clothing for special occasions. Little English is known for their attention to detail!
- Frances Rose Boutique – Custom and online ordering. Beautiful shadow embroidery, smocking, and other timeless techniques.
- Peaches Barnes – Gowns for baptisms, portraits, and special occasions. Every piece is made to order and can be for up to five years. Dresses can be sent back to Peaches Barnes to be let out or to add a collar or embroidery. Truly an heirloom!
- Wildflower Heirlooms – Custom heirloom “coming home” outfits. See this post.
- Mela Wilson Heirloom
- Elizabeth Layne Heirloom – Custom and occasional online sales.
- Peppermint Pony – Online and at select retailers.
- Etsy – has several seamstresses as well
- Of course your local children’s boutiques. Hip Hip Hooray in Dallas often has trunk shows and we bought our girls’ flower girl dresses from Layette.
I grew up wearing nightgowns and my girls often do, too. Whether nightgowns or pajamas sets, though, I always buy cotton pajamas. (My grandmother said never put them in polyester pajamas as it will make them sweat – and she was right) Many times the big box stores will sell polyester pajamas that make my children so hot. Plus, many of them have flame-retardant chemicals in them so just know what you are buying. Cotton is my preference.
A little note about sleep nightgowns: I am pretty sure companies can’t legally call them “nightgowns” for fire-safety regulations. So that is why you will see companies often call pajamas “loungewear.” Here are some of my favorite brands:
- Smocked Auctions – Love all the pj’s and their gowns are the right price and cotton.
- Petite Plume – Luxury brand with adult pjs, too. Would make a lovely gift!
- Eyelet and Ivy – One of my go-to’s for matching gowns for my daughters!
- Kate and Libby – You can customize this gown but of course I always love white.
- Boden – Shop their nightgowns here. This 2-pack is a pretty good deal for sweet pajamas. This set is so cute for boys.
- Roberta Roller Rabbit – I can’t enough of their animal-print pajamas. Yes, they are modern but like Lilly I think they have a timeless nature. They are pricey but meant to be worn for multiple years.
- Etsy – You can find many sweet small shops like The Orange Iris with monogrammed pajamas.
- Eberjey – Precious but pricey!
Trunk Show Clothing
So my non-Southern readers might not be familiar with trunk shows so here’s the scoop: a few moms will host a show at their home and invite friends and neighbors to browse samples and pick out clothing for their children for their upcoming season. For example, during January trunk shows people order for their children’s spring and summer clothing. Turnaround time is usually 12 weeks. Oftentimes, you can change out fabrics and colors and trim and coordinate wardrobes for siblings and cousins.
Trunk show shopping is usually expensive, but they are generally very well made so can be thought of as an investment. Much of the clothing my five year old wears I bought seven years ago for my oldest, and it still looks great.
A little tip: When the actual season begins many of these companies will mark down their samples online and you can get some really good deals. For that reason it’s worth getting on their email lists and following on social media. Here are some of my favorites:
- Alice Kathleen – Where I buy a lot of the Liberty floral pieces my girls wear. Traditional apron and other styles.
- Red Beans – A little less expensive than Alice Kathleen, but very similar pieces and the quality is good.
- Hannah Kate – Very beautiful clothes and fine quality.
- Shrimp and Grits – Traditional smocked clothing at very good price points. Can also shop online.
- Mary and Grace – Also can shop online. Love their line but because of lower price points, their clothes have not lasted as long as some of the others.
Big Boys Clothing
Obviously I am not an expert on this so please share yours below!
- Crewcuts (Ludlow Suits for special occasion)
- Lands End
- Bella Bliss
- Boden – (in the winter check out their Fair Isle Sweaters which look just like something Price George wore as well!)
- Ralph Lauren– Great for classic button downs and dress pants.
- Southern Tide and Southern Marsh for warm weather apparel.
- Johnnie-O – My nephews love their prep-formance polos.
- Vineyard Vines
- Old Navy, Gap and Target for budget staples like polos and shorts.
Big Girl Clothing
- J. Crew Kids – A staple for us and sizes up to 16.
- Bella Bliss – This has been my go-to lately!
- Hannah Andersson
- Vineyard Vines – Nordstrom online carries it and free shipping/free returns makes it easier!
- Lilly Pulitzer – They go up to size 14 and carry 00. Great for church dresses and don’t forget about them in the fall because they have great things!
- Florence Eiseman – Up to size 16.
- Frances Rose – Up to 12.
- Busy Bexe Kids – Up to size 14. I haven’t tried them yet but they came recommended.
- J. Crew Factory – Their 00 adult sizes fit my 12 year old. These scallop skirts have been great for her.
- Gap – Hit or miss when it comes to appropriate clothing but we definitely find some things.
- Many of the trunk show and special occasional companies listed above go up to a size 14.
- Nordstrom –
- Boden – A British clothing company that makes fabulous casual wear for all ages.
- Petit Bateau – A French clothing company that makes great quality, modest clothes.
Swimsuits are hard, especially for girls. We prefer our girls wear one-pieces or tankinis when they get older. Here are my favorite brands for tasteful swimsuits:
- Smocked Auctions – Affordable for boys and girls and a great place for rash guards.
- The Beaufort Bonnet Company – Their boys’ trunks are precious as are all their girl suits.
- Florence Eiseman – Their swimsuits are recognizable anywhere! So darling and timeless!
- Vineyard Vines
- Funtasia Too – Love the price point for this boutique brand. I buy at Hip Hip Hooray in Dallas.
- Trunk shows – See above.
- Hannah Andersson
- Minnow Swim
- J. Crew Kids
- J. Crew Factory
- Our girls wear these coverups from Amazon!
I grew up wearing mostly white dress shoes (with the occasional red or navy) because that’s how I grew up. My Southern grandmother thought it was outright tacky for little girls to wear gold or silver anything but alas times have changed and it is now very common for gold and silver shoes to serve as a neutral. My girls do, too, when they get a bit older. (I still can’t put metallic shoes on my baby – I am weird, I know!)
- Elephantito – For both baby and child.
- Smocked Auctions has a huge selection of classic shoes at the right price. Look at these darling T-Strap shoes for $22!
- Footmates – For baby, these crib shoes. We also like these Mary Janes for our older girls.
- Rachel Riley – Precious!
- La Coqueta
- Mary and Grace – I pre-order many of the brands mentioned here on Mary and Grace for a discount. So worth getting on their email list to know about these pre-orders.
- Old Soles – Probably my favorite toddler shoe for early walkers. Louise has these baby pink ballet slippers.
- Of course your local boutique is a good place to start! We also visit Stride Rite.
- Saltwater Sandals – I prefer white but also have bought pink. Gold is definitely a neutral these days. For boys, white or navy is a summer staple. For girls I also like these with heart cut outs.
- Keds for baby girls and toddler girls.
- Jack Rogers – Jack Rogers – Girls can wear with sundresses.
- Cienta Shoes – I asked asked about these all the time on Instagram. Love the price point and my girls love the comfort. We have bought silver and navy.
- Native Shoes – So versatile!
A classic wardrobe staple for girls! Some mom use these strictly for diaper covers. But my sister and I wore these an underwear when we were little. My girls wear them over their underwear under dresses up until they are 8-9 years old. Covering underwear is a simple way to start teaching modesty and manners.
- Etsy has so many cute shops that monogram bloomers or just buy plain on Amazon (can always take to local monogrammer).
- A Julius Berger sweater (shown above) is a staple in our house. My girls wear them year-round. They are durable and go with everything. Available in most fine boutiques and on Amazon. (Obviously any white sweater will serve the same versatile purpose and most children’s stores carry them. I found a less expensive alternative here).
- I will update with more coat brands but this is something that can be found at the trunk shows listed above or fine local boutiques. This La Coqueta Coat looks like something I had as a child (and still have! Keep your children’s nice wool coats; they last forever!)
Our Closet Staples:
- White Sweater (linked above)
- White short sleeve and long sleeve collared shirts (love the quality of The Beaufort Bonnet shirts linked above).
- Jumpers for play with a white collared shirt underneath
- Floral (spring) and corduroy (winter) skirts for older girls.
- Gingham and/or seersucker shorts with white tees in summer.
- Bows and headbands. We like traditional grosgrain bows or good old fashioned ribbon. I also found these adorable Lolo headbands in Liberty prints.
Okay tell me your favorite brands because there are so many more I know! Or if you have a small boutique you love please share them below as well!
Classic Children’s Shoes