My biggest childrens’ clothing company crush (present company excepted, obvs.) is without a doubt, clothkits. I remember vividly having a summer vest and shorts combo that was green with really bright parrot print all over it (bear with me, it was the 1980s.) I also remember knitted dresses that we wore until they unravelled. It was all bright, bold, patterns and easy to wear designs, handmade for you by mum (or grandma.) Clothkits have recently started up again, with some amazing design and colours, and have regained the charm that they had the first time around.
But there is something special about wearing clothes that have seen another life, clothes that you loved as a child on your own children. So I was really excited when Richard’s mum brought over two intriguingly large boxes down from her loft (think: narnia.) From the boxes emerged pairs of horrendously cool dungarees in blue with birds on, or orange cats, matching sunhats with pockets for ice cream money, pinafore dresses and still-soft-after 30 years plain t-shirts. I love the fact that our children have all worn some of these things. (A few were a step too far even for me. Will, even at two, flatly refused to wear the very skinny, very flared brown dungarees, and I didn’t push the issue.) They’ve even invented a special hat game to celebrate the fact that there are so many beautiful sun hats.
Handed-down clothes are special anyway, they seem to store childhood and sunshine in them – except for the little red velvet numbers with white collars. They just store rainy Sunday afternoons out at National Trust properties that didn’t even have a gift shop!. (Because it was perfectly OK to go to NT places, as long as they sold quality tat at the end. A girl can never have too many rainbow-coloured pencil sharpeners.) But, in reality, I have never wielded much influence over what my children choose to wear. They have all had a naked phase, where any item of clothing is considered a step too far. I salute their liberated attitude, but did start to worry about hypothermia when Will discovered the joy of nudity in November. Polly, the eldest and mostly the sensible one, insisted on dressing herself from the age of two, in a style I can only describe as bag lady chic. Mostly just long skirts on top of trousers, (before she started to refuse to wear ANY trousers) with the odd dress, scarf or hat piled on top. Then came the fancy dress stage, heavily influenced by disney princesses. Tilly has always favoured a glamour-gone-mad look (Eddie, from Ab Fab, basically.) Will wore his Buzz Lightyear costume for the best part of a year. These days I am under no illusion that I can have a say in what they wear, I just hope that one day they will look back and say ‘wow, mum, those dungarees rocked! Did daddy REALLY wear them too?’