Toddlers are inevitably cute. They’re cute when they’re wearing meticulously styled outfits, they’re cute when they’re wearing just their diaper, and they’re even cute when they’re wearing the entire bowl of strawberry yogurt you just gave them for breakfast. It’s amazing, really, how they can pull that off.

Even though toddlers manage to look cute in pretty much any outfit you put them in – there’s just something about seeing a tiny little person dressed to the nines in white Babiator shades and a perfect ruffled bodysuit that makes your heart skip a beat. If only adults could pull off thigh rolls so flawlessly.

But what is it that really sets super stylish tots apart, and how can you keep your munchkin on trend and on budget? Just follow these 6 rules to shop by and your little one will be turning heads before you can say “those markers are washable, right?!”

1. Steer Clear of Cartoons and Logos

The quickest, easiest way to turn up your toddler’s style quotient is to purge their closet of cartoon characters and logos.

Mainstream stores are absolutely overflowing with Frozen t-shirts, Dora backpacks and Winnie the Pooh shoes – and while kids love them because they’re covered in fluorescent colors and glitter – they take the attention away from the best part of your kiddos outfit, their adorable face!

Cartoon clothing is also often mass-produced and made with lower quality fabrics and stitching. At best this can make an outfit unmemorable, and at worst it can make it look cheap. Skip over Anna and Elsa and stick to solid colors, modern patterns and neutral colors like cream, charcoal, navy and denim.

2. Shop Small

The problem with rule #1 is that much of what is available in mainstream stores is overly bright, glittery and covered in cartoon characters. That’s why it’s better to shop small.

There are literally thousands of “mompreneurs” all across the country who design, sew, and even custom create clothing for little ones. They may not have professional websites or physical storefronts, but the clothing they create is made of higher quality materials, and is incredibly unique, ensuring your toddler is never going to run into another kiddo in the same outfit.

It can be tricky at first to find these little mom and pop shops, but Instagram is a great place to start. Log on and browse through toddler style hashtags like #babystyle #ministyle and #littlefashionista. When you see an outfit you like, tap the photo to see which brands are tagged. The more small shops you follow, the more you’ll discover through their networks.

Here are a few small shops we love to get you started:

June and January

Darling Clementine

Lulu and Roo

Tribe is Alive

Half Pint Kids

Coral and Cloud

3. Stick to Staples, then Accessorize

Shopping small can sometimes be pricey, so it’s important to be strategic with what you buy.

Start with a few staple pieces such as jeans, shorts, a couple of neutral t-shirts or rompers; then accessorize from there. If you keep your toddler’s closet stocked with high quality essentials, you can accessorize with fun, trendy, cheaper things like hats, headbands, suspenders, bows or bibs, and change them out more frequently in keeping with seasonal styles.

4. Choose Shoes

Everyone knows that accessories are what make an outfit, and this could not be truer for toddlers, especially when it comes to shoes. Even the most stylish toddler outfits can be derailed by plastic, Velcro, cartoon-covered sneaks.

Instead, opt for shoes that you would wear as an adult, just in mini size. You pretty much can’t go wrong with Freshly Picked Moccasins, Chankklas Sandals or Tiny TOMS. Combined with a cute hat or headband these adorable kicks take an outfit from “aww” to “OMG.”

5. Be Bold

One of the best parts of dressing toddlers is you can be exceptionally bold. It’s really scary for an adult to try to pull off a trendy jumpsuit if it’s not something they would typically wear. But toddlers get a free pass. They also don’t have to worry about what flatters or doesn’t flatter them – because they’re toddlers and muffin tops and “diaper butts” look cute on them. So use this opportunity to dress adventurously.

One of the key factors in making a toddler look exceptionally stylish is to dress them in something other people aren’t expecting. Everyone expects to see a toddler in a Frozen t-shirt; gladiator sandals and a turban headband – not so much. The bolder you go, the more stylish they look. Distressed denim, oversized head-wraps, leather moccasins, and knee socks are just a couple of this season’s trendy toddler styles to try out.

6. Be Realistic

This is by far the hardest rule to shop by for fashion addicts, but it’s important to be realistic when shopping for a toddler, even a super stylish one. As cute as babies look in cashmere, it’s just not a good idea. One spit up or squished strawberry and $100 dollars goes down the drain.

So while it’s great to buy high quality, fashionable outfits for kids, washable is key, because no kid is stain proof. A good rule of thumb is if it has to be dry-cleaned, waterproofed or protected from inclement weather, it’s probably not a wise choice. Same goes for styles that are difficult to put on and off, have more than a handful of buttons or can’t accommodate quick diaper changes. As much as we love stylish tots, experienced moms know practicality always comes first!

Do you have a stylish toddler? What are your most important rules to shop by?

For more fashion-forward outfits, check out our Children’s Fashion Category!

Photo Credit: Girl in Straw Hat, Girl on Beach and Girl Sweeping by Hannah Richards, Boy in Suspenders by Laura Grinsell, Boy in Suit by Jessica Anne, Boy in Sunglasses and Girl in Moccasins by Danielle Kowalski.



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