Some kids used the lockdown to express themselves through fashion
By Jill Carter
Fashion has likely been the least of most parents’ concern during the pandemic. However, for style-conscious kids, keeping up with trends and creating their own (thanks to Instagram feeds) has been a welcome distraction from the chaos of the world around them.
Many children have taken this opportunity to use fashion as a way to express themselves in ways they couldn’t when they attended school in person. In those predistance-learning days, uniforms or dress codes may have prevented them from taking creative liberties.
Nine-year-old Sophia Mayer Pliner is an actress who has used her IG feed to uplift and inspire through the lens of fashion. She’s played around with everything from hippie flower-girl looks to country and western flair. Even her masks are stylish. She waxes philosophical about her relationship to fashion. “Fashion feels better when you feel good on the inside,” she says. Fashion, to her, is “being a magical unicorn” and not minding what other people say about your style choices. “Looking good,” she says, “makes everyone good.”
My seventh-grade daughter Elle has used this time to express her personal style slightly more than she ordinarily would at her traditional Catholic school. Graphic tees, fun hair accessories and blue-light glasses are gracing Zoom classrooms everywhere.
How do parents feel about enhanced forms of self-expression in their kids—especially since fashion is often looked upon as materialism—in the middle of graver concerns? Some parents appreciate their children’s abilities to focus on something as lighthearted as fashion to get a break from the seriousness of everything else going on around them.
“Our children are under tremendous pressure during this pandemic,” says Tiffiny Blacknell, mother of three children ages 6, 9 and 13. “They have been called upon to adjust to their new reality in an instant. They are expected to learn and thrive in this new environment. Clothing is the least of my concern. Let’s hope that in the midst of this global catastrophe, our children find space for creativity and joy.”
She continues: “If my children express the desire to exhibit their personal style, why should I deny them?”
This has also been an interesting time for designers who’ve had to quickly pivot to create pieces that are aligned with the times. We have seen more relaxed and casual clothes for kids. The name of the game is comfort! Susanna Carlow, a shoe designer from Blowfish Malibu says, “Fashion is all about having fun and is an easy medium to express creativity. During quarantine, we’ve all had this extra time away from the ‘outside world,’ yet we still wanted to be connected to each other.
“People have started to put more time in putting thought in what they wear, whether it’s going out to get essentials or what they are posting on social media,” she says. “Pieces that I think are essential (and fashionable) while we’re in the midst of quarantine are a pair of fun sneakers, some comfortable indoor/outdoor slipper-type shoes and a durable Chelsea-type boot with a lug bottom that you can easily slip in and off.
While fashion for kids (and all of us) has been a bit more relaxed during quarantine, Ursula Bensimon, founder of Bensimon Models, predicts a change post pandemic. “We expect to see kids take on more high-fashion looks once the pandemic comes to a close— really getting into their personal style in a way they have not had a chance to during the pandemic,” she says.
Jill Carter is an attorney, mother of two and writer in L.A.