The lovely Susan writes:
I love your site because I hate shopping and you basically do it for me!
I’ve got a problem I need help with. My 4-year-old daughter has nothing to wear on Christmas day. I cannot find a simple, holiday dress for her. I know – I’m waiting until the last minute. Still, what is the deal? We don’t like frilly, tulle-y, satiny things around here. We like plain and simple, but pretty. Her dress last year came from Land’s End and it was just a plain, red, velvety dress – tank-like at the top, to the shins with a princess waist. They’ve let me down this year, though, as they have nothing we like. I have found one or two possibles, but they’re way expensive – especially for a one- or two-time wear.
Can you help???
(I just realized while typing this that I’ve landed my dream job—I shop for other people. It’s always fun to come to work, if you’re me!) Anyway, yes! Yes, Susan, I think I can help.
Here’s the thing about cute stuff for girls between the toddler sizes and, say, junior sizes: Bring your blood pressure medication. I mean, we all sat around, when everyone was having babies, and talked about how much fun it is to dress little girls. So much better than shopping for a boy! So many choices!
Once your daughter grows larger than about a 3T, the choices quickly become skanky and skankier. And the prices are ridiculous. It turns out that many of us are not willing to spend more money on our preschoolers’ clothes than we spend on our own clothes. Go figure!
I find holiday clothing a particularly good illustration of this problem. The choices are generally either too grown-up, too expensive, or both. And—I’ll just apologize to people who like little girls in black, right now—the proliferation of black as a suitable color for toddlerwear just weirds me out. They are children. They don’t need anything slimming or swanky, so why not let them enjoy some color?
[Aside: My daughter is nearly 10 and I just this season let her get a black velvet dress. She was beside herself with joy to have the black embargo lifted, finally.]
Ahem. Sorry about that—I tend to go off on this subject.
My overall suggestion for you, Susan, is that you scope out any local thrift or consignment stores you may have in your area. One of the really nice things about buying second-hand (aside from the price, of course!) is that often you’ll find the older styles of stuff, which—to me, at least—are often vastly preferable. Especially with something like a fancy outfit, which probably wasn’t worn much, you’re likely to find something in great condition on the cheap.
Susan is correct, though, that the usual haunts were a disappointment this year. I checked Lands’ End, LL Bean, and The Children’s Place—three of my go-to locations—and found nothing I liked. How depressing. The one place I often frequent that I did see a few possibilities was Target, though even there I suspect many of the choices will be too frou-frou for what Susan is seeking. Also look at Kohls in the girls’ dresses—I see a few Youngland and Sophie Rose brand dresses that I think you might like, all under $20.
And here are two specific suggestions, since you like it when I shop for you, and maybe one of them will tickle your fancy.
If casual is okay, the best bargain I found is this snowflake velour dress at Crazy8. It’s marked down to $14.99 and they offer free shipping. It’s not very dressy, but she can also wear it all winter long and the price is certainly right.
My favorite find was at the big Hanna Andersson Sale, which I have been avoiding because I love Hanna Andersson so deeply that I will spend money I shouldn’t, there. Anyway, their little red dress is simple but gorgeous, and it’s currently half-price at $24. I’ll have you know that I generally consider $24 more than I would spend on such an item, but I make an exception for Hanna items because—if you wanted to—you could buy that dress, use it this Christmas, and then turn around and sell it on eBay for what you paid, next year. Seriously. Hannas hold their value like crazy, so I do use that to justify spending a little more, sometimes. Just something to consider.
Good luck, Susan! Please do tell me what you end up getting!