Dressing for a special occasion is always exciting; because they are rare it gives us an opportunity to wear things we perhaps normally wouldn’t and make a statement. Special occasions come in a variety of examples, from weddings, to birthday parties, to formal dinners, to bar mitzvahs. Whatever the celebration, an equally exciting and special outfit is required.
Though this applies across all genders, ages, shapes and sizes, it can at times be difficult to dress younger children, especially toddlers, who might not understand or care so much about fashion and styles as slightly older girls do. While it can be great fun to put together a good outfit from head to toe and demonstrate personal style, it’s particularly important when dressing toddlers to prioritise comfort so that they can move around freely without feeling restricted. With that in mind we’ve put together a quick-fix guide to dressing your toddlers for special occasions, categorised by seasons, so you no longer need to worry when it comes to that big day, whatever it may be.
The summer months are still in swing, and with the British summer typically starting late and carrying over into September, there’s still potential yet for brilliant, summery special occasion outfits. However, with warmer weather can also come discomfort and agitation especially in regard to dressing up, not to mention when it includes toddlers. If you’re attending an outside party, for example, it can become very hot and uncomfortable for young children so it’s key to keep them in something that won’t bother them, while still staying on-trend.
It’s best to steer clear of fabrics like tweeds, which are thick and heavy, and opt instead for something lighter and cooler. For example, this light blue dress is the perfect choice for an outdoor wedding or garden party. The gorgeous pastel blue will suit any taste, and can be tailored and accessorised to any style, whether girly and feminine, or more tomboy-ish. The sleeveless cut is also one of the main attractions from a practical perspective; since comfort is key, pieces without sleeves are a must and they’re also way less restrictive. The textured fabric adds a subtle pop of detail that won’t be overwhelming, while the bows on the pockets are an age-appropriate twist of fun.
Similarly, an alternative for those of you looking for something on the girlier side could go for an item like this pastel pink mesh gown. Pastels have been a hit this summer and they exude elegant dreaminess, and the embroidered pink flowers which cover the body of the gown add to the overall effect.
This piece is a great example of where you can have added detail without it becoming too overwhelming, which is pivotal when it comes to dressing temperamental toddlers. Again, a simple shape and sleeveless finish create more simplicity and allow room to move around. The great thing about A-line or puffball skirts is that it always gives the impression of formality and being ‘dressed up’, while still being comfortable and practical.
Burberry Prorsum’s Spring 2014 collection is the perfect pastel inspiration.
On the other hand, winter can sometimes be easier when it comes to styling formal outfits and dressing for special occasions. Loads of us love winter; it’s a time we associate with the festive season and wrapping up in lots of lovely, warm layers. Winter also brings with it a palette of vibrant, rich and beautiful colours that we can implement into our wardrobes, and experiment with especially for special occasions.
Take, for example, this wine-coloured dark red gown.
It’s a classic Christmassy shade that’s perfect for the festive period but also the colder months more generally. Balloon-hemmed sleeves and a skater silhouette are the perfect combination of simple and dramatic so you can take it to whatever level you like. Skater skirts are great for all ages but the balloon sleeves are particularly well-suited to younger girls and provide just a bit of fun. Another tip for dressing toddlers, exemplified by this gown, is sticking to monochromatic looks or outfits that comprise a minimal number of different colours. Simpler really is better with toddlers, and lots of different colours, materials, fabrics and patterns can be overwhelming.
Aside from reds, blues and greens are also staple winter wardrobe musts, and they can even be transitioned into spring and autumn so that you can make the most out of your purchases. This pearl blue gown for example emanates the icy skies and snowy weather but is still light enough to transition into other seasons.
Ideal for weddings or theatre outings, this dress is perfect for girls with big personalities who love getting dressed up. The timeless silhouette is embellished with a silvery metallic motif and a jewelled bow is on each sleeve for a finishing touch.
This Elie Saab pale blue gown demonstrates the trend in action.
The puffball silhouette can be an acquired taste though, so if it’s not your cup of tea opt instead for a straighter skirt but compensate by experimenting with fabric. This emerald green lace dress oozes sophistication and class, and while lace is normally better suited to older girls, the simplicity of the design keeps it appropriate even for toddlers and younger girls. Lace is traditionally feminine and elegant and never goes out of style; it is reinvented and reworked every year so it’s always a good option.
Aside from ball gowns and tea dresses, accessories can always be trusted to bring an outfit together for a big special occasion. Toddlers will certainly not want to be carrying a handbag round with them – it’s just one more thing to get messy or lost! If you’re feeling like adding something extra to an outfit, choose something like a hair band or hair clip. Massively popular with high-end designers in recent seasons, like Simone Rocha and Prada, headbands are both fun and on-trend.
Examples of high end designers’ headbands.
This ivory Alice band with floral embellishment is one way to interpret the trend. With pink and red jewelled flowers and an ivory base, you can mix and match with a whole range of different outfits. Headbands aren’t only for decoration though, they’re also incredibly practical, keeping hair out of the way and maintaining a tidy appearance. With toddlers its best to go minimal on the accessories front, so stick to one thing at a time. For example, if wearing a head band, don’t also pile on jewellery. Less is more.
Whatever it is that you take away from this guide, keep things simple and don’t overcomplicate it. It’s important to remember that toddlers and younger girls probably aren’t that into fashion, so don’t take it too seriously. Having great style says way more than being fashionable since fashion trends come and go, so encourage developing personal style from a young age and remember that it’s the best form of self-expression.
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