NEW YORK — Right alongside chocolate bunnies and jellybeans, floral frocks in candy hues are a sign that the Easter season is here.
It’s the season when cooped-up kids can finally go outside, often in their fashion finery, and search for all those colorful eggs. This year, though, the holiday falls early; March 23 is just two days into spring, and could feel more like the end of winter.
Last year’s average temperature in the contiguous U.S. during March was 48.1 degrees, but that was during the second warmest March on record. Even so, it’s not a temperature conducive to lightweight dresses or cute little shirts.
Luckily, the layered look is in this year.
Fight the urge to just throw the heavy down coat on top of the pastel springtime clothes, says Jennifer Smith, fashion director at Cookie magazine. It will take more thought and effort to get the layers right but the result is worth it, especially if photos are involved, she says.
For girls, tissue-thin, long-sleeve T-shirts can go under dresses — and cropped sweaters, cardigans or A-line jackets with a Peter-Pan collar can go on top. They can wear leggings, heavy cable-knit or flat opaque tights in pink or white, or if the weather allows, knee socks are an option.
“Knee socks sounds corny but it looked cute on kids. You probably couldn’t get a boy into them, though,” Smith says.
At a recent unexpectedly cool photo shoot, she experimented with turtlenecks underneath warm-weather clothes but they just looked too wintery, even if they were light colors. She dressed boys in long-sleeve button-down shirts with either sweater vests or little suit-style vests, just not fall-feeling tweeds.
David Hacker, vice president of trend and color at Kohl’s, also likes the sweater vest-shirt combo for boys with khaki pants, while his all-weather suggestion for girls is a long-sleeve wrap dress.
For young ladies who prefer pants, Hacker suggests brown or black pants with a brightly colored long-sleeve T-shirt with a short-sleeve dress shirt or a jumper on top.
Karen Meena, vice president of buying and merchandising for Ron Robinson at Fred Segal, will steer her customers to light colors.
No matter how many layers the children are wearing or if they have on cashmere instead of cotton, they’ll look fresh and at least lighter in attitude if they have on turquoise or pale peach, Meena says.
She thinks her upscale and hip customers will love a girls’ cardigan with a little bow at the collar by Little Marc, the children’s line by Marc Jacobs, and a puff-sleeve dress in a peach-and-pomegranate stripe by Ella Moss.
She adds: “You can still be warm in dusty pink instead of the cranberry red color you wore at holiday.”
Whether boys like it or not, many parents like to see their
children in a junior version of their own clothes and that might mean a blazer. An unconstructed modern blazer by Little Marc could be a compromise, she says.
For girls, Disney is emphasizing lavender and a “liquid-metal” look accomplished through metallic thread. Pink is still No. 1 for girls but purple is moving up there, while light blue actually sells well for both girls and boys, says Amy Hauk, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Disney Store.
Spring colors do lend themselves more to girls’ clothes, notes Cookie’s Smith, but crisp navy or even a light blue worn with white looks great on little boys. But she’s wary of clothes that turn kids into human Easter eggs. “I like making the kids look more interesting with interesting colors, maybe a gorgeous coral or a jellybean green. You put that with whites and little florals, it all won’t look so saccharine,” she says.
This spring, J. Crew’s Crewcuts collection favors a slightly acid pastel palette that strikes the right balance between cool kid and traditionalist parent, Smith adds. Between working with child models and dressing her own 8-year-old son, Smith says she is well aware that children have their own opinions about their wardrobe.
Meena agrees. “For kids, the fashion trends aren’t so extreme. Kids want to be comfortable and parents want them to wear it. … It’s about being practical and stylish.”