Even though I design children’s clothing, I still find it challenging to shop for my children. It’s not always easy to find durable and comfortable clothes that can last for more than a few months. Unfortunately, a size label is not a reliable indication of how well a garment will fit or how long it will last. In fact, there are several reasons why clothing with the same size label can have vastly different lifespans.
Firstly, children come in different shapes. Same height – different proportions. Shorter or longer legs and arms, rounder, or slimmer tummies.
Additionally, there is no industry standard for sizes, and each brand uses measurements typical for their target customer. This means that the same size from different brands will fit differently on the same child.
Furthermore, some brands are producing wider clothing for the same height to fit more customers, as children are getting bigger.
Another factor that affects how long a garment lasts is the fabric. Fabric shrinks in the wash by 5 to 7%, but not every brand includes that allowance in the final pattern. This can result in a garment shrinking after just one wash and becoming too small overnight.
To find clothing that fits your child for longer, it’s important to look beyond the size label and consider how a garment is cut. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Easy to remember. HEAD – SHOULDERS – KNEES – AND TOES… and WAIST – and SIZE (continue to the tune)
HEAD: Look for stretchy necklines that are big enough for independent dressing. Avoid small fastenings as they can be difficult to fasten on small children.
SHOULDERS: Narrow sleeves and small armholes mean a top/dress will last no more than 3 months. Choose garments with wider cut armholes and sleeves, or raglan or dropped shoulder styles, that leave plenty of room for growth.
KNEES: Look for trousers with reinforced knees or apply knee patches as soon as you buy them. Alternatively, attach fusible interfacing to the left side of the trousers in the knee area to extend their lifespan.
TOES: Choose trousers with gathered hems (elastic or jersey rib). Even if the trousers are few centimetres long (and to grow a size up they only need to be 3 cm longer), they will still sit nicely on the ankle.
WAIST: Opt for clothing with an adjustable waistband, such as button elastic in trousers or elasticated waists in skirts. Avoid cords, especially for potty training.
SIZE: Look for clothing with double sizing on the label (e.g. 110/116 or 3-4 years) as single sizing tends to be cut precisely to that size and doesn’t allow much room for growth.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can reduce the amount of clothing that gets small too quickly and save yourself time and money on shopping. Plus, by wearing clothing for longer, you’re helping to reduce textile waste, which is good for the planet.
Elena is the founder of Babbily, a clothing brand that creates durable trousers and leggings that are designed with active children in mind. She has been upcycling and sewing for more than 15 years. Trained as a teacher, Elena has a natural fascination with children’s development and their physical and emotional needs at every stage. When her son was born, she combined these interests to start a brand of children’s wear that is durable, comfortable and gentle on the skin and also sustainably produced.