High-priced style not only for adults

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:48 p.m.

As a grown woman, it's odd to be jealous of a child who doesn't have all of her teeth yet and probably still wets the bed. Yet, I'm envious of the little girl who gets to own the toddler-sized Dolce & Gabbana pants I spotted on Barneys.com last month. Their kaleidoscopic print of oranges, lemons and white citrus blossoms made me do a double-take. So did the $520 price tag.

Parents buying pricey clothes for kids isn't shocking in our celebrity-obsessed, retail-centric culture. Think US Weekly and their ilk tracking babies from Celine-covered bump to label-loving tween. There's even a blog (Suricruisefashion.blogspot.com) devoted to the outfits of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' 7-year-old. And there's no shortage of analysis whenever the Obama daughters step out in J. Crew.

Mini regalia lets well-heeled moms and dads display wealth, too. After all, if little Olive or Aiden gets driven to preschool in a Mercedes SUV, a tot-sized Lanvin skirt ($1,185) might not seem ridiculous. And as youngsters get older and more status-conscious, having the “right” brands can help them fit in.

Kids grow out of clothes quickly and they're hard on them, which is why parents often find high-end children's garments absurd.

“My second-grader spends most of his time skidding on his knees,” says Brook Lancaster, 35, a Falls Church, Va., mother of four. “He doesn't care what brand he wears.”

Maybe, then, we should teach kids to mix high and low. If your 3-year-old daughter pines for sparkly jewels, let her run wild in the accessories section at Forever 21. And if you're intent on creating an under-5 fashionista, check out designer resale stores. The Purple Goose in Alexandria, Va., recently had a pint-sized Burberry jacket (original price $400) marked at $80.

Now, that sounds both sensible and stylish.

Little ones? Keep sticker shock low

Your little one will look cute, whether you spend big bucks or not. Here are some aww-worthy clothes at levels both blingy and bargain, sorted from high to low.

• $258: Baby Dior classic five-pocket jeans in white (Barneys.com)

• $155: Oscar de la Renta garden-print romper (Bergdorf goodman.com)

• $95: Burberry boys' mini Rex oversized gingham shirt (Bloomingdales.com)

• $36: J. Crew boys' secret wash short-sleeve medium gingham shirt (Jcrew.com)

• $30: Smocked daisy romper (Gap.com)

• $13: Cuffed jeans for baby in white wash (Oldnavy.gap.com)

Holley Simmons is a writer for The Washington Post.

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