Children often have noticeably distinct likes and dislikes about clothing styles as early as their toddler years, when they first learn to take socks off and on and pull zippers up and down. Parents may wish to encourage their children to begin making some clothing choices when they begin showing interest to encourage their independence and confidence. When it comes to children’s clothing, it is important to remember feel, fit, function, and fashion.
Children may have very specific preferences when it comes to the feel of their clothing, whether it is a matter of style or fabric. Children with special needs in particular may prefer to wear handmade clothing or tag-less clothing, because some types of seams and labels can be so irritating to their highly developed sense of touch.
As children grow older, their preferences become stronger, and they are more likely to insist on picking their own clothing. By the time most children reach 12, they will most likely prefer to pick out their own clothing with only minor guidance from their parents.
Clothing styles for children vary from season to season and will change according to purpose. Bulkier fabrics, structured cuts, and richer colours are common in the cooler months. Lightweight fabrics, flowing cuts, and bright or pastel colors are more common in the warmer months. Clothing varies not just according to season but also according to function: Children may wear a school uniform, play clothes at home, and athletic gear for sports.
Clothing styles also change from country to country. While Western fashions are commonly seen around the world, individual countries often retain traditional styles or elements of dress for religious, cultural, and social reasons.
Cultural elements reflected in clothing can include the wearer’s social standing, income, age or marital status, or religious beliefs. Amish and Muslims both wear religiously significant clothing, while Japanese Kimonos once reflected the wearers’ wealth and place in society. Colours, fabrics, styles, and decorations can all be used to signify various cultural elements.
While some cultures may only wear traditional dress on special or religious occasions, others wear traditional clothing styles alongside Western styles. Western fashions have been inspired by other cultures’ styles as well, incorporating tribal patterns, colours, and lines into their runway designs.