Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fashion insight from my father

The day before, I had read an article about how some well-to-do parents are dressing up their little ones in designer clothes and how it's justified because they're "age appropriate". I couldn't help rolling my eyes at the thought of three-year-olds in trendy velour track suits with a designer name emblazoned on their tushes. I ended up venting to my father about how ridiculous these parents are, buying their kids Prada flats and Chloe blouses when they would outgrow them in a matter of months and how, when I have children, I would never spoil them that way. My father replied that he hopes I stick with my convictions. Then he told me something that made me rethink the whole issue. He had bought pricey designer wear for my brother and I.
This comment brought my tirade to a halt. Neither of his kids act like spoiled brats (I hope!). I started recalling my dad telling me about the expensive toddler shoes he got for me when I was learning to walk. Then there was the beautiful red coat from kindergarten that sparked my passion for red outerwear. And what about the leather backpack from Japan that my godfather sent me in the fifth grade that I am planning on having restored. I realized that what bothered me wasn't that these children were wearing designer clothing, it was because they were learning to be label conscious.
What my father has taught us is how to appreciate good tailoring and craftsmanship. There's nothing wrong with learning how to look how a shirt is made to determine if it is a sound investment. It's worth it to save for several weeks to purchase one well cut dress that you could wear for years instead of five badly sewn dresses from some discount chain (and probably manufactured in a sweatshop). And its alright to buy cheap clothing, just not cheaply made ones.
I have learned to be aware of labels not because of status, but because of workmanship. Isn't what I'm doing now, with my knitting, striving for even stitches, the right drape, and the perfect yarn, a product of this upbringing? I came to the conclusion that spoiling your kids and teaching them to appreciate the finer things in life are two different things.

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