When you were a kid, mom and dad most likely threw you in a pair of Garanimals (or anything clean, corduroy and avocado green) and called it a day. Oh, how times have changed. These days, toddlers are rocking the playground styled from H to T in fashionable frocks that would rival any runway. How can you hope to keep up?  With tips like these, from local celeb stylist Estee Stanley.

Estee Stanley With-Kids

There has been a meteoric rise lately of children’s fashion blogs, like the incredibly popular and totally addictive, Ladys and Gents. We chatted with founder Estee Stanley, to see why pint-sized style is now so much more than merely “matching monkeys to monkeys.”

Red Tricycle: Besides being an uber-talented stylist to some of Hollywood’s biggest fashion icons like Jessica Biel and Lea Michelle, an interior designer, as well as a busy LA mom of two, what inspired you to start your children’s fashion blog, Ladys & Gents?

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Estee Stanley: I’ve been a stylist for so many years and always into fashion. Once I became a mother, I just naturally became obsessed with children’s clothing and found myself scouring sites for adorable pieces. I wanted to share that interest with other moms. There really weren’t any blogs showcasing kids’ fashion to the world, so I thought showing pictures of different types of kids wearing cute clothing would give moms an opportunity to see what other children are wearing and inspire their picks. I’m glad I can offer that.

RT: Kids’ fashion blogs have taken off like crazy over the last couple years. Why do you feel they’ve become so addictive for readers?

ES: On a basic level, because people love cute kids. When you see an adorable child, you can’t help but smile. These sites are inflicting that warm feeling within readers. Plus, much of the clothing is so stylish that we would want it as adults.

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RT: When a parent submits a photo of their child to Ladys & Gents for consideration, what makes a picture really special?

ES: A picture that allows the kid’s personality to shine and showcases different ways to style what typically could be a basic wardrobe piece. When the images are clean and the child looks like they enjoy what they’re wearing, it makes the clothing stand out. We’ve had submissions from readers that really have fun with it. Sassy faces, cute poses. The kids love it as much as the parents.

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RT: How can parents best encourage their tots to develop their own joyful sense of style even at a very young age?

ES: Obviously you can lead and influence them because you’re the one buying the clothes – you’re directing your kids’ sense of style – but you should let them express themselves and pick out what they want to wear. If they start dressing like a maniac, then maybe share with them how to best piece items together, or reinforce them when they do a great job picking out clothes.

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RT: Do you have any tips for dressing little ones tres chic without blowing through their college fund in the process?

ES: Mix high and low pieces. It’s common that people will get hand-me-downs from family or friends for their kids. These pieces can act as a basis for adding new items to a little one’s wardrobe, and it gives you the opportunity to splurge on some pricier pieces. Places like Zara and H&M do a good job of offering style at an affordable price.

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RT: What are some of your go-to shops for fab kids’ clothing?

ES: I like Zara, Bonpoint, J.Crew, and Flora and Henri.

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RT: Do you have any great style tips for kiddos for anything from a casual park playdate at Coldwater Canyon to a bit dressier family dinner at Cecconi’s?

ES: If you’re planning on being out all day at a playdate and then going to dinner afterwards, think about what pieces translate well for both occasions. Instead of jeans and Crocs, think khaki pants and loafers. A plain t-shirt is good for play and can be covered up by a button down for evening wear. Similarly for girls, a casual cotton dress can always be dressed up with a cardigan.

RT: As a busy mom yourself, what advice do you have for fellow moms who don’t have time to go full glam, but who’d still like to look stylish while running around town?

ES: Class up your basics. You can dress up jeans and a cute t-shirt with a blazer, low heels and one or two accessories. You’ll look polished and not frumpy and unkempt. You won’t suffer from sore feet either. Too high of a heel is asking for trouble. Another option is a knee-length dress or maxi dress with low heels or feminine sandals. The length is good for playing with your kids without being uncomfortable.

RT: In addition to everything else you have going on, you’ve also recently partnered with Jessica Biel to open a unique LA restaurant for parents and their kiddos call Au Fudge. Can you give us any scoop on the concept and when we can look forward to the opening?

ES: Hopefully in the next 6–8 months in West Hollywood. It came from the idea based on me as a parent, and my girlfriends not wanting to go to play spaces that were visually unappealing, utterly chaotic, don’t teach kids anything and only serve mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. I felt like there wasn’t a place that combined both worlds, where parents wanted to be and kids were still having fun. So I decided to create a healthy, all-organic restaurant that parents will love and that acts as a play center for kids.

To check out Estee Stanley’s blog or submit your small-fry fashionista for consideration, please visit ladysandgents.com.

What styling tips make your lives easier when it comes to dressing your tikes (or yourself)? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

– Jennifer O’Brien

Photo Credit: Ladys & Gents