Emily Henderson

Let's Play Dress Up

Our Favorite 48 Pieces for A Toddler Girl’s Complete Wardrobe

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Playing dress up might not be the reason that you had kids, but it was in the top five…. AMIRIGHTTTT??? My best friend in LA, Corbett, has the coolest, hippest dressed 2-year-old daughter, in a unpretentous way. She just always look so fun, comfortable and strangely fashion forward. So, I tasked Corbs with curating a 48 piece wardrobe for her daughter (which Elliot will inherit, obviously). You should also know that Corbett and I dress almost identically – it was funny the first time we both showed up to a restaurant wearing identical outfits, but by the 10th, it was proof that we would be good (and bad) fashion influences on each other. So, if you like my style, you’ll like hers. And since she is also a very good/hilarious writer she not only pulled together this roundup buy also wrote this post, too. Win, win, WIN for me (and you). Take it away, Corbs.

Why can’t I dress a mini-me in a secretary shirt without a fight? It makes me wonder what kind of hell a fashion blogger goes through to stuff their children into those clothes? I mean, I thank Disney every. single. day. that Elsa wears a cape, because I have gotten a lot of mileage out of an adorable “Elsa-like” cape.

Point being . . .

You get ONE golden shot at throwing together the perfect ensemble, you gotta get it right the first time because there are no redo’s with a toddler. So how do you get through the nightmare that is dressing a little nestling? Stick to neutrals on the major pieces, and bring in the whimsy with colorful ears, a hat, a wild printed harem pant, or striped tights, so the outfit is not too serious. This roundup is a one-stop-shop of mixable pieces that you can nail in the first try, and they are all budget friendly and you’ll get a lot of use out of them on your little rugrat. 

Corbett Fashion_Girls_Grid

Hats: 1. Navy Beret | 2. Yellow Beanie | 3. Wide Brimmed Hat

Tops: 4. Striped Yellow Peplum | 5. White Blouse | 6. Striped T-Shirt | 7. Blue Shirt | 8. Navy Blazer | 9. Chambray Shirt | 10. Black Jacket | 11. Yellow Cardigan | 12. White Tunic | 13. Striped Dress | 14. Grey Cape | 15. Green Striped Shirt | 16. Blue Shirt | 17. Yellow Dress | 18. Grey Dress

Bottoms: 19. Blue Shorts | 20. Skinny Jeans | 21. Pleated Skirt | 22. Pants with Suspenders | 23. Plaid Skirt | 24. Sequin Pants | 25. Navy Quilted Skirt | 26. Black Leggings | 27. Rainbow Skirt | 28. Black Skirt | 29. Striped Shorts | 30. Grey Skirt

Shoes: 31. Black Mary Janes | 32. Gold Boots | 33. Purple Clogs | 34. Leather Sandals | 35. Hunter Rainboots | 36. Blue Ballet Flats | 37. Silver Loafers | 38. Leather Sandals | 39. Gold Oxfords | 40. Black Boots | 41. Yellow Sandals | 42. Brown Boots

Accessories: 43: Leggings | 44. Heart Sunglasses | 45. Polka Dot Tights | 46. Striped Tights | 47. Striped Navy Tights | 48. Cat Ears

Almost everything here is curated to be mixed and matched – we’ve done the work for you so you can sit back and google how to convince your child that a meal is just a REALLY big snack.

Let’s take one of my favorites, like (#12). I’ll never recover from not having one in my size. Pair it with the gold boots (#32), and tie in the gold shoes with some gold ears (#48) and your toddler will go from librarian to barbarian in two seconds. Take (#16) and pair it with (#22), (FYI, the shirt comes from a Spanish website that has an English translation button. Don’t be intimidated. You have to go down unfamiliar roads sometimes in search of the perfect outfit for your child. We are solving world hunger here. Do what you have to do!). Now, brighten it up with some fun yellow shoes (#41), or the rose-gold oxfords (#39) and if it’s chilly, add “Elsa’s cape” (#14).  For that matter, put the cape with everything! Even if your kid is sweaty and listless. It’s worth it.  Please ditch those crocs in favor of wooden clogs (#36). Just do it. Elsa does…probably. And a tip: Rain boots (#35) unexpectedly elevate almost any ensemble rain or shine. Put them with (#19) and (#7) for “jumping in muddy puddles.” Change into (#37) or (#31) while the rain boots are drying.

A good rule of thumb is “would I wear this?” OR “would my husband hate me if I wore this?”  If the answer is no, then for the love of Pinterest, don’t buy it. You know . . . unless its striped leggings that would make me look like a clown that escaped from the state hospital, but looks like a magazine ad on my toddler. But that “Frozen” hoodie that you passed up at Toys R Us? Keep walking . . . unless she has a meltdown in which case do what parents do best in public when your kid is throwing a tantrum – anything. Literally. ANYTHING.

*And for all of you who are wishing this were for toddler boys – stay tuned, she is prepping that one now.

**In case you didn’t catch it, that post was written by Corbett, my best friend and child style guru.

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  1. I also swear by having what is basically a capsule wardrobe for mytoddler. Tops can have patterns but bottoms must be a solid color (and dark, because who wants to see the outline of a diaper?)

    At our house anything with a cat on it also helps get dressed in the morning without tantrums. Cat dresses are the only way I can get my daughter to wear something girly (she also has one adorable black hello kitty skirt)!

    Btw I had the exact same clogs (in cherry red!) circa 1979…

  2. I just finished reading Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (unless I’m having a brain fart and messed up her first name), and this collection totally reminds me of the little girl in it. It’s an adorable collection and has a decidedly French flair!

  3. Please, please please minimize the “lifestyle” posts. I came here for design…..most of the blog posts are lacking content (and editing) lately, but the few design posts are the lackingest.

        1. Thanks for the genius suggestion. That aside, I’m sure Emily is perfectly capable of taking feedback and deciding what she wants to do with it.

    1. Disagree. Like this post. There is an amazing little X in the top right corner that means you don’t HAVE to read any blog post you don’t like.

      1. by the same token, you aren’t required to read every comment.

        anyways, everyone should feel entitled to express their opinion.

        a spectrum exists, meaning that one can appreciate and respect emily, enjoy coming to her blog for a variety of reasons, and still feel compelled to comment on what they liked or disliked about the content.

    2. I actually have to agree, the toddler clothing is so off brand I really don’t understand how it made it’s way onto your content calendar.

      1. Off brand? Booo! I work in advertising but I like blogs to be personal. Remember when bloggers used to just talk about what interested them? I’m down for whatever Emily feels like talking about, because I like Emily!

    3. agreed, I skip at least half the posts every week and the ones tagged as design are lacking.

      This is so far from the Emily of Brass Petal days.

  4. Agreed that most of these are adorable, but I’d make a few changes before applying to my kid:

    – Shoes. Keep the comfortable and stable sandals (#41, MAYBE #34), and replace most of the cute shoes with sneakers. Cute sneakers, sure, but sneakers that you can run and jump in.

    – Replace the skirts with shorts (or, for a girlier girl, with skorts). I want my kid climbing trees and playground equiment.

    – More dark colors – they stain less. :)

    I want my kid to be cute while also being curious, adventurous, and able to throw herself full-body into what she’s doing without worrying about the limitations of her clothes. SImilar to what I’d want my boy-kid to care about, for that matter. Cute is good, but it’s not the only end goal.

    1. I’ll second on the sneakers need. This look is decidedly Parisian (sans the gold kitty ears, and, well actually the whole accessories section), lived there five months recently, worked as a nanny. The Parisian children are beautifully dressed (partly because that’s all the parents buy) but the shoes are decidedly pragmatic. There is still a lot of skirt wearing, but maybe that’s because it’s winter and the girls are also wearing tights.

      Number 37 (silver shoes) might be worn to a West End matinee though. Went to a showing of Matilda, the dressed up girls wore ballet flats in pink, purple, and silver, mostly glittered/sequined.

      1. Oh, and those gorgeous oxfords just won’t cut it for the toddlers (though the five year olds might wear them). Toddlers apparently prefer ankle support.

    2. I totally agree. My three year old lives in leggings & (usually striped) tunics – fashionable, comfy, easy potty training. Love skorts & sundresses (with bike shorts if necessary) for warmer weather. Shoes need to be comfy & easy to get on & off. That said, she gets compliments daily on her clothes.

      And most of our clothes, maybe 80% are well curated handmedowns or secondhand. The well curated is important :)

  5. I cannot even tell you how excited I am for the boy version. I swear that clothes designers put so much less thought into making cute boys’ clothes! A boy can’t wear a graphic t every day!

    1. I can’t speak to the quality of the clothing, but we bought 2 lamps from there when we were building our house (40% of the cost of buying them in store…) and they came, on time, and look good and work well. So – potentially too good to be true, but not always!

    2. It completely depends on the item. I’ve got some really great stuff, and some not so great stuff. It’s so inexpensive though, its usually worth the try!

      1. Corbett buys virtually EVERYTHING from ali express. I haven’t done it yet but she swears by it. It is suspiciously cheap and we both wonder how things are getting made …. but then she gets these things for like 75% off what you’d pay for it here and its the EXACT same thing coming from the same place so maybe its all just as good/bad to buy and it is just cutting out the middle man?

          1. My impression is that it’s about as ethical as buying from Gap or Old Navy or any other mass manufacturer… it’s sourced from the same place, cutting out the middle man.

            It’s kind of like buying chicken for 99 cents per pound at the grocery store. Of COURSE those chickens were raised in horrible conditions. The same condition as when it’s priced 6$/lb, in fact. You have to look at a different producer (or change legislation) for the conditions to change. Paying more for the same product doesn’t magically make it more ethical.

    3. It’s definitely worth giving the practices of Ali Express a closer look. Very often, the piece that’s so cheap on that site has been knocked off from a smaller, independent design shop. From time to time, the site also illustrates their wares with photos of children stolen from Facebook and Instagram. A friend of mine was horrified to find pictures of her child on there several times. (Not to mention the question of who is making the clothes, but that’s a pretty pervasive issue!)

      It can be very damaging and frustrating for the designers and the parents of the kids in the photos, as taking legal action can be very expensive.

      I definitely didn’t think about these issues the first few times I bought from there; a friend brought it to my attention. I thought it might be helpful to do the same here. I saw a few things in this list that I know are knockoffs, because I recognize the original. I try to buy direct from the brand now, usually on sale. (I am an ace sale shopper!)

      All of this said, your friend’s style is absolutely impeccable. I wish my kiddos were still a bit littler (and not obsessed with sports clothes) so I could emulate her effortless combos.

    4. I buy a ton of clothes for my toddler on Aliexpress. Only twice did the item not arrive. I opened a dispute and I was refunded immediately. It’s really a great way to pad a wardrobe with cute inexpensive pieces.

  6. I loved dressing up my daughter when she was a toddler. She had a suede leather jacket that was just rad. I squeezed her into that thing until it burst at the seams. The cute dresses….and and and…
    it was a sad day at our house when she became a teenager and wouldn’t want to wear any of the clothes I bought *sigh* So enjoy while it lasts….

  7. I offered my 6 year old daughter a navy blue blazer once and she said “What do you think I am, a lawyer?” Cracked me up!

        1. Yay, Maggie! I don’t understand why people think it is okay to be so unpleasant! Just scroll past a post you don’t care for. It is simple.

  8. These are so cute. I wish my feisty girl would have let me dress her. She insisted on doing it herself since forever. Generally we’d head out with a leotard, boots and some sweet tats she gave herself with washable marker. It’s much better now, but she definitely has her own fashion sense. There are some cute clothes that she would never wear as well as some really weird combos! Does anyone else deal with that?

    1. Yes! Times two! I try to get clothes that mostly work together, and am learning to enjoy the creativity, but the multiple outfit changes are the worst- I’ve decided in future to get just three tops, three bottoms, and two dresses per girl so I’m not putting away a mountain of clothes each day.

  9. All yours for the low price of $1300+ (sorry, I had to the math here). Sure, this is what we’d all love our little girls to wear, but how many of us can spend over $1,000 on a 2 year old’s wardrobe? My budget is about $100 per season, per kid (I have a 5 year old girl and a 3 year old boy).

    1. The stuff is really really cute though. Just saying, price-wise, it wouldn’t work for me. Also, my daughter wouldn’t wear half of it. Why do they have to have opinions?? :-) She hates dresses, dress shoes, skirts, and button down shirts. Thankfully her school has a uniform, so it’s strictly polo shirts and shorts/pants for her almost everyday. It does make it easier.

      1. I feel like you could find similar pieces for much cheaper. Especially denim shirts. Thrift stores are awesome for kids clothing. Especially if you find one in a wealthy neighborhood where the adults don’t mind paying $$ for things their kids will wear for less than a year. This is great inspiration for a toddler wardrobe though :).

  10. Those cat ear hair clips! My daughter would have loved them. By the time she was two she would only allow clothes with picture of cats or dogs on them to be placed on her body. This would be easy now, but back then (22 years ago) it was quite a challenge! Even though I don’t have little one any more, I loved this post!

  11. When I first saw the wardrobe photos I thought the title of the post was “How to dress your child like she’s French.” Adorable but not terribly practical with all the buttoning & ironing most of these clothes need. I do love the yellow saltwater sandals: I wore those when I was little and have a pair now too, affordable and well made. If you are going to highlight children’s style, I would like to see attention on sustainable materials, organic, and locally made to be passed down, rather than trendy “cheap” sweat-shop manufactured garments.

    1. We actually have some of those ideas coming, too. The drawback with that is those clothes are EXPENSIVE (worth it and I feel good about how they are made, but expensive nonetheless) so its just trying to please/appease different people. I personally like to mix and the older Charlie gets the more i don’t mind spending a tiny bit more, but when they are young, grow so fast and destroy their clothes its so hard to justify too much money on the wardrobe. I think by 2 he’s even starting to be able to wear something for 6 months so that’s good.

      1. Thank you for the follow up Emily! I know sustainable choices are more expensive but there is something to be said for sticking with your values (especially as a style expert) and going towards a less is more approach to consumption. Also, since the quality of those garments is much higher there is the ability to buy them second hand and/or pass them down for your second child or trade among family & friends. Plus promoting the companies are going this direction shines a spotlight on them & encourages more entrepreneurs in sustainable industry.

  12. Please do one for grownups! Pleaaaase. I know that a lot of capsule wardrobe series exist, but I want to see Corbett’s take!

    1. Ok, second, third + fourth that idea!!! Capsule wardrobe concept x Emily/Corbett’s style (which IS why we’re here) = magical. I’d actually love to see something like that a couple of times a year for us 4-seasons kinda girls…nothing worse than trying to look great in under-20 deg weather!

      Oh, and if you find any of those cute little girl things in actual girl sizes, please advise immediately! :)

    2. I second this! Even though my kids are now teenagers, I think this post is adorable. I, too, would love to see Corbett’s take for adults.

  13. Beautiful pieces! But I have to say: what toddler owns 12! pairs of shoes/boots!? When they grow so fast that any pair can be worn no more than six-eight months, that means that you would have to buy 90-120 pairs of shoes before they start school! First of all: environment impact. And secondly: economy. I live in Norway. Here a decent pair of shoes/boots for children (even one year olds) cost 60-85 $. Multiply that with 12 and you would spend more than 700 $ a year just on toddler shoes (if you have only one child). I love the inspiration, but keeping it real would make a post like this more interesting. Best regards from mother of three in Norway.

  14. White obviously these clothes are all super cute and adorable, I think it’s unrealistic for parents to buy their kids 48 pieces of clothing. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want the pleasure of washing and ironing all of these delicate clothes that are going to get stained and ruined rather quickly. I’d rather just invest in a bunch of cute leggings and tshirts, and a couple cute outfits for church. One pair of shoes for play, and another for church.

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

    1. People! No one is saying you MUST buy these things. I can’t afford most of the furniture that Emily (and staff) showcases, but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy looking at them!

  15. Not going to lie, when the doctor said “it’s a girl” I did a little happy dance for all the costume changes I will get to see her in. (Yes, we call our wardrobe costumes and I’m perfectly okay with that).

    Also, I’ve noticed that girls have best of both worlds. They can totally rock all the girly stuff but I find myself venturing over to the boys section too. Adventure tee with fancy turban- done and done.

    Cute post!

  16. Love, love, love this!! The look is exactly on par with how well your team executes home styling, and I’m not surprised to see it pervade your new world of Mom-ing to a little lady. I play this same game, and near exact same style, when it’s realistic with my 3-year-old. One crucial addition that I fully realize is special occasion wear but you’ll eat it up: Label Jane. You’ll find it on Instagram and don’t blame me. Enjoy!

  17. OMG I need to get those cat ears for my four-year-old daughter.

    Some of these are super cute but some are impractical (for my constantly active girl anyway). She would fall flat on her face if she wore those clogs. I like to dress her a bit more colorfully than some of these items. Boden is my favorite store but no way could I afford to exclusively shop there. I also really like Olive Juice, Tea Collection, and the ubiquitous Hanna Andersson. Zulily is pretty great, too.

  18. Love!! Can’t wait for the boy version. Can you pretty please do a post for women as well? I love your style blog posts, Emily!

  19. I don’t have kids or even friends with kids – AND I LOVED THIS POST. Gorgeous clothes and brilliant witty writing. A perfect guest post, thanks Emily :)

  20. Hi Emily and team,
    I am a really big, ol loyal fan and reader, have always posted positive and supportive comments…. when Charlie came along, there was a lot of feedback on too many baby posts, but personally I liked the updates on your family, guess because its like I know you through your blog… BUT this one… hey I can pinterest kids clothes anyday… sorry but this post really struck out with me… (still loving your design, team and work through, keep up the great work in that respect).

    1. Yes! I’m childless but love this post as inspiration for my own grownup wardrobe :) I think this post totally fits the STYLE part of the stylebyemilyhenderson brand. Our homes aren’t the only things that we want to look good.

  21. I loved this post! I would love to see more of these with matching brother clothes potentially (I have a 3 year old girl and a 1 year old boy).

  22. Love this post! I can’t wait for the one for boys – I am always looking for inspiration for dressing my son and I particularly appreciate the range of stores and prices included :)