DoSayGive’s Guide to Classic Children’s Clothing

classic children's clothing

I’m thrilled to finally publish an extensive guide to my favorite sources for classic children’s clothing and shoes . I get asked all the time about my favorite children’s shoes, affordable brands, and appropriate clothing for older girls. For this reason, this guide will live permanently under the SHOP tab on DoSayGive’s homepage and be updated seasonally with some of my favorite finds in all price points. Be sure to browse the entire post for some precious spring finds. And please share your favorite sources in the comment section because I am sure I missed some (and I love to learn about new brands!). 

(Top photo: dress is custom from Red Beans, shoes are Footmates, socks from Hip Hip Hooray Dallas)


Why do I prefer classic children’s clothing?

First, I believe children are only children once. Their preciousness and innocence is short-lived and I want to savor every bit of it while I can. Timeless clothing helps me to do that. Dress children like children…not like mini adults.

Bonnet and swimsuit from The Beaufort Bonnet Company

Second, I want people notice my children first, not the clothes they are wearing. That’s why I don’t dress my babies in loud or overpowering attire, or things with characters or pop culture references. I prefer clothing that accentuates a child’s sweet demeanor rather than diminishes it.

On that note, and third, we all reflect the clothes we are wearing (which is why we dress up for interviews!). If I dress my girls in sassy clothing I can guarantee it will so much for natural for them to put their hands on their hips and act sassy. I don’t need any more of that in my house!

Custom Alice Kathleen dress. Photo: Ali Wood Photography

What makes clothing “classic”?

Generally a soft or simple color palette, clean lines, and simple designs. Children who were dressed in classic clothing will never look back upon childhood photos and ask, “why did my mother dress me in that!?” 

Signatures of classic children’s clothing include (but are limited to): smocking, shadow embroidery, liberty and other small floral prints, and gingham, eyelet, seersucker in the summer . Daygowns (babies), jon jons and button-ons (boys), bubbles (babies) and pinafores (girls) are hallmarks of classic children’s clothing clothing. 

Is classic clothing always expensive? 

No. Of course it can be, but once you know what to look for (see above) you will start noticing timeless-looking pieces at Target Old Navy. I have found some precious things below. 

Dresses from Hip Hip Hooray Dallas; Photo: Beckley & Co.



Whether you are interested in special occasion dresses, nightgowns, shoes, trunk shows, or budget play clothes, you will find my favorite brands listed below and where you can find online. Of course you local children’s boutiques can be your best friend when searching for the right outfits and accessories for your children, especially when it comes to coordinating. Even if you don’t have a local boutique, you can shop many on their Instagram feeds and they will ship the clothes right to you! Several of the dresses in this post are from Hip Hip Hooray in Dallas. 

Lullaby Set Daygown

Baby Layette and Baby/Toddler:

Florence Eiseman from Hip Hip Hooray Dallas – note the matching purse!

Favorite Online Sources for Boys and Girls Classic Clothing

(Note: many of these are also in fine boutiques!)

  • Neiman Marcus – Tucked into their children’s selections you will find some classic brands often found at boutiques. Like this Luli & Me line that I love. Better yet they often go on sale!
  • The Beaufort Bonnet Company – What started as a bonnet company now offers a full line of adorable baby and children’s clothing (mostly under size 5). I also love their pajamas, swimsuits, and this their pima cotton shirts are a wardrobe staple.
  • The Proper Peony – Known for their sweet embroidered dresses and of course their tulip dress and bubble. 
  • Frances Rose Boutique – Darling ready-made lines in addition to custom line. 
  • Donodolo – This company has a really neat mission to help empower the women who make their beautiful clothing. You have to keep checking their website though because they don’t always have inventory online.
  • Instagram – It is so easy to shop small boutiques on Instagram! Often you just put “sold” and your email address under an item and they will email you an invoice. Some favorites include: @hiphiphooraydallas @mayfaironthesquare @atozmonogram, @layettedallas, and more. 
  • La Coqueta – Did you know the Spanish often dress their children in classic clothing? I love browsing through this site. So many timeless clothes and shoes. Like you’re in a storybook!
  • Florence Eiseman – Darling applique clothing that I wore as a child – available at Neiman Marcus, Saks, and other fine retailers too. My daughter had a version of this watermelon dress with the matching purse!
  • Rachel Riley (girl and boy). This is an English brand and you can tell! It’s just darling. Prince George and Princess Charlotte have both worn this line. Remember the smocked button-on that Prince George wore as a baby?
  • Smocked Auctions (smocked dresses and sets)
  • Little English
  • Lilly Pulitzer – A Lilly shift dress is timeless! I usually buy one dress a summer. Great for church, dinner, play. They are pricey but oh so durable. We have hand-me-downs from friends that are 10 years old and still look new! Oh and they have matching dresses for mom!
  • Ralph Lauren – I know, you probably didn’t think of this one! But they have darling things, especially for bigger kids. And, better yet, often have great sales. Love this dress for my oldest. This floral sleeve top would be precious with light pink leggings.
  • Grace and James Kids
  • Dillards – Yes! You can find some treasures online. Love the price point of the Petit Ami brand. This classic sailor suit is $26! They also have their own in-house brand called Edgehill that has darling dresses, bubbles, and jon jons. How darling is this smocked bunny dress?
  • Nordstrom – Hit or miss but sometimes you can find darling things from the Peek brand which has darling clothes. I wrote about it here.
  • The Tot – They are definitely a modern company but funny how it’s becoming trendy to dress a little classic. I’ve seen darling dresses and coats here. This baby dress and this dress are  expensive but adorable.
  • Bailey Boys
Ladies in Lilly!

Affordable Classic Brands Online

  • Smocked Auctions – (Use code PREZDAY15 for 15% off right now!) If you don’t know about Smocked Auctions (which you probably do!) they have an enormous selection of play clothes, church attire, swimsuits, bubbles, boys’ jon jons and even cute things like children’s sunglasses and fun toys. Definitely follow on social media for flash sales. Oh and Dallas friends: their sample sale is February 27-28th at the Magnolia Hotel. 
  • Eyelet and Ivy – This is the company I get so many questions about when I post. The clothes are so sweet, but soft so my children like wearing them all the time. I ordered a bunch of things for spring. I also wrote about this company here.
  • Boden. You can find some gems at Boden, especially when on sale. I often find smocked dresses and tops and Liberty or Liberty-inspired fabrics. Boden is an English company and the clothes definitely reflect that. Also available at Nordstrom with free shipping.
  • Smockingbird Clothing – Easy to shop on their social media feed!
  • Cecil and Lou – Also easy to shop on their social media feeds. Darling pre-orders.
  • J.Crew Factory  – Seek out basics and finds like this eyelet playdress. Also has basic polos, tees, and shorts for boys)
  • Gap – How darling are these bubble plaid shorts and dress?
  • Old Navy – Once you know what to look for when it comes to timeless clothes, it’s easy to spot budget items. For example, this precious $12 pink ginham bubble from Old Navy that I need for Louise! Or this yellow eyelet dress for a toddler. Simple and sweet and you could even adda a monogram! Also a great place for basics.
  • Hanna Andersson often has great sales. Their loud prints might not quality as classic but you can find things along the lines of Florence Eiseman. Or gems like these Old Sole shoes. (Obviously better when on sale!) Great for durable basics like tees and leggings, too.
Details of a Frances Rose custom dress Photo: Paige Walker Photography

Special Occasion and Custom (Flower Girl, Baptism)

  • Frances Rose Boutique – Custom and online ordering. Beautiful shadow embroidery, smocking, and other timeless techniques.
  • Peaches Barnes – Gowns for baptisms, portraits, and special occasions. Every piece is made to order and can be for up to five years. Dresses can be sent back to Peaches Barnes to be let out or to add a collar or embroidery. Truly an heirloom!
  • Wildflower Heirlooms – Custom heirloom “coming home” outfits. See this post.
  • Mela Wilson Heirloom
  • Elizabeth Layne Heirloom – custom and occasional online sales.
  • Peppermint Pony – online and at select retailers.
  • Etsy has several seamstresses as well
  • Of course your local children’s boutiques. Hip Hip Hooray in Dallas often has trunk shows and we bought our girls’ flower girl dresses from Layette.
Smocked Auctions has the best prices on classic loungewear! Photo: Sweet Memory Photography


I grew up wearing nightgowns and my girls often do, too. Whether nightgowns or pajamas sets, though, I always buy cotton pajamas. (My grandmother said never put them in polyester pajamas as it will make them sweat – and she was right) Many times the big box stores will sell polyester pajamas that make my children so hot. Plus, many of them have flame-retardant chemicals in them so just know what you are buying. Cotton is my preference. 

A little note about sleep nightgowns: I am pretty sure companies can’t legally call them “nightgowns” for fire-safety regulations. So that is why you will see companies often call pajamas “loungewear.” Here are some of my favorite brands:

  • Smocked Auctions – Love all the pj’s and their gowns are the right price and cotton. (Use code PREZDAY15 for 15% off right now!)
  • Petite Plume – Luxury brand with adult pjs, too. Would make a lovely gift!
  • Eyelet and Ivy – I ordered these matching gowns for my girls!
  • Kate and Libby – You can customize this gown but of course I always love white.
  • Boden – How precious is this nightgown perfect for Easter. 2-pack is a pretty good deal for sweet pajamas. This set is so cute for boys.
  • Roberta Roller Rabbit – I can’t enough of their animal-print pajamas. Yes, they are modern but like Lilly I think they have a timeless nature. They are pricey but meant to be worn for multiple years.
  • Etsy – You can find many sweet small shops like The Orange Iris with monogrammed pajamas like these boys pajamas that would be so cute in an Easter basket
Dresses from Alice Kathleen; Photo: Megan Weaver

Trunk Show Clothing

So my non-Southern readers might not be familiar with trunk shows so here’s the scoop: a few moms will host a show at their home and invite friends and neighbors to browse samples and pick out clothing for their children for their upcoming season. For example, during January trunk shows people order for their children’s spring and summer clothing. Turnaround time is usually 12 weeks. Oftentimes, you can change out fabrics and colors and trim and coordinate wardrobes for siblings and cousins.

Trunk show shopping is usually expensive, but they are generally very well made so can be thought of as an investment. Much of the clothing my five year old wears I bought seven years ago for my oldest, and it still looks great. 

A little tip: when the actual season begins many of these companies will mark down their samples online and you can get some really good deals. For that reason it’s worth getting on their email lists and following on social media. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Alice Kathleen – where I buy a lot of the Liberty floral pieces my girls wear. Traditional apron and other styles.
  • Kate and Libby – Love this company and the quality. And they have big girl sizes.  I wrote about them here
  • Red Beans – A little less expensive than Alice Kathleen, but very similar pieces and the quality is good.
  • Hannah Kate – Very beautiful clothes and fine quality.
  • Shrimp and Grits – Traditional smocked clothing at very good price points. Can also shop online.
  • Mary and Grace – Also can shop online. Love their line but because of lower price points, their clothes have not lasted as long as some of the others.

Big Boys Clothing

Obviously I am not an expert on this so please share yours below!

A Peek skirt I found at Nordstrom in a timeless Liberty print; Photo: Megan Weaver.

Big Girl Clothing 

  • Crewcuts – A staple for us and sizes up to 16. You can find some gems like this striped dress for 30% off right now. Boys clothing, too.
  • Bella Bliss (my favorite as of late!)
  • Hannah Andersson (my older daughter would wear this dress)
  • Vineyard Vines – Nordstrom online carries it and free shipping/free returns makes it easier!
  • Lilly Pulitzer (up to size 14) for church dresses and don’t forget about them in the fall because they have great things!
  • Florence Eiseman (up to size 16)
  • Frances Rose (sometimes up to 12)
  • Busy Bee Kids (up to size 14) – I haven’t tried them yet but they came recommended.
  • J. Crew Factory – This floral dress is perfect for church, daddy/daughter dances, weddings.
  • Gap – Hit or miss when it comes to appropriate clothing but we definitely find some things. This dress is cute for Easter when paired with a white sweater, (Favorite linked below.)
  • Many of the trunk show and special occasional companies listed above go up to a size 14.
  • Nordstrom – Our go-to source for church shoes. My girls have liked these gold shoes, Yosi Samra, and these white Mary Janes
You can spot Florence Eiseman swimsuits from a mile away; Photo: Beckley & Co..


Swimsuits are hard, especially for girls. We prefer our girls wear one-pieces or tankinis when they get older. Here are my favorite brands for tasteful swimsuits:

  • Smocked Auctions – Affordable for boys and girls and a great place for  rash guards. (Use code PREZDAY15 for 15% off right now!)
  • The Beaufort Bonnet Company – Their boys’ trunks are precious as are all their girl suits. 
  • Florence Eiseman -Their swimsuits are recognizable anywhere! So darling and timeless!
  • Vineyard Vines
  • Funtasia Brand – Love the price point for this boutique brand. I buy at Hip Hip Hooray in Dallas.
  • Trunk shows – See above. 
  • Boden. Love these Vineyard Vines-looking trunks for boys (at a better price). This suit looks almost identical to the popular but more expensive Minnow Swimsuits and how darling is this Liberty-inspired rash guard! Perfect with a solid color bottoms
  • Hannah Andersson – This terry coverup is so classic and could be monogrammed.
  • Minnow Swim
  • Crewcuts – How darling are these trunks for boys (30% off!)
  • J.Crew Factory – This terry coverup is adorable.
  • EberjeyPrecious but pricey!
Proper Peony Dresses with Footmates shoes; Photo: Megan Weaver.

Dressy Shoes

I grew up wearing mostly white dress shoes (with the occasional red or navy) because that’s how I grew up. My Southern grandmother thought it was outright tacky for little girls to wear gold or silver anything but alas times have changed and it is now very common for gold and silver shoes to serve as a neutral. My girls do, too, when they get a bit older. (I still can’t put metallic shoes on my baby – I am weird, I know!)

Saltwater Sandals are great because you can adjust the straps as they have their summer growth spurts.

Casual Shoes

  • Saltwater Sandals – I prefer white but also have bought pink. Gold is definitely a neutral these days. For boys, white or navy is a summer staple. For girls I also like the style with heart cut outs.
  • Keds for baby girls and toddler girls. Also love regular keds for babies. 
  • Jack Rogers – Girls can wear with sundresses
  • Target/Old Navy for flip flops and jelly sandals
  • Cienta Shoes – I asked asked about these all the time on Instagram. Love the price point and my girls love the comfort. We have bought silver and navy. 
  • See also boys section


Ruffled diaper covers make precious baby gifts. This is from LZ Monograms on Instagram; Photo: Ali Wood Photography.

Bloomers/Diaper Covers

A classic wardrobe staple for girls! Some mom use these strictly for diaper covers. But my sister and I wore these an underwear when we were little. My girls wear them over their underwear under dresses up until they are 8-9 years old. Covering underwear is a simple way to start teaching modesty and manners.

  • Etsy has so many cute shops that monogram bloomers or just buy plain on Amazon (can always take to local monogrammer).
Dresses from Hip Hip Hooray Dallas – they ship all over the country! Photo: Beckley & Co.


  • A Julius Berger sweater (shown above) is a staple in our house. My girls wear them year-round. They are durable and go with everything. Available in most fine boutiques and on Amazon! (Obviously any white sweater will serve the same versatile purpose and most children’s stores carry them. I found a less expensive alternative  here)
  • I will update with more coat brands but this is something that can be found at the trunk shows listed above or fine local boutiques. This La Coqueta coat looks like something I had as a child (and still have! Keep your children’s nice wool coats; they last forever!)

Our Closet Staples:

  • White Sweater (linked above)
  • White short sleeve and long sleeve collared shirts (love the quality of The Beaufort Bonnet shirts linked above).
  • Jumpers for play with a white collared shirt underneath (Funtastia brand has gotten us through many years and are at fine children’s boutiques)
  • Floral (spring) and corduroy (winter) skirts for older girls.
  • Gingham and/or seersucker shorts with white tees in summer. 
  • Bows and headbads. We like traditional grosgrain bows or good old fashioned ribbon. I also found these adorable Lolo headbands in Liberty prints. 

Okay tell me your favorite brands because there are so many more I know! Or if you have a small boutique you love please share them below as well!

Classic Children’s Shoes

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37 thoughts on “DoSayGive’s Guide to Classic Children’s Clothing

  1. Love all the ones you mentioned! Posh Pickle has some seriously cute and classic clothing. They mostly do pre-orders. CWD kids (catalog and website) has some classic dresses for big girls, great night gowns for all sizes and cute swimsuits. Some of my other favorites are Cecil and Lou, Bella Bliss, Lilly Pulitzer, shrimp & grits, Remeber Nguyen. And my goodness, don’t we all miss Strausburg?! 😭

  2. I think we shop all the same brands! For boys 5 or older, I also like e-land. They are sold in boutiques but also have a website. Cute older girl stuff too but I have only bought for my son. The pants work well if your son is on the slim side.

    Also, Ruffle Butts has cute, modest swim suits for girls. We always get the rashguard two piece sets in several colors.

      1. Love this. I second the rec for e land! Also recommend slim fit polo pants for boys who are more petit, and great to order them online! Also recommend for boys prodoh (sp?) for nice outdoor wear.

  3. I love this post so much! And I’ve been *needing* fresh ideas for girls clothes. I have nearly-10-year old twin girls and they are now into the exercise leggings phase, which is easy and comfortable. They are definitely pushing back more on the sweeter, more classic styles. Any tips for encouraging your older girls to wear what you want them to wear without squelching their personal expression? I only buy clothes that I feel comfortable with them wearing, then they only wear a few of those things over and over. I’m tired of the black exercise leggings! At the same time, I’m sure we’ll look back at this phase and miss it. 🙂 Thanks for your hard work on this post!

    1. It is so hard with the older girls! For church and dinner and things like that like that she will wear these kinds of clothes. Anytime else is usually leggings and tees! She wears uniforms to school so thankfully don’t have those daily battles;).

  4. I’ve found some good, reasonably priced items with Cath Kidston, another British company with mostly liberty style prints. I like the dresses from Tea Collection for playtime – sometimes their prints are pretty loud, but I often find some that I really like (and my daughter loves their “twirly” skirts). is good for all those basics – leggings, cartwheel shorts for girls, play dresses, tees etc. I like getting basic jumpers (sometimes add a monogram) and put a collared white shirt under it for dressier occasions, or plain white tee from Primary for everyday wear. I’m all about getting multiple uses out a single item!

  5. These are all great suggestions! You should check out The Smocking Bird in Birmingham, AL for fine heirloom and classic custom clothing. We do custom orders by phone and mail order as well. Check out our Instagram feed thesmockingbird 🙂

  6. Great post!! My kids are still little (3 under 4) but they are starting to get to the age where a lot of clothes get too trendy for my taste. I found some great new brands thanks to you! Question for you, I love the look of white dresses and t-shirts but stay away from it because of stains. Do you have any tips for keeping light clothes looking new? Between coloring, playing and eating, I feel like I’m always finding stains on new clothes!

  7. Great roundup! They are only little once and for such a short time. I own an online children’s boutique – J. Wills – and we carry pieces similar to the ones in your post. There are some great brands out there now offering some precious pieces for little loves.

  8. Love this post! I have 2 children (4 year old boy and 7 month old girl) and want them to look like children. I dress my son in lots of Boden these days. It is so hard to find play clothes for boys that don’t have some kind of tacky graphic. He’s just starting to think that smocked clothing is for “babies”. He also wears Plae shoes. Their tennis shoes aren’t too bold plus they have great water shoes (similar to Native but with velcro- good for narrow feet). I love all the brands you mentioned plus The Little English. I also follow The Frilly Frog and The Plaid Rabbit on Instagram for sales. I grabbed 2 T.B.B.C Juliet Jumpers for like $20 each last month. Do you monogram any of your daughters’ clothing? I LOVE monograms but rarely monogram my children’s clothing because then the item can’t be passed down.

    1. Boden is great!! Thanks so much for the other recommendations!! Funny, I don’t monogram as much as I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But it’s just not practical with four girls. Although I admit my five year old does wear some clothes with her older sister’s monogram!

  9. So Many great ones!!! A lot of our favs you hit! I’d love to know how you handle the discrepancies as your daughters gain more of an opinion. I have an almost 6 year old that doesn’t have the same taste as mama. 🙁 Currently, I give her two choices everyday and lay them out the night before. I’m more careful with what I buy and let her have a guided opinion. haha!!! Tell me it’s a phase and to press on!!! 🙂

    1. It was easier with my older two girls who were more compliant. But they all basically know that they wear what I tell them to wear. I also don’t buy clothes I don’t want them to wear so that makes it easier. However, my third daughter is way more vocal about her outfit selection. I usually let her decide what she wears at home if we are just playing, but I decide what she wears to school, church, and pretty much anywhere else. And my 10 year old is in middle school. I don’t buy anything I don’t want her to wear but her go-to play outfit is leggings and a tee. But for church, dinner, and things like that I have her dress more appropriately.

  10. I think you would love bows by The Bow Next Door. They have a little showroom in Fort Worth and are in several children’s boutiques. They also make bow ties and belts for the boys. Classic, southern designs! Plus run by a sweet mama! They share a showroom with Lila + Hayes that has classic layette pieces, pjs, and more.

  11. European brands are my favorites, particularly Spanish brands. All in all, some of my favorite brands are Fina Ejerique (mostly for my son), Anavini, NANOS, Coccode, Patachou, and Bonnet a Pompon. Hibiscus Linens in Dallas has some pretty handmade dresses. Angelitos, Elefantitos, and Footmates for shoes. For tights and knee highs, the Condor brand for sure. There is a boutique in Mexico City (Pachus) I go to that carries them in every color. Layered satin bows for girls are my favorite for hair, but I don’t put bows in my daughter’s hair very often since I usually think it is “too much.”

  12. We love this article and all of these brands you mentioned! We have every single one at Small Pockets off of Inwood Rd. We are a high end children’s resale shop, but also have 30% new inventory too from brands like Baby Threads, Vive La Fete, Mud Pie, Kickee Pants, Funtasia, Hoy, , Angel Dear, Tea Collection, Petit Ami and more! Come by and see us sometime!!

  13. I have loved your definition of Classic Style, it is so well accurated! Coming from Spain I’ve been surrounded by Smocked dresses, Mary Janes shoes and bows. I would humble recommend my brand, Eva’s House, since I enjoy creating classic accessories for girls with a touch or sparkle. But I would also name Spanish brands like Plumeti Rain, Nanos, Neck and Neck, Gocco, Bonnet à Pompom and Nicoli. French Brands are also so good in classic clothes, Bonpoint, Jacadi, Cyrillus, Marie Puce Paris. I hope I have helped you a little! Greetings from Switzerland! Eva

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