Blogs like The Tiny Satorialist and Children With Swag house images of the under-10 set in high-style outfits and accessories. Judging by how many photos they publish, there's no shortage of toddlers in RayBans and fedoras -- a few even tackle the casual bowtie. And, according to a recent New York Times article, these kids get their "swagger" from an unexpected source. Baby, they were born that way.
The “style gene,” writer Ruth LaFerla reports, is an instinct to be fashionable “that can set in as early as toddlerhood.” LaFerla profiles young Aubrey, whose clothing choices mirror designer trends (specifically, a pair of pink flip flops that she matched to a colorful jumper), even though she is only 7 years old, has never attended a fashion show nor browsed an issue of "Vogue."
There are many adults, parents and non-parents alike, who raise their eyebrows at the idea of calling kids "trendy" or "stylish" at all. In March, the HuffPost community debated whether adults who concern themselves with kids’ fashion are fostering creativity or just perpetuating superficiality. Commenter Victor Saymong proclaimed that adults should “stop objectifying children as style icons.” On the flipside, Ian P. Wilson, editor in chief of Petit Vogue, wrote that beyond aesthetics, a kid’s style can “make a bold statement” about what parents want for their children.
But LaFerla argues that the most stylish kids aren't taking cues from their parents. Aubrey, for example, who prefers dresses (but not the long ones) and mixed-floral prints, has an "innate sense of cool.” Five-year-old, Zachary Blaney tells his mom which accessories compliment her outfits -- and she listens.
Dr. Maria Piacentini says children like Zachary and Aubrey are changing the way parents make purchasing decisions. “Recent evidence suggests that children are assuming an authority to modernize parent’s tastes,” she wrote in her 2010 study titled “Understanding Children as Consumers.”
Over at Jezebel, Jenna Sauers is skeptical about this so-called “style gene.” She thinks there is an obvious reason why Aubrey's wardrobe, "echo[es] many of the looks paraded on designers' spring runways." She writes, “[Aubrey's] dress was purchased in a store that sells clothing designed by grown-ups who work in fashion.” The dress in question is from The Children's Place.
Whether a kid is clad in neon for reasons more nature or nurture, Nathan Greenberg, founder of ProActiveDads.com maintains that children's fashion isn't an appropriate parental concern.
"Of all the things we want our kids to enjoy, looking cool shouldn't be one of them,” Greenberg wrote in a HuffPost blog. But, if LaFerla is to be believe, some kids may want mom and dad to support their appreciation of "child style." There are Babiators to covet, after all.
This post originally appeared on Huffington Post