Vintage Inspired Girls' Clothes

Big collars, smocked dresses, ruffled sleeves, Liberty prints… we are harking back to a more genteel time of nostalgia and innocence. See our editor’s top sites for vintage-inspired little girl clothing that needn’t be saved for Sunday best. Not a cartoon character t-shirt in sight.


‘My clever mother kept all of my beautiful smocked dresses from when I was a child but I found it very hard to find affordable dresses and rompers to add to my collection,’ says London-based Alice Avenel. So began Little Alice London, a collection of machine washable 100% cotton nightwear, rompers and smocked dresses available online and at sales. The mother-of-three describes her business as ‘still rather handmade’ but don’t be put off; follow her Instagram page @littlealicelondon to get a glimpse - Alice’s children wear smocked clothes every day, not just for special occasions.


For clean classic children’s clothes that both look smart and withstand mudfights, look to Pipkin Clothing which is a personal favourite of our editors. Pipkin is a family run British brand offering traditional children clothes all lovingly handmade in Devon. The brilliantly named bloomers (Rain, Rust, Winter Pink) can be worn on their own or with tights. The pinafores are pretty over the embroidered trim or ruffled collar blouses. Like what you see? You can make up your design in the fabric of your choice, ideal for flower girls.


Smock dresses are a world away from Amelia Brennan’s former career. The 33-year-old used to work in Hedge Funds as an investment analyst. This job took her to Hong Kong where she met a family with a hand-smocking business. She is now back in the UK, with a baby boy and spends her days working on her site selling hand-smocked clothing and traditional bridesmaid and pageboy outfits. The fabrics are soft machine-washable 100% cotton, and beautiful Indian and Thai silks. Look out for her polka dot and bluebell smocked dresses.


The beyond charming clothes sold at Olivier Baby and Kids are distinctly nostalgic in style. Their designs are traditional but always with an element of fun, whether it be a heart on the bottom or stars on the elbows. Set up in 2011 by sisters Emma Davison and Alice Smith, the brand has a cult following of well-dressed families. Olivier Baby and Kids is best known for its hand-knitted cashmere pieces, each individually made using the two-needle method. The collection includes the most charming of Liberty print shirts, dresses, trousers and shorts. Click and see for yourself.


If it’s traditional and whimsical you’re after, look no further. Elfie is top of its game and an editor’s favourite. Budget dependent, you could kit your child’s entire wardrobe – and bedroom bits - from Elfie. Elfie is famous for its ruffle collar tops, Icelandic-style knitwear, smocked frocks, and more recently retro interior offerings. ‘We want to encourage children to explore outside, build dens and get creative – which naturally entails mud, dirt and scuffles. Mindful of this, we set about designing clothes that look like they’ve come out of a fairy tale, but are still robust enough for children that frolic about,’ say Elfie founders and long-time friends Rebecca Guinness and Victoria Roper-Curzon.


Ah, the dreamy dot skirt, the white poplin dress… We rather fancy the new Toto London collection for ourselves. Shame then that the clothing brand is just for 0-14 year olds. Rebecca and Milly, both mothers-of-three, created Toto London, a childrenswear brand that specialises in beautifully made classic clothes with a modern twist. Their Iris dress and navy blue cord bloomers are featured in Vogue this month.


Rachel Riley shot to front page when Prince George wore her traditional red and white two-piece smocked set to his sister’s christening. Riley, who founded the company in 1994 says, ‘If you dress children smartly, you help them to understand you don’t have to lie on the floor and run around, and disrupt other people’s whatever. It’s part of their education – if they are dressed for a special occasion they will be aware of that and their manners might reflect how they were dressed.’


Dubbed the go-to brand of today’s young Royals, Pepa & Co sits at the upmarket end of childrenswear brands. Inspired by her large Spanish family and love of fashion, founder Pepa Gonzalez created a business selling Spanish clothing at affordable prices for children up to age 12 years old. Her smocks are stunning (and famous – just Google Princess Charlotte), and her wedding outfits are popular but it’s the Liberty print collared tops and bodysuits that jump out at us.


Love Liberty print? Meet Tinker & Belle. After struggling to find little girls’ clothes for her daughter, Gabby stocked up on Liberty prints, fine cotton voiles and borrowed a sewing machine. Based in Edinburgh, her company Tinker & Belle sells classic children’s clothing made with Liberty Art Fabrics. She doesn’t produce seasonal collections and old favourites can always be ordered; you can order garments ‘as seen’ on her site or choose your own Liberty print for a custom order. Her rompers and bloomers make for excellent everyday wear for crawlers while the tunics and smock blouses suit older girls. We love.


We have to hand it to them; the Spanish rule the nostalgic charming children’s clothing stakes. None more so than the slick operation that is luxury Spanish childrenswear label La Coqueta created by Celia Munoz. As a mother-of-five, Celia knows how important it is to find easy care clothes that stand the test of time. Expect ditsy smock dresses, gingham prints, Liberty lined coats, retro bonnets and floral hair clips. Much hype among the Vogue set as La Coqueta just collaborated with ethically minded online retailer Muzungu Sisters. Follow on Insta to glimpse a beautiful styled life.


Whoops of joy as Bumble & Ava just launched their first ready-to-buy line The Malindi Collection. We love it for its unique, bold, fun prints. Until now, their pretty pinafores, rompers, ruffle dresses and bloomers were only made to order by commission. Mother and daughter duo, talented seamstress Alexandra Pike ‘Bumble’ and Natasha Dickinson founded Bumble & Ava shortly after the birth of Natasha’s elder daughter Ava in 2013. The charming clothes are designed in England and made in Kenya. They chose to manufacture with a factory that operates a fair trade self-help initiative providing access to financial funds for children’s education, housing and pensions. In fact, a proportion of the factories profits help provide school scholarships to children living in slum areas of Kenya. Their Ava dress gets our vote.

April 2017