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The Vacuum - Issue 17 - Fashion spacer The Vacuum - Issue 17 - Fashion
Fashion for the Brood
by Miriam de Burca
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We are here to procreate. It's that plain and simple: find a mate, copulate, produce offspring, raise it, set it off into the world when the time comes, retire. That's what the Unromantics say. And being a semi-Unromantic, I would half agree. I see the adult section of the human race psychologically split onto two planets. Co-existing but turning on distinctly separate axes; Nokids and Gotkids. Had I not been propelled onto planet Gotkids, I would not have been able to write this article with much conviction. Being without offspring, you lack a certain sort of empathy for what the species of 'the child' is. But it seems on witnessing the birth of your first child you suddenly take leave of Nokids for good. You can no longer - and will never again - be fully able to relate to those who have not yet been initiated into parenthood. It is as if an irreversible exchange of two portions of brain occurs; an old one falls off and a new one replaces it.
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Thanks to this lobotomy of nature, my eyes have been opened up to a whole new world. I now realise that baby fashion exists and might even say I have some level of interest in it. What do they say about necessity? It's the mother of interest? To most non-parents, baby fashion is an alien phenomenon, a thing for others to be concerned with, apart from the occasional gift purchase for a friend or relative's newborn. Looking back, I realise I deliberately gave it a wide birth (sorry, pun intended) knowing that one day I would become immersed in its intricacies and ever-changing variations. I wouldn't even begin to attempt a complete stock-check of what's out there in the baby fashion world. I'll be succinct in my round-up.. It can fall into a number of categories, some of which are: practical, cheap-but-hideous, expensive-but-still-hideous, and aww! inspiring. The practical stuff comes at the very beginning, when changing newborns can happen up to four times a day, and dressing them in cheap-to-buy-in-bulk, easy-to-put-on, and easy-to-wash outfits, is paramount. Aptly called baby-grows, accompanied by implausibly tiny accessories, they are made of cotton and come in a range of bland colours. Sleep-deprivation causes parents as well as newborns to welcome these queasy-on-the-eye shades of pink, blue, yellow and green.
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Then there is the cheap-but-hideous. This category I find scariest. For girls especially, white and pink synthetic frills frighten me most. Just seeing a baby in a pram that has been decked out with a candy-floss-like frill-fest makes me break out in a sweat. Imagine being wheeled around all day, come rain or searing sun, in a bed made up entirely with 70s nylon sheets. That must be a close equivalent. I can just see it now: Baby Suffocates In Bed Of Nylon Roses.
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The expensive-but-still-hideous is what I deem to be the designer gear that is supposedly for babies and children but is in fact perfectly miniaturised reproductions of adult clothes. So if you want, you can have your child donning the latest in designer rips, paint splashes and oily patches. Just think, you don't need to let your child get dirty through play; for a little extra cost you can buy the look!
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Finally the aww! inspiring. Thankfully, this category can be found in any price bracket. Dug out of a charity shop, spotted in a high street store sale, handed down by a friend or relative. All this plus a little imagination and your child can look positively edible. (The impulse to eat one's child has prehistoric origins, and exists today as a comparatively faint urge, but is nonetheless prevalent amongst many parents.) In the first few years of their life, children can't tell us exactly what colour combinations, fabrics, patterns, styles, they wish to wear, so we have to make these decisions on their behalf. Unfortunately, we can't help projecting ourselves, our tastes, our preferences onto our brood. But in truth babies and children look best in clothes that don't mimic adult tastes at all. It takes little attention to a child's psyche and character to know what suits him or her best. They have the right to a fashion sense of their own, determined by their need for things colourful, things warm and comfortable, garments that they can have maximum mobility and physical confidence in, and, just for our own vain pleasure, look great in to boot.
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