Monday, August 31, 2009
When I have my children out at the park or for a walk when the sun is actually out in San Francisco, as it is today, we are often stopped by an admirer who comments on their appreciation for smocked clothing. It should be no surprise to you (as it isn't to my husband(!) that I dress my children often in smocked and embroidered clothing. We also hear comments like "Oh, I love seeing children in smocked clothing." or, "Smocked clothing is so hard to find." and even "I love seeing children dressed in classic clothes." To nearly all the comments we say thank you. To the comment that it is "hard to find", I would be remiss to forget to mention our store, Maison de Belles Choses and the fact we are online and retail in San Francisco, so it is no longer hard to find smocked clothing for your children, or grandchildren. Problem solved!
It's funny how one's energetic child can look sweet and innocent until they jump in the mud in their smocked outfit. Fortunately, that is a rare occurrence. Even better, the photos last forever and stay mud-free. So, Molly and Christian, get yourself ready to be smocked on all major holidays and plenty of other days, because while the compliments aren't the goal, it's always nice when they come!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Getting costumes is the big thing and usually happens for The Main Event or a few parties. Just like Christmas, the weeks leading up to the holiday are now an important part, but wearing a costume isn't always practical, so what do you do to keep up the spirit?
Here at Maison de Belles Choses, we understand that outfitting the little ones for special holidays involves strategy: Find what is great-looking that can be shipped in time and sized right for the holiday moment.
The last two points are up to your skill, but for the first part we present from Funtasia Too the Ghost Reversible Outfit for girls, and a coordinating longall for boys. It has two appliqued designs: The first side is a ghost pulling a wagon filled with pumpkins. The reverse side is a trio of puppies. This last design extrends the wear of the outfit well beyond the Halloween season. Funtasia Too is made in the U.S.A.
Little girls have been dressing up as Princesses for as long as Cinderella and Halloween have been around. Crowns, flowing dresses and sceptres are a bit unwieldly when doing normal activities, but the Vive la Fete Princess Smocked Pant Set makes daily activity for little girls trouble-free. It comes complete with Princess, Carriage and Horses, and the all-important Castle. The pant cuff has a cute ruffled design. Just the outfit for on-the-go princess.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We took our first family photo a few months after our son was born and he wore the Carriage Boutique Scotty Terrier Romper and his sister wore the dress. It looked wonderful in the pictures.
Then, my parents had a meet and greet for our son and he wore a Little English Smocked Pick-up Truck Shortall in light blue gingham and his sister wore the Little English light blue gingham strawberry dress. Again, a hit on and off film.
Now I am planning for the next big occassion and I just love the Little English Smocked Scarecrows so Christian will be wearing the boy romper while his big sister will be wearing the dress. I think they will be in these outfits starting in October and through November so there will be plenty of opportunities to catch this combo on film. Add it to the scrapbook!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Bailey Boys created an adorable green corduroy shift dress with applique unicorn that is also reversible with hot pink and white polka dot on the opposite side. (The polka dot side would look fabulous with a monogram!) Our daughter has a friend that calls one of the parks in San Francisco "Carousel Park" because, yes, you guessed it, the carousel is located nearby. This dress makes me think of her every time.
And, what little guy doesn't love dinosaurs! I don't think he would put up a fuss getting dressed in Bois de Rose's dinosaur longall for his first day.
He would probably feel like a big little guy walking into school. The handsome white broadcloth shirt with navy trim finishes off the outfit perfectly.
Enjoy these final days of summer vacation! We know we will as we wait for the "big school" to open.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Bonjour and Bienvenue to the inaugural blogpost of Belles Blog ! We aim to make this blog interesting for our customers and will hopefully broaden your knowledge and appreciation of quality childrens clothing. In the future we plan on making this a spot for customers to find out what is new to our line-up.
Smocking originated in the Middle Ages and most sources trace its start to England. In a world without elastic, smocking served to make the collar and sleeve-ends flexible for active work as well as protection from the cold. Fabric would be pleated, then embroidery stitches would stabilize the pleats and give it the accordion effect.
Tradition has it that a persons type of work would be stitched into the pleats as a design. Horse-handlers might have horses, Farmers would have scythes or plows, a shepherd might have sheep or a crook. Indeed, in Thomas Hardys Far From the Madding Crowd , one of the principle characters seeking work as a shepherd is denied employment one day, and returns the next time wearing an appropriate smock and is hired on the spot. To be sure, just because something shows up in fiction is hardly good evidence, but you can imagine that it might have happened. We have a boys shortall with a dumptruck embroidered on the front,but I don't think it will get a lad into the driver's seat at a construction site.
The Industrial Revolution, with its fast-moving machinery, brought an end to the workaday usefulness of smocked clothing. Loose-fitting clothing could easily get caught in gear levers or cogs. The technique survived and designs became more elegant and refined as the new wearers of smocked clothing were women and children, wearing smocked dresses for special occasions.
Today the style exists for the most part in childrens clothing. Our lines are all hand-smocked, which is very labor-intensive. The technique truly demands a craftsperson and good material to work with, otherwise the end-product just doesn't cut it.
In the U.S., boys and girls wearing smocked clothing can be found everywhere. Europe, of course, has an ongoing tradition of smocked clothing for children. As an example, you can find an ode to Bois de Rose from Paris on the internet. My favorite view of kids in smocked clothing is at the end of a French language learning series entitled, French in Action. At every episode end there is an audience of smocked kids watching the closing puppet show, which always makes a reference to some event which just happened. This site has the series as free video-on-demand, by the way.
Occasionally, when out and about in the San Francisco Bay area, women will come up to us and tell us they used to smock clothing or their mothers did. The conversation starts because our daughter frequently wears smocked clothing - I know, big surprise. Or they will tell us of a trunk-full of clothing they gave to their children, whose children are now wearing the clothes. It reminds us of the timelessness of this type of clothing. When done right, the materials are of excellent quality and are durable enough to last generations. In this disposable culture we live in, I'm glad at least something with a connection to the past can re-emerge and still look as good as it did way back when.