Some families pass heirloom garments or techniques down and across generations, but there are just as many moms who have no clue what a "Bishop Dress" is, even though they may have admired them from afar. It helps to know what you're looking for when shopping in stores or online, so look over this list of terms and descriptions before embarking on a traditional shopping spree for your favorite girl.
Although timeless silhouettes anchor this look, prints and colorways range from calm and understated to punchy and bold. Authentic vintage or retro-inspired pieces often showcase whimsical high contrast prints. There is also considerable variation in translation, from frilly boutique styles to sophisticated European lines.
Most traditional online and brick and mortar boutiques will carry the full range. That said, cargo pants and metallic minis have no place in the traditional look. Look for styles that have been around for generations.
Common Garments for Girls:
DressesBishop dresses, jumpers, and tea dresses are popular designs.
- Bishop Dress - Generously cut A-line dress with smocking at neck and sometimes also at cuffs, yoke or waist. Day dresses are often made of fine cotton fabric; formal dresses are usually silk or organdy.
- Jumper - Sleeveless, slightly flared dress with clean lines, usually worn over a blouse or sweater. Sometimes falls above knee, especially when sized for younger girls.
- Party Dress - Waisted dress with full or pleated skirt, often with sash or other defining element at the waist.
- Shirtwaist Dress - Dress style that generally falls to knee-length or below. May be long or short-sleeved, with buttons extending down torso or full length.
TopsCommon features include puff sleeves, ruffle necks, portrait or Peter Pan collars. Knit cardigans are a staple.
SkirtsGenerally full or pleated, skirts fall to at least mid-thigh.
PantsTailored and basic, pants generally serve as background to more dominant tops and accessories.
- Blazer - Collared jacket with one or two torso buttons. More common in European traditional looks.
- Car Coat - Usually wool or tweed, a flat button-up coat that falls to mid thigh.
- Pea Coat - Hip length double-breasted wool jacket with broad lapels.
Key elements of the traditional look include:
- Appliques - Decorative cuts of fabric applied to garments by sewing or embroidering the edge of the cut segment.
- Monogramming - Embroidered motif of initials.
- Smocking - Embroidery technique that produces stretchy gathered fabric.
- Ric Rac - Zig zag decorative ribbon.
- Classic prints like florals, polka dots and stripes.
- Fabrics like fine gingham and seersucker.
- Collegiate, Holiday, Regional, and Seasonal Themes
- Back to School: Schoolhouse and apples
- Summer: Starfish
- Easter: Bunnies
- Regional: State tree
- Collegiate: School logo or mascot
- Coordinating and matching sibling outfits are common in the traditional look, especially for holiday events and photos.
ShoesTraditional children's shoes are more delicate than many modern styles.
- Mary Janes - Low heeled shoes with a rounded toebox and thin strap or T-strap. Worn with tights or socks.
- Ballet Flats - Slipper like shoes with thin soles
- Loafers - Lace-less slip on shoes often featuring fringe and tassels
Traditional Brands and Shops to look for:
- Amanda Remembered
- Bailey Boys
- Bella Bliss
- Belle Heir
- Brooks Brothers
- Caramel Baby and Child
- Castles and Crowns
- Dagmar Daley
- Helena & Harry
- Kasey Hughes' Pears & Bears
- KC Parker
- Louis Louise
- Papa D’Anjo
- Petit Bateau
- Rachel Riley
- Ralph Lauren
- Room Seven
- Simi/Frances Johnston
- Susanne Lively
- Vive La Fete