Why whimsical, childlike fashion is everywhere.

By Emma Moneuse.

Fashion is more colorful and youthful than ever. While trends like glittery barrettes, puffy headbands, and flowy baby doll dresses aren’t new inventions, the childlike trend has evolved to even more whimsical heights in recent months.

Maybe it is a search for nostalgia in troubling times, or a reclamation of our youth as an act of rebellion—whatever it is, it’s a lot of fun. Thanks to brands like Kina and Tam, who describe themselves as “curators of children’s clothing for bigger humans,” or Ashley Williams, who photoshops puppies onto tights, or Simone Rocha who has turned darkly girly clothes into luxury creations, whimsy is in.

Sweater vests and knitwear are an especially prominent part of the style. Childlike vests are Kina and Tam’s claim to fame, featuring cute cartoon characters and colorful flowers. Similarly, more high-end designers like Lirika Matoshi have attempted takes at knit vests and colorful cardigans covered in an array of butterflies, dolphins, and flowers.

Lirika Matoshi is one of trend’s leaders, having gone viral in 2020 for her strawberry dress: a pink, lace, midi dress in bright pink adorned with glitter strawberries. Matoshi’s collection of dresses all share the same youthful design, with pink bows and pom pom puffs covering the flowing fabric. Her latest collection is even a Disney Princess collaboration that the brand describes as “fanciful fairy tale, princess gowns… full of enchanted wanderlust.”

The trend expands beyond clothing and into accessories as well. The most prominent jewelry shared across social media recently has been beaded necklaces and big chunky, plastic rings that appear handmade or like toy jewelry from childhood.

La Manso’s and Ian Charms’ necklaces can be seen covering the hands and necks of celebrities and both brands take inspiration from plastic beads and rings. Balenciaga even picked up on the childlike trend, partnering with Sandy Liang and Mimi Wade in the world of playful fashion with its toy necklace and toy bracelet.

Maybe these pieces remind consumers of easier times, providing them with a security blanket of youthful comfort? “Wanderlust,” as Matoshi used, is perhaps the perfect word to describe this desire for childlike fashion.

Image credit: Andrew Nuding/Simone Rocha, Ashley Williams