A few weeks ago, I was in Milan, Italy, on holiday with my mother. After a day spent touring sites such as the famous gothic Duomo and checking out Da Vinci's The Last Supper, we turned our attention to my favourite travel pastime. Shopping, of course.
We stumbled upon the lovely La Rinascente department store, with its cool design-centric home decor basement, and ascended the many floors to see where it would take us.
On the way to the top, we made an unexpected discovery. As we got off one escalator, about to get onto another, we saw the cutest little assortment of Gucci bags at a display smack dab in front of us.
But wait, this was the kids floor! We oohed and aahed over the sophisticated accessories and decided to make our way around that floor to see what other grown-up, high-end goodies there were.
For my petite 150cm-tall mother, who has size 34 feet, this was not the first time she found herself shopping in the kids department. She has scored jackets from the J.Crew kids section and T-shirts from Zara Kids.
But designer kidswear was a whole new and exciting realm, with high-quality fabrics and impressively classy designs.
Later in Rome, we visited Gucci at Via Condotti, the main shopping street, where we hightailed it to the kids section. My mother eventually picked up a bamboo-handled canvas tote with white piping. In addition to costing about 40 per cent less than something similar in the main line, it was perfectly sized, had a fun printed interior (red hearts against a navy backdrop) and was incredibly light to carry.
The biggest deciding factor, though, was the fact that the design was classic and classy, and that upon first, second or third glance, you would not be able to tell it was originally designed for children.
In this week's cover story, we take a look at how many designer kids labels here can fit petite women, especially with chic designs and sizes that fit up to 14- or 16-year-olds. We also round up the best picks of designer kidswear - things that would not look out of place on the adult retail floor.
And herein lies the key to shopping kidswear - make sure the item does not look kiddy. My mother once hacked off the bow embellishment from a pair of Massimo Dutti Kids sandals to great age-appropriate results.
Don't let preconceptions - sizing, brand, style or even if it was designed for kids - dictate whether you step in to shop because it's always worth taking a look. After all, you may just find the perfect bag in a place where you least expect it.
This article was published on April 4 in Urban, The Straits Times.
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