Dressy Clothes for Toddlers

Toddler boy in suit

Dressy clothes for toddlers are Sunday essentials as well as necessary items for parties and other special events. The key principles to follow when purchasing your toddler's dress clothes fall along the lines of cleaning costs and comfort. In this day and age, it is very easy to purchase dressy clothes for toddlers even when your budget is limited. Purchasing Sunday appropriate apparel won't necessarily cost you that much more than your toddler's play items. However, depending on what materials constitute your toddler's fine apparel, you may find yourself paying your dry cleaner more than the retail cost of the clothing item.

Purchasing Dressy Clothes for Toddlers

Specific stores where one can purchase toddler clothes will be discussed further along in this article, but there is more to buying dressier apparel than just an incredible retailer. The guidelines that establish dress clothes are typically as follows:


  • Shirts should have a collar (this can include polos and button-up dress shirts)
  • Denim is outlawed
  • Khakis, trousers, chinos and slacks are considered dress pants
  • Sweater vests, cardigans and pullovers are typical
  • Shoes include loafers, drivers and oxfords


  • Dresses, jumpers and skirts
  • Fine materials
  • Mary-Janes and delicate soled slip-ons
  • Lace-socks

The details become somewhat lost when it comes to toddler girls' apparel because there are many ways to make skirts and dresses casual. Generally, true girls' dress clothes will be made from finer materials, whereas casual items are typically made from some sort of cotton knit. Where girls are concerned, these are not hard and fast rules, but natural parental intuition should be able to guide a buyer towards appropriately dressy apparel.There is still a distinction between "dressy" apparel and what could be called "fine" or "upscale" apparel. The latter is tacitly labeled as such due to the materials used during the design and manufacturing process. Fine apparel is almost always dry-clean-only, and will typically include materials such as silk, cashmere, merino wool and materials that cannot be machine-washed without destroying the garment. Fine apparel is also significantly more expensive than regular dress clothes items because of the superior craftsmanship. These clothing items can be found in more upscale boutiques and department stores.

Where to Shop

If you're looking for easy-to-wash and comfortable dressy clothes items for your toddler, then places such as Baby Gap, Gymboree, or department stores like Macy's and JCPenney should be able to supply your tastes with fun and simple items. Nordstrom is a step up from the JC Penney rung, but as you climb up the ladder of department stores and reach Saks and Neiman Marcus, you will step into the world of "fine" toddler apparel. The higher up the retailer, the more high-end designers will be featured in the store inventory.

Ralph Lauren and Janie and Jack are excellent places to shop for more high-end dress clothes. These two retailers are prominent in the world of children's fashion due to their focus on preppy and classic designs. Both designers are well-known for classic polo shirts, sweater vests and wool trousers that have a timeless appeal and can give your toddler boy an almost comedic air of refinement. Toddler girls will wade through a generous assortment of classic smocked dresses, empire wastes and Ralph Lauren's standard pleated polo dresses that truly bridge the gap between casual and dressy.

Purchasing Considerations

As you explore the world of designer labels, you will begin to notice the disparity in the manufacturing and craftsmanship between these items and more generic apparel. The feel of a toddler's cashmere argyle socks can be seductive for many parents. It is important to remember that toddlers are not the cleanest of creatures and the amount of destruction socks can take when repeatedly removed and strewn across the play area during a Sunday lunch can be brutal. Many parents find it wiser to cut costs and save the designer clothing splurges for an age when their children can truly appreciate the feel of higher-end merchandise.

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Dressy Clothes for Toddlers