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All mixed up: Why are we dressing like kids? Add to ...

In fashion, youth is the ultimate ideal, which may explain the lingering trend of adults wearing tuques in the shape of animal heads. You can't miss them – wearers look as though they have just escaped their jobs as mascots from a theme park. Celebs like Jared Leto and Khloe Kardashian have been spotted sporting the hats, a novelty look previously relegated to baby boutiques. The beastly toppers are adding to an ever-increasing trend of childlike clothing for grownups, including brightly patterned rain boots and overalls.

It is a curious reversal of the oft-maligned trend in which manufacturers and celebrity moms dress children in overly mature clothing such as thong underwear (think Abercrombie & Fitch) and high heels (remember that infamous photo of Suri Cruise?). These two trends may seem opposite at first, but in fact are much the same, meeting in an ageless middle ground of fashion. It adds up to a blurring of the line between clothing for children and adults.

As adults age themselves down with lotions and potions and childish fashion, we also age our children up; witness children's beauty pageants, the likes of which are the topic of many provocative documentaries and the basis for reality television show Toddlers and Tiaras. In another stark example (which industry insiders believe had something to do with the departure of former editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld) French Vogue recently devoted sixteen pages to pre-pubescent children in adult clothing, makeup and jewels.

In journalist Peggy Orenstein's book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, an examination of "girlie-girl" culture, Orenstein states that, "the identical midriff-baring crop top is sold to 8-year-olds, 18-year-olds and 48-year-olds." She cites the rise in appearance-altering surgery for American children under the age of 18 (in 2008, it was almost twice as many as a decade earlier) and the 12,000 Botox injections administered in 2009 to children ages 13 to 19 and concludes that in the end, “[it] means girls are now simultaneously getting older younger and staying younger older."

So it's no wonder we are completely mixed-up with what is age-appropriate but does that mean that adults should give in to coveting youth, dress the part and head to fashion Neverland?

L.A.-based Canadian stylist Alissia Marciano considers the possibility that animal toques and other teen-appropriate trends are a part of the fashion world's current obsession with the nineties, a harkening back to that decade's rave culture and its kid-friendly accessories of soothers and pigtails. It is clear, Marciano says, that when it comes to fashion the age boundaries between mothers and daughters are continuing to dissolve.

"It's about striving for that eternal youth," Marciano says. "Nobody wants to age."

As a stylist, Marciano believes in experimenting with trends but she has her limits and draws a line at animal hats. "I don't think this one [works] for any adult ... unless you're just doing it to amuse your child."

One good thing about aging is the wisdom that comes with it, say, the kind that helps a stylish individual choose or forgo a particularly heinous trend. Bottom line? Dress like a child and it won't just be your own children getting a chuckle at your expense.

 

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