Selecting the right jackets for kids is tricky business. Perhaps deceptively tricky. Most people hit the shops thinking a jacket’s a jacket, but this is far from the case.
First, there’s the fact that people often confuse jackets with coats. Jackets tend to be shorter (hip length) and lighter, used mostly in the Spring and Autumn. Coats, on the other hand, are warmer and often (but not always) longer.
With this distinction in mind, let’s get into the ins and outs of choosing jackets for kids.
Thankfully, we have come a long way from the days where fashion and function were mutually exclusive. This means your primary consideration when choosing a jacket for any child should be its purpose. The best brands will already have a lineup of stylish and smart jackets available.
Rain. Unless you live in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys, chances are your kid is going to need a proper rain jacket. Not a water resistant jacket – a jacket that will keep him or her dry in a downpour.
Multi-Purpose. Water-resistant jackets are great options for general multi-purpose use, like going out on a reasonably moderate day in the Spring, where your child may encounter a few puddles or even a little spatter of rain, but nothing serious.
Dress. Dress jackets are for use on special occasions. They will tend to be a little longer, but not heavy like a coat. They will have embellishments, like fancier buttons, cuffs, bows and so on, and will also be more adventurous with texture and material. Leather jackets, houndstooth, tweed or plaid jackets can all fall into this category – and because they are created for kids, rest assured they’re made to be durable.
Quality Trumps Cost
While your first instinct may be to buy the cheapest jacket, just keep in mind this move will have you buying it again. And again. Buy a quality jacket the first time and spare yourself the long-term expense of having to replace a series of ill-fated cheap ones.
And while we’re on the subject of saving money (as well as trips to the mall), it’s also a good idea to buy a jacket that’s a size or two bigger than your child’s current size. Not so much bigger that they don’t have ready access to their own hands, but a little bigger – enough to get another year or two of wear before they grow out of it.
How much bigger will depend on the cut of the jacket. Dress jackets tend to be closer fitting, for example, so you may be able to go up a couple sizes, depending on the style and the child. This said, if you’re going out for a special occasion, you probably want your child looking put together, so the cuff of the jacket really shouldn’t be much longer than just below the wrist.
A multi-purpose jacket, on the other hand, usual fits loosely, so buying two sizes up may look like you’re trying to fit two kids in there, which isn’t a good look, a warm look, or a safe one. Overly baggy clothing lets in cool air, limits their mobility – and by extension, inhibits their ability to move properly. Keep your kid safe and comfortable, and buy them in a jacket that’s close to their actual size.
No matter what jacket you end up buying, it’s always good to let your kid have input – or to have a really good idea of his/her personal taste. There’s no point in buying a jacket to have it collect dust in a closet, right?