Welcome to "toddlercore": How dressing like a 2-year-old became the fashion world's latest craze

From rocking overalls to wearing onesies decorated with junk food, it's never been cooler to look like a baby

By Christy O'Shoney
August 22, 2014 3:00AM (UTC)
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Models present creations from Moschino in London, June 16, 2014. (Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)

Recently, Katy Perry wore a pizza onesie to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Which is to say: From head to toe, she adorned herself in a hooded suit patterned with pepperoni pizza. It looked delicious -- and oddly familiar.

Summer 2014 has seen a bonanza of whimsical prints (pineapples, oranges, french bulldogs). Onesies have been everywhere -- in particular, overalls, in assorted styles and shapes. Not only have women worn such whimsical duds without even the faintest hint of irony (OK, maybe just a hint), they have also affixed flower crowns and animals ears to their heads and still managed to be considered sensible, employable human beings.


Though several of these playful fashion crazes have been floating individually around the style galaxy for years, Coachella 2014 marked the beginning of a trend. The iconic music festival, which these days seems to function like an extension of Fashion Week, inspired article after article from fashion magazines/blogs about the street style on display. Festival attendees, celebrities and normal people alike donned heart-shaped sunglasses, kitten ear headbands and shirts with cartoon characters, all in the name of style.

Yet while we all might think we are channeling the souls of music-loving desert-dwellers, I would venture a guess that when history makes its inevitable judgment on this period in women’s fashion, the verdict might not be so dignified. In fact, if we are being honest with ourselves, we have kind of spent these past few months dressed like a bunch of kids. Welcome to the summer of "toddlercore."

Think about it: Toddlers have it all figured out. On any given day, a toddler can be found doing inspiring things like commanding attention in public places, eating vegetables out of pouches, and wearing tutus to formal events. They exude confidence and laugh in the face of stylistic convention. A toddler dresses for the job she wants (doctor, superhero, princess, sea witch), not the job she has (toddler). A toddler has no idea what Taylor Swift wore last week, and she doesn’t worry about things like layering or matching or wearing wedges when she’s supposed to be wearing clogs. Instead, she just wears clothes that feature things she likes (“I like dogs. I want to wear this shirt that has a dog on it”). She romps in rompers. She jumps in jumpers. She sports jelly shoes with socks, and she doesn't care if you like it.


And so toddler-inspired fashion has been a much-needed breath of fresh air this season. While unconventional prints and childlike pieces are not by any means new elements in style (let's not forget our fixation with baby-doll dresses in the '90s), it seems like these carefree, fun clothes are really having a moment right now.

Here are some of my personal favorite takes on toddlercore:

1.     Pineapples on everything


Pineapple prints seemed to hit the runway pretty hard at London Fashion Week last spring in the Moschino Cheap and Chic collection, but I think it’s safe to say that they really hit their stride this summer. I dare you, right now: go to Pinterest, search “pineapple fashion” and watch as an endless list of tropical printed frocks and crop tops unfolds before your eyes. Pineapples completely stole the show this season, but you just know toddlers of the world are sitting there like, “Um hi, I’ve been over here looking cute in fruit-printed outfits for as long as I can remember, so, been there done that.”

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 2.     Casual flower crowns

Toddlers have been wearing flower crowns in both play and professional settings for a long time now, but this summer, this look was co-opted by their taller adult counterparts. In fact, the look became so ubiquitous that Courtney Love, expert on everything, decided to actively take a stand against flower crowns in an interview with style.com. These floral headpieces have long been fixtures at music festivals, but as a recent New York Times article points out, they have become far more acceptable in other settings as well. Take “Big Bang Theory” star Kaley Cuoco, for example, who wore an oversize flower crown to yoga. Of course, this trend stretches way, way back. For instance, first lady Mary Todd Lincoln rocked a flower crown like you wouldn’t believe.

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3.     Junk food prints

Yes, Katy Perry dazzled us with her full-body pizza look, but she was not the first. Back in December, Beyoncé wore a glorious pizza ensemble that should be forever emblazoned on our brains. Pizza top, pizza pants, 100 percent pizza. This daring move gave the rest of us peasants the go-ahead to continue glamorizing junk food. Doughnuts, French fries and burgers have been all the rage, and nine out of 10 junk-food-loving toddlers agree that this has been a good thing.

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4.     Overalls

Overalls owe a debt to the babies of the world who kept their existence alive while adults scorned their unflattering lines. I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have shouted, “Never! Never again, overalls! You’ve fooled me for the last time!” and yet after seeing them this summer draped on the likes of Gwen StefaniZoe Saldana and Olivia Palermo, dammit if I don’t want a pair of my own. But even when it wasn’t hip to do so, toddlers have been wearing overalls over all their alls this whole time.

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The beauty of “toddlercore” is that the woman who wears a flower crown might not be caught dead in a cheeseburger romper, and a woman who dons overalls may scoff at the idea of pineapples as a print. Yet still, they all look like toddlers, in the best possible way.

Christy O'Shoney

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Editor's Picks Fashion Flower Crowns Gwen Stefani Important Trends Katy Perry Overalls Style Toddlercore