The Best Formal Attire for Children

By Elizabeth Hannigan , last updated June 30, 2011

The best formal attire for children looks cute without making your kids too uncomfortable. You never realized before you had a family that your kids would probably have more occasions to wear formal wear on a yearly basis than you did throughout your entire 20s. Your kids are on the guest list at graduations, weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Christenings and First Communions, and holiday parties of every sort. All of these occasions might require them to show up in a suit or dress and patent leather shoes. Since they are kids, they may only get to wear their formal attire a handful of times before they outgrow it and it needs to be replaced. This means that, like it or not, you will probably be presented with a number of occasions to buy new formal clothing for your children.


Heaven only knows whose idea it was to require little girls to wear white to so many different occasions, including weddings, religious ceremonies, and some graduations. White is the worst possible color for kids' formal attire; even most grown ups have a tough time keeping it clean, especially at parties. If your little girl is a flower girl or is receiving her first communion, however, you may not be presented with a choice. If you have a little boy in need of formal wear, however, or your girl is free to wear whatever color she chooses, you should avoid white like the plague. It is destined to become covered with grass stains, food, and other unidentifiable markings. Instead, go for something in a darker color that will hide stains. If you are buying a dress, consider a print with lots of bright colors. Kids prefer colorful clothes anyway and formal wear in bright colors will last longer and get more wear.


Your kid is not going to look cute in his formal wear if he tries to remove it the second you look away. Sure, toddlers look adorable in bow ties. If the tie is snug and your little one is in physical discomfort, though, he is going to be grouchy and irritable. Some kids, both boys and girls, seem to be born with a willingness to sacrifice comfort for style. If you have a little fashion icon, then this might not be an issue for you. Otherwise, make sure that your child tries on her formal wear before you make any purchases. Make sure that everything fits comfortably. Resist the urge to save money by squeezing your kid into an older suit or dress that no longer fits perfectly.

In addition to fit, keep the climate in mind. If you are attending a daytime event, such as a wedding or graduation, that will be held outdoors in the summer, find some formal attire that will help to keep your kid cool. Stick with natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen so that your child does not overheat. Very little boys can wear suits with shorts instead of pants and girls can wear loose fitting, airy dresses.

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