Most of the moms I know who are living here but have roots in other European countries – or America – prefer to do their kids clothes shopping there on their annual trip home. Even ordering online from shops back home is a more popular option than going local. The selection is inevitably better and at the same time, everything costs so much less! But there are times when even an expat mom or dad has a clothing emergency, so I’ll share with you some of my favorite places for kids’ clothes.
For those who would happily shell out to have a well-dressed kid, there’s Au Pays des Mimi in Nový Smíchov for playful, romantic classics, Gant Kids in Chodov for preppy kids, and Magic Child on Pařížská. Anne & Viktorie, Na Příkopě 12, has kids’ lines from Marc O’Polo, Paul Frank and Noppies. My favorite, when money is no object, is Desigual for kids – the patchwork styles and wild colors embody childhood.
Moving down the price slope, there are the shops for us common people. H&M is the clear favorite. When I look at labels of my kids and their friends, more than half say “H&M”. It’s easy to see why: the clothes are affordable, fun, and fairly well made. Some H&M shops are better than others. The one in Palladium doesn’t have a children’s department at all, while the one in Chodov has a whole floor just for kids. It has something to do with the ordering and merchandising process here, but too often in Czech shops I find multiples in one size, then none at all in the size up or down from that.
You’ll see Next and Zara Kids in most shopping centers. They have trendy togs, but the styles tend to be a little more mature. If you’re like me, you think kids look and play best in simple, colorful, high-quality clothing of all cotton, preferably organic. Recently I discovered two godsends – both from Sweden: Lindex and KappAhl, both of which can be found at Galerie Harfa. These two shops have cottoned on the idea of “Buy 3 for 2.” It’s the best place to load up on things like underwear, tops, and leggings. Both Lindex and KappAhl sell “strong” clothing – low-maintenance basics that will stand up to many washings and dryings. They’re among the few places that have fun & funky clothes that aren’t too gender specific. You’ll find brightly-striped shirts, cute graphic t-shirts and baby clothes that are sassy, not sappy. Harfa also has a Lego Wear shop, and the clothes, while not as cheap, are very nice.
Some shops you may not have heard of are Cool Kids, Malá Ela and U Kids. Other shops to check out include C&A and Kenvelo Kids. Personally, I find the C&A label “Palomino” makes good stuff for boys; but girls, not so much. And Kenvelo somehow always looks cheaper than it actually is. Debenhams and Marks and Spencer, both on Václavské náměstí, usually have pretty good things. M&S in Nový Smíchov doesn’t carry a kids range; M&S in Harfa has a big one.
On the bottom of the price scale, there are places like Takko and Tesco and all the second hand shops. Used clothing tends to be rather expensive – especially when compared to second hand things in the US or the UK. Paying 150 CZK for a used shirt is normal – but you could buy a new one for that price, so why bother? Most neighborhoods have a second hand shop or two; you probably already know where your closest ones are. Yes, it’s possible to find a bargain but when the selection is so small, especially for bigger kids’ stuff, it’s not likely you’ll find just what you need.
Your best bet is to find a “Dětský Bazar” shop that only sells children’s things. Make a habit of checking regularly, every week or so, and after a few trips you may get lucky. The best bargains are at jumble sales and car boot sales at the international schools – they are open to the public, happen once a year, and here you can find high quality clothes for much less than the second hand stores. Check the schools’ websites for more details.
Every shop seems to have a sale on all the time around here – but there isn’t much in the way of actual discount shops and factory outlets. Fashion Arena in Europark, Štěrboholy, is the only exception I can think of. There’s a shop there called Paris Kids that has Timberland, Escada, and other designer wear for kids.
If you really need to load up and going home isn’t an option, consider a day trip to Dresden. The shops are bigger, the selection wider and prices are nice. I’ve always been able to find what I need at the big department store Karstadt.
TIPS FOR HOW TO SHOP FOR KIDS CLOTHES:
- Leave the kids at home! Most kids whine after just trying one pair of pants. Next thing you know they’re running off, trying to pull you out of the store or generally acting up so bad you want to just grab whatever and flee. It’s nice that you care what clothes they like, but if you leave it up to them, you’ll end up with 5 shirts that all have Lightning McQueen on them. Kids are poor judges of what suits them best.
- Instead, bring a pair of pants and a shirt with you – ones that fit them well. Carry them in your bag and compare them against purchases you’re considering, without your child having to try them on.
- Choose things that launder easily and look good longer. Stick to bright colors and patterns – they’ll still look fine with a few stains. Pale pink is not fair for kids who like to play outside – they’re always going to look dirtier than necessary. I’m generally not for the military look, but there’s a good argument to buying camo when it comes to kids clothes! Girls’ clothing tends to have a lot of fussy features: ribbons, pleats, lace edging. Everything will need to be pressed to look good after a wash, so if you’re not a fan of ironing, stick to cotton basics with no frills.
- Make it harder for your kids to pick out a mismatched outfit by sticking to a template. For example, if your boy only has jeans and polos, he can choose anything and it will work. If there’s too wide a range of things, things go awry. My daughter’s drawers hold only little dresses and skirts and leggings, all in colors that work well together. She can’t go wrong!
- All kids benefit from pull-up pants when it comes to potty time. Even the older ones – who sometimes get distracted and wait too long – can have a situation where they’re struggling with an unwieldy button. If you must buy pants with zips and buttons, do it up yourself a few times first to see that it’s not too tricky. Small flies are tougher than adult-sized ones.
- People often advise you to buy a size or two bigger, since kids grow so fast. I think you’re better off with 3-5 pieces at a time that actually fit the kid now. Less is more – crowded drawers make for wrinkly clothes and laundry delays. If everyone just has a few perfect pieces, they get washed and put back faster, and the clothes have a chance to wear out a bit before that next size up is needed.
- Everything I wrote up till now is based on the assumption you are shopping on your own. If you are unlucky enough to have your kids in tow, try this: C&A on Vaclavské namesti has a romper room where kids play while you shop. I’ve seen parents bring clothes in from the rack, interrupting play just long enough to try something on.
- Another smart way to shop with kids: leave your child to play in the shopping center’s “Dětsky Koutek” while you make your choices. Then ask the store to set your things aside, go get your kid, and have them try everything in one go. The following shopping centers have good shops with kids’ clothes and children’s play areas: Novy Smichov, Chodov, Galerie Harfa, and Metropol Zličín.
- Do buy “3 for the Price of 2” as offered by Lindex and KappAhl. Don’t get fooled by the 2 -pack or 3-pack at places like Tesco and Next, where the first t-shirt is cute but the other two are nothing special. You pay for all three, ultimately.