Classic Florence Eiseman Clothes For Children

By Krystal Branch

Florence Eiseman never intended to be a designer. Her hobby turned into a business when her husband took some organdy pinafores she had made for friends to a buyer and returned with a large order. Her first order was sewn by women in their own homes and this was the beginning of this legendary brand.

Her well known philosophy was that one should see the child first and not the clothing. Clothes should simply highlight the natural beauty of a child. Generations of children dressed in her designs confirm that she was right about this. Celebrities like members of the Kennedy family, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace of Monaco dressed their children in her clothes.

She was a stickler for good workmanship and use of quality fabrics. Early features of her designs included hand sewn hems, French seams, hand rolled edges and collars framing the face. Ten years after launching her first collection, she was a recipient of a Nieman Marcus award for her contribution to fashion for children. The Milwaukie Art Museum did a retrospective of her work in 1985.

In the 1980s Florence phased out her day-to-day involvement. She left her head designer, Teri Shapiro, in charge of design. Teri had worked under her since 1972 and says that the most important thing she learned was that every design has to be fresh but it still has to maintain that iconic look of the brand. She has nurtured the brand ever since and although the company went through some ups and downs, it is going strong today.

The brand includes a choice of baby clothes, such as rompers and dresses, made of finest quality cotton blends that will keep a little one comfortable and cool. A timeless collection of fabulous dresses, shorts, swimwear and other staples for toddlers and tweens are all embellished with delightful appliques, like butterflies, zoo animals and flowers. The patterns on fabrics include playful stripes and prints. There is careful detailing like cheerful dots and colors on shoulder straps and flowers on puff pockets.

The company is based in Milwaukie and has always sold their clothing through stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus. This has changed with the advent of internet based shopping. The clothing is still available through these stores and others but with websites on which orders can be placed, they are now available to a much wider market.

Items are lined and machine washable. Many of them are reversible, such as a multicolored seersucker dress. A little one dressed in one of the striped dresses and bloomers with bows, teamed with one of the floppy seersucker hats with floral details, will stand out in a crowd. For little girls, a classic navy and white striped dress with the flower pin at the waist is trendy and sweet at the same time.

The company continues to update its looks, combining its classic look with recent trends without ever responding to fads. The brand has weathered all the changes to clothing for children over the years and sales are still going strong. Their careful workmanship and enduring designs means Florence Eiseman clothes are often saved for siblings or cousins and passed down from generation to generation.

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