In 2016, Beyoncé brought her daughter, Blue Ivy, as her plus-one for the VMA’s. Newsworthy? Sure, but it was the mini fashionista’s style that actually turned heads on the red carpet, as she was dressed in a nude-colored tulle dress, matching sneakers and a headpiece. However, the 7-year-old didn’t dress herself (and her mom didn’t pick out the look either); it was actually the work of stylist Manuel A. Mendez.
Mendez has been Blue Ivy’s fashion guru since she was an infant. As a wardrobe assistant for Beyoncé, it was just part of Mendez’s job to make sure baby Blue had everything she needed, from diapers to clothes.
“The first thing you decide is ‘What is the baby going to wear that day?’ That’s when I started getting creative and putting little looks together,” Mendez says. Today, he’s a full-fledged kids’ stylist with a client list that includes 5-year-old trendsetter and Instagram star Taylen Biggs and Kidpik, a monthly clothing box for girls (that requires no subscription).
But wait, what goes into figuring out trends for the 10-and-under set?
Mendez tends to look toward the women’s runway shows to get inspiration to create “a mini version” for his rather young clients. Rather than putting first-graders in slinky gowns or cutout tops, Mendez focuses on the more comfortable pieces, fun patterns and textures, making sure that each trend will get kids excited.
Here, Mendez references the Kidpik boxes he created for the holidays (there are four of them, for every type of tiny fashionista!) to point out some of the biggest trends for 2020. And while Kidpik currently offers clothing just for girls, these trends can obviously be rocked by little boys too.
1. Mixed prints
“I might do striped pants with a flower top and then a cardigan to tone it down,” he notes. That is, if your 5-year-old doesn’t already select that combination on their own. Mendez also loves layering animal prints (especially leopard), noting that kids have been particularly obsessed with these patterns since the release of The Lion King.
2. Pops of neon
The brighter the better, but Mendez does have a few fave shades: “A touch of lime green or orange or bright yellow.” And don’t shy away from letting your guy or girl wear a few of those tones at the same time.
3. Geometric shapes
“Geometric shapes were big in 2019, and that’s going to keep going into 2020,” says Mendez. You can either mix prints—think a triangle-printed top with striped pants—or let the bold patterns steal the spotlight on their own.
If your kid lives for color, they’ll love figuring out the right solid shades to wear in the same outfit. Just try to make sure the hues chosen come from opposite sides of the color wheel. (Yup, there’s a fun lesson in this too). Wondering where to start? Mendez notes, “Fiesta, party colors are in—bright yellow, red, sorbet colors.” Just pair them with cooler shades, like blues or purples.