Waldorf is a method of schooling founded by Rudolf Steiner, which focuses on the specific developmental needs of children. Waldorf education strives to 'educate the whole child' and does so in a respectful way
of both child and environment, using natural toys and surroundings for optimal development.
What kinds of things are recommended?
Natural fiber clothing of cotton, wool, or silk are recommended in solids and subtle prints. Layering is encouraged in the winter, and young children are dressed warmly to allow for outside play on all but the most bitter winter days. Colors that are bright and cheerful and found in nature are encouraged, and black and solid white are discouraged. Wool long underwear is pricey, but is a wonderful addition that can allow the outdoors to be enjoyed all winter long. Logos, pictures, or words on clothing are discouraged. The clothing should be natural fibers to allow breathability and warmth. Polyester, flashy clothing, and clothing that reveals a distracting amount of skin are discouraged.
What about something generic, like a dolphin on a t-shirt?
A picture, even of a natural thing is discouraged as it draws attention away from the child's face and distracts from the child him or herself. Even though it is not advertising or having words, the eye is immediately drawn to the shirt and the child is looked at secondly.
Advertising and the child
Children do not understand, and neither do many adults in this modern era, but clothing with logs on it or specific pictures is the company using yourself or your child as a walking billboard. While trends may still persist with muted clothing, there is no elitist class of 'Nike' or 'Gap' clothes as only being cool when no logos are shown. In most groups of children there is a 'cool' kid or two. When the cool kid is wearing subtle clothing, it diffuses the ability of a clothing company to capitalize on our youth because a subtle shirt doesn't drive a group of grade schoolers and their parents out to buy he same shirt in hopes that they too, by wearing that in style shirt, will become cool as well.
Retracts from the face
When subtle clothing is used, the face is the highlight of the person's or child's body. This is how it should be. Clothing should frame the face so that a person's feelings and thoughts can be captured, not
those conveyed by their clothing.
Stops the escalating show off mentality
With subtle clothing there is no need to try to outdo each other in the way of the more popular styles or keeping up with the latest fashions. Children still will show off, but at least the playing field is more leveled for those who don't have the resources to 'keep up with the Jones's'
Creates a sense of peace in the classroom
Think of a classroom void of all logos and flashy clothing. A teacher is not going to be distracted by her pupils' dress so she can focus on the children themselves. Doesn't this seem like a nice idea for a classroom?
What about individualism?
We all know that older children and teens want to have a sense of their own style. Even if they are like my husband and I and prefer to dress subtly, that is their own style. Children who are asked to dress within Steiner's philosophy can still show their own personality and creativity through laying (which is in style right now anyway), solid colors, and textures.
How we dress in our family
In our family we strive to keep the clothing attractive and plain, but we don't stress out much about it. It isn't a religion, it is a preference. So when we saw an adorable shirt with a hand painted turtle on it, we went ahead and bought it anyway. But it is nice to at least be aware of how logos, pictures, and words on clothing can affect a person and child.
written by Lea Anderson