Little pieces

For new mothers whose Jigsaw wardrobe no longer fits, there is consolation in a new stylish range for children.

For a decade, I had been shopping almost exclusively at Jigsaw, which I loved for its delicious silk shirts, its acres of linen, its suits that were somehow groovy, classic and undressy all at the same time. The cut was always comfy, the colours good enough to eat and the pricing just the right side of guilt.

Then I had children. And for my first, wobbly, postnatal outing I went to Jigsaw, desperate to refresh my wardrobe after the long, baggy horrors of pregnancy. But as soon as I walked in, I knew something was wrong. Bright pink miniskirts with matching cropped jackets? Little shift dresses? Cropped T-shirts? Had I walked into Miss Selfridge or Kookai by mistake? Then the truth dawned: I was suddenly too old and baggy to be a Jigsaw girl.

And that, dear credit card company, would have been that. Except that clever John Robinson ( who owns the company ) has launched Jigsaw Junior, pictured here. At present, there is - in the scarily grown-up lingo of modern fashion - a capsule collection comprising 20 pieces for two-to- 12-year-olds, available at nine stores around the country. Next spring, a full 100-piece range will be introduced at three standalone locations and in the basement of three womenswear shops.

The company is right to be so bullish. Though the children's wear market is crowded at both ends of the price spectrum (from Mothercare to Ralph Lauren), the middle ground is barren. "We're not mass market," explains Belle Good, 32, the elegant mother of three (with another on the way) who is in charge of the new range. "Jigsaw represents good quality and good design at a fair price."

If all this sounds a little sensible, then look closely at the clothes. Just when you've got too old and fat for the little pink suit, you can live vicariously through your daughter's ultra-groovy boot-cut trousers (pounds 44.95, ages six-12) and velvet shirt (pounds 29.95). Or, for more youthful customers who feel guilty about buying another fitted T-shirt, here is a velvet shift dress (pounds 29.95) for your darling niece: a classic party outfit but without the naff, girly frills. In the words of our model's mum, Janina: "The clothes are beautiful - lovely colours, and not too kiddy; they don't have those awful flower motifs."

The downside is that, for clothes that your loved one will grow out of within a year, the pricing isn't all that keen. "I might buy one jumper," admits Janina, who does most of her shopping at markets. A more serious problem is the number of Hand Wash and Dry Clean Only labels, even the dreaded lurking specialist P. "I did think, oh no," says Janina, who has averagely mucky daughters of six and nine. "I haven't got time to hand wash anything."

The big plus is that Jigsaw Junior has taken the aggro out of shopping. "My daughters are so stubborn," explains Janina. "Now I let them wear what they want, even things that make me cringe, with ribbons and a Barbie doll motif." Luckily, these are clothes designed to appeal both to adult and child. Six-year-old Ella went home with a mutually pleasing pinafore dress, cardigan, and scarf. If only I could still squeeze into that little pink suitn

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