As a child, I was beautifully dressed (I can say this, since it was all down to my Italian mother). Little dresses with hand-smocking and embroidered dancing girls with 3D skirts; hand-embroidered blouses; hand-knitted, soft, mohair scarves ... This finery, lovingly made by aunties, was, of course, taken for granted by me, as I pretended to be Tarzan.

Twenty-five years or so later, I walked into a very posh store in London's New Bond Street and there, at the back, teeny tiny baby booties nestled in tissue paper and gloriously thick towelling bibs with embroidered ducks hung on padded hangers. One rail displayed girls' dresses - hand-smocked "day" ones, or in velvet, with fine, crocheted collars. The prices were ridiculous - pounds 650 for the party dresses. I rushed home saying, "Mamma, did you keep all those dresses I had?"

Today, Jigsaw, French Connection and Monsoon, to name a few, make children's clothes. Fantastic value, great styling and perfect for climbing trees. Never pay loads of money for children's clothes - they are, after all, for eating ice-cream and digging for worms in. If you pay pounds 500 for a child's dress you must be bonkers.

Above: Thomas wears beige cord shirt (sizes XS-XL), pounds 21, and beige cotton trousers (sizes 28-38), pounds 17.50, both Benetton, 255-259 Regent Street, London W1, 0171 647 4200, and branches nationwide. White cotton T-shirt (2-8 yrs), pounds 8.50, Roobarb & Custard. Mail Order/Enquiries: 0171 835 0010. Red socks, child's own. Brown shoes (sizes 8-2.5), pounds 48, Buckle My Shoe, 18-19 St Christopher's Place, London W1, 0171 935 5589. Georgia wears pink check dress (sizes 3-10), pounds 14.95 and pounds 16.95, Adams Childrenswear, branches nationwide, enquiries: 0500 330 040. Black leather shoes (sizes 7-2), pounds 39.50, Buckle My Shoe, as before

Right: Elsa wears Heart Jumper (age 0-8yrs), order no LB4, from pounds 36, with matching hat (S,M,L), order no LB42, pounds 16, Little Badger. Mail order: 0171 498 4707. Denim skirt (2-8yrs), pounds 20.50, Roobarb & Custard, as before. Navy "hickory" boots, (sizes 3-8), pounds 24.99, Hush Puppies, Selfridges, Oxford Street, London W1. Enquiries: 0800 192 192. Tom wears red check shirt (6m-3yrs), pounds 8.99, George at Asda, branches nationwide. Enquiries: 0500 100 055. Red cotton T-shirt (2-8 years), pounds 8.50, and beige cotton army trousers (2-8), pounds 28.50, Roobarb & Custard, as before. Adidas trainers, child's own

Above right: Tom wears grey grandad top (6m-3yrs), pounds 4.99, black jeans, (age 3-10), pounds 8.99, blue hat (0-2yrs), pounds 3.99, all by George at Asda, branches nationwide. Enquiries: 0500 100 055. Yellow body warmer, (age 6m-3yrs), pounds 9.99, and beige suede boots, (sizes 7-10/11-3) pounds 12.99/13.99, both Adams Childrenswear, branches nationwide. Enquiries: 0500 330 040. Georgia wears brown cord dress, (1-8yrs), from pounds 22, order no. 3213 CHC and blue/brown and striped rollneck from pounds 11, order no. 4265 CHS and matching hat (2- 12yrs), pounds 8, order no. 5201 CHS, all by Mini Boden, Mail order: 0181 453 1536. Cream socks childs own. Black shoes, Buckle My Shoe, as before.

Left: Thomas wears orange denim trousers (age 3-10), pounds 8.99, orange stripe corduroy shirt (age 2-8yrs), pounds 27.50, both Roobarb & Custard, Mail Order/Enquiries: 0171 835 0010. Beige suede boots, (sizes 3-8), pounds 24.99, Hush Puppies, available from Selfridges, Oxford Street, W1. Enquiries: 0800 192 192.

Cover photograph: Tom wears beige army trousers, (2-8 years), pounds 28.50, Roobarb & Custard, Mail Order/Enquiries: 0171 835 0010. Yellow cord shirt (age 12m-8yrs), from pounds 18, order no. 2207 MUS, Mini Boden, Mail Order: 0181 453 1536. Green hooded sweat top, (age 3m-3yr), pounds 9.99, and beige suede boots, (sizes 7-10/11-3) pounds 12.99/13.99.Enquiries: 0500 330040.