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Best Kids Clothes

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Second Act Childrenswear
1046 Madison Avenue
212-988-2440

Tartine Et Chocolat
1047 Madison Avenue
212-717-2112

Last April, an electrical fire sparked the closing of Second Act, a 37-year-old kidswear consignment shop that has, happily, just reopened. Parents who climb the stairs to the overstuffed space have one of two reactions: They either bolt from claustrophobia, or dig in and find incredible bargains on things that are in perfect condition. Designer clothes are never out of stock. A recent archeological dig unearthed a Sylvia Whyte floral formal abundant with crinoline for $62, Lilly Pulitzer leggings for $9, and a Capezio leotard for $4. Twice a year, owner Joan Blake marks everything down another 30 to 40 percent.

If Second Act were a Gemini, Tartine et Chocolat would be its other face. The gigantic and immaculately arranged French transplant, which opened its New York boutique last October, lives by the philosophy that children are supposed to look like children. That translates into smocked dresses for girls in girly colors and sports motifs for boys. The hallmark of the clothing is fine Egyptian-cotton, hand-stitched detailing, and prep-school styles. Dubbed the Chanel of the children's market, Catherine Painvin's collections are priced accordingly: up to $116 for a dress, $60 for a boy's shirt, $80 for a onesie. Sizes go from infant to size 10.

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