Sweater weather and beyond: fun fall and winter fashion for pets
Ahhhhh fall — and yes, even winter.
It’s sweater weather, it’s when leaves change colour, and it’s a time for hot drinks in front of the fireplace wrapped up in something cozy.
It’s also when we gear up for some of the year’s biggest, most fun celebrations like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays, which definitely inspire pet parents to break out their pet’s finest fashion items.
Fall and winter offer so many opportunities to celebrate life with pets, and fashion is one way to express just how much we love that they’re part of our family — whether creating a cozy canine layered look for a hike in the woods or posing a cat next to a pumpkin, decked out in the best Halloween costume social media has ever seen.
Pet fashion gives us extra inspiration to make memories with animals, to capture those moments with a photograph, and to bond in a way we’ll never forget.
For insight into the world of pet fall fashion and the trends that drive the impulse to dress up and celebrate with our pets, we spoke with Pet Valu’s Director of Private Brands, Dolly Kaushul.
She shared a little sartorial advice to help pet parents make the most of the coming season.
We heart pet fashion
When did so many of us first experience the urge to put a tiny sweater set and matching beret on our cat or dog?
It’s hard to say, but the trend towards encouraging our pets to be a little extra — via their fashion — has been on the rise for a few years now, at least.
“I think a lot of people view their pet as their child,” says Kaushul. “And we saw it in children's fashion where a lot of people were making sure that their child was just as stylish as they were. It’s the same thing with pets,” she explains.
“It extends to your lifestyle and to your pet, who will usually don the same style as the pet parent, whether that's active or fashionable. Our Bailey & Bella customers understand the trends and they're very engaged with what's happening in the pet industry and what's best for their pet.”
Kaushul continues: “They're proud parents. And as COVID has receded and people are going back to work, they love spoiling their pet because they want to make sure that their pet is comfortable with that change.”
Basically, a cute and cozy new sweater for your dog or cat can do two things: it can make them feel warm, secure, and held, and it can also make a pet parent feel like they’re demonstrating their love by treating their kitty or pupper to something special.
In the end, everyone gets the warm fuzzies.
Fashion has always been a tool for expression, too, and it’s no different when it comes to pet fashion.
Pet parents know and understand their pets’ personalities and often choose items that express their individuality and style, whether that’s a sporty, jersey-like top for an athletic frisbee chaser or an elevated outfit in luxe fabrics like velvet or soft wool for a professional lounger.
Even for pets who don’t like traditional, human-style clothes, pet parents have embraced colourful, eye-catching harness and leash combos, matching pet-and-parent bandanas and scrunchies, or small accessories like bowties that slide onto a pet’s collar.
Dressing up a pet for a special occasion (whether it’s a trip to an orchard to go apple picking, a wedding, or New Year’s Eve) is a way to include them in what you’re doing. It’s a statement that says your pets are family and that you belong together. And it’s a way to create memorable moments that celebrate your bond with them.
This fall, Pet Valu’s newly rebranded and modernized Bailey & Bella line is taking its cues from pop culture trends like Barbie, looks inspired by British royals (yes, there are fascinators), and layered outfits that are both practical and stylish.
Best of all, these items are species-neutral so pet parents of dogs, cats, and even some smaller pets can get in on the fashion fun.
Pet fashion how-to tips
Whether it's your pet’s first time playing dress up or you’re dealing with a fashion veteran, a pet parent’s primary concern should always be the safety and comfort of their pet.
With any new item of clothing, you’ll want to give your pet time to warm up to the idea of putting it on, stay by their side while they’re wearing it, and make sure they aren’t uncomfortable or stressed out in their new look.
For pet fashionistas who really love to play around with their style, Bailey & Bella offers pet parents the opportunity to create a head-to-tail look with layers, accessories, and finishing touches that take outfits to the next level.
FYI: giving your pet time to get used to and comfortable with their wardrobe will pay off in the end (and by “end” we mean “iconic Instagram post”).
Kaushul recommends letting your pet slowly get acquainted with new additions to their wardrobe.
“Have your pet sniff it and be a little bit more familiar with it before you attempt to put the clothing on them,” she advises, “and then observe the behaviour of your pet as you dress them up. My dog loves clothes because I started her from a very early age, but just ease them into it.”
(Tip: Sweetening the dress-up deal with treats might help too.)
The degree to which different pets enjoy dressing up will vary widely.
Some will happily go into full fashion influencer mode like @TikkatheIggy or the @Mensweardog, modelling everything from sunglasses and cravats to sequined headpieces and tulle gowns.
Others will prefer a more casual vibe, wanting to keep things classic with a tweed coat over a light sweater.
And of course, there are the pets who prefer to play with accessories only, highlighting their natural furry beauty with a chic bejewelled hair clip. Whatever your pet’s preference, it’s fun to experiment with new looks, layering items over time to gauge their interest and comfort.
Practical fashion for the outdoorsy type
When it comes to essential, practical, weather-specific items, the transition from summer to fall and winter can be confusing for pets. (The same way it is for humans when we go from sliding on a pair of flip-flops to leave the house in summer to … bundling up in six layers, plus boots, once the weather turns colder.)
Your dog, too, may feel impatient about the process of getting dressed to go outside.
Kaushul’s solution are items like the versatile, layerable, and simple-to-slip-on blanket coat from Bailey & Bella.
The coat wraps around a dog’s body simply, can be layered over other items for warmth, and provides protection from the elements.
It’s also an easy-fitting item which, says Kaushul, “is really important for deeper chested and larger breeds. You can’t have a big parka on them but you have something that still keeps them warm and protected from weather conditions.”
The jacket pairs perfectly with the line’s fleece onesie. Together, these items can take pets from balmy September weather to January snow, keeping pets comfortable no matter the varying weather conditions we all experience across Canada.
Paying attention to how your pet responds to different weather conditions at different times of the year is the key to keeping them happy, especially in the colder months.
Is it time to add another layer? What about boots? Is your pet oblivious to the rain or does it make them uncomfortable?
Age is often a factor that determines a pet’s need for particular clothing items. As your pet ages, they may require extra items to keep them warm, dry, and even protected from the sun.
Their paws can also become more sensitive and require a protective layer between them and the salty, slushy pavement. Your pet will let you know how they feel about venturing outdoors in certain types of weather — and Pet Valu has all the items you need to ease their transition into fall and winter.
Shorter days in fall and winter also mean less light, so safety (both yours and your pets) becomes a concern when you’re out together. “A lot of our winter wear has water-resistant layers and reflective piping because it's a little bit darker and you want to be safe on those late or early morning walks,” says Kaushul.
Trick or treat!
And now for something completely impractical — but so much fun! A 2020 survey found that 66% of dog parents dress up their pup for Halloween.
Even for pet parents who don’t typically dress their pets in clothing, this is the one occasion where exceptions are often made.
The holiday is an opportunity to dress your pet in something spooky, something extra-adorable, or something that takes a page from whatever is going on in pop culture at the moment (yes, we do mean Barbie).
Halloween costumes often spoof some of the past year’s most memorable moments, which is why we saw pets dressed as Zoom meetings, loaves of sourdough bread, or rolls of toilet paper during the pandemic.
Bailey & Bella Celebrates gets in on the Halloween action with costumes and accessories that make it easy for pet parents to include their pets in this celebration of spookiness.
For 2023, the brand has designed a classic pumpkin costume for Halloween traditionalists, lobster and dinosaur onesies for the pet who’s always dreamed of role-playing as another species, and “scary” accessories like this bloodied axe (made far less frightening by the fact that it’s a plush chew toy).
To add value to the line of costumes, Bailey & Bella has Halloween-themed items that are functional, too.
Their pink, Barbie-inspired butterfly costume doubles as a harness for long trick-or-treat walks (there’s also a dragon version for House of the Dragon fans). These costumes are based on products your pet is already used to wearing and may find more comfortable.
For pets who aren’t used to wearing clothing, some extra time should be invested in letting them warm up to their Halloween outfit.
Allow them to have a good, thorough sniff, getting familiar with the items ahead of even trying them on. Then, before the big day arrives, put the costume on for a brief period of time so they can experience what it feels like to wear it.
With enough practice and patience, your pet should be comfortable with their costume in time for Halloween.
Make sure that safety and fun are on equal footing as you celebrate the night. Pet Valu’s costumes are always designed to be safe and comfortable for pets, but pet parents should never leave pets alone and unattended in their costumes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
The weather outside may become frightful, but the winter holiday season is truly delightful — a time for pets and pet parents to be together.
It’s our cue to spoil each other with gifts, indulge in extra treats, and get dressed up (or down) as our holiday traditions demand.
This year, the Bailey & Bella Celebrates line is aimed at extending the holiday feeling and adding value for pet parents who’d like to dress up their pet in festive wear not just for one day, but all season long.
“It's not a high investment,” explains Kaushul, “but it allows people to be a little bit more fun and cheeky during the holiday season where they're going out to holiday parties and they want to try to include their pet as much as possible.”
The winter holiday fashion trends available for 2023 cater to many different types of pets and their style preferences.
An active animal may not want to be weighed down by a whole ensemble and will instead prefer, for example, a reversible naughty and nice bandana decked out with a festive bell.
A pet with a lot of pride in its carefully groomed glossy coat might love to accent it with a pair of sparkly barrettes (and a matching scrunchie for their human). And certain pets may appreciate the way this soft green ruff with shiny gold bells really brings out their eyes.
For pet parents who like to go all out on behalf of their bestie, Bailey & Bella Celebrates has pet fashion items to create a complete holiday look.
Spend Christmas morning in a pair of holiday-print pyjamas or pop into the neighbourhood holiday party in a one-piece sweater and tartan skirt ensemble that’s as attention-getting as it is easy to wear.
For an understated après ski look (even if not hitting the slopes!), try one of Bailey & Bella’s sherpa-lined cable knit sweaters topped with a red plaid bandana — available in a scrunchie and bandana set that lets pet parents twin with their pet.
All of these items are wearable throughout the winter holidays, extending the time we have to celebrate alongside our furry BFFs, as well as making them part of the seasonal traditions we cherish.
We care for our pets by making sure they have essential clothing items that increase their level of comfort.
We also care for them when we include them in our celebrations and traditions by dressing them up for these special occasions. Pet fashion is another special way to tell our pets how much we love and appreciate them.