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Image: Author Sophie Kinsella
Bebeto Matthews  /  AP
Author Sophie Kinsella shops in the children's section at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
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updated 10/4/2010 11:13:06 AM ET 2010-10-04T15:13:06

Even confirmed shopaholics such as author Sophie Kinsella and the retail-addicted heroine she created cut back on their boutique binges as the economy went into a tailspin.

But, as many mothers know, it's easier to deprive yourself of the latest it bag than to pass up that perfect thing for your child.

Really, who can resist a dapper toddler-size tweed jacket or a precious dinosaur-trimmed hat?

Not Kinsella.

"When you have your little baby you want to nurture them, clothe them, give them everything they need. You feel like you have to wrap the child up to make a better world for them," says London-based Kinsella, the mother of four sons, including an infant. "The desire to buy really cute boots for them comes from that same place."

"When I was pregnant, nesting for me was shopping in catalogs."

Kinsella's newest book in her fashion-obsessed series is "Mini Shopaholic," in which Becky Bloomwood Brandon vows to shop her own closet in the name of saving money. But she "teaches" 2-year-old Minnie that there are exceptions to the new rules when there's a one-off bargain to be had or you're spending your own pocket money.

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This breeds a well-dressed young lady with discerning taste, but Minnie doesn't discriminate when and where she throws a little tantrum. She doesn't really care if she's at Harrods or home when she decides she wants something right then and there.

Becky, in hopefully steering Minnie toward better behavior, learns her own lesson about the important things in her own life, too.

"Becky really sees herself as being selfless when she first decides she's just buying things for Minnie," explains Kinsella over tea at the restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman.

And, purchased items, which could seem a little impractical or impulsive at first, can take on a more meaningful life when they become sentimental reminders of your children as they grow, she says. She talks passionately about the mementos of each stage, especially now that her big boy is 14 and not much interested in his mom choosing cutesy clothes for him.

Kinsella says she cherishes the tweed blazers she bought for her three oldest sons. Only the older two technically needed them as school uniforms, but she thought it unfair not to buy for her then-2-year-old. "I had to buy a size 4 because there were no 2s, but I just rolled the sleeves and he just looked adorable."

Image: Author Sophie Kinsella
Bebeto Matthews  /  AP
Author Sophie Kinsella shops in the children's section at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

For her 5-month-old, Kinsella couldn't resist a splurge on an antique baby carriage that's straight out of "Mary Poppins."

"It's the least practical thing. But he's using it now, and that's important. And after he grows out of it, I will keep my handbags in it. I hankered for the pram for all the boys and I'm happy to finally have one."

Moving to Bergdorf's children's department, Kinsella makes a beeline for the sort of hats and dressy coats that a mother envisions her baby wearing in a family portrait.

If it were Minnie's closet she was filling, the Antik Batik rainbow-sequin shift or a faux-fur jacket would go into the bag. Of course, in her contrarian style, she'd probably refuse to wear them and go fully boho or girlie and want to be covered with lace trim and bows.

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The biggest fashion battles in her real-life house are over collared shirts, which she thinks are necessary for any sort of formal occasion. Her sons think any outfit not built around a graphic T-shirt and jeans is enough of a concession. "I win — so far," Kinsella says.

For the most part the boys respect her style savvy. "I give them gentle advice, something like, 'Yeah, that looks great but you could try this outfit instead.'"

Kinsella suspects she has one son — a 5-year-old — who'll be the real shopper of her brood. He has a long wish list going already. "He knows he can't ask for 100 things for his birthday, so now he's already asking for things for next birthday, and his 11th birthday, and his 19th birthday," she says.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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