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downers: boys’ clothes

I have fairness on the brain. I hear “that’s not fair” at least 20 times a day. “That’s not FAIR that Tate got more Cheerios.” “That’s not FAIR that Finn gets to sit in that chair.” “Yoona, it’s not FAIR that I can’t watch Monday Night Football when the Lions are playing, just because I’ve already watched forty hours of Tigers baseball in the past week.” A heads up for the unattached: if you don’t want to spend your entire life watching sports on TV, don’t get with someone from the greater Detroit metropolitan area.

You know what’s not fair? Walking into a kids’ clothing store and seeing 90% of the real estate covered in pink and purple bedazzle. I don’t get it. Everyone I know has boys. Around these parts, it’s like you can turn on your tap and a bunch of Y chromosomes will come gushing out. So why can’t we get some decent boys’ clothes? Why??

It makes me roll my eyes when my friends complain that they can’t get their girls out of their tutus. Cry me a river. I find the wearing of tutus in non-ballet contexts to be an obvious cry for attention, but I readily admit that I probably feel that way because I’m bitter that I don’t have something equally as fun to put on my boys. I tried suspenders once for Finn but that ended badly, with pinched skin and a monster wedgie. Suspenders look sweet when you see them at American Apparel. What no one remembers about suspenders until they go to wear them is that you have to tuck your top tightly into your pants to work that look, and I don’t need to tell you how cool your typical five-year old boy looks with a tight tuck. So yeah, my boys have worn girls’ leggings and bell-bottomed jeans. As a consumer, I crave variety and choice. And neither of those things are available in the boys’ section.

Having boys means you’re likely buying a lot of one thing: stripes. In my boys’ rooms are drawers full of striped clothing in various stages of putrification. The problem with owning only striped clothing, of course, is that once your boys start dressing themselves, they are in danger of looking like blind mimes.

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not sure this works

Stripes aren’t all the stores are offering. They’re also offering t-shirts with school-friendly slogans like “My Mommy is a MILF,” and fedoras for toddlers. Our sons deserve better than clothing that looks like it was conceived by The Situation and J-Woww. The kids in the Crewcuts are working a look, but ironically, I don’t want my kids to dress like they care about fashion. It wouldn’t be honest, because they care not at all. Not to mention, as cute as those kids look in the catalog, my kid can’t wear suede chukka boots and a wool blazer to school—he would get stoned by his friends. I do like Boden’s boy pants. But $48 for a pair that he will grow out of in 3 months? Increasingly, not happening. Cuz says I need that money for retinol.

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mad that all his clothes are striped

I just want something that won’t tear, isn’t cheesy, and can stand up to gallons of dirt, blood, and urine. But please, no Gymboree. The clothing is inarguably well-made, but I have a problem with Gymboree. All my reproductive organs shrivel up whenever I go near a Gymboree. I guess my main objection to Gymboree is that everything in the store is designed as part of a set. Like, the frog pants go with the frog shirt that goes with the frog hat. Frogs seem like a cruel thing to do to your kid, especially in triplicate. And you’ll have those frogs forever, because Gymboree clothing is actually so well made that it has the half-life of plutonium.

When I had just the one kid, I would go to Cafe Press and customize Hanes t-shirts, like the one below. But now that I have two kids, I don’t have that kind of time. I once drove Tate all the way to school not realizing that both his legs were in one pant leg. So mostly these days I rely on H&M, but their sizing is weird, and the options few.

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Which is why I was so psyched that the folks at Prefresh sent me some stuff for the boys. I have a strong sense of journalistic integrity, but I happen to like these clothes a lot. And maybe you need leads. As you can see, the tops are awesome. Fun. Not trying too hard. With a perfectly laid-back neckline—something you might as well get your boys used to early on.

Take that, tutus.

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39 Comments Post a comment
  1. Heidi #

    My horror comes at the matching of colors: gray on gray, brown on brown, or the worst of all, red on red – invariably slightly different shades. For my boys I stick to jeans, cargos, and a variety of t-shirts that I don’t find objectionable. Not too exciting but easy easy easy. Nordstrom brands and Boden seem to work well – I find most items slightly used at consignment shops, and considering they WILL be destroyed by the time we are done wth them, I appreciate the reduced cost. WIth one daughter here too, I can tell you that I also appreciate not having the outfit drama x 3. Imagine – with increased variety comes increased opportunity for cringeworthy combinations. Think knee socks with shorts, sparkly shoes and long belted sweater.

    November 8, 2012
  2. I have two little boys, too, and they wear a lot of Nico Nico, Bobo Choses, Oeuf, Esp.no.1, and mini rodini. Yes it’s very expensive, but I always wait for the 60% markdown. For basics I stick with Gap 1969 skinny jeans and crewcuts tees and hoodies (never full price). I prefer shopping for boys. The main thing is to make sure the clothes fit them well. I can’t stand baggy bulky clothes that get in the way of fun.

    November 2, 2012
    • we have a lot of fit issues with pants as their teachers can attest. if the pants are long enough they don’t stay up at the waist

      November 2, 2012
  3. I like dungaree’s, they’re denim so last from the big one to the small one and you can pick the kid up and carry them around easily (they think this is great fun even if other parents think you’re cruel)

    November 2, 2012
    • I think you are referring to what Americans call overalls. I love overalls

      November 2, 2012
      • to me overalls are the same thing but with sleeves but yeah

        November 6, 2012
  4. Yep same in England- And I hear your pain on the letting them choose their own clothes issue! Yesterday my 6 year old picked out black fleece joggers, a red fleece hoody, with a long t-shirt (different shade of red), which was visible out of the bottom of the hoody (of course worn with the hood up at all times). Is it bad to say I sometimes feel embarrassed going out in public with him?!

    November 2, 2012
    • i find it gets easier with time, the humiliation

      November 2, 2012
  5. sammy #

    ew, those crew kids… – they’re miniatures of people i’m just not going to like. or dolls. so creepy. when my nephew was smaller, i could always find him something good at the hanna andersson outlet store.

    November 1, 2012
    • gotta have the hannas. i finally got some striped long johns for myself and i love them

      November 1, 2012
  6. Andy #

    Your use of the word “triplicate” was superlative!

    Also, journalistic integrity is a luxury only the 1% can afford, so don’t sweat it!

    November 1, 2012
    • i do love vocab. excellent. i want to be clear that i have been gifted free things that i have NOT talked about on this blog. god i sound defensive

      November 1, 2012
      • Andy #

        Hahaha. Don’t be defensive. As my life-idol Mame Dennis (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051383/) once said, “Life is a buffet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” And we already know how much you love a buffet. So load up your plate, go back for seconds, and then jam as many buns as you can into your pockets.

        PS-your blog makes me laugh during inappropriate moments at work. Thanks!

        November 1, 2012
      • as if! i’d never carb load at a buffet!! but I adore the quote. need to watch the film. and it makes me feel like I’m sticking it to the man to think of people reading me at work

        November 1, 2012
  7. Tiffany Taylor #

    =) Awesome – thank you….tt

    November 1, 2012
    • thank YOU. the boys love the wolf t-shirts especially

      November 1, 2012
  8. Christina #

    The stripes! It’s exhausting. I do prefer the tiny boys section to girls clothes, though. Poor little baby tarts!

    You could do a whole series of posts on the ugliness of kids shoes in general, too. After three stores, I just texted my sister and said that my son needed shoes, because she doesn’t have kids yet and will spend a ridiculous amount of money so I don’t have to buy him something with a Disney logo on it that lights up. BRUTAL.

    November 1, 2012
    • someone should start a kids’ line called baby tarts. boys summer shoes: i have written a post about that and it is a huge problem. although things got better with native shoes this last summer…the light up shoes confound me. i also saw shoes on a toddler that squeak; presumably so you won’t lose the kid, but man, that would want to make me lose the kid

      November 1, 2012
  9. The blessing here, because there is not the selection moms crave for their boys, is that it’s soooo much cheaper than dressing a girl! Trust me on this… or ask Brent. 🙂 Although as a default I did give the young son an incredible shoe fetish that rivals mine. Oh well. BTW, neither of my boys wear mandals.

    November 1, 2012
    • carrie, I saw designer jeans for $140 in the girls’ section at Nordstrom and promptly freaked out. so i feel your pain. actually i don’t feel your pain but i empathize

      November 1, 2012
  10. I hear you on those CrewCuts looks. I keep checking the catalog to see if boxing lessons come with some of those outfits. At those prices they should come with something extra. A years worth of dry cleaning, something. Though with a slightly older boy those clothes make provide a workable threat to throw into regular rotation. “Pick your toys up right this second or I’ll make you wear your little Italian sports coat and color pop skinny pants to school tomorrow”.

    November 1, 2012
    • Might provide a workable threat – not make provide. Sheesh. I used to be able to type…and proofread to boot. I’m going in for a nap!

      November 1, 2012
    • hilarious. luckily j.crew puts a lot of their boys’ tees on sale. i do love their tees, great basics for the kiddos…

      November 1, 2012
  11. Meg #

    Ah, but what do you do when all your boy-child will wear is sweatpants? Are there any jeans out there with the look of H&M and the comfort of his awful shiny poly target sweats?

    November 1, 2012
    • ah the boys are very texture sensitive, aren’t they? adidas track pants, some of which are lined with sweatshirt material. and old navy has the pants that look like twill pants on the outside but have a sweat/fleece liner. boden might be your best bet, you can usually get 15% off and free shipping both ways. also nordstrom now carries boden and marks it down regularly…

      November 1, 2012
  12. “They’re also offering t-shirts with school-friendly slogans like “My Mommy is a MILF,”” OMG, Where did you find that?

    There isn’t much selection for girls either, There might be more stuff. but it’s ALL pink, purple, and sparkly. Ugh and Ew.

    Kids clothes are definitely lacking much opportunity for expression and that’s a complete bummer!

    November 1, 2012
    • i don’t remember where i saw it, but it is seared in my memory, because i remember being shocked and appalled

      November 1, 2012
      • I would really like to ask the person that decided that shirt was a good idea, if they knew what MILF stood for. I would also ask anyone who bought it if they knew what it meant. I’m sure they weren’t advocating for incest.

        November 2, 2012
      • presumably

        November 2, 2012
  13. Alas, it doesn’t get much better for males over 30. For years, the height of fashion for everyday menswear were khakis. Then we got exotic and added pockets to the legs to get Cargo pants. At least now there’s H&M, American Apparel, and other hipster stuff. Unfortunately I can’t pull off a lot of these looks. But at least there’s progress and there might be more equality when they to get to pay for their own clothes.

    November 1, 2012
    • i remember when cargo pants were first getting hot for guys and they just seemed so crazy. i just bought ten pairs of carter’s pants for tate and here’s a fun feature–the waist tie that does not function. like it just sits there but does not cinch anything when you pull it. completely ornamental. so i’d argue that it does get a little better for males over 30…

      November 1, 2012
  14. I DO like the last shirts! And the vision of your son with both his legs in one pant leg made me laugh out loud. Until I remembered that The Tornado sat like that for about half an hour yesterday. Parenting is super awesome.

    November 1, 2012
    • luckily with bellbottoms they still can get some freedom of movement, even in one pant leg

      November 1, 2012
  15. Tami #

    Look on the bright side, you will never have to deal with all the slutty clothing out there made for the 5+ year old girl.

    November 1, 2012
    • this is something i’ve thought, often. the offerings at some stores do appear quite salacious

      November 1, 2012
  16. Hi Yoona, it’s much the same over here in England, shame we don’t have a Preshop, what we do have is clothes in all sorts of styles for girls, and not a lot of choice for boys once they reach toddler stage (about a year). As I’ve got 3 grandsons this is a problem, but not for the 4 granddaughters. You are not alone when pulling your hair out.

    November 1, 2012
    • my mother in law is great and used to gift finn frequently with clothing but as time goes on i appreciate that she sticks to sports jerseys, which are worth their weight in gold in our house. it’s hard out there!

      November 1, 2012
  17. demondoll247 #

    We have one boy, and ALL the stripes. Sometimes it’s like clown school…

    November 1, 2012
    • exactly. clown school. throw in the sports jerseys and it’s an aesthetic grab bag of horrors

      November 1, 2012

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