Sunday, December 2, 2012


I've been thinking about different issues surrounding dressing children lately. A sorority sister of mine has been posting hilarious pictures on Facebook of her four year old daughter all dolled up in some very daring fashion choices. I found that with my girls, three to four years old was about the time that they started having strong opinions about their attire. The Boy, who is seven, still happily allows me to choose his clothes for him so that he can contemplate the great questions of our time like the difference between paper towels and toilet paper.

The Boy is also color blind, so I think he worries a little about matching his clothes. I hate to say it, but sometimes I exploit his handicap to my advantage. During the Girl's soccer practice, the Boy often plays with the brother of one of the Girl's teammates. One day the brother brought his baseball mitt and a ball so they could practice catching, only I didn't have the Boy's mitt in the car. Luckily, the brother had his sister's pink mitt which fit the Boy perfectly. The Boy looked at it suspiciously for a minute:
The Boy: Is this pink?
Me: Oh no, it's a dark beige.
The Boy: (dubiously) Are you sure?
Me: Definitely. It's a dark beige.
Mother of the year. Right here. As if "dark beige" is even a color. In most places "dark beige" is brown.

Back to clothes, when the Girl was little I exercised more control over her clothing, even when it was clear that she wanted to choose for herself. She was my first child and I hadn't experienced any of the greater parenting issues that make you realize that if your kid goes to school looking like a slightly tarty clown it's not the end of the world. Now that I'm an old parent with bigger concerns than my children looking like street urchins, I pretty much let them wear what they want as long as it's seasonally appropriate. Social Services won't haul you in if your kids' clothes don't match, they might if they're wearing sundresses in the snow.

The Girl is a casual, jeans and t-shirts and sneakers kind of girl. The biggest issue in dressing her is that she is very, very tall. She's just turned 9 years old and wears a size 12 or 14. It is getting difficult to buy her things that are age appropriate because she's simply sizing out of girls' clothes. My favorite brands for her are Mini Boden and the Boden teenager line, johnny b. The clothing quality is really great, so I know that I can hand down the Girl's clothes to the Baby. In that same vein, the clothes are classics, so five or seven years from now (the Baby is quite petite), the clothes will still look good. Boden can be a little pricey, but they run sales quite often and I do a lot of our shopping part way through the season or end of the season to save money.

Recently, Sister bought the Girl a cute birthday outfit  from Crewcuts, J. Crew's kid's line. The quality is good, like Mini Boden, but a little more mature and sophisticated than Mini Boden. If you have a leggings girl, this is the place. Seriously, they have about 30 colors of leggings.  I just took advantage of a sale they're running on colored pants and ordered a couple of pairs for the Girl for Christmas. Shhhh!

If I'm not looking for something that can be handed down, I'll go with Land's End. The quality isn't as good as Boden, but the prices are much more reasonable. If I'm just looking for some clothes to get us through the season, this is my place. I bought a bunch of cords for the Girl there last year, but I wasn't really loving the styling for this year's pants. There were too many zippers and braids and things. The Girl is not very girly, so lots and lots of embellishments are not so good. I just got the Girl some sweatpants and nylon (I know, I know) warm up pants from Land's End that she loves. She had been trying to squeeze into a pair of the Boy's nylon warm up pants and I had to get her some of her own. If there's anything worse than nylon pants, it's tight nylon pants. I actually shivered at the thought.

I have a Gap credit card, so I buy a lot of my own basics at Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. Less often I shop Piperlime (mostly for shoes) and Athleta. Speaking of Athleta, a store just opened in Atlanta and my friend Maureen visited a few weeks ago and blogged about her experience. I haven't been all that thrilled with the girls' clothes at Gap and Old Navy. I think the styling is a little flashy and I haven't been that impressed with the quality. It's not just that seams will unravel, it's that the fabric itself is so thin that you can see through it. The Girl does have a cute Old Navy shirt with owls that has held up pretty well, so it's just kind of hit and miss.

Let's not forget Tar-jay. I got the Girl a pair of shorts there this summer and they were great. But, it's also a little iffy. You can get some good deals on clothes that are pretty good quality, or you can end up wearing a shirt one time, stretch out the neck, and look like you're bringing back the Flashdance look.

The issue with the Boy is durability. If I had a dollar for every pair of the Boy's knee-less pants I'd be a rich woman and could give up my glamourous career of washing clothes and reheating chicken nuggets for free. Hey, wait a second... Anyway, for the Boy fashion matters not at all. What I'm worried about is getting from October to April without having to patch his pants or (and this is what usually happens) sending him to school with his knees hanging out of the holes. My favorite pants are iron knee pull-on pants from Land's End. They are really durable and can almost hold up to the Boy, who is all about dramatic dives to make impossible catches. That he drags his knees across the ground to accomplish these catches is just a bonus. The Land's End pants are also great for another reason: they are pull-on. I found that the Boy still has trouble with snaps and buttons on pants. Being able to pull on elastic waist pants makes things much easier.

I love Mini-Boden for him, too, except that almost all of their pants are lined. This is probably great in England, but here in Jaw-jah, not so much. I really like their shirts, and, again the quality is great, but I think that they are a mite fancy for the boy. So, I get most of his shirts at Land's End or Old Navy. Old Navy has lines of NFL, NBA, and college shirts for kids that I really like. I do my best to go with teams or colleges to which we have some connection. Sister went to school at UVa, so the Boy had a Virginia shirt on once and a man randomly greeted him with, "Wahoowa." The Boy looked at him like he was crazy.

The Boy also gets a lot of Target t-shirts. The trick is finding ones that aren't super-obnoxious. I just can't buy those shirts that say, "This is what awesome looks like" or "Game On!" with a picture of a gaming control. Kids today have enough attitude with the stuff that comes out of their mouths, without having them literally wear the attitude on their chests.

If left to her own devises, the Baby would dress like a street-walker. She puts together these outfits that are only appropriate because she is four. Put the same outfit on a bigger child and she'd look like a reject from a glitz pageant. She's probably just rebelling because the poor thing gets a lot of hand-me-downs. I also buy more stuff for her at consignment stores because there is a better selection of used clothes in her size and for girls than there is for the older kids. I've found that after about 3t you should probably just give up looking for boys' clothes in consignment stores. Unless it's a set of dress clothes that was worn for 3 hours a week, you're not going to find anything worth a damn. When I do spring for new things for her, I usually like Hanna Andersson, although I wasn't really digging this fall's collection. The standard play dresses that they have all the time are great and indestructible. They also run some pretty deep sales, which is a good time to stock up. Just a little tidbit, sometimes Costco, of all places, has Hanna Andersson clothes. I'm sure that it's some slightly downgraded version, but they seem to hold up well.

Of course, I love Mini-Boden for her, too. Sister got the Baby a cute Crewcuts outfit for her birthday, too. The size 4T leggings were a touch long on her, but the shirt in a size 4/5 was inexplicably tiny. I returned the shirt for a bigger size and we'll see how it works. I also took just ordered her some clothes from Tea Collection. They were having a big Black Friday sale that dragged on until last Sunday or Monday when I got my act together and ordered from the items that weren't already sold out. Tea's clothes are "globally inspired" and this season is Swedish style, which, I have to say I find way cuter than some of the other countries that have inspired their designs in the past. I mean, who doesn't want to look Swedish? Other than the Swedish chef, have you met an ugly Swede?

I've gotten her some cute smocked dresses on Zulily, but sizing can be so difficult that one of the dresses won't fit her until she's about seven, at which point she will probably be wearing jodhpurs and sequined halter tops, or whatever is in fashion then. I do love scoring a deal on Zulily, though, and have actually bought some random stuff for myself.

The quality problems that I have with Old Navy's older girls' clothes I don't have with their baby and toddler clothes and the Baby has a couple of very cute dresses that she wears with leggings. I don't think that they'll last for any children past the Baby, but that's not a problem for me. I do think, though, that some of the Old Navy clothes are clearly designed by someone who doesn't have a small child. For example, skinny jeans on little kids are impractical from a potty standpoint. Even if the kid is able to get the pants down, she won't be able to get them back up and will have to ask for help. This will be: 1. annoying for the parent, and 2. demoralizing for the child at an age when she wants to do everything herself and might lead to a tantrum. Skinny pants for babies in my mind now equal tantrum pants.

So, wow! That's a lot of talking that I hope to goodness someone finds helpful. I like to think that this blog entertains and informs. I'm not sure that this was my most entertaining post, so I hope it at least informs. Also, no pictures. I figured you'd all seen all the logos for the companies, so meh, I thought I'd skip pictures this go-around. Hope you all have a great week!