Friday, August 28, 2009

Now, clothing for the kids!

summer sewing

Okay, I'm a bit obsessed with clothing right now, so I hope you will all bear with me. Now, clothing for the kids has practical issues (they grow out of it so fast, I need to stick to a budget, and it needs to be stuff they can really play in and get dirty). But then I have two special issues, different for the different genders of my children.

Boys Clothing:

It is sad but true that after you graduate into toddler sizes there is less and less "cute" clothing for boys and more and more clothing depicting violent images. In a standard, low-end store (any of the marts, Target, etc.), I have a very hard time finding stuff for Carbon that is OK with me. I'm fine wth dinosaurs, fish, sports images, and large trucks, but even that is limited and gender biased.

There isn't a whole lot of creativity open for boys in the standard clothing that is out there, either, and that is another gender-bias that I want to avoid. Carbon has always enjoyed dress-up and playing at sewing with me, and I want to encourage him to see clothing as a form of creative expression for himself. An easy solution is for me to sew clothing for him, letting him pick out the fabric and have input. This resulted in a famous pair of polka dot pants that he wore when he was 2-3 years old until they literally were more patches than pants. He loved those pants, even though most people thought he was wearing his pajamas.

Girls Clothing:

Like this post from Giddy Goat, many parents I know are disturbed by the early sexualizing displayed in girls clothing. Once again, I see this being worse at the box stores, where the clothing is more affordable. A recent family trip to Target to look at girls clothing sent my husband and me out of there very disturbed by all the, frankly, sleazy clothing that was being sold in a size 4.

There are a few solutions that address all of these issues.

I can sew my kids' clothing. I am fortunate to have the skills and tools that make this a fairly easy process. But, it's still time consuming and I frankly do not have the time to sew all of their clothing as they grow.

I can shop at higher-end stores. Gymboree, Baby Gap, and The Children's Place have all been places that I could find cute clothing that didn't offend my sensibilities either with sexualization or violent-imagery. If I cruise the clearance racks, I can just about afford to shop there. But really, this option is too expensive for growing children.

I can carefully sift through thrift stores. And I do, sometimes finding great items. It's like a treasure hunt, and it's fun, but once again I don't have time to get all their clothes this way, and I can't guarantee finding something when we actually need it.

I can order from catalogs. I love CWDKids, Hannah Anderssen, and Lands End Kids. Once again, they are expensive, but the kids and I enjoy flipping through them and ripping out pictures we like. It might inspire me to try and sew something like it. Or, every now and then I might order something. (I think tights are a must to order - cute tights and I can just whip up a simple skirt to go with them).

What about you? How do you dress your kids?


  1. That photo says so much. lol. I'm with you on the boys and girl stuff. I don't have girls but teeny weeny bikini underwear with stuff on them is not appropriate for 4 year olds, much less 14 year olds.

    And the boys...boring and totally gender biased. I've been lucky in costs because I was able to save so much from Pete to give to RePete until now. It was around 5-6 that Pete started to wear his things out or stain so badly, I couldn't save them. I try to shop the higher end stores too. They tend to last longer.

  2. We are very thankful that we get a lot of clothing gifts and hand-me-downs. I can't remember shopping for kids has been that long.

    We can't afford to be picky, but most of the folks we know have similar limitations around type of clothes. There is a friend of my SIL who occassionally gives us clothes for our little girl, and sometimes we pull some items out of the mix (for example, I am "old fashioned" in that I think skirts should be at least to the knee), but for the most part its all been very useful.

    The boy stuff we've been given has all been totally and completely 100% adorable, and fortunately, a lot of boy stuff is easy to pass down to our darling girl as well.

    Right now we are navigating conversations around our son wearing a dress, which he would really like to do. dw and I feel differently from one another on that topic, so its been a little difficult.