The Importance of Buying Normal Clothes for Our Daughters and What You Can Do About It

The Importance of Buying Normal Clothes for Our Daughters and What You Can Do About It

Tom Burns is tired of the limited clothing choices presented to young girls and supports some recent efforts to provide our daughters with options beyond all things pink and bedazzled

As a father, I’ve fielded a number of difficult questions from my young daughter. Questions about morality, mortality, human anatomy, and a million other complex and tricky topics. But do you know what was one of the most frustrating questions my daughter ever asked me?

“Dad, can you buy me a green hoodie?”

Sounds simple, right? But guess what—they don’t make plain green hoodies for girls. Trust me. Go to Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, wherever. Go to any store and, most probably, you will not be able to find a green hoodie made for a girl. Do you know what you will find? Pink. You’ll find pink hoodies and purple hoodies. You’ll find really cute brown hoodies that, unfortunately, are covered with fake fur and rhinestones. You’ll find black hoodies with glittery, silver hearts across the back, and you’ll find fire-engine red hoodies with a heart zipper and a huge-eyed puppy dog embroidered on the pockets. You will not easily find a plain green or gray or blue hoodie that’s made for girls. (Unless you’re willing to special-order something online or find something custom on Etsy and pay that premium.)

Now my daughter likes rhinestones and glitter occasionally (who doesn’t?), but sometimes she just wants to have “regular clothes” (as she calls them), and “regular clothes” for girls can be ridiculously hard to find. As a man, I definitely have a few pieces of fancy-man clothing in my closet, but I also have a firm foundation of simple, neutral pieces. Simple pairs of black pants, plain navy t-shirts, unadorned grey sweaters—normal staples in any person’s wardrobe. However, for girls between the ages of 1 and 13, those staple clothing items apparently don’t exist. (Or, if they do, they don’t exist in the inventory of most major retailers.)

For example, let’s talk about girls’ shorts. Looking ahead to the summer, I did a search on JCPenny.com for girls’ shorts for girls between the ages of 12 months and 6 years. You can click here to see the 17 results that came up for that search. There is not ONE normal, plain pair of shorts on the entire list. Every single pair is either covered in embroidery, polka-dots, or Hello Kitty OR styled after Daisy Duke-style super-short-shorts. And here’s the thing—I am FINE that those exist. If kids want to be fancy, be fancy. But what I hate is that other options aren’t being offered. Why must everything that young girls wear be constantly bedazzled? Why are girls only offered such a limited, stereotypically “girly” color palette? Why are pre-adolescent girls only offered skinny-fit or feminine-cut tops and bottoms even though their bodies won’t be that different from their brothers for many years to come? Why can’t my daughter dress like a kid rather than a beauty pageant drop-out named Starla? It’s frustrating as a parent and I think it pigeon-holes my daughter, which makes me mad.

So, what can you do about it? You could shop for your daughters in the boys’ department, which I sometimes do, because they do make plain green hoodies for boys, along with several other normal clothing staples, but that’s a stop-gap solution. Why does my daughter have to shop in the boys’ aisle? Why can’t retailers start treating my daughter like a human being rather than a Barbie doll? Complaining to retailers like Target and Kohl’s is another good step. Hopefully, if they get enough complaints, it might inspire them to start asking their clothing manufacturers for less perpetually glittery options.

Another way to start advocating for “normal” clothes for our daughters is to support Kickstarter campaigns that are trying to offer more options for young girls. Personally, I really like the Girls Will Be clothing line. Their style rules are simple—“colors beyond pink, no girly embellishments, imagery that breaks gender stereotypes, and styles that let girls be kids.”

You can see their great line of shirts and hoodies here, and Girls Will Be are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a new line of simple, stylish shorts for young girls. (Take that, JC Penny!)  Their shorts—which (blissfully) use colors like white, navy, and grey—look really cool and embody the Girls Will Be style rules. For their shorts, those rules include “an ‘in-the-middle’ fit that is not too tight, but not too baggy; a length that hits just above the knee; colors beyond pink (yay!); no ‘girly’ touches, and pockets big enough to actually use” (that last item is a surprisingly universal problem with young girls’ pants).The Importance of Buying Normal Clothes for Our Daughters and What You Can Do About It

I’m sometimes wary of retailer-sponsored Kickstarter campaigns, but the Girls Will Be shorts campaign isn’t asking for hand-outs. I mean, I’m sure they’ll gladly take hand-outs (and I’m a fan of their organization), but, for various levels of donation, if you like the shorts, you can basically pre-order a pair for your daughter, granddaughter, niece, or whomever you want. And they’re super cool-looking shorts. They basically just need to know that’s there’s enough interest out there to fund the production and they’re a little more than halfway to their goal with 16 days left in the campaign. I hope they reach their target.

Once again, let me make this clear—I’m not saying that everything pink and frilly is evil. My daughter has a lot of sparkly, princessy clothing items that she adores and I begrudgingly like a few of them myself. BUT it is RIDICULOUS how limited the options are that retailers and clothing lines present to young girls, particularly compared to what’s offered to young boys. Parents should support any effort to expand the range of options presented to our daughters and give our daughters the choices they deserve when it comes to determining their personal style. Not everything our daughters wear need to have embroidered hearts and flowers on them. There is just so much more in the world that should be available to them.

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For more on similar topics, please read:
Buying Boys’ Underwear For My Daughter
Kids Challenging Gender Barriers, One Pair of Batman Undies at a Time
Girls’ Superhero Underwear Is Selling Out Online: Are Retailers Listening?

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About Tom Burns

Tom Burns is a husband, a dad, and a veteran of the educational publishing industry, living just outside of Detroit Rock City. He’s also been a writer and contributing editor for a number of web sites, including 8BitDad, and founded BuildingaLibrary.com - a website devoted to helping parents find the right books for their kids. You can find him on Twitter at @buildalibrary.

Comments

  1. I have two girls. One loves all things pink, the other all things blue. I agree that there aren’t many choices that reflect a more neutral identity. It drives my wife insane when she tries to buy shorts that aren’t too short or bedazzled. No problem being cute and fancy, but more choice would be great. Nice post!

  2. The irony of this is I am about to go look for my four-year-old’s green hoodie… which has magically disappeared.

    The best way to get normal clothes for young girls is to ask others for hand-me-downs. Seriously. I go through GOBS of them, toss/donate most of the “fancy” stuff that isn’t actually something to wear to, say, religious services, and end up with a decent variety of simple-patterned or easy-match clothes (stripes, for instance).

    Otherwise, I find that you have to look at the bottom shelves. That’s where the leggings without puppy/bow/Hello Kitty prints are located. Sometimes behind the prints.

    For what it’s worth, I have, for YEARS, been a jeans & t-shirt kinda gal. Those are some of the most “normal” clothes you can find. They “cute up” dresses and skirts much more.

  3. I have three daughters. I have more trouble finding clothes that are modest and “age appropriately” styled, than finding plain clothes. Years ago, even as recent as the early sixties, women mostly wore dresses. If you doubt this, look at old photos of crowd scenes or street scenes. There was no need for “girly” t-shirts, shorts, pants or hoodies because, for the most part, women didn’t wear those things. So there was already a differentiation between boy clothes and girl clothes. Shorts, t-shirts and other historically “male clothing” is made pink and purple and covered with all sorts of girly stuff for the purpose of making “guy” clothes look more feminine. For someone like me who would love to dress their daughters in feminine clothing, the myriad of graphic tees, glittery daisy dukes, and mini skirts is maddening. I believe as you do that the fashion industry should make clothing available that lets little girls look like little girls. I don’t agree that putting more boyish clothes in the girls department in the way to go about it. Those grey shorts picture in your article look just like a pair my husband has. Not feminine at all.

  4. This is exactly what I still struggle with in my (closet) life, and I 34. Go Girls Will Be!

  5. I love this site, and your article is obviously heartfelt (and very well written). I have to say, that while I am the mom of two boys, I have seen this very issue, and experiences it personally. I too, as a grown woman, would like some plain, relaxed shorts and t-shirts, so I can ride my bike without looking like an easter egg, or Barbie…the sporty edition. That being said, I find that where you shop makes all the difference. And, sometimes you have to think outside the bedazzled, glittery box. Pick up a few basics from Old Navy, or GAP. Try buying things from the boys department. I know, you shouldn’t have to, but it works. My mother and I have been doing this for years. Neither of us is into the super fem attire for day to to operations. Prom is one thing, but the grocery store, just doesn’t require kitten heels and chandelier earrings. Your struggle is appreciated, and while I may have found a few solutions over the years, I support your effort to take this to the forefront, and gets some changes underway. Pink looks terrible on me anyway, as does purple. My favorite colors for clothing? Blue and green. No ruffles, no lace. Thanks for this article.

  6. My middle son loves horses…..what a headache it is trying to find any tops with horses on them without sparkles, flowers or hearts. Do boys not like horses too? His favourite colour is also purple.

  7. These two sentences totally contradict each other:

    1. “Why are pre-adolescent girls only offered skinny-fit or feminine-cut tops and bottoms even though their bodies won’t be that different from their brothers for many years to come?”

    2. You could shop for your daughters in the boys’ department, which I sometimes do, because they do make plain green hoodies for boys, along with several other normal clothing staples, but that’s a stop-gap solution.”

    If we accept your premise that the bodies of pre-pubescent boys and girls are nearly identical, then why wouldn’t “boys” hoodies work just as well for your pre-pubescent daughter as they do for boys? Especially when talking about hoodies, which are a gender-neutral piece of clothing. I wouldn’t call that a stop-gap measure at all.

    Should there be better clothing selection for everyone? Yes. But I do feel you contradict yourself. Additionally, clothing retailers tend to create whatever clothing will sell the most. If they find that a majority of young girls like the color pink, or like glitter, then they will act accordingly when deciding what type of clothes to create. And this is not a female-only problem. How much success you do imagine young boys have looking for pink clothes with glitter in the boys clothing section? Even less. I have no doubt that a normal green hoodie for girls exists somewhere out there, even if the stores you checked didn’t have it. But a pink, glittery shirt for boys? That would be even harder to find. So it’s just a reality that there are colors and clothing-styles that girls prefer on the whole, and there are colors and clothing-styles that boys prefer on the whole, and clothing retailers are going to stock the boys section mostly with colors and styles that are generally preferred by masculine, and vice-versa for girls. I do feel there should be more variety available for both boys and girls for the sake of individual expression if nothing else (i.e. how are we supposed to have our own individual, unique styles if the clothing stores only offer a few different options?), but as far as your daughter is concerned, I see no reason why she can’t just buy a green hoodie that fits her, regardless of what section it hangs out in. Most hoodies are gender neutral, and even if it’s hanging in the boys section, you said yourself that the bodies of pre-pubescent boys and girls are pretty similar and that it shouldn’t make any difference. So at least until puberty, that should be a perfectly viable option by your own logic.

    • Apologies for the typos in my comment. I wish there was an edit button. I meant boys not “masculine,” and I made a few other typos too.

  8. It’s wonderful that there are men, like the author of the story, that think and worry about the way their little girls may be harmed by a cultural that puts a lot of pressure on little girls to dress and look in certain ways.

    But sometimes I’m concerned that we are shaming little girls who enjoy their overt girlyness. Little girl’s clothing is getting condemned but boys clothes are called “normal”. Disney movies are ripped apart for their anti-feminist themes but Superhero movies and movies like Star Wars are upheld as being simply “awesome”. I saw an article where a Dad was concerned because his daughter liked to have teaparties where he wanted her to pretend she was a police officer or cowboy instead.

    I don’t totally disagree with this Dad’s point of view. I think clothing for little girls has become mroe sexualized. But I also don’t want us to go so far the other way that we try to deny a girl who loves all thinks pink and sparkle to be something she isn’t as well. I guess I say this because I was a little girl who went through certain periods of picking out everything pink, sparkles and rhinestones and with animals silkscreened on. And I didn’t become a lady of the night because of it.

  9. MoonSpeck says:

    The problem is not only in the market; it’s a parental responsibility. It’s not very hard to find cheap appropriate clothing for either and all genders at any age. I believe that most parents probably don’t care. People buy baby shirts that say; “cum dumpster.” If you are truly having issues finding apparel for your children it’s very easy to find and buy plain, gender neutral items that can be personalized.

  10. This father is obviously a very poor shopper. I Googled “green hoodie girls” and found dozens of green hoodie options out there for girls, and many more in more popular colors.

  11. Seriously? I love how people are acting like LLBean and Gymboree and other department store brands are the ‘afordable’ clothes. You want affordable PLAIN clothes? Look at Walmart, KMart, Dollar General & Old Navy sale racks. There you go people…affordable plain clothes. If you want coverage, bermuda shorts and capris are very fashionable. The options are there, just quit ‘label shopping’. 😉

  12. Anonymous says:

    Seriously? I love how people are acting like LLBean and Gymboree and other department store brands are the ‘afordable’ clothes. You want affordable PLAIN clothes? Look at Walmart, KMart, Dollar General & Old Navy sale racks. There you go people…affordable plain clothes. If you want coverage, bermuda shorts and capris are very fashionable. The options are there, just quit ‘label shopping’. 😉

  13. And I see this another way too…I have a son who loves the movie Frozen along with Anna and Elsa. H also loves Doc McStuffins….and I too draw the line at purple, glitter and such for my son…..why does everything have to be such gender divided….

  14. Jon Jay Obermark says:

    I think the point here is that even though the problem is easily solved, and the range for guys is equally limited, and guys really CANNOT just buy girls’ clothes, we have to see females as being controlled or oppressed in any way we can.

    This is the old habit of seeing women as unfortunate, to motivate men to take care of them, and to keep them from really trying their best. It is half of all we say about women nowadays. It is outright asinine toward men, it slowly undermines women, and it provides a deeply, deeply conservative undertow to modern feminism.

    • Really? Because I’m pissed off about earning less (and being discouraged from entering fields where I’d earn more) and the huge risk of rape and domestic violence I live with.

      But oh, thank you SO much for telling me I’m not actually unfortunate, and that I don’t try my hardest.
      Thank you so much, you’ve really opened up my eyes to the fact that I TOTALLY have equal opportunity.

      /sarcasm

      You are terrible.

  15. Why is the Girls Will Be color palette so limited? The yellow spectrum…? Earth tones galore…? Why did they completely dump pink and purple? Isn’t the whole point to ditch the limitations of color and embrace the color spectrum, while removing the glitter and lace and fake fur patterns and tight, revealing cuts? I like a lot of their designs, don’t get me wrong.

    I have two girls and a boy, and there are issues for both sexes – the societal stigma against boys using “girl colors” is also a HUGE issue, even if there is more plain stuff. There is also a LOT of sports-sports-sports, superheroes, skulls/monsters, and “look at me, I’m great and you suck” sorts of antagonistic, competitive sloganeering. “Ugh!” all around.

  16. Actually, there are retailers that do this already, we bought 10 pairs of white shorts from old navy, they are knee length and now, half of them are rit dyed in various shades of navy blue jean blue ( the whit were 6.00 less per pair)
    BUT i do agree – we should not have to see it out.. why cant my 4 year old son play in a pink shirt ? why cant my 8 year old daughter who LOVES science get cool beaker and safty glasses shirt, that was sold for boys????
    ( she can , we just screen printed it ourselves) – but why — SALES, pink and CUTE sells more than the “normal” plain clothes..

  17. @Chris The brainwashing begins very early and children police each other to comply with the culturally prescribed likes and dislikes. It’s your task to expand their horizon and to not limit their experiences to those that tightly follow the gender script.

  18. I have two girls (6 and 2 yr olds) and I let them choose what they want to wear and I always have. Now I have rules of course as far as modesty but for the most part I give them a few choices that I think they might like and they choose. for them, since the time they could choose, usually younger than 1yr old, they always choose pretty pink frilly glittery, etc…..
    I Don’t see a problem with it personally. My style of clothing is drastically different than theirs. We never shop for clothes anywhere but thrift stores (That’s my way of protesting over consumption), So i don’t know what else is out there.
    I’m glad that this campaign is going though and I LOVE the shorts that are long. they are so hard to find!!! I would love to buy some but just because they don’t have any girly look to them I doubt my girl would ever want to wear them. 🙁

  19. Until my children are old enough to make choices about what they wear my plan is to do the same thing as the victorians and dress them all in gender neutral white (for easy bleaching) smocks (for freedom of movement and easy diaper changing).

    It just seems practical. I grew up desperately wanting sparkly stuff (not pink, I despised pink because I thought it was infantile and prefered red) with a mom who loved overalls and had hoped I’d be like Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird… I did like to catch frogs though, I just wanted to wear a tiara while doing it (…I neither confirm nor deny a desire to be queen of the frogs)

    Based on their mom and dad I theorize my kids will grow up believing skirts are for everyone but only girls wear color (my husband is a pretty, androgynous goth boy… who’s wardrobe is entirely monochrome)

  20. I have had no trouble finding green hoodies and other things at lands end online. Their prices are quite reasonable. One of my daughters has one.

  21. Excellent! I have a 6yo tomboy who hates pink and purple. It makes me sad that she calls them boy colors and girl colors. Can’t we all share the colors?

  22. california mom says:

    Two words: Hanna Andersson. My son has a plain green unisex hoodie that will one day be my daughter’s, and still look new.

  23. bmommyx2 says:

    Maybe if more people would question these things & use their dollars to express their opinion the system would change. If no one bought that stuff they wouldn’t sell it & if all the girls started to shop in the boys department maybe there would be more variety there.

  24. It would be super helpful if you didn’t use language such as “normal”. There is nothing abnormal about the other girl clothes, you just happen to not like them.

  25. American Apparel might be another suggestion… they have lots of good plain clothes for both boys and girls and aren’t outrageously expensive.

  26. thank you for this article, I could not agree more and I have a daughter who loves bedazzling, but I don’t. I also have a son whose favourite colour is purple (he likes pink too) and let me tell you how difficult it is to find things for him in that colour. As one person said above, the choices for boys seem to be: dinosaurs and bugs (little boys), camo and sports (older boys). Ugh. My son and my daughter are four years apart so are different sizes, but their bodies are still very similar — why do we have to segregate at all? Can’t there just be “kid clothes” up to age 10 or 12?

    • bmommyx2 says:

      that would be awesome

    • bmommyx2 says:

      My son when he was pre-school age also went through a period where he liked purple & pink, but the only shirts available were super girly with cap sleeves & ruffles. I found out that a lot of boys that age actually go through that. There is a whole rainbow of colors & why should boys be stuck with blue, dark green, black, grey & brown & girls pink, purple, yellow & turquoise?

    • Try Handsome in Pink and Quirkie Kids for some great unisex t-shirts with pink that your son might like!

  27. I find it odd that clothing for kids and babies seems to have gotten more and more gender stereotyped over the last 20-30 years. I really though it was going to go the other way. When I was a kid (a girl) in the 70s and 80s there were plenty of much more neutral colors and options to pick from. Now, if I want to buy a gift for a baby its almost impossible to find colors in other than pink or blue. And girls really do get the short end, pink, pink, pink.

    • bmommyx2 says:

      I agree. When I was a kid if a girl wanted jeans you had to get them in the boys department & I often wore boys clothes. There should be a happy medium between girls wearing bedazzeled pink everything or boys clothing. I think the Gap is pretty good & although they are not cheap they have great sales all the time.

  28. I second the person who said it’s not practical to be buying clothes for young kids at LL Bean, Lands End, or Garnet Hill. Give me a break, that green sweatshirt was $38. If you had an unlimited clothes budget for your kids, there are tons of choices (REI, Patagonia, Hanna Andersson, Boden, and Splendid come to mind). But the point is why can’t you buy plain clothes for girls at a regular-person price point?
    My suggestion is to look at some of the chain stores that have migrated from Europe… we have H&M and Uniqlo here in California. I would be surprised if those two have stores in Detroit though.
    Really, why do clothes have to be gender segregated at all?

  29. I agree, it’s ridiculous. The level of fuzzy pink beadazzledness is pretty terrifying. Everyone needs options and wardrobe staples, and they shouldn’t break the bank. I loved boys’ clothing when I was a little girl, and never understood why only boys got Transformers and Star Wars and all of the cool things I wanted (I also never understood why I got teased when I wore those things).

    My secret source of simple, inexpensive staples is the clothing distributors who generally serve screenprinters and the like – my go-to is t-shirtwholesaler.com, but there are a bunch of these companies. I buy plain color shirts and hoodies for prices that are generally better than what I find at Target or Old Navy – and I get a crazy number of options, regardless of the season (because sometimes you need to buy a tank top in January!). $12 for Hanes or Fruit of the Loom or Gildan hoodies in at least 20 different colors? $3 for t-shirts that come in dozens more colors (seriously, Jerzees makes shirts in about 50 colors, only 4 of which are pink)? Yes, yes, yes! Since these options are clearly out there on the internet in spades… why aren’t they in the mass merchandisers?

  30. I found “regular kid” clothing for girls, including green hoodies, in two seconds of looking at oldnavy.com and then llbean.com. Not a rhinestone in sight.

  31. April S. says:

    As the mother of three boys, I would KILL to have the selection that is on the girl’s side of the store. That side is always 3X the boys’ selection! I have a choice of: Plain, Transportation or Sports/Bugs/Monsters. And let’s face it: I can’t shop on the girl’s side! At least girls can shop on both sides of the aisle.

    • I completely agree. Trying to find Sunday clothes for boys is the biggest headache. Either you have to spend scrupulous amounts of money or buy the only button up shirt available in their size. Whereas girls have a million dresses! There’s little variety in boys’ clothes as well, and less quantity. But I see this author’s point of wanting to get over gender barriers. I just think it needs to be on both sides. I’d love for my sons to be able to wear pink or purple button up shirts. Pink is one of my oldest son’s favorite colors.

    • bmommyx2 says:

      I have two boys & I totally agree. I do find that Gymoree, the Gap & Mini Boden have a more appealing selection in my opinion.

  32. I’m a mom of 2 girls and I’m really sad that I too have been a victim of the brainwashing that the girls clothing industry does. I
    When I look at the girl in the shark shirt with cargo style shorts, my first thought was “why is she wearing boy clothes?”
    I’m sad and disgusted that THAT was my first thought! Why does it matter if a shark is on a “girl” shirt. Why can’t girl shorts be long enough to have large functional pockets. And the worst part might be that this was much of the style that I wore as I developed my own style in my youth.
    Now I chose more “feminine” clothes. Is it because I truly like them or am I conforming?
    Thank you for writing this piece! I have much to think about as I dress both my girls and myself.

  33. I agree you see this problem in some of the cheaper and/or chain clothing outlets, but it’s by no means pervasive. I suggest anyone looking for a variety in boys’ and girls’ clothing check out LL Bean or Land’s End. Lots of clothing in a mix of patterns, colours and styles for both boys and girls. And if you can afford to spend a little more (sadly, I usually can’t) Tea Collection also offers lots of fun, age-appropriate clothes as well.

    I’d love to hear any other shopping suggestions, too!

    • So you have to shop expensive to get something plain? That is ridiculous! Most people cannot afford L.L.Bean or other brands like that all of the time. That is part of his argument, that it should not be damned expensive to dress our daughters in more gender neutral clothing. You clearly missed that part of his point. Millions of people in this country live below the poverty line. They dress their children in what they can find. They want better choices, but cannot fork over 40 dollars for a pair of pants. They should not have to be in that position.

      • Girls Will Be charges $34 for a pair of shorts and $24 for a t-shirt. Those prices are very high. At least at L.L.Bean and the like you can pick up clearance items at a good price. Clothing companies manufacture what stores want to buy and stores buy what they can sell the most of. If you want better choices learn to sew them yourself. It’s not that hard.

        As for another suggestion on plain t-shirts and sweatshirts in a variety of colors at a reasonable price try Hobby Lobby or a similar craft store. That’s where I find them. And they sell transfers and decals too so your girl can pick whatever color with whatever picture she wants. Also, try cafepress.com their prices are a bit high but if you sign up for their mailing list they send sales alerts all the time…and they have great customer service. If it doesn’t fit or has a problem they send you another one at no charge.

  34. My name is Starla… and I have never participated in a beauty pageant. If I had, I’m sure I would have won them all!

    Great article, though!

  35. How about llbean? They ship for free and have normal clothes for kids.

  36. Alessandra says:

    This is the story of my life! Except I’m dealing with this with clothes for myself and I’m 30! I spend an insane amount of time trying to find “regular” clothes/ staples. I don’t remember it being quite as bad when I was a kid. I really think this problem is getting worse. All of my jeans have those stupid little pockets that are basically worthless. You know what those say to me every time I try to use them? “Society doesn’t think women need to be practical or utilitarian. They’re just decorative… like their pockets!” I tried to find some board shorts last summer… I couldn’t find one pair for women that included the built-in liner (like the guys’), and then the drawstrings were decorative! They didn’t cinch! This stuff infuriates me! Same with those cap sleeves that ride up into your armpits. I had to buy boys’ t-shirts recently from Old Navy so I can have some t-shirts that don’t require me to constantly pick the sleeves out of my armpits. I tried to find some nice oxfords… every time I thought I finally spotted a decent one from a distance, I got up close and notices bedazzling or other weird embellishments, including – true story – one that looked normal from the front, then the back had cut-outs with lace inlay… There was no way you could even wear a bra with it! And don’t get me started on how every woman’s shirt is made so transparent that you’re forced to buy multiple shirts or camis to layer. My boyfriend and I were looking at a t-shirt display at the Gap; the men’s were half the price of the women’s equivalent and better material (not transparent). We need to be standing up against this more! I don’t like companies presuming that I’m such a chump that I’ll spend extra money for an added layer to make the shirt (that costs three times more than the men’s) less transparent! Like the author said, I’m not knocking people who like embellishments on their clothes, but there needs to be choices! Some men make fun of women (in general) for having a lot of clothes, but a big reason for that is that our clothes are embellished to the point that they can’t be staples. It’s obvious when you repeat-wear an oxford shirt with leopard print cuffs, but no one can tell when you re-wear solid neutral-colored oxfords, you know? I’d gladly trade my wardrobe for my boyfriend’s smaller wardrobe of basic multi-purpose, mix-and-matchable, neutral-toned, more affordable, and practical pants and shirts.

    • Oh, gosh yes. The T-shirt thing: I always buy the ones made for guys. They have pockets. Men’s shirts can have two pockets and was even lucky enough to score a jacket for my brother, it had four pockets.

      That see-through thing irritates me to no end. As does the Cargo Jeans for men. There are none for women, that I’ve found.

      To any company rep who might be reading this: Females do like pockets and we do not necessarily like T-shirts that need to be covered over.

  37. Spot on! This has been a problem for years and it’s only getting worse. They could just merge the boys and girls sections and give boys the opportunity to wear pink too if they so choose (In fact, some historians claim pink used to be a masculine color until the mid-1900s). At those ages, the only real difference should be in undergarments.
    If you want to easily complain to retailers about this but don’t have the time to make a call or fill our their contact forms, you can use our free service OwnerListens.com/givefeedback and we’ll deliver your complaint.

    • Yes. Before blue for boys pink for girls, it was

      blue for girls, pink for boys (pink being in the family of red with was considered a “strong” color, while blue was a “soft” color) only after military uniforms started being made with blue fabric was blue associated with men and masculinity (you know, because of the whole “woman aren’t allowed to do anything we don’t want them doing” including going to war)

      BUT before there was even blue and pink….

      It was WHITE… and dresses… FOR ALL

      If you had a boy, you put him in a white dress… if you had a girl… you put her in a white dress… This was the norm for years until the kids started schooling/working.

      The dresses for babies started fading away after learning more about the development of motor skills and walking.
      Nobody cared because they were kids and wouldn’t have to start learning their gender roles just yet.
      When women started acting “like men” (working for money and owning property) society freaked out and tried to compensate for this by further separating the genders in different ways (because not allowing someone a right to live and a voice wasn’t going to work anymore). There were no longer laws saying as a man…. As a woman… but as PEOPLE… apparently the masses (including many on this site even) hate hate hate! The idea of considering people… well people and not somehow different from them. So, since women insist on working (A characteristic of MAN), men are going to insist on the color red. If women are going to own property (a characteristic used to describe MAN), men are going to insist on cooking ONLY when using a grill (because this is the new definition of MAN – because a man MUST be different from the “others” to be MAN apparently). If women are going to have legal rights to their children (Something you had to be a MAN to have the right to), then men better buy that big truck because all the things that made a man a “Man” are being pulled out from under their feet every time a woman does the same.

  38. Wow!! I didn’t realize so many parents are in the same boat! We have an 11 year old that insists on “boys” clothes because he won’t wear girly clothes!

    It seems to me that our cultural issues with gender continues to plague us! We seem to be struggling greatly with how to raise our kids from one extreme stereotype to another. Too bad for our kids that the adult world cannot figure out how to manuever gender issues such as gender neutral parenting, or extreme gender parenting.

  39. I find this to be not true at all. I buy my daughter more cloths then i do for myself. Maybe its your choice of store. I buy almost all her cloths at the gap and feel they have great stuff to pick from. Its funny he mentioned not being able to find a plain green hoodie or Blue one made for girls and i just bought one the other day. They have tons of great things there.

  40. I appreciate and agree with your point- lack of choice is the problem not any one particular choice- but you’re shopping in the wrong places. What you want has allready existed for ages, or at least my 32 years. My mom always put me in “practical clothes” as a child when I wanted to wear more girly outfits. Try here-
    http://www.landsend.com/shop/girls-shorts/-/N-g10

    Landsend is good quality too. My sister wanted more “boyish” things as a kid and loved their boys stuff.

  41. I think this article is ridiculous! If you want less pink & sparkle you can find it in the girls dept. Try a different store. Also what is wrong with dressing girls like girls? I think trying to make everything gender neutral is a big problem. I love pink and purple. I have noticed a lack of lavender, especially in baby clothing. I also have a hard time trying to find lace and ruffles on dresses, or even find dresses. When I do find dressed for children the selection is pitiful. They are mostly made to look like long t-shirts, Boring! I do agree that I would like to see more color choices. I also agree that less trying to make a child look sexy would be a good thing. My girls were never allowed to wear daisy duke type of shorts or sweats with words on the butt.

    • Kathy, I don’t know where you’re shopping that you can’t find dresses. The internet is bursting with choice. My preferences for colourful, fun, wearable playdress styles are Hanna Andersson and Land’s End (they have a bunch of gorgeous “Easter Twirlers” listed now, and I splurged on a couple for my girls).

      I can’t always spring for their regular prices, but they usually have some things on clearance and they are popular enough that they can be found in batch lots on eBay and sites like Kijiji and Craigslist. They also make welcome gifts; if relatives or friends ask for gift ideas, I give them my kids’ sizes, current clothing needs and colour preferences, and refer them to those sites.

      Happy shopping!

  42. Anonymous says:

    Most of the clothes I bought for my now grown,well centered,successful daughter were from Sports Authority , mostly her choice. Not sure where you shop, but Target has a great assortment of girls clothes, as does Wal Mart!

  43. Sharon Germany says:

    Superb idea! My 5 year old daughter would totally love these clothes. However, your prices are too high for my budget…sorry.

  44. Anonymous says:
  45. anongirl says:

    I have always found men’s clothes pretty boring and plane myself.

  46. I can relate Tom although it may be a little easier here in the UK. My particular concern runs deeper…the sexualization of young girls clothing. Young girls lines that aim to make them look older or dress older and to look “sexy”. Not on!

    My wife and I are very intent on our daughter growing up with a sense of what is lady-like and dignified.

    • I thought this article would be more about the sexualization of clothing too.. but there are several points in the article which make it seem that it is the femininization of the clothes that is the problem.

      I’m sure there are many parents willing to take their daughter shoping in the boys section but would NEVER think to bring their boy to shop in the girls section.

      What seems obvious to me is the societal worth put on these things. Of course people are going to want something of higher value.

      Both the serfs and kings wanted to live in the castle, and while the serf is accustomed to being in the feilds, NO king would bring his social worth down by working the fields.

      This is the same worth that society places on men’s and women’s roles. Masculine is the castle while the Feminine is the field. who WOULDN”T want to upgrade themselves to a castle? Of course everyone is going to be scrambling for the castle. What boy (king) would voluntarily demote their social worth by buying a pink shirt (working the fields)

      It is the SAME concept; yesterday it was kings and serfs, today it is man and woman.

      Which is interesting in that the only thing that has changed is the stations in society that were once ONLY offered to men (which gave them social status) it wasn’t that they were MEN that gave them status but the work the did (were ALLOWED) to do which gave them status. Now that women work, we can’t use “carreer as status marker” as a smokescreen for the attitude that men are of higher worth (in their roles) than women.

      • “This is the same worth that society places on men’s and women’s roles. Masculine is the castle while the Feminine is the field. who WOULDN”T want to upgrade themselves to a castle?”

        Nope, its the reverse.

        The guy who goes in the girl’s section is seen as an unworthy peasant trying to invade the castle. He’s seen as trying to usurp worth and value he doesn’t actually have.

        See how trans women are treated is an example of prejudice vs men (since the reason they’re treated like shit is that they’re perceived to be men who shun their role and desert their duty – regardless of truth, truth don’t matter in prejudice, only perception).

        Trans men get it relatively easier because adopting men’s role is being seen as adopting the beast-of-burden role. And who doesn’t want more lowly workers? But women’s role is seen as something innate. Something worthy by virtue of being alive. The presumed ability to bear children.

        So a woman taking the man’s role is seen as taking a double shift, or at least alternating her role to something acceptable (as long as she can actually do it). While a man taking a woman’s role is seen as someone unfit for the role trying to pass as someone fit for the role. Ergo, he’s a deserter who brings no value (he can’t bear children), while trying to avoid his duty (working, being useful).

        This is also why men’s role is much more restrictive and tied to ‘usefulness’.

        Also watch Hunger Games to see that self-expression is tied to aristocracy, being rich, having tons of time to waste. The men from Capitol there might look effete to our culture, but historically, aristocrat men were not seen that way because regular peasant women didn’t go all out on the aestheticism either. It simply was not gendered. Usefulness was the poor, aesthetics was the rich. The division of masculine and feminine of that is very recent.

  47. John Anderson says:

    What makes clothes especially for prepubescents boys or girls? Couldn’t you just buy “boys” clothes? Is there a difference in the cut of a hoodie? Is she small for a girl and small in boys is too large? Just trying to figure out if there is an actual problem and not just a problem because certain clothes are designated by a department store as girls and some are designated as boys.

  48. Robert Harker says:

    I am a bit confused. I looked at the JC Penny’s shorts and I am not sure what the problem is. Yes they do have embroidery on them but none of it was offensive. I guess you are just saying no to any embroidery? Or just no to anything feminine? I looked at the boy shorts and while they do not have embroidery, the were styled as boy’s styles.

    I think limiting yourself and your kids to gender neutral clothing is limiting. If you are concerned about too much girl stuff, do some shopping in the boy’s department for your daughter. Wouldn’t hurt to so some boy shopping in the girl’s department either. Although this would take a bit more care. Boys clothes are seen as unisex.

    • Anonymous says:

      You missed the point. He doesn’t have a problem with girly clothing, he has a problem with the fact that it’s all that’s offered in the girl’s section. To feel correct, you have to conform. I’ve definitely shopped in the boys section before. The fact that we have to, though, is what the issue is.

      Femininity isn’t the issue, it’s polarization of it that is offered to young girls while they are forming their personalities.

  49. What’s wrong with shopping in the boys section? Young enough girls are the same shape as boys (ie no hips or boobs) so there’s no problem. I still prefer to shop at men’s stores now at 40+.

    • I’m with Karen. For the first many years, I bought most of my daughters clothes in the boys section, because, well, “Darth Vader t-short or Hello Kitty t-shirt?”

      • I don’t get it. What is wrong with Hello Kitty? As a little girl, I was very girly and never would have wanted to wear a Star Wars T shirt. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. Know your kids. Know what they like. If they want to wear Dark Vader, great. If they want Hello Kitty, great. Don’t shame them because they very well may respond to very girly clothing. And I am in agreement with the other ladies that took issue with calling boys clothes “regular” and infered that girls clothes weren’t. I went through a period where all I wanted to do was wear dresses, very feminine dresses. I didn’t turn into some Stepford Wife because of it. The key is letting your child be who they are. Some girls wil lbe very girly. Some girls won’t.

  50. YolaGrace says:

    I hear you. And still, while it is true that there are altogether too many girls’ clothes with hearts and frills and sequins and kittens on them, on the whole the selection for girls is still broader – plus, girls can wear most of boys’ clothing and nobody will bat an eyelid, whereas a boy in a pink shirt with rhinestones will probably get mocked. When I walk through H&M the girls’ section is much more colourful, whereas the boys’ section is all muted colours – black, brown, olive green, navy. Some kind of mix would be nice – more colour and playfulness for the boys, less frilly bits for the girls.

    • It’s sad that we are teaching our sons about utility and our daughters about asthetics through their clothing choices.

      “You don’t need to look good, but you better be able to climb that tree in that outfit.”

      “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you look good doing it.”

      • Toy’s R US have a “shopping cart” toy, in pink and purple.

        Guess who it’s for?

        Plain stupid to me. There’s enough with the fashion-conscious dolls without shoving it in their face that shopping is something for girls.

  51. Jennifer says:

    Oh wow, wow, wow. Wanna order two pairs of those shorts with the side pockets. Make that four: Two for a gal pal and the other two for moi.

  52. I’m a bit concerned here that you see the stores as being split in to normal clothes and girls’ clothes. Why is the stuff being marketed to boys’ the only “normal” stuff?

    The problem is in limited choices based on gender stereotypes and that specific styles and colours are marketed exclusively to either boys or girls instead of allowing all kids the option to choose whatever he or she likes. If only the clothes marketed to boys are “normal” or “regular”, what does that say about the kids (male or female) who do like pink, sparkly princesses?

    • Sheri, I totally agree with you. I don’t like the labeling of “normal” clothes vs. girl’s clothes. Boys also have a limited selection of options available to them. However, the same happens with adult clothes and gender stereotypes. Are we just reinforcing those stereotypes at an early age?

      I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about the fight against pink and so-called “girly” things from clothes to toys. I don’t think the issue is in these items being offered (I would’ve loved pink legos as a kid) but in the way they are thought of as the “appropriate” option for them. I don’t hear the same talk about there not being more traditionally feminine toys/clothes available for boys. Wouldn’t it be better to just allow our kids to pick what they want free from the marketing campaigns?

      • adrienne says:

        It would be nice to see things less segregated by gender. I am female, but have a very difficult time finding clothing in the women’s department. Much like this article says, it’s too pink, frilly, bedazzled, ect, but also does not give room for the females who actually have muscle! I work out constantly, so I have leg and arm muscle and it seems the new trend is all this “skinny” stuff. Shirt torso might fit nice, but i can’t get my arms in the sleeves! Same with the pants, I have to go up 4 sizes to get my legs in but then the waist is far too loose.

        So I venture over to the boys clothes to find jeans and shirts that actually fit and aren’t ridiculous. I have no issues with people who do like that stuff, but it’d be nice to find some clothes that were for everyday that did accommodate females who prefer to have muscle and also don’t care for too much frill.

        I’m sure theirs young females who would also like this, as it would give them a better body image also. They you don’t need to be a twig to fit into clothing. You can want to have muscle and continue to be a tomboy. I had that trouble when I was growing up. I was a tomboy which seemed fine when i was younger, but as I started getting to teen years, it seemed that wasn’t acceptable anymore and I was suddenly being forced to “conform” to the idea of what girls are “supposed” to be. Supposed to wear “girl” colors and “girl” clothing. “Muscle means you aren’t skinny and boys won’t like you.” Not a very body positive message.

        I think if our clothes were less segregated, “This is for males, this is for females” than perhaps some of these issues would be addressed. What does it matter who is wearing what anyways? I have no issues if a boy wears pink or has a princess shirt on. No issues if a girl wears jeans and a superhero shirt. It doesn’t matter. It would be nice to do away with labeling and just have “Clothes”. If it fits and is comfortable, GREAT.

        • I, Sadly, cannot buy knee high boots. If I find a boot with a small enough size to fit my feet, the leg of the boot is way to tight to fit around my calf muscles.

          And if I find a shirt small enough to sit on my shoulders and around my waist comfortablly, the front doesn’t allow enough space for my boobs.

          Maybe I”m too curvy for women’s clothes.. I forgot we’re all supposed to be stick figure models.

  53. What the hell has happened to this site?

    • @Weston
      What do you mean exactly with this comment? Please explain, what kind of comments or threads do you expect to read here?

  54. American Apparel has cute unisex clothes for kids in a wide variety of colors.

  55. LOVE this! Wish I had this kind of thing when I was in that age range..I did shop in the boys dept. when I was younger and still do periodically to find “regular clothing” when I want casual clothing rather than fancy duds

  56. Anonymous says:

    LOVE this! Wish I had this kind of thing when I was in that age range

  57. Amen, amen, a thousand times amen.

    My 7 year old daughter is perfectly happy to wear “girly” stuff (though I steer her away from the super-sparkly, frilly stuff and the stuff I don’t consider age appropriate — animal prints, bikini bathing suits, short shorts, etc.) but sometimes she asks for colors like yellow or brown or red, without a bunch of tacky crap on them, and they’re impossible to find. Even LL Bean, which used to be a good source for this kind of thing, has gone increasingly the way of pink and purple (although they do have more plain options, and some nice blue stuff.)

  58. While I understand what you want to say about choice for girls, let me assure you that the choice for boys is very much more limited. Look in any department store, how much is for girls, how much is for boys, how much is for ladies, how much is for men.
    It’s not only about clothings, or shoes, it’s about cosmetica, it’s about stationary and books…
    It’s about boys who have limited choice and not girls. Just my opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Girls in general have such a wider range (even if it is too “pink”) boys is all blue blue blue and super heroes or branded characters – what about more gender neutral clothes? I’ve always been a “tom” boy but definitely famine clothes but in stone, green blue and grey. The message I try to send my kids is “The colour of your life does not define your sex and the amount of bling does not define your worth.” I try to dress my son in stoney/green colours in natural fabrics but its not easy!! Nutreual is the way to go that way kids can pick what ever they like whether its pink and sparkle or green and earthy or super blue and red.

  59. Thanks Tom, for helping to spread the word about our work to give girls more options when they shop for clothes! If people like what we are doing, but don’t have a girl in our size range (4-12), our Kickstarter does have some other great rewards they can choose to receive in return for their pledge. For example, as an exclusive offer to our Kickstarter backers, we are printing two of our most popular t-shirts designs on onesies, toddler t-shirts, and adult t-shirts. Or you can even get one of our designs as a poster. Help us change the world of girls clothing!

    • Hello:
      A few of us adult females would love to have T-shirts and Cargo shorts available, minus that girly stuff. Nothing wrong with frilly, except when it gets in the way of trying to do a job.

      • I’m with you! I have been getting men’s shorts and pants because i don’t carry a purse and the men’s department is the only place i can find functional clothing. baggy and not flattering, but functional. sigh.

  60. Think geek has a nice girls/womens selection of geeky / intelligently smartass Fitted T’s for teen girls, older Daughter’s tops are about 50% from there. My 11 year old hit womens/juniors XS sizes….that made it easier as you leave the tween pink girl ghetto.

  61. Managed to do it for my girls. 11/15. Old navy for basic jeans or targets house brand, Shirts tops are when and where I can find them. I buy one and ask my girls if it fits feels looks right to them……and what the other color selection are…..the I go back and buy 4-5. I do 80% of their clothes shopping

  62. Great article and idea. I also have this problem when shopping clothes for my 9 year old daughter. I don’t mind the pink or the sequins. My main issue is modesty. I don’t want my daughter to wear mini shorts or sweatpants that has the word “Sweet” or “Love” embroidered on its behind. I’m seriously going to learn how to sew so I can create age appropriate clothes for my girl.

  63. Oh, man, I have this exact same problem getting clothes for my daughter! I’ve been dreading the shopping trip that’ll be coming up with the warmer weather because it always turns into an exercise in frustration. Awesome article!

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