I love to shop. If shopping were a sport, I’d be in the category of ‘Elite Athlete’ such is my commitment to it. As a poor student, living in the wonderful city of Sheffield, I became the first known sufferer of the ailment known as ‘Shopper’s foot’ (yes – a 13-hour shopping marathon at Meadowhall will do that to a person). When my boys came along, one of the most exciting aspects of preparing for their arrival (aside from them doing the in utero conga late into the night) was the shopping. I remember being 8 months’ pregnant with #1 son and lovingly ironing every sleepsuit, bodysuit and pair of tiny scratch mitts (to be worn about three times individually) that we had bought for him… and this was just the beginning. However, something went wrong when I started to get out there and buy bigger clothes for my little person, I quickly realised that when it came to boys clothing, the choices are limited.
Imagine the scene. I walk into one of my favourite shops, before me a whole spectrum of colours, patterns and motifs – there’s so much I don’t know where to look first. I then realise what I came for and stroll through the girls’ section to the boys’. In my experience, it’s typically about 25 percent smaller than the girls’ and significantly less fun. Here I am guaranteed, whatever the season, to find a selection of items in camouflage prints and every shade of khaki imaginable. I’m not sure who the target audience is but it doesn’t seem to be children. I’m not sure that I want my boys to be dressed as extras from ‘Apocalypse Now’. Here is the place where I have the conversation with my 10 year old about why none of the clothes in this section feature the characters and colours he likes. Who, in their wisdom, decided that this is what boys want to wear?
I’m fairly sure I’m not the only mum to feel this way. I remember last year I was browsing Next online and I noticed a beautiful pink polo shirt, perfect for any one of my three. I added to my basket, only to see the wording that every mum dreads ‘New stock expected by the time that your children have grown several inches and will no longer fit into this item’ or similar. This anecdotal evidence alone tells me that there are other mums and dads out there who are seeking to maximise the use of colour in their male children’s wardrobes too and, on this occasion, they’d got there first.
I totally get that it is not easy. My three all like to look good but I’d struggle to find many items that they would all agree on. They are all totally different in their tastes and personalities. Broadly, I’d describe their preferred looks as ‘sporty’, ‘details’ and ‘colourful’. I want the clothes that they wear to reflect them and their individual personalities.
My 14 year old generally likes to wear sportswear. He loves trainers, tracksuits and skinny jeans. The boy is active; he walks 30,000 paces most days so needs gear that will last. He also loves to eat, and eat…after the eating he’s been doing a lot of growing. He’s inherited his dad’s ‘racing snake’ physique so most men’s items are just too big for him. I only need to go to one well known sports retailer for his gear.
Our middle one, aged 12, is a totally different kettle of fish. He’s a details guy, who loves accessories, patterns and the finer details. He likes to wear a button-up shirt and collar, sometimes with a dickie bow. It’s the little things that he notices about his clothes; he likes to rock a trilby from time to time.
Finally, there’s our youngest – the 10 year old. He’s a fashionista in the making. He enjoys a trip to the barbers, picking out his outfits and generally looking ‘the business’. He’s also partial to ‘Frozen’ and a little unicorn magic (as am I).
So I’m on an ongoing mission to bring the personality into their wardrobes. Over the last few years, this has resulted in me mixing and matching boys clothes from all over the place. There have been some items that I’ve pushed the boat out for, usually when they are particularly quirky and where the quality has meant an uplift on price, but more generally it’s meant just keeping my eyes peeled. My youngest still continues to work his way through a selection of big bro’s hardest wearing hand-me-downs. Over on Pinterest, I’ve put together some of my favourites, so pop over and let me know what you think. You can keep an eye on what I’m up to by following me.
How do you ensure that you add a little individuality to your kids’ wardrobes? Tell me about your bargains!