Boys’ Clothes

Someone in my newsfeed on Facebook (Michelle, was that you?) shared this article – The Importance of Buying Normal Clothes for Our Daughter’s and What You Can Do About It from the Good Men Project, a website dedicated to “what enlightened masculinity looks like in the 21st Century”.

In the article, the writer, Tom Burns, discusses how hard it was for him to find a plain green hoodie for his daughter. He says “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?”

He goes on to say that while he thinks some of these clothes are cute, and he doesn’t have a hate on for pink and frilly, he just wishes there could be choice.

Oh, Tom. Yes.

But I have the opposite issue. Why does everything for boys have to be covered in ninjas, trucks, gunssword toting pirates, skulls, references to video gaming, dinosaurs, or sports references (or combinations of those – dino sports! *eyeroll*)

Now, I love shirts that show off nature and Kale’s current interests, and I’m cool with the fact that Kale’s favourite colour is blue. In fact, while digging up all those links I found this shirt with sharks on it and I’m pretty sure I’m going to order that because sharks. But really? Does it really need to be about gendered  stereotypes on his clothes?

It is a bit easier to find neutral clothes for boys with no logos than it is for girls, as lamented in the article. H&M has a good line of them, and often Joe Fresh and Old Navy will have a few plain ones thrown into the mix, but you often have to hunt, and they’re often sold as three packs with the trucks and dinosaur brigade. I also love threadless t shirts for all members of the family.

Here are Kale’s current favourite t shirts:

He will wear this shirt every day if I let him. If it is dirty, he asks me when it will be washed, and if he can’t find it in his drawer, he will ask where it is. He needs to know where it is all the time.

Here’s the other:

It’s a rainbow tie dyed shirt with a giant smiley face. When he was given it as a gift, it was way too big for him, but there was no way he wasn’t wearing it. It has “all the colours of the rainbow, Mommy” and so for more than a year, this is a shirt I see on him at least once a week.

Here’s something related a bit:

Kale is a sweet, sensitive kid who is smart and confident. He is polite, funny, and a million other adjectives. He is also not yet ready for movies on the big screen – he gets easily scared of movies with any sort of a menacing protagonist. He doesn’t like scary looking things.

He has a few t shirts in his drawer we have received as gifts or hand me downs that he refuses to wear and can’t explain to me why, and we have battled over it. The other day I put two and two together: Kale is scared of the images on the t shirts, but lacks the language to explain that to me.

So, today, spurned on by the article, while Kale is away at his Gran’s for Spring Break, I’m going to do something I never do – I’m going to purge Kale’s stash of a million t shirts without him there to choose what he keeps. I wonder how many of those shirts will be the heavily boy-themed ones?



8 years ago


  1. The adultness of girls’ clothes blows my mind sometimes. Truly. Short shorts for six year olds! No! Buuut — for Tom anyway, I don’t think there’s *no* choice exactly. After all, nothing — other than tradition — is forcing him to shop on the pink side of the store. A green hoodie purchased on the ‘boy’ side will fit just the same until puberty, no? True, there’s no choice within his choice…which is to buy clothes “made for girls not for boys” — but if all their bodies are the same then what’s the diff? What’s he got against the boy aisle?

    That said, I — like you — don’t see a lot of plain clothes for boys either. So maybe the solution isn’t ‘more choice for girls’ OR for boys but a more unisex clothing aisle. Sadly, because our culture is very gendered, there will be people who can’t function unless it’s spelled out for them (BOY TOYS HERE) and they’ll shop elsewhere..and market follows shoppers, and so on.

    Sorry that sounds defeatist. But. I know how hard it is to break the habit — for example, I have large feet that blow holes in womens’ socks and yet I consistently forget to buy men’s socks. I’m trapped in the girl aisle IN MY MIND.

    Anyway! For plain t-shirts in solid colours: Michael’s. Often on sale for $2-5 a piece. Last year I drew a 5 and a lightning bolt with fabric paint on a bright green t-shirt and gave it to Eli for his birthday .. MIND BLOWN.

    Also, you can find very strange and unique shirts at value village if you have that kind of time to kill.

  2. Yeah, I agree there is more choice than what the writer indicates. However, I also have to admit that Bon picks out her own clothes, and, more often than not she chooses things that are frilly, pinky, and totally bedazzled. However, unlike Kalepants, she also has this edgy side where she loves things with skulls, skeletons (esp glow-in-the-dark!), and scary stuff. Probably half the shirts you’ll throw out are ones she picked out for Kale cause she thought they were freaky cool…sorry about that!!

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