This has less to do with pop culture parenting and is more of a rant than anything. But we need to do it.
Yes, we need to talk about kid’s clothing.
Now I’ve never been the most fashionable person, whenever I get inspired bouts of trying to be fashionable I’m often disappointed, ending in a sad lethargy and general nihilism about the fashion game. But kid’s clothing is quite awful in ways that even I can sense and am surprised by.
Kid’s clothes are far more focused on overalls, brightly colored plaids, and animals than they have any right to be. I get it, kids are kitsch; we show them dumb movies, sing them dumb songs, talk to them in goo goo gah gah’d speech, so of course their clothes have to be a little stupid, it’s part of their routine. That’s why we’re here though, we’re trying to teach our kids how to have good taste, (and also lead them into a generally holistic well-being–or something like that anyway…). I’m a kid’s kitsch combatant, so I have to say something here.
It’s okay to buy clothing without an animal on it.
It’s okay to buy a collared shirt that doesn’t have a truck on the pocket.
I love my son and I hope our bond is strong, which is why I don’t need to buy him a onesie that says “Daddy’s special boy” or “my Dad rocks”. Thanks son, but I know you’re still dependent on me for survival, so I don’t need to beg for your affection just quite yet.
Now there is room for humor and I’ll let you have agency in determining the kind of wit or pop culture references you want to force your child to wear. I would say generally to avoid these, because they still lean toward the cheesy side of things, but ultimately that’s up to you. For instance, my son has the name of a famous philosopher, so we took him home from the hospital wearing a shirt with said philosopher’s face on it and a quote underneath. I think that’s funny, but I could be wrong (The Good Place seems to agree with me though, so…). Tread lightly here, does the world really need another kid wearing a Star Wars or Marvel onesie? It’s Target chic at this point.
Instead, pick your most specific references, after all the hope is that one day your kid will be into a really specific thing and have to be like: do you listen to podcasts? Well they’re kind of like radio shows, but you download them on your phone. This one is an indie comedy one that I saw them record live in person and bought their shirt. The goal is an uber-specific reference that takes five minutes to explain to someone who lost interest as soon as you began trying.
When it comes to traditional every day clothing, the simpler the better. I always think that putting them in something similar to what you would wear is probably good judgment in taste, but I suppose having matching outfits with your kids is a whole different debate in kitschiness; we can discuss this another time.
Generally I think I would pick tones of tan, dark stripes, and avoid bright colors; let everyone know your kid’s the artsy, moody type.
When it comes to fancier clothing, people love to see kid’s wearing things that make them look very grown up and I’m down for this. Bring on the bow ties and the slacks and the blazers (I’m only a parent to a boy, so I have no advice for girl’s fancy clothing, but if you want to put your girl into a suit Princess Cyd style, then I have no problem with that). These are fantastic on children. Dapper kids are great.
Obviously though you should only buy what you can afford, I’m not advocating for a slew of $40 onesies from that boutique because at the rate your child is growing there’s no way you can keep up with that budget. Stay simple and stay selective. Your kid should wear cool clothes, but more importantly, your kid should not wear uncool clothes. That’s what we want. A grey onesie beats out the strange animal-kid puns that exist on 65% of all children’s clothing.
Join the movement: #againstkidskitsch
What’s the worst piece of kid’s clothing you’ve seen? What are your go-tos? Do you hate me? Let me know in the comments.