I happily dress my child in a pretty wide variety of clothing, accept hand-me-downs from all genders, and don’t fuss over what section something came from if it’s cute and it fits well. But, my kiddo is male, and people (read: family) like to buy him things, so he has a lot of boy clothes.
Now that he’s a year old, and we’ve gone through a truly ridiculous amount of clothing, I have some questions about the clothes made for teeny tiny boys. Maybe it’s just because my wife and I didn’t grow up with very masculine wardrobes, but some of this stuff is seriously weird to me.
1 | Cargo pockets
As a woman who dresses in women’s clothing, it’s often hard to find a pair of pants with pockets large enough for my house keys. If I also want to take my iPhone out with me, I pretty much have to bring a purse. If I want to wear a skirt, I’m shit out of luck altogether.
And yet, pants made for infants and toddler sport huge freaking cargo pockets. Many, many garments for adult women sport those fake-out pockets (it looks like a pocket, because looking like you have pockets is apparently fashionable, but it doesn’t actually open, because being able to carry your shit is not!) but I’ve checked and so far the pockets on my son’s pants have all been real pockets.
So I have to wonder, what kind of “cargo” do the fine folks at Carter’s imagine my one-year-old will put in these pockets? Why are they there? Maybe I’m missing something, but my son doesn’t really have a lot of personal effects. The stuff he does need to have with him is all like diapers and stuff, and those things don’t fit in the pockets.
My first thought is that they’re only there because people love it when baby clothes look like tiny adult clothes. Okay, fine, but then wouldn’t the fake-out pockets suffice? They absolutely would. The pockets remain mysterious to me.
2 | The color orange
I’m not nuts about the color blue, and I’m not nuts about my child wearing all one color. So at first, when we were gifted a bunch of orange-colored onesies for him, I didn’t even question it. I like orange as much as the next person! Orange is great, actually. But over time, I started to notice that when I opened his dresser drawers, it was overwhelmingly orange in there. That seemed odd to me, until I found myself in the boys’ section at Target one day and realized that it was just as orange in there as in my son’s wardrobe. That is to say, it was really, really orange.
What is the deal with orange everyone? By my (unscientific) reckoning, it seems to be the second most popular color for boys’ apparel, only trailing behind the obvious winner, blue. I have never thought of orange as especially masculine, and yet, here we are. What is it that I don’t know?
3 | All socks have monsters on them
I might be exaggerating, but only slightly.
The first time I saw a pack of socks covered in brightly colored monsters, I was all, “Aww, cute!” But now it seems like all of his socks are covered in monsters. This isn’t a problem, exactly, but it does make me wonder. The last time I was at the store actually looking at baby socks, I counted four different monster sock options, which seems like kind of a lot to me.
4 | Shorts that go down to the ankles
This one bothers me the most, out of all of the gendered idiosyncrasies. Look, if I’m purchasing a pair of shorts for my child, I expect them to be shorter than pants. It’s right there in the name, for crying out loud! If I want him dressed in something that covers his ankles, I’m more than happy to put him in a pair of pants.
But, it turns out, shorts made for toddler boys these days are long. And they’re not just long, they’re baggy too. They’re made to resemble those basketball shorts that men and older boys wear (and let me just point out that basketball shorts, even for adult men, didn’t used to be as long as they are today! I should know, I was forced to watched recorded VHS tapes of old basketball games as a child), which I guess makes a certain amount of sense.
But first of all, my one-year-old’s idea of sports is just to hold a ball above his head and screech “BALL!” at the top of his voice, and he doesn’t really need a special outfit for that. And second of all, they end up being so ridiculously big that they look more like culottes with a vaguely sporty pattern.
And of course, while the boys’ shorts get longer and longer, the shorts intended for little girls have become so short as to more closely resemble underpants. Will they even cover the diaper? Who knows! Do you know what would be great? Shorts that hit just above the knee – or as I like to call them, shorts.
5 | There are literally fewer clothing options for boys than for girls
I first noticed this while combing through online clearance sections, and it seemed like the girls’ section took up more pages than the boys’ section. That seemed weird to me, so after that I started to actually check. This is pretty easy to do online, since most retailers list the number of items up at the top of the page.
At every store that I checked, there were significantly more items in the girls’ section than the boys’ section. Simply put, if you are dressing a child within the gendered bounds of retail, you have more options for a girl than for a boy.
When I pointed this out to several friends, they suggested that it was probably because of the cultural perception that girls are more interested in fashion than boys are. And yet, the same ratio of clothing options holds true for children under two, as well as older kids who might be picking out their own outfits. Does anyone seriously believe that a female toddler feels differently about getting dressed than a male toddler does?
On the average bleary-eyed morning, the most I think about my child’s clothing is likely to be “Does it fit? Is it clean? Is it weather appropriate?” Ultimately, as a mother, those things have to take priority over unnecessary pockets and the odd prevalence of monsters on footwear. Still, I continue to be perplexed and fascinated by the contents of his dresser drawers, and I’m sure I will be for years to come.