Cool clothes for the discriminating kindergartner
August 27, 2012 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Where to buy girls' clothes that aren't pink and/or sparkly?

My 5 year old daughter does not like sparkly pink clothes. Sunday we went clothes shopping for kindergarten and we had a heck of a time finding clothes. The girls section at like 6 stores were complete busts, she found most of her stuff in the boys section...which is completely fine. She can wear clothes from the boys section if she likes.

But, I'd like her to have options. I think shed be fine with 'girl' clothes, as long as they were funky and cool and not sparkly and pink. I don't want to force 'girl' clothes down her throat, but I don't want her to be falsely railroaded into the boys section either.

In short, I'd like her to be able to express herself without such a false dichotomy of choices.

Does that make sense? I am completely fine with her wearing whatever she wants, I just want her to have actual choices know....choose from.

So the actual questions....
1. Where are all the funky cool non sparkly/pink hypergender divided clothes at?
2. Have you gone through something similar with your child? Any advice?

PS I have nothing against sparkly pink things.
posted by ian1977 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I like gap kids clothes - and there are also some cute crossovers in the boys section there.
posted by mercredi at 6:45 PM on August 27, 2012

Justice has a lot of greens and blues for girls.
posted by Etrigan at 6:45 PM on August 27, 2012

For shirts, you can get plain white ones and let her make them her own colors with Rit dye. If you get a box of blue, a box of red, and a box of yellow powder (should run you about 8 bucks), she can mix endless non-pink colors. It'll be a good (and fun!) learning experience for her, too.
posted by phunniemee at 6:48 PM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

Mini Boden has a lot of choices that aren't pink. They aren't cheap, but they do have good sales.
posted by corey flood at 6:48 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Young justjess, who HATED all things sparkly, pink, and embellished, would have loved J. Crew's Crew Cuts collection (whew) particularly the "Borrowed from my Brother" section.

Not sure if/where this stuff can be found in stores, however.
posted by justjess at 6:51 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hannah Andersen--not cheap but so well made. Crew cuts, which is J Crew for children.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:51 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:51 PM on August 27, 2012

I've gone catalog (well, on-line) -- Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, Tea.

Personally I think there's more variety, and I also appreciate the quality - HA esp. seems to be cut better and more comfortable for my daughter, who's 4 and prefers dresses, leggings, and tennies most days.

I actually find a lot of her things resale at places like ThredUp and eBay, too.
posted by hms71 at 6:52 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

The bigger department stores have a lot more variety. Nordstrom has quite the selection in earth tones, even in the core of the girl's department. Macy's doesn't seem to be as good this year, but I also have a really hard time finding about half of their clothes, and I bet you can get pointed in the right direction if you ask someone.

And did you know that Land's End has stuff for kids? I didn't.
posted by SMPA at 6:55 PM on August 27, 2012

I also second phumminee's advice to help her learn to modify basic things (*) with her own findings, dyes, etc. It'll make the teenage years much less fraught (though if you're willing to spend $80 on a blouse for a person who will grow three inches this year, you might not feel like they're as bad as most of my friends' parents seemed to.)

(*) The uniform section has a lot of white stuff. Just saying.
posted by SMPA at 6:58 PM on August 27, 2012

My local Target (if you're in the US) has cute clothes for girls. Lots of jeans, lots of black, lots of purple.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:00 PM on August 27, 2012

We live The Children's Place for basics and you can go frilly or not.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

H+M does some pretty good non-pink basics.

I also endorse MiniBoden, Tea, Hanna Andersen, Polarn O Pyret, and Gap.
posted by k8t at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2012

Hanna Andersson is a winner for my almost 4 yr old girl. I love that their Unders actually cover her buns! The clothes are super well made and hold up to lots of washes without pilling or fading. This season's girl collection is a little more pink than last season, but there are still lots of good non-pink options.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2012

I know exactly what you mean. I have a boy, who I am trying not to clothe exclusively in camo print. I also don't want him to be dressed like a hedge fund manager. I totally agree with your experience. It is weirdly hard to dress kids as kids instead of as miniature gender models.

I've had better luck buying things from certain types of higher-end brands, but the clothes are... expensive (by my standards - I have a toddler, so he outgrows things really quickly). I am cheap, so I generally buy them used and/or on eBay). Hanna Andersson is a reliable winner. Mini Boden is good stuff, but spendy. I also like some stuff at LL Bean and Land's End. I find that you can do okay at Old Navy, if you're careful about giant logos and are in the market for basics.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 7:10 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Land's End is a good place to go, and you might be lucky enough to have a Land's End department in your local JC Penney (if you have one). If you sign up for their email blasts, you'll get lots of opportunities for money off and free shipping. They're great about returns and if your kid wears out any item you buy (clothes, shoes, whatever) before she outgrows it, they'll replace it, for free!
posted by cooker girl at 7:17 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have Joe Fresh around? I've had good luck with non-pink with them. The clothing is inexpensive and generally of decent to good quality.
posted by Cuke at 7:21 PM on August 27, 2012

REI, especially for outerwear and swimsuits, but they also have nice understated regular clothes.
posted by lakeroon at 7:23 PM on August 27, 2012

Zara has very cool stuff, and isn't too expensive either. (I love their styles for boys and would be lost without them.)
posted by xo at 7:25 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

But, I'd like her to have options.

I'd like my daughter to have options too, but it turns out that women's clothing from ages zero to 50 is basically 100% bullshit.

I've had good luck with Gap, Old Navy and Joe Fresh, and my current best-practices are to get her boy's non-camo pants and shorts - girl's pants/shorts/skirts/skorts can take approximately zero abuse, because apparently it's just expected that you send boys play with mud in a rock tumbler that's on fire, but little girls are stored immobile under glass in an argon gas environment until they're 16 - and let her pick the occasional whatever-she-wants fun shirt from Threadless.
posted by mhoye at 7:29 PM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

Old Navy has reasonable stuff, and some of it is not sparkly or not pink, and sometimes even not both! And it can be very cheap.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:58 PM on August 27, 2012

We got a lot at Gymboree and Oshkosh at those ages -- lots of green and blue and even black and brown. Pricy but well-made stuff.

For kindergarten last year, we got a camo green ruffled skirt at Children's Place for my little one (and a t-shirt that was a sketch of a girl wearing that same skirt to go with it.) I feel this fact is worth noting.

My older one, the proto-Goth, *loves* Justice, but be warned that quite a lot of it is sparkles, and anyway they only really carry a size 7 or up. Should you ever go in that direction, never, ever pay full price at that store, there is almost always a 40% discount on their email list.

We bought a lot in grey and white at Macy's for the bigger one this school year. Lots of raglan sleeves, stripes, etc. Really quite inoffensive to the budding tomboy, but maybe only in bigger size than you're into yet.

Which stores may well depend on what size your five-year-old is -- until she's in about a size 7 and solidly out of toddler sizing, the options will continue to be quite limited, sad to say. After that you start finding ex. stuff with skulls on it in the girls' section.
posted by Andrhia at 8:13 PM on August 27, 2012

Threadless's kids shirts are funky and hold up really well to hard wear and washing.

Crazy 8 (which is to Gymboree as Old Navy is to Gap) has pink, but always has a lot of non-pink too. They have both play clothes and girly clothes in non-pink.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:17 PM on August 27, 2012

Nthing Land's End!
posted by mon-ma-tron at 8:47 PM on August 27, 2012

posted by Soliloquy at 9:50 PM on August 27, 2012

Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies. (You may remember this family from the viral "full of awesome" essay that was circulating a while back -- great blog and shop).

Princess-Free Zone.

You know what else is fun? Go to museums, zoos, exhibits, parks and festivals. They almost always sell shirts that are unisex and interesting!

My youngest daughter's favorite shirt is from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting (she was underwhelmed by Warren Buffett but she LOVED the Geico Gecko).

My older daughter's current favorite shirt is from a butterfly garden -- it depicts the life cycle of a monarch. She has another one that has glow-in-the-dark dinosaur bones on it! I think that these shirts are more special to my girls because they can connect them with certain memories.
posted by Ostara at 11:09 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

These companies are deliberately non pinkysparkly, and lots of other good stuff besides:

Every Little Girl

Tootsa McGinty


Found via this fantastic website
posted by runincircles at 12:26 AM on August 28, 2012

I feel like I recently saw some really neat (and probably affordable) stuff at H&M, but I know that they can be heavy on the tacky sparkly stuff too. But there are definitely some cool things. (More than once I've accidentally wandered into the chlidren's section and taken something off the rack, only to realize I had momentarily lost all sense of dimension.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:44 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try OskKosh or any big department store - get a salesperson to help you, but be prepared to be quite firm and to state what you want at the beginning and repeatedly. The gender-stereotypical stuff is a lot more prevalent now than it was for our (I'm also a parent of a little one) generation. Mine is a boy, and even saying we avoid the hyper-gender boy's stuff (like camo-wear and military-themed stuff for toddlers or baby shirts that say "lock up your daughters!") has gotten us some very funny treatment in shops. Some people apparently actually think that failure to fit your infant into the most rigid possible gender stereotypes will cause his/her absolute rejection by peers later in life. I used to think the PinkStinks people were over the top and now...not so much.

One thing to think about with places like H and M and Zara is where you want to get your daughter used to shopping, though - both of those places make teen and preteen clothing for girls that a lot of parents would find inappropriate. If that's you, best not to get your daughter on the track of thinking they are where clothing comes from.

Another thought - back in the 80's, when I was a mini-Wylla (and before any of this got this bad!) it helped me a lot that my mom gave me a rationale for why we avoided certain things, even though it was a kind of silly rationale (She generally said that she wanted to make sure people knew I cared about being smart, and not just about fashion. Silly, but I knew what 'I care about being smart' clothes looked like and it made me comfortable both respecting my mom's rules and articulating my own preferences.) It might help if you gave her a language for articulating her preferences that you could then use consistently.
posted by Wylla at 1:50 AM on August 28, 2012

I buy lots of girl clothes through the Oshkosh/Carters joint website. They have some sparkling stuff but a lot that's just cute, and plenty of boys stuff to fill in the gaps when you can't find a long sleeved black shirt for a little girl to save your life.

(I just read through some of those t-shirts and wow is some it gendered -- usually I just tune that out. But anyway, there's plenty of cute stuff with stylized owls and so on that don't proclaim 'Pretty as mom' or 'Born a princess'.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:36 AM on August 28, 2012

Do you have any decent thrift or consignment stores nearby? Clothes sturdy enough to last more than 6 months tend to end up there since kids grow so fast, and as a bonus most of the pink sparkly stuff tends not to make it to the secondhand market because it's usually so cheaply made.
posted by asciident at 3:53 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Last Hanna Andersson catalogue that showed up here was riddled with tacky floral prints and it seemed like every outfit was a dress + leggings combo. Maybe better on the site...?

Polarn O. Pyret has neat pieces; they are big on unisex and stripes.

Lands' End has some wretched gendering issues -- girls in the catalogues do crafts next to boys climbing trees; boys' pants are "made tough!" and girls' pants are "now with pocket detailing!" etc. But we still have a great deal of solid basics from them -- try for a coupon code.

(My 5yo sews a bit but not in a way that would be useful for garment embellishment, and I don't think I'd thrill to the clean-up after dyeing, and I don't think she'd thrill to the results.)

Kate Quinn Organics has some nice, assertively non-pink-sparkly stuff.

LL Bean quality is very reliable (Lands' End is more uneven but you can fling it back at them easily, so). Mall stores are very frustrating; for every good Gap/Old Navy/Joe Fresh/Children's Place thing, we've got three instant-pill (unravel, shrink, whatever) failures. Crewcuts is overpriced for the quality, but cute, and the dresses are usually lovely, without being tacky-girly.

A little boy down the road accused my daughter of wearing "boys' shorts" (well spotted, kid; from the Lands' End boys' section) and her response was 'How can they be boys' if I'm wearing them?' which I thought a great stock answer to any 'Aren't those boys' X?'
posted by kmennie at 4:06 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Consignment stores!

I know she's getting into a gap time where the kids consignment stores probably don't have as much in that size and the adult stores don't go that small but when I don't want to wade through pink options which is always, I head to the thrift store. Last time I was there, a mom was there with her twin daughters who looked about age 5 and they were selling back some clothes and toys and then using their own money they just made to pick out clothes. It was so great to hear them discuss their purchases and weigh the options. This particular store focuses on higher end brands (Children's Place, Hannah Anderson, etc.) so the quality is generally pretty great and not super pink at all since those places are better about representing ALL the colors.
posted by amanda at 8:00 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for thrift stores. The boys section in particular lets you put together jeans/t-shirts/shorts combos in everything from solids to dinosaur prints. In our neck of the woods (upper midwest USA) Saver's has nice clean stuff and they seem to weed out the junk. We're dressing two 3-yr old twin girls and this approach really gives you options for not a lot of money.
posted by werkzeuger at 1:36 PM on August 28, 2012

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