Dress up clothes for a 9-year-old girl who hates “girl” clothes
September 21, 2019 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Dress up clothes for a 9-year-old girl who hates “girl” clothes?

Our daughter is 9. A generation ago, she would have been called a “tomboy.” Her favorite outfits are sports clothes like a team jersey and shiny gym shorts. She identifies as a girl but her whole style/presentation is “boy” in terms of (outdated) gender norms. She has a short haircut, for example.

My spouse and I are totally fine with this 99% of the time. She wears what she wants, no big deal. But when it comes to “dress up” occasions, we don’t know what to do. A dress is out of the question, which is fine. But what can she wear that will look “nice” at a wedding or similar event? A boy’s suit/jacket could be an option, but the fit is usually too blocky/weird (especially in the pants) and does not look great. If they made women’s-style suits/jackets in her size, we would try that but we haven’t found anything good. I guess you could spend a bunch of money tailoring something, but with a growing kid that is not ideal. Ideally we would have something that fits a girl’s body, looks nice, and is not frilly/pink/a dress/etc.

Has anyone addressed a similar issue and found good solutions? Brands or stores that work well?
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about girls black school uniform slacks or khakis and a plain white button down?

Also what does she want to wear? If it’s the boy’s suit, it’s ok if it doesn’t fit perfectly, if she’s comfortable in it.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 7:40 AM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

How does she feel about tunics and long tops? Uniqlo's pants are great on my kid and she is happy to try either the boys or the girls styles for pants, jackets and tops, and they're well priced and sort of Japanese-unisex and plain for their style. I'd give her a jacket or cardigan over dark jeans with a nice white shirt, pair them with a proper belt and matching loafers to look stylish and there you go.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:43 AM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Jumpsuits have become much more popular lately, though I'm not sure of the availability of styles and availability for kids.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:44 AM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Came here to say jumpsuits. https://www.target.com/s/girls+jumpsuits
Tons of options, from casual to dressy.
posted by chuke at 7:48 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cardigans were my compromise option for a while. They come in non-frilly styles that work with slacks and read as more "dressed-up" than just a shirt, but without the structuring issues that come with jackets.
posted by teremala at 7:54 AM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

My son's best friend sounds like your daughter, and she wears a crisp white shirt and khakis with either a vest or a navy blazer to dress up occasions, and she generally looks better than any of the boys. I'm not sure how boys' pants at that age would be cut weird (unless she's developing earlier than any of the kids I know).

I wouldn't go with a whole suit unless she wants to, but a vest is a good option if the blazers don't generally fit properly. And a bow tie can be a nice dress-up touch, if she wants one, too.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:58 AM on September 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

I was your daughter so comfort is important above all else. A basic Google search for “girls suit” brought up a ton of really classy and not too expensive options, such as this suit from Roco. A nice sweater vest/slacks might also be an option but looking back at my own experiences I hated clothes in general so as long as you didn’t force me into a dress or anything uncomfortable I didn’t care.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:10 AM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think I'd go with a pair of skinny(-ish) jeans or pants, and a long white shirt or tunic. I don't feel a girl needs to wear a jacket or blazer over it the way boys do.
My youngest, now 20 was and is like that. I'll admit I forced her into dresses for very formal stuff, like a funeral and a fancy wedding. But for most events, the jeans + shirt combo worked fine. Those who knew here were just relieved that she was wearing clean, ironed clothes, and she probably would have been fine at that fancy wedding, too.
posted by mumimor at 8:38 AM on September 21, 2019

Pants or dark jeans, button down or sweater, cardigan or knit blazer. Knit blazers are more common in “girls” sizes. They often feel like a hoodie and stretch, rather than traditional suits which are boxy. I think unless it’s extremely formal, something in the realm of dark pants/jeans and a more structured top is totally fine for a kid.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:46 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Velveteen leggings, a plain shirt and a cardigan might be comfortable for her. The dressier fabric for the leggings signals she's acknowledging it's a party or festive occasion and the cardigan makes it feel like a whole "outfit" which also signals the basic respect for the "make an effort" rule at event, if that's your concern.

You might also check school uniform shops near you, if she's set on a blazer. The shops that outfit "schools" rather than "Specific School" don't have emblems.
posted by crush at 9:00 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I wasn't a tomboy, but I didn't like dresses and this wasn't an issue. Dress pants and a button down shirt or nice sweater, done. I was into vests at one time, too.
posted by hannahelastic at 9:13 AM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Shoes will go a long way toward the fanciness of the outfit, so I'd go hard there. Whether or not she wants a "girly" shoe or something more "boyish" like a brogue. Or maybe a compromise, like a brogue that's shiny or a bright color.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:27 AM on September 21, 2019

most comfortable while still looking nice is leggings and tunic-length top, can be made dressy by making the leggings or top velvet or another nice fabric.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:28 AM on September 21, 2019

My very good friend's daughter is similar to your daughter, except she's 13. When she has to dress up, she wears nice trousers (khaki or black), a button-down shirt, a nice suit vest, and more often than not, a bow-tie. She always looks SUPER amazing and she loves to rock a blazing red lipstick, too. She pomades her hair, wears awesome brogue/oxford shoes and spices those up with funky socks.

People complement her style ALL the time.
posted by cooker girl at 9:56 AM on September 21, 2019 [17 favorites]

I was this kid and felt good with nice pants or unfrilly non-flared skirt, a plain long sleeve knit shirt or turtleneck or polo shirt, and a vest, plain cardigan, or sweater. I wore a tie once or twice but people made fun of me, but the stuff above did not elicit negative comments, and was stuff that could be worn more casually as well.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:24 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I was slightly older, I dressed In my dad’s suit coat from college with a sweater or textured top, skinny pants and boots. Plenty of ideas upthread, I came to mention that some boots can add flair while feeling grounded.

Also, test-drive the jumpsuits. If you have to do the watusi dance just to use the bathroom, the annoyance factor is not worth it.
posted by childofTethys at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not exactly an answer, but does she understand she needs to dress up for some occasions? And what does SHE think she should wear? Might not be a bad jumping off point.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:13 PM on September 21, 2019

A bowtie would be a delightful accessory for a button-down shirt!
posted by goodsearch at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2019

Please let her pick her own clothes. I was this kid and it gave me shame feels for *years* to be frilled up in things I didn't like. Plus a huge shopping/fashion aversion. Everyone here has great style suggestions!
posted by aw jeez at 5:31 PM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

This article from 2018 on "tomboy flower girls" echoes a lot of the advice in the thread. Velvet and/or jewel tone pants, collared and/or button down shirt (or you might be able to find a petite work top depending on her size), and cute (but not necessarily feminine) shoes. The nice thing about being a kid is that unless the special occasion is extremely traditionally formal, any kind of shoe is fancy when it's covered in glitter!
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 5:39 PM on September 21, 2019

Maybe a vest with slacks and a dress shirt would give the dressed up look without the fully boxy suit jacket.
posted by vunder at 6:40 PM on September 21, 2019

Have a look at Princess Awesome - they do leggings and shorts with a science/STEM theme and if they're brand new they are colourful and well made enough that many of them would be totally appropriate for a 9-year-old at a wedding.

"Up to Code" Circuits Leggings with Pockets

"Up and Atom" Chemistry Leggings with Pockets

posted by Murderbot at 2:19 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

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