out and about

shopping for girls

I just got back from a trip to Old Navy with Emma. Every time I go looking for clothes for her, I come home frustrated and disappointed. She is seven. And she's wearing clothes from the girls' department. Does everything have to have something written across the seat of her pants? Or be cut so low she can't crouch down to play a game on the floor without showing off her undergarments? Or cut so low I'm seeing her bony little bird chest? Or so tight, it's like a second set of skin? Or glittery? Does everything have to be seven going on seventeen?

We left with a few basic tees in solid colors. A few short sleeved tees to layer over them. And a hoodie. No mini skirts. No hip-hugging, thigh-hugging flares. No "too cool for school" logo tees. No triangle-top bikinis.

It makes me appreciate the classic looks of catalogs like Lands' End and LLBean, or MiniBoden, and people like Joanna and other small-scale shops and etsy sellers. Though they aren't always in my price range, they are clothes I feel comfortable with. They are classic. They are made for kids who are being kids. I appreciate that more every time I go shopping.

Where do you shop for your children? Though we're blessed with some really nice hand-me-downs, and some pretty good second-hand shops, sometimes there are still holes in the wardrobe that need to be filled.

memory

But, in Old Navy's defense, I will say that they have carried an amazing line of games and clothes this winter featuring illustrations by Charley Harper. The girls each got something from the collection for Christmas–the memory game, the alphabet cards, the board book and a tee. When I was in the store today they had all the games on sale and I even snagged a few coloring books. I can't get enough. I probably should have stocked up on more games to put away for gifts.

So I suppose in Old Navy's defense, that little score made the frustrating trip a little more worthwhile.

I just got back from a trip to Old Navy with Emma. Every time I go looking for clothes for her, I come home frustrated and disappointed. She is seven. And she's wearing clothes from the girls' department. Does everything have to have something written across the seat of her pants? Or be cut so low she can't crouch down to play a game on the floor without showing off her undergarments? Or cut so low I'm seeing her bony little bird chest? Or so tight, it's like a second set of skin? Or glittery? Does everything have to be seven going on seventeen?

We left with a few basic tees in solid colors. A few short sleeved tees to layer over them. And a hoodie. No mini skirts. No hip-hugging, thigh-hugging flares. No "too cool for school" logo tees. No triangle-top bikinis.

It makes me appreciate the classic looks of catalogs like Lands' End and LLBean, or MiniBoden, and people like Joanna and other small-scale shops and etsy sellers. Though they aren't always in my price range, they are clothes I feel comfortable with. They are classic. They are made for kids who are being kids. I appreciate that more every time I go shopping.

Where do you shop for your children? Though we're blessed with some really nice hand-me-downs, and some pretty good second-hand shops, sometimes there are still holes in the wardrobe that need to be filled.

memory

But, in Old Navy's defense, I will say that they have carried an amazing line of games and clothes this winter featuring illustrations by Charley Harper. The girls each got something from the collection for Christmas–the memory game, the alphabet cards, the board book and a tee. When I was in the store today they had all the games on sale and I even snagged a few coloring books. I can't get enough. I probably should have stocked up on more games to put away for gifts.

So I suppose in Old Navy's defense, that little score made the frustrating trip a little more worthwhile.

63 comments on “shopping for girls”

  1. I also have three daughters in my brood of five. I have always felt this way about the clothing selection from size 4-14. Sometimes I will find a plain T that has a feminine flair (like at that W store we all dislike or Target) and I will dye and embellish it, buying three or four at a time. These always go with homemade skirts or pull on pants. Not much advice but every little bit helps!

  2. I just hate clothing with store names on them or those cutesy, sort of sexual sort of not sayings on them. And don’t get me started on glitter . . . It seems impossible to dress an innocent 7 year old these days!

  3. Amen! I have that same feeling of frustration every time I try to shop for my eight year old. They already grow up too fast. Why push it even more with the clothes that are available for them?

  4. I haven’t done any shopping for my daughter. She is three and a half and we have gotten a lot of hand me downs. My sister got a lot of the clothes that my daughter now wears at gymboree. The clothes are long wearing, comfortable, modest, and cute. My sister says they have a sale EVERY week. You can also shop from them online.

  5. Ahhhh…Im with you. Last time I saw my 5 year old niece she had a tight shirt on that said “boy toy”. Are you kidding? But I think its easier with boys in this area…we just shop at the thrift store for most everything and jcpenney or sears if we need to fill in.

  6. I hear you, Molly. My daughter is only three, but I have been eyeing the stuff in the girls’ sections for the past year with something akin to horror. I don’t understand, and I never will; why is it okay to dress little girls like prostitutes-in-training? What kind of sick person in the corporate world came up with this phenomenon?I got the Lands’ End Kids’ catalog last year, and it was hard for my jaw not to drop. The kids were dressed like, well, kids. I couldn’t believe it. They looked like normal kids. Why can’t other corporations follow the same approach?

  7. Amen, sister. You are so right. All I can say is that at our local Salvation Army, they often have lots of great, sturdy, plain little LLBean/Lands End cast-offs that we snatch up. Also, my 5-year-old daughter (who has a gigantic loaf of a bottom) mostly wears boys’ sweatpants, and they fit and look so cute on her (she also wears boys’ underpants, for that matter). Maybe Sasha and Malia will set a good example by not becoming teenagers while they’re still little girls.

  8. how about the hooker shoes that we have to choose from once they are a size 1!!!! I’ve been making jumpers and skirts for Kellie to wear with plain t-shirts because it’s hard to find clothes that aren’t trashy.

  9. When my daugher was that age, I shopped at Kohls. They have the classic little girl style. I hated all of that stuff too. It’s hard enough to find pants to fit those skinny butts, but when they are low riders…

  10. We daughter lives in jeans and yoga pants. It is hard to find yoga pants to fit her slim self, but we’ve had good luck at the Osh Kosh store. Jeans we usually end up getting from either the Gap or Levi’s from JC Penneys. I think H&M have some cute things that aren’t too mature, but you have to pick and choose.

  11. i can totally agree with you there, molly. although we haven’t gotten to that stage of clothing yet, i can totally feel your pain. 🙂 its not like kids can last for 3 or 4 shopping stops. so you have to make each stop worth it! sometimes 2 stops is pushing it for us.

  12. Have you read Packaging Girlhood by Lyn Mikel Brown? She examines exactly what you’re describing: high-quality, kid-friendly clothes ARE available – at a price. Most kids (and parents) have to settle for far fewer, less palatable options.We rely on the grandparents for LL Bean and Hanna Andersson, and our own careful choosing at Old Navy.Good luck – to all of us!

  13. I am right there with you. My girls are 5 and 4, and finding clothing for them is next to impossible. I have found it much better for our family to invest a little more money in my girls’ clothes. I don’t get as much clothing because of cost, but I have never regretted what I get for them. A small sacrifice for little girls who look modest and comfortable.

  14. I agree with the issue on some times inapropriate clothing for girls. We mostly get hand me downs, but when we need fillers we usually end up at Target. I don’t like all of their clothes but most of them I do and they have such good clearance prices that I hardly ever pay more than 4-5 dollars for something. Also we check Goodwill too!

  15. I really need to stop in at Old Navy! Those games and such sound wonderful and affordable…maybe I can do some ctocking up as well for the gift bin. Thanks for that tip!

  16. We have a great thrift store in town, a grandma who makes these amazing shift dresses. And shop at Target and Gap for jeans and plain tees. I’ve had people buy girls tees with sayings that got swiftly dumped or made into something else.

    I can’t deal with the fact that my three year old has some crazy questions from the kids at daycare either. YIKES!

  17. I spent 3 hours in Dillards with my 8 year old and came home with 3 t-shirts the same style in different colors.Personally I make my girls clothes. Its not always cheaper however my girls look like little girls.

  18. I think you know how I feel on this issue. It’s why I end up spending what seems like a small fortune on Katie’s clothes. If I had three girls I would certainly be broke, though there are challenges with the mass-market boy clothes too. We but basics at Old Navy and target and I make a lot too.

  19. My sisters and I lived in Hanna Anderson clothes as kids. They seem to fit what you are looking for and while they aren’t super cheap normally, have fairly good sales.

  20. I do what several people have mentioned….plain t shirts that I embellish and pair with a skirt I’ve made, jeans that may or may not have been appliqued a little, and yoga pants. I will say it is hard to just find a plain tshirt these days! AHHH!! Why do my kids either have to wear inappropriate/rude sayings or store logos on their shirts?? It drives me nuts. I do like Gymboree, and you can get the stuff on sale, then Old Navy, Gap,Target, and Kohls are the ones I can usually sift through to find the decent stuff. I have given up on dresses and skirts though. It is unfathomable to me that I cannot find a dress that goes below the knee in a size 7. INSANE!

  21. My daughter is 10, and I have always been careful about her clothes. Gymboree is great, they have GREAT sales, and their sizes go to 12. Hanna Andersson is also very good, a little more expensive though.

  22. We shop the sale racks at the Gap and also have a Hanna Andersson outlet nearby. Our second hand store is great–admist all the yuck I can always come home with a few gems!!

  23. I’ve had some success lately at Children’s Place. They have awesome sales…My dd is 7 as well…good luck…wait til they’re 16! (I have one of those too)

  24. i know what you mean. i just get the basic t-shirts and jeans from ON and either sew or pick up the rest elsewhere. Target is good for everything too.

  25. I could have written this post, I have three girls too and it’s hard. I love Hanna Andersson when it’s on clearance, other than that we do a lot of Target and Marshalls. Lots and lots of browsing.

  26. I feel exactly the same way, I touched on it a little bit on our Story Trading Journal blog this week by sharing my disdain for the insipid Hannah Montana phenom. Let kids be kids. They don’t need to declare their loyalty to any starlet or “thing” or “state” on their shirts or butts, really : )

  27. I shop at Target or The Children’s Place, The children’s Place has GREAT deals. Most of the skirts are skorts, and they are all bright, fun and cotton. Their kids yoga pants are great. I am a full time working mom with an unemployed husband- I don’t have time to sew (fabric usually costs as much/more than a Tee at Target)and a next to nothing budget. I hate Old Navy. We haven’t shopped there in years because of the inappropriate clothes for girls.Good Luck!

  28. Old Navy is great for babies and toddlers but I’m not crazy about the girls stuff. The pants are cut so low my daughter’s undies show, and she doesn’t like the fit. I but Land’s End and lots of gymboree. Gymboree are about the only pants that fit her, but I find that overall their clothes are well made and hold up through many washings. One good thing for you, is that you have three girls that can wear these things!

  29. I keep looking for all the cool Charley Harper stuff when I go to Old Navy, but none of the three I’ve been to have them. They are not smart. Not smart at all.

  30. I agree with you about girls clothing, but what about adult clothes, too? I really don’t think most people need to be wearing ultra-lowrise pants. They almost never look good. I don’t know who the designers have in mind when making clothes.

  31. I have two boys 7 and 9 and I swear by the clothes from Crazy Eight. They’re from the same company as Gymboree but much cheaper and if you order online there is only a flat five dollar shipping fee. They have a good range of stuff for my boys and I bet they’ve got cute stuff for girls as well.

  32. Ugh, I am so not looking forward to this part of having girls. I love to shop at Children’s Place, but my girls are 2.5 and 4 months. So, so far, so good.

  33. I hear you! I’ve been struggling with this since my daughter turned 5 last year (she wears stuff at least a year older). Pre 5 things are generally pretty cute and lots of choice and suddenly you’re thrown into teenage land where everything is hideous, sparkly and inappropriate with hardly any choice! We have H&M here in Montreal, some of which is OK, but there’s a lot of skanky stuff too!

    PS Hello, I’m a lurker, but long time reader – you’ve just hit a topic that I feel strongly about!

  34. I don’t know if you have a Children’s Place anywhere near you. My sister just got some really nice clothes for my niece and nephews that were very kid appropriate. I totally agree with you on what’s out there. My 18 year old daughter has difficulty getting clothing as well. She doesn’t want to advertise herself or anything else for that matter. Good luck

  35. I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts about little girls’ clothing options! Why is it so easy to find clothes for my 6.5 year old daughter that make her look like a little Brittany Spears, but so hard to make her look like innocent little girl that she is?!

  36. I hear you! My gal is thin, so all that stuff just hangs on her even more, hence revealing even more. I can’t stand the slogan shirts and low-rise pants. I, too, have trouble affording the things I like: Mini Boden, Lands End, Gymboree, Hanna Andersson. Every once in a while I can find something reasonable at Target, which is more in my price range. The good thing about the pricier stuff though, is that is lasts through BOTH girls. The cheaper stuff is often a mess by the time it gets to Charlotte.

  37. I am right there with you on this. I get some things at Old Navy too. I get a lot from Target too. I luckaly have a nice stash of hand me downs from the girls.It is very hard to get things without something writen on them and it is difficult to find plain shoes too!

  38. My best friend buys clothing blanks from the Dharma Trading Company and then dyes them in earth tone colors & embellishes them herself with a few friends (one who has an embroidery machine) I plan to do the same when my little one & future siblings are older

  39. I’ve always been happy with Carter’s brand clothing, at least for baby girls and toddlers. Kohl’s always seems to have a selection of nice t-shrits and shorts that don’t have logos or sayings on them.

    I wish there was a one-stop, affordable shop for girl’s clothing, but I usually end up getting an item here, and item there.

    I wish I could afford to just order everything we need each season from LLBean or MiniBoden or Hanna Andersson. I do have some luck at a nearby Salvation Army finding decent, name brand clothes.

    Boys are so much easier to dress.

  40. I hear you! My oldest daughter (11) doesn’t buy into that style of clothing (thank goodness) and can’t stand having words on her behind! She also doesn’t like low rise pants…I never thought of checking out the LL Bean catalogue, thank you for the suggestion! We have had some luck before at Children’s Place (they also have words and low rise too, but we have liked the long skirts from there), and Gymboree (only when it’s on sale lol).

    1. I wish more 11 year olds were like your daughter! I’m 14 years old, and kids my age wear all these inappropriate stuff from the juniors section(a lot of them have worn juniors clothes since they were 8! Can you believe that?) I happen to prefer kids clothing like Gymboree’s and Target’s! They are just so cute! (And don’t expose so much skin!) seriously, I feel like I’m the only one at my school who cares about modesty. So much supposedly “kids” clothes I see at some stores shouldn’t even be worn by 16 year olds!

  41. I go insane sometimes looking at the clothes my middle school students wear. Yikes. I am so not ready for dressing a tween. My daughter is two, which is young I know. We have good success at Target.

  42. I absolutely adore the games (especially memory) that Old Navy carries. I do not have children and had a hard time justifying the purchase, but was definitely in awe of the adorable design. Thank you for the post!

  43. My last trip to Old Navy with my 9-year-old daughter was just like yours. What happened to their cute, classic boot cut jeans? The rise is lower on everything, and the t-shirts didn’t fit at all.I do find second-hand stuff that looks better, maybe because it was produced a few years ago? I think GAP usually is a better fit, too and would buy more Hanna Andersson if I could!

  44. Wow. Fabulous summary. I cannot stand anything from Old Navy or similar stores that are meant for “women” either…unless it’s a basic tee with an extra inch on the bottom (love that!). I don’t want to buy the same clothes that are marketed for 13-17 year olds…for myself or for a 7 year old! Target has been a life saver in that regard. (I have a 2 year old son, so no girls clothes to buy yet…but I still don’t like the choices.) Anyway, really I just wanted to say that we LOVE that board book!

  45. Totally agree with you. I do buy from old navy, but choose carefully. I also like SOME of the Children’s place stuff. Used to be a huge fan of Gymboree, but I think they’ve really gone off the rails with their designs. I LOVE LOVE mini boden, but with 4 kids to clothe, we have to be very careful how much we buy from there. I tend to buy on sale, bigger sizes that will fit the next year. MB are my daughter’s favourite clothes as they are comfy. And so funky. I hate when little girls’ stuff is too sexy and too grown up. It is ridiculous. I also buy cheap t-shirts and decorate them myself.

  46. That game looks beautiful!I gave myself a challenge to go 1 year without buying anything new for my kids except tights for Miriam and underpants. Really, I knew I could make the undies, but I also knew I wouldn’t be likely to complete them.One of the bummers of the challenge is that I don’t go to ON or target as often and I miss cute stuff! 🙂

  47. Osh Kosh and Kohls and sometimes old Navy for dreses.

    Lately though it’s been all OshKosh and the girls (cross your fingers) so far are not asking for the hoochie mama stuff!

  48. i have the same problem with kate – age 7 and wearing a size 10 (same size as jane). i love gap kids way more than old navy. it’s not as trendy and you can deals when it goes on sale. we also do our fair share of miniboden – i’m lucky because the girls wear uniforms to school so we don’t need that many clothes. and target – you have to be picky, but things can be found there, too.

    calling you next week when my life is back to normal.xo.

  49. Thanks for telling us about the games. I never go into Old Navy for just the reasons you mentioned. We often shop at Children’s Place. But, we have an NBC in our town that massively discounts their goods. It really feels like shopping at an indoor yard sale. We find most of Sloane’s clothes there as they have a selection from many, many, many stores. If you have one near you, I think it’s worth the drive.

  50. Hi! I had never heard of Charley Harper until you mentioned him in this post. Today I went to Old Navy with a friend and bought the flash cards alphabet cards. LOVE them. My friend bought them too, plus the memory game.BTW, my daughter is 3 and I too have problems finding affordable clothes that are not suggestive. Consignment stores, thrift stores, and clearance racks is where I search, but it’s really hard because I hardly ever have time for shopping. Every few months I actually make an “appointment” with my husband. He knows he will have the kids for half the day while I buy them clothes. There is a company called Olive Juice that I LOVE, but unfortunately, I cannot afford a pair of socks from them!Love your blog, keep up the great work!

  51. I sort of missed the boat on this post. Reading backlogs… But I just wanted to add agreement. My son is nearly two and I have had to be very choosy. He is not into sports yet, as you might guess… Thus the junking up of nearly all boys clothing with such emblems is annoying. Or cartoon characters. Or quotes that type boys as brats. It’s hard to find colors other than navy blue and dark brown. I agree that mini-boden is quite nice. I have a feeling I will be spending more on my new baby girl (due in May) simply to fend off the barbie look. I’m already thinking of sewing much more than I ever have!

  52. Totally late to this post — totalycompletely agree with everyone who has posted. I have a nearly 3 year old and I’ve managed to cobble together a wardrobe through stocking up on clearance sales across size ranges, ebay and the random times I’ve actually found practically new items at Goodwill. ex: yesterday I stopped by at the Lands’ End shop at Sears and picked up a pair of shoes for $7. It’s only through this I’ve been able to avoid logos and dressing him dark colors or camo (b/c he is NOT a child soldier)

  53. Oh I can’t agree more! My daughter is ten now and it continues to be a struggle to find age appropriate clothing for her. I actually remember when she was three months old I went to Old Navy to get her a pair of jeans. I was looking for just a plain pair of jeans but what I found there were obnoxiously embellished jeans and things that I found inappropriate for young girls. I came home frustrated and spouting off about emailing “someone” about the horrible selection of clothing and what message we are sending our girls by what is available to dress them in.

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