What about boys’ clothes?

My son is growing fast. He’s outgrown just about all his clothes this fall. Last month, we went to WalMart to buy him some new clothes. I don’t like buying boy’s everyday clothes (especially pants) at thrift stores because they wear out so fast that by the second time around, they are almost threadbare already. One advantage of dressing plain, is that button up shirts are often in better condition than printed t-shirts at the thrift store, but the selection for boys is very limited. If I have to buy used clothes twice as often, it’s usually worth buying new instead so long as it isn’t too expensive.

Modesty is frequently associated with girls’ clothes. Making sure hems are long enough, shirts loose, and necklines high. Yet, modesty isn’t limited to them. Boys need to be modest too. I’m not just talking about avoiding running around without a shirt and skimpy shorts in the summer. I mean the clothes should be simple in design and not flashy with the latest logo emboldened across the front or back. (See my post from last fall about clothing or advertising.) They should be free from tears (within reason for play clothes). They shouldn’t draw unnecessary attention. Yet at the same time, as Christians, I want my family to avoid the trappings of fashion and appreciate a basic garment.

My son has surprisingly never liked jeans. He prefers slacks or sweat pants. However, slacks are hard to find without spending a lot more compared to jeans. I guess they are considered dress up clothes and charged accordingly. We lucked out and found some cargo pants at a good price and a pair of elastic waist slacks.

With winter coming on, he needed long sleeve shirts. However, most of them had writing on them to resemble sports shirts. I understand wanting to show team spirit for your favorite team, but these weren’t even for a real team. Just something the designer made up. Even the plaid and flannel shirts had these “team” designs. Ugh. We did finally find a few plain striped shirts on the clearance rack.

It was frustrating for us. He didn’t understand why he found plain shirts the last few years but had such a hard time this year. They had plain flannel shirts for men but not boys. He really wanted some flannel shirts. Even the sweat shirts all had designs on them this year. I can’t even say this is just a WalMart trend. Other stores also had a lack of basic, unadorned long sleeve shirts. I could have gotten dress shirts, but that’s not what we needed.

Many viewing modestly dressed families, mostly see it is for the women and girls. The men are assumed to wear clothes off the rack. Yes, the do. However, they are getting harder and harder to find at reasonable prices. Whereas, you can buy modest dresses at several places online for reasonable prices.

So I ask, where are the modest, boys’ clothes? Why does dressing neat and plain cost so much more than the latest printed junk? Is it just me? Am I the only one who see this as a problem?


12 Responses

  1. The stores stock what sells, and most people buy the stuff whether they like it or not, because it is what is available and affordable.
    It does seem that there is less selection in all categories of clothing, stores do not want large inventories on thier books, they want product that moves quickly, they do not want to be stuck with items that they have to sell at a loss at the end of season. Walmart is a very efficient retailer, Sears is not. Sears has plenty of selection in their stores, and tons of stuff that doesn’t sell well, and they end up selling it at 90% off at the end of season. And guess what, Sears is struggling big time. The internet has also played it’s part in the ever shrinking inventories of most stores, and the lack of choice, it is much cheaper for a business to keep all items in one warehouse and ship out to customers as internet orders come in, rather than have items sitting on store shelves all over the country. A lot of internet “stores” don’t even carry stock, you send them your order, they turn around and order it from the manufacturer, or their wholesaler, and it is then drop shipped to you.

    I would suggest that you shop online for your son, you will probably have a lot more success in finding what you want.

  2. I haf this problem with my boys years ago. I have always disliked logos and script on clothes, and they never cared for it either. I made their toddler clothes, but didn’t have the courafe to make their shirts when they got older. They probably would have liked me to, but I didn’t. Now that you are sewing, why not try some of the simpler patterns for boys? I find patterns better adapted for the neophyte seamstress now, so maybe you’ll have more nerve than I did and whip up a few garments for that growing boy! My grandmothers always sewed for the men in the family; I wish I’d paid more attention.

  3. I’ve been working for 2 months on the same dress for my daughter. I unfortunately just don’t have time to sew much. It’s harder to find plain clothes for her than him. I wish I had more time for this sort of thing.

  4. Martine,
    It sounds like a classic catch 22: people buy what stores have therefor they sell more of the same because people are buying it. That’s especially true in the small market of Alaska where there isn’t much selection of stores.

    I don’t like paying shipping to Alaska. Even though the post office has one price boxes now, people still charge extra for Alaska. Not to mention if it doesn’t fit, you have to pay shipping again to return it.

  5. Have you ever tried Land’s End? They have fairly plain clothing. Plus they have the Counter and Clearance section where things are affordable.

    Surprisingly, the Old Navy clearance section can be a good place for pants for men and boys. Not so for shirts if you want plain shirts. Although, I don’t share you’re aversion for things with logos. I don’t have problems with designs depending what is on them.

  6. I was just checking out Land’s End’s site. In the clearance section if you school uniforms they have some reasonably priced pants and polo shirts.

  7. I’ve been very fortunate that the hand-me-downs we’ve received for my older boy have been in GREAT shape. They won’t last until my next boy, but there is a definite lack of plain, simple shirts. We struggle with the clothing issue with the girls all the time as they would rather wear dresses than anything else. I have to buy much bigger than their size to get anything near knee-length.

    I have never liked jeans. My kids seem to be following suit. (We try to have a pair of jeans for each kid for tromping in the woods and horse back riding.) If we don’t give into the pressure to buy inappropriate clothes, perhaps more stores will sell appropriate ones.

  8. Hand me downs were great when my son was little but he’s now bigger than the older boy so we’re giving clothes to him instead.

  9. Although logos don’t really bother me I still prefer plain clothing whenever possible. I was so happy when my son grew into men sizes.. My problem now is finding shirts that are not skin tight for my 9 year old daughter.

  10. Personally, I prefer Lands End, Lady Van Husen, L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer. They make quality normal clothes, while they may have labels the labels are minimal.

  11. Dee,
    Those a good catalog companies. I have ordered from them but I prefer to try on clothes or I buy 2 sizes and send one back if I really want it.

    I don’t mind minimal labels or tags. It’s the huge logos that look like walking advertisements I object to.

  12. That is probably why they are so good as online companies. I’ve rarely returned anything from Lands End.

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