Last week I was at a park with Toby where a little boy of similar age to him said “that’s a girls top”, Toby immediately ran up to me and told me “that boy said this is a girls top, have you got another one? I want to change it”. The top was a rust orange coloured Zara basic t-shirt. It wasn’t in any way shape or form a girls top, not that it would have mattered if it was. I do occasionally buy neutral things for him from the girls section because let’s face it the boys collection is usually naff, but this wasn’t. I could bang on for hours about the gender inequality within the current children’s wear market, as a matter of fact I wrote a 10,000 word dissertation on that very topic for my degree and got a first, *insert smug as fuck face here* but there’s a story for another day!
This little boys words didn’t bother me at all but I didn’t like that it had made Toby question himself. Here’s the thing – I hate characterised clothing, I hate flashing shoes, I don’t believe all boys should wear is blue, red or green. I don’t understand why little boys are always dressed in football kits, to be perfectly honest, I think they look awful (especially when they’re not nor have they been playing football, if anything I find that really weird, it’s like wearing swimming trunks to the cinema, it makes no sense) nor do I feel the need to dress him head to toe in printed dinosaurs, diggers or trucks. Toby is a boy, he knows that, I know that, it’s clear for everyone else to see that. I don’t feel the need to paint him blue to clarify.
I’m not on some form of gender-neutralising protest where I dress him in tutus and throw glitter on him, albeit if that’s what he wanted to do, that’s what we’d bloody well do. I dress him very neutral, he’s often in grey, mustards, burnt oranges, monochrome, denim etc. He does also wear blue, red, green and whatever other colour if it’s something that I like. I’m not trying to boy-cot the colour blue, it’s just not my favourite. He doesn’t and never has questioned what he wears because I’ve always dressed him the same, the only way I know how, with my own sense of style.
Maybe I’ve been lucky or maybe it’s learnt behaviour but Toby has never questioned the clothes I put him in, in terms of style. He’s very particular about materials and comfort. And if anything, comfortability is the main reason for any protests. That or the fact he just wants to be a half ninja cow boy/ half marshmallow that day. (We’ve all been there!) He will only wear “soft pants” he hates jeans, because he finds them uncomfortable and restrictive so he mainly wears leggings or slim fit joggers. He prefers short sleeved t-shirts and he doesn’t like labels, so to an extent (weather permitting! )I’ll let him wear short sleeves and I look for tops with stitched in or printed labels instead. He’s never once questioned me on colour or style, so the fact this child’s comment had made him question it annoyed me. If Toby turned around to me tomorrow and said “I don’t like stripes anymore, I don’t want to wear them” I would say ok. I would never make him wear something he didn’t want to wear for my own personal satisfaction. It matters to me that he is well dressed and looks nice of course, I’m a stylist. But it matters to me more that he is happy, comfortable and confident in what he is wearing.
At risk of stating the bloody obvious, I love fashion and I love clothes. And when I became a Mum, my love for fashion expanded into childrenswear. I love to find new independent brands, vintage treasures and unique designs for Toby’s wardrobe as much, if not more so, than I do my own. I have always loved the way fashion makes you feel, an outfit can make or break your day. I’ve always dressed for my feelings and who I want to be that day and I hope to pass on my love for fashion and confidence to wear what you blooming well want to, to my son. And no Asda price, paw patrol tracksuit wearing kid is going to stop me!