On the end of an era.

Anybody can tell you are irredeemably middle class because your children wear second-hand clothes.*

OK, so necessity plays a part, but you spend quite a bit of time at car boot sales anyway**, and while you are there the sight of so many barely-worn clothes going for twenty pence a flower-strewn babygrow brings out the rampant economy driver in you. Even though every. Damn. Item of clothing for girls is covered in pink. And flowers. Pink flowers! On a pink background! With more pink for the trim!

Your urge to save money is not helped by the fact that you also live amongst very affluent mothers who tend to offload the entire back catalogue of Mini Boden at the NCT nearly new sales in your area. Of course the downside is that they generally want more for their clothes. ‘But it’s JoJo Maman Bebe!’ they say, ‘That MUST be worth two pounds!’ You put up with this because, it must be said, there is a slightly higher chance that they will be selling items where the pink is confined to a bit of piping round the neckline.

Of course, you were nearly lured away from the path of unbearable fiscal smugness this summer by the fact that suddenly the shops seem to have decided that bright colours for boys are in.  And your mother has decided to fight back against the wave of pink that has entered your house by turning up with determinedly unpink dresses for the Comet.***

But what with one thing and the fact that having your kids in you *cough* late *cough* thirties meaning that lots of people have already had theirs, and are just itching to give away bin bags full of great jeans to a good home, you haven’t really been tempted.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Star’s days of handmedown living might be coming to an end.

3+ year old boys really live to destroy their clothes.

Parents of 3+ year old boys have stopped buying more outfits than he can possibly wear because that top is just! So! Cute!

What’s left is mainly clothes saying ‘Here comes trouble!’ or ‘I’m a menace!’ or ‘Lock up your fragile items!’ Which, you’ve discovered, might as well read ‘Give my mother a disapproving glance!’ or ‘Tut if you think I should be dragged off by my ear!’**** People are too easily swayed by advertising. If he wears his lime green leaf patterned shirt with the bright yellow shorts, they just smile.

Still, you’ve had a good run and any minute now he’ll be starting school and it’s all out of your hands, bar the weekends.

*Well, not pants. Or shoes. Or swimming costumes. Or socks. Or vests. But apart from that…

**B still has a technics habit to feed.

***Although last time she was forced to fall back on purple. Even new, it is hard to escape the rose-tinted tyranny.

****What your friend aptly calls the ‘Daddy’s Little Princess’, ‘Mummy’s Little Pyscho’ clothing phenomenon, which, for boys in particular, really seems to take off at 3+.


10 thoughts on “On the end of an era.

  1. Jen says:

    Tell me about it! Familiar with ALL of this!
    Two responses in particular itching to be put down:
    1) with the pink: at least it’s still your choice. Just wait until she’s a little older (can be anywhere between 1.5 and 3 yrs) and she’ll throw a tantrum to end all tantrums if it’s NOT pink. I tend to fall back on purple (know the poem “when I’m old I shall wear purple”? It helps a bit).
    2) no 2nd hand boys’ clothes after 3 yrs: we are in a hand-me-down chain (I’m same age bracket as you; and at least one of the families was decidedly well-off, so we get some fantastic, hardly worn Monsoon/Next/JojoMamanBebe stuff) and I used to wonder why I wasn’t getting anything for my son after age 3. When he went through the trousers I bought him in 3 months I knew why!
    Oh and love the bright colours on boys – have some photos of 4.5 year old son in a glorious combination of red, orange, tangerine and yellow, could always spot him on a crowded playground!

    • It was the Star putting the knees out in a pair of seemingly indestructible jeans which alerted me thh. I am also eyeing the toes of his new shoes apprehensively.

      I must say I am not looking forward to the child-driven pink phase. I will feel obliged to counteract with militant feminist rants, whereupon she will rebel in her teens and become a WAG. Hey ho.

      • We were handed on a pair of trousers that was camouflage patterned, but instead of shades of khaki, was pink and grey. I couldn’t decide if it was awful cos it was pink, awful cos of the military reference, or actually quite subversive and therefore ok for her to wear them.

        They did’t fit, so I was saved any further soul-searching.

        But maybe you can find some kind of subterfuge that will meet her need for pink and your need for feminist credibility.

        I am currently resisting her need for a pink flouncy princess dress for her birthday…

  2. H&M do nicely coloured (not pink) clothes for girls, and I also frequent the boys’ section too – I got a grey marl T-shirt with multicoloured cars on for Moo and she looks awesome in it. Funnily enough, when she was looking particularly girly the other day (jeans, red flowery top, pink spotty bib) some random person in a cafe said ‘Oh, isn’t he lovely?’ Now, gender-specific clothes may save you from this hideousness but bad eyesight won’t. That’s why I’m going to grow Moo’s hair and festoon it with ribbon. And possibly put some make-up on her. And dangly earrings.

    Please don’t call social services.

    • I have a theory (if it makes you feel better) that people just think ‘that baby is the same sex as my child/ grandchild/ niece/ neighbour’s boy’ (circle the small person you are fondest of). I was out with the Comet the other day and she was wearing head to foot pink! Flowers! Pink flowers! Etc! and a playground acquaintance and father of a boy said, doubtfully, ‘So it’s a girl then?’.

      It does make you wonder what the pink is for, of course.

  3. My elder one, Maja (5), is in the pink period :-), however it looks like it’s comming to an end as she generally agrees to wear any t-shirt as long as it is NOT black or white. And of course, what is even more important than the color itself, it cannot be plain – there must be a picture of a fairy, princess, kitten, puppy or the like. On the other hand, Tony (2) dresses as his mummy wants him to and actually she chooses bright colours quite often. As for pass-on-clothes, we are lucky to have a big family with kids mostly older than ours, so got a great deal of pants, blouses, t-shirts etc.

  4. Oh my yes. Our kids are very close in age, and Griffin just destroys his clothes now too. In between the food stains, the beverage dribbles, the paint, the dirt, the holes-from-falling-down, the smushed bugs….

    I empathize with you about the proliferation of annoying pink girl clothes. I’ve been dressing Gwyneth in a lot of Griffin’s baby stuff so that I don’t feel like she’s living in a bottle of Pepto-Bismal. My friends tell me that in France baby girls have a much wider color palette to choose from, lucky ducks.

    Of course, the little boy clothes can be pretty cliched too. One outfit that really made me roll my eyes was a blue-and-green-plaid romper with an appliquéd dump truck on the chest. And what was in the dump truck, you might ask? Basketballs. Because dump trucks regularly carry loads of loose basketballs, you know. It was so aggressively masculine I didn’t want to put it on Griffin!

    But yes, it could have been worse: how about green and blue camouflage with a logo boasting of the wearer’s propensity for naughtiness on the truck, with dogs running behind! (It seems like boy clothes are required to feature dogs while girls get stuck with kitty cats. Lucky me–I don’t care for pets at all.)

    Oooh, I am enjoying dressing my baby girl, though, especially since I’ve been finding French clothes on eBay for her. And the cutest little Eiffel Tower dress.

  5. @Jen The Star had brown camouflage trousers with teddy bear heads worked into the design given to him. I’m afraid they tickled my sense of humour and I did let him wear them. Usually not to church though. I shall be saving those for the Comet because on every level, they would clearly work better on a girl.

    Of course, I would undoubtedly have put her in the pink camouflage trousers too. Oh dear.

    @Czeslaw. Actually it was one of those slightly embarrassing mummy moments when I realised my son gets a real kick out of clothes with pictures on. Of course he does! He’s a toddler! Still, I live in hope that my understated colour co-ordination of the early years will stick at some point.

    @Sara. I sem to have a dearth of the Star’s clothes until six months or so. Either he did just roll around in babygrows or B persuaded me not to clutter up the loft with too many little jumpers. Russian clothes also have more colour choice, and a surprising lack of designating cutsy imagaes just for girls, given how very determindly male/ female roles they are in later life. Must blog about that…

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