Sunday, January 25, 2009

Clothes that Don't Suck

Boys are harder to name and harder to clothe, and it's for the same reason: smaller groups from which to choose and less variation within the group. But I like a challenge.

Here's what I don't like:

1. Appliqu├ęs. I'm sure, in theory, there are cute ones. But I have yet to see one. Mostly they're just horrible, and scratchy on the inside to boot.

2. Sports themes, with two exceptions (Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles licensed merch). Trucks and construction themes are moderately less irritating. I object on general principles to the neurotic desire to mark infants with gender identifiers, and I object more specifically to assigning sports, transportation, and tinkering to boys (long before they could possibly develop these interests), but really I mostly object because these garments are wicked ugs.

3. Mottoes that reference mommy, daddy, bodily functions, or irritating behavior for which an infant can't be held responsible. Especially icky are the ones that proclaim a parent's beauty or prowess.

4. Mottoes or themes that suggest strongly that parents are far too cool to be parents. It's the middle-aged hipster version of "I got my looks from Mommy," and it reads just as sad.

5. Over-embellishment. Look at the adult clothing departments of any store, and at least a third of what you see will be solid color basics. Now try to find anything solid-colored in the baby department. Try to find just stripes, or just a print. Good luck.

So it's clear what I do like: plain, simple, comfortable, well-constructed clothes in good colors that don't have anything to prove. Cotton knits with plenty of room to move. Bonus if they're made with turn-back cuffs that give you some extra grow room. Bonus if they don't cost an arm and a leg.

Here's where I've found them:

1. Old Navy. Guilty of ugliness and dumb mottoes, but they're also pretty good at providing some solid-color basics. And for cheap (especially on sale, and there's always a sale) stuff, it holds up pretty well, too.

2. Hanna Andersson. Arm and a leg, fo reals. But their sales are worth waiting for. I'm a huge fan of the wiggle pant, and the Swedish moccasins are one of two things I can put on Ben's feet that stay on. And, good grief, is anything in the world cuter than their jackets?

3. H&M. (They don't have online shopping, the freaks.) The more I try other brands, the more impressed I am by the quality of cheap-as-dirt stuff from H&M. It's the only place I know I can reliably find solid-color onesies and wicked cute stripey t-shirts in excellent colors. That wear like iron.

4. Lands End. (I refuse to play ball with their weirdly-placed apostrophe. Just how many lands are they at the end of, exactly?) Ben has a cabled sweater and a lightweight fleece "sweater" that he's almost always wearing, and they've worn well through dozens of washes and show every sign of making it all the way from fall to spring with a fast-growing kid.

5. Target. Their house brand, Circo, is decent, good-looking stuff at rock-bottom prices. I adored their cotton-knit footie pyjamas, ($5.99! and snaps, not a zipper!) which only go up to 9 mo size, more's the pity.

6. Zutano. (Which I used to get at Bugs & Blossoms, but they've sadly gone out of business.) They're not cheap, and they can be a bit hit-or-miss, and the sizing is kind of random: Ben is currently wearing 6-12 mo in tops and jackets, 12-18 mo in pants, and 18-24 mo in overalls. But for cute all-over prints and fabulous baby fleece, you can't beat 'em.

7. Kate Quinn Organics. I've already blogged my love, and my love is true and unfading.


Carrie Frederick Frost said...

In complete agreement with you here. Add to the list: stiff denim jeans or overalls for infants. How can a six month old possibly move in fabric that inflexible?

I must confess that I have a special place in my heart for the onesie that always goes on Iggy (not the girls, for some reason) which says in tiny print: "Property of Mom." It's the combination of the absurdity of the phrase and the fact that he looks just like me that makes it fetching.

Jennifer Larson said...

I agree with you in general...and in specifics, most of the time. But I have to admit it...I loved my baby son in baseball clothes. It's a sickness, I know.