Pink and blue – really? More colour in kids clothing, please!

Elka Wood 24 July 2019 28
Grey, blue, khaki, more shades of blue and oh look, it's orange! it's orange. Photo: Elka Wood.

Grey, blue, khaki, more shades of blue and oh look, it’s orange! Photo: Elka Wood.

“Muuuum, I need a shirt with more colours on it! It’s for Crocodile, Crocodile and I don’t get a turn because I’m always wearing the same colours – grey, blue, black…” my seven-year-old son gestures to a pile of clothes on his bedroom floor. I paw through them with him and he’s right – how did we end up with so much navy blue?!

Two days later my four-year-old daughter wonders why she doesn’t have a shirt with a dragon on it.

“I’ve got my pony shirt and my giraffe shirt and the shirt with the flowers but no dragons,” she says sadly.

Obviously, just because children want a certain type of clothing doesn’t mean I need to act on that. But their comments, made days apart, got me thinking.

Girl or boy? there's plenty of time for gender expression after puberty. Photo: Elka Wood.

Girl or boy? there’s plenty of time for gender expression after puberty. Photo: Elka Wood.

We start so early distinguishing children as male and female and I’ve often thought a baby wearing a flowery pink headband is the most painful thing in the world! All babies under one look more like potatoes than anything else and attempting to make your potato look like a girl potato feels especially futile.

That being said, we still need to dress our kids and striking the balance between what parents want, what kids want and what is practical and affordable can be a headache.

In the case of my son, a trip to a few local department stores confirmed my suspicions – if he wants to wear brighter colours, we will have to shop in the girl’s section.

I notice that big box stores label their kid’s clothing not as ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ but as kids clothing, as though they expect the items will be interchangeable between the genders. But I admit I feel kind of funny about the idea of actively choosing girls clothes for my son, like I’m breaking a big rule.

Want to branch out of navy blue and grey? pink and purple land will go some way towards servicing boys who want colour. Photo: Elka Wood.

Want to branch out of navy blue and grey? pink and purple land will go some way towards servicing boys who want colour. Photo: Elka Wood.

At seven, the shapes and styles of the clothing commonly worn by girls and boys are apparent and I also wonder if he would wear the leggings and shirts cut tight so common among girls his age – he’s already learnt that male clothes are comfortable.

And if colour is the priority, the girl’s section is still fairly limited – a pink, purple and peach palette prevails.

If my kids and I want to mix it up a bit and buy a green shirt with a purple dinosaur or red pants with strawberry print, without ordering from across the world and paying adult prices, what are our options?

A search for children’s clothing stores in About Regional territory leads me to ‘Chilli and Willow‘ in Bateman’s Bay.

Owner Yasna Gilligan is an interior designer and is passionate about colour, texture and print.

When her clients started having grandchildren, she saw a gap in the market and turned her hand to designing and making kid’s clothes, some of which are still made locally and some in Indonesia.

Yasna Gilligan says that children love colour, print and texture and designs her range to appeal to them. Photo: Supplied.

Yasna Gilligan says that children love colour, print and texture and designs her range to appeal to them. Photo: Supplied.

“Children are the same as adults in that colour gives them inspiration,” Yasna explains. “As a designer, I use every tool at my disposal to make the item interesting.

“When kids come into the store, you see it on their faces, they love it here and they don’t want to leave.”

Yasna sees a shift towards gender-neutral clothing for kids.

“You can put babies in black now!” she exclaims, “but when children are older, they are very honest about what they like and don’t like. I often give children clothes for free when they come in and fall in love with something – it’s not always what the parents like.”

Letting children express themselves through their clothing is an important aspect of identity, according to Yasna, and has the benefit of limiting struggles between kids and adults about what is an appropriate clothing choice.

“Of course, when it’s cold, they must wear something warm but other than that sort of thing, why make a child wear something they don’t like?”

On that note, I’m off to find my daughter a dragon shirt and my son something from the girl’s department.

Original Article published by Elka Wood on About Regional.

Do you know of any boutique stores in Canberra that does gender-neutral clothing well? Comment below.

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28 Responses to Pink and blue – really? More colour in kids clothing, please!
Smita Patel Smita Patel 12:30 pm 24 Jul 19

We don’t follow rules. We dress in bright and practical colours. Sometimes bubs is called he sometimes she. Whatever. Does not matter if a stranger gets the gender of my child wrong. It’s of no consequence right now.

Carole Ford Carole Ford 6:12 am 24 Jul 19

Too much choice, simply because of competition for money. Don't take your child to the shops, buy what they need, keep it simple and they won't know the difference.

Callie Elward-Barrett Callie Elward-Barrett 7:56 pm 23 Jul 19

Girls clothes are tighter, shorter and are ridiculously impractical colours. We dress our 4yo girl in whatever clothes are most suitable, regardless of the section they sit it

    Jacqui Lowe Jacqui Lowe 9:41 am 25 Jul 19

    Yes! In summer time girlswear is all hot pants and capped sleeves - not very sun safe.

Callie Elward-Barrett Callie Elward-Barrett 7:54 pm 23 Jul 19

This is gross

Sarah Lebner Sarah Lebner 6:34 pm 23 Jul 19

Yes please! Great article!👌 “Let kids be kids”

Meegan Ward Meegan Ward 8:52 am 23 Jul 19

I soooo agree, my kids bagged me out over the choices I made for them when they were little, it was more about the costs at the time. When they were teens I let them choose, it's only fabric, people need to chill out, kids have enough on their plate with growing 👆, it frees them to express themselves. 💖💞💓💕😊🌈🙏.

Guy Manton Guy Manton 7:38 am 23 Jul 19

At that age is there any difference in body shape to need to have specific boys and girls clothing? Couldn't it just be kids clothing?

    Kitz Jesse Kitz Jesse 8:30 am 23 Jul 19

    Guy Manton totally!! The only slight difference is "boys" clothes are a very slightly bigger size.

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 8:45 am 23 Jul 19

    Kat Jesse so in theory you could have single sizing and a boy of the same age would wear a size or more larger than a girl of the same age? Proportionally they would be the same.

    Kitz Jesse Kitz Jesse 8:48 am 23 Jul 19

    Guy Manton yeah. It would work perfectly. it's weird that they make them larger since it doesn't matter at that age.

Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 11:48 pm 22 Jul 19

Why can’t we have gendered clothing? It doesn’t mean we can’t have gender neutral either!

Kim Elms Kim Elms 10:01 pm 22 Jul 19

I buy my girls navy or grey leggings! Hard to find I’ll be honest, but soooo much better for the dirt factor

Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 9:35 pm 22 Jul 19

My friend at ‘kiva made for fun’ makes gorgeous Scandi gender neutral clothing and it’s so refreshing to see kids wearing bright colours, in every colour of the rainbow if that’s what they want to wear! 😊

    Tiina Mann Tiina Mann 9:37 pm 22 Jul 19

    Mel Hendrie thanks Mel! 😘

    Elka Wood Elka Wood 12:15 pm 23 Jul 19

    Thanks for the tip, Mel! I've just put in an order with Kiva Made For Fun and I'm excited for the kids to see their new gear - rainbow T-shirt and a purple dinosaur dress 😍😍

    Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 6:39 pm 23 Jul 19

    You’re welcome! My kids LOVE their kiva gear. It’s so soft and my son opts to wear it to bed as well. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Iaian Ross Iaian Ross 9:31 pm 22 Jul 19

Peculiar bit of history. Gendered colours and dresses were reversed about a hundred odd years ago.

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 1:11 am 23 Jul 19

    Yes, in terms of pink and blue, and there are photos from before my grandparents when boys and girls woredresses, but when I grew up there wasn't a pink piece of clothing in sight, and no one wanted one. Only pink stuff was barbie's car.

    Tracy Robinson Tracy Robinson 8:29 am 23 Jul 19

    Iaian Ross Very good. Blue was also considered for girls and reds were for boys. Look at the Romans.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 9:21 pm 22 Jul 19

Gendered clothing is so stupid. I remember as a young teen being so scared about looking at the wrong clothes in the shop because I am a boy.

Matthew Beale Matthew Beale 9:20 pm 22 Jul 19

Let the kid decide! If they like pink, wear it. If they like blue, wear it.

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 1:14 am 23 Jul 19

    What if they want to wear green, red, yellow? Not that easy to find

    Katy Norman Katy Norman 6:34 am 23 Jul 19

    Matthew Beale what if a girl likes blue but not trucks or dinosaurs? Too bad for her.

    Matthew Beale Matthew Beale 6:55 am 23 Jul 19

    Katy why bad? You can get blue shirts without those.

    Susanne a bit harder, I would agree but most can be won over with a multi colour shirt.

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 7:33 am 23 Jul 19

    It quite hard when mine were little to find anything in bold colours and that didn't have army patterns, skulls, motobikes, butterflies, dinosaurs etc on them. In the end I bought a lot second hand, and clothes for my "boys" from the girls' section. That was easier as there were 6 racks of girls clothes to every one rack of boys clothes.

    Matthew Beale Matthew Beale 7:41 am 23 Jul 19

    Susanne it can be hard I agree. While can xost a bit more, Wigges skivvy work pretty well. Assuming one of 4 colours.

bikhet bikhet 1:57 pm 22 Jul 19

Who cares about kid’s clothing? What about men’s clothing? Everything I might buy is mud coloured – grey, black, brown, pond scum green. Boring! Where’s the raspberry, lapis lazuli, cadmium yellow, magenta, ox blood? Men get inspired by colour too, but there’s nothing for us.

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