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Everyone knows how hard it is to do
back-to-school shopping for pre-teen girls, what with the all the low-rise jeans and T-shirts proclaiming one's ineptitude in math. But try finding
clothing for tween boys. No, not age-appropriate clothing—I mean any pieces
of fabric to keep those gangly arms and legs covered.
"This store is too slutty" and "That
one is too childish," my friends who have daughters complain. And as far as I
can tell, most tween girls can't wait to wear the grown-up clothes in the
juniors department: skinny jeans, short skirts, tummy baring tops (the middle school girls' idea of "grown up," at least).
When my sons were
little, there were plenty of cute choices: tees with dinosaurs and dump trucks,
camouflage everything. But once you get to the big boys' department, you wonder
where all the clothes are. Really, I want to know. The bigger sizes are listed
on the websites, but they're hard to find at the mall. I've been to the
school uniform section at various department stores and big boxes, and stared at the
racks of pants which for some reason stop at size 10. Either tween boys are buying a lot of clothes or stores have just given up on stocking things for this age group.
While adolescent girls are a marketer's motherlode, retailers don't seem to be that interested in selling fashion to boys.
Taking a cue from the middle school girls who are wearing women's clothing (someone's gotta be buying those
size 00 jeans!), I took my son over to the men's department. It was such a weird experience. While adolescent girls are a marketer's
motherlode, retailers don't seem to be that interested in selling fashion to
There's a plethora of women's clothing cut for narrow hips and flat
tummies, but most of the selections in the men's section seem like they're made to
accommodate dad bods. Although I thought a size 14 boys dress shirt should be about
the same as a men's small, the sleeves were way too long and the shirttail hung
practically to his knees. And I think I saw my neighbor in the boxer brief aisle. Super awkward.
It's no wonder most boys this age are slumping around in sports shorts and free T-shirts from their most recent summer camp. And while they can get away with it, I also want my sons to know what it feels like to wear a collared shirt and tailored pants. Is that too much to ask?