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How to Shop So Your Daughter’s Clothes Make the Perfect Hand-Me-Downs for Your Son

Photograph by Twenty20

Let’s face it, kids clothes aren’t cheap. When I just had my daughter to think about, I didn’t care much about that. Sure, I loved a good bargain, but I also didn’t mind splurging on top-quality dresses from my favorite high-end stores. I knew I was buying clothes that would last, clothes that she could wear season after season, which was awesome. That was ... until she got a brother. Those perfect play dresses with the pink stripes, the empire waists and the cute buttons on the chest suddenly became irrelevant. So, I had to get creative. It turns out, it’s cheaper and easier than you think to shop for your first child with your second one in mind, and it can still allow each of them the room to explore their own individual styles and personalities along the way. Here's how!

1. Stripes are your friend.

You can’t go wrong with a good stripe. It’s a versatile pattern that can easily read gender-neutral without trying too hard to do so. The best part is that you can complement a striped shirt with basically anything on the bottom, like patterned leggings or acid-wash jeans — or even a tutu and tights.

2. When it comes to staple pieces, go neutral.

This is big. When it comes to staple pieces that every kid needs, stick with neutrals. Get them a pair of black Converse sneakers or a solid, gray, zip-up hoodie or a pair of silver rainboots. Keeping things simple where you can means you can mix and match staple items with pops of color that come in the form of dresses, button-down shirts or jogger-style sweatpants. You get more outfits for your money if you don’t go too crazy with the stuff you know they’ll wear and wear and wear again. Simple pieces make great hand-me-downs because they can easily apply to any kid’s wardrobe, whether they’re being added to a girl’s closet or to a boy’s.

Simple pieces make great hand-me-downs because they can easily apply to any kid’s wardrobe.

3. Stop shopping in the girls department so much, unless you came in search of weird-fitting T-shirts.

You know those shirts in the girls section of your local department store that are cut like they were made for a 7-year-old with an hourglass figure? Those shirts drive me nuts and I stopped buying them a long time ago. Not just because I wanted to be able to hand cute T-shirts down to my son, but also because they just don’t make any sense. Our womanly figures don’t begin to take shape until much later, so why are we dressing our daughters in T-shirts with a built-in convex midsection? This is why, more often than not, I shop in the boy department when I’m hunting for T-shirts for my daughter. The sayings are less sparkly and showy and annoying, and the color palette tends to be a bit more extensive, too.

4. Don’t be afraid of jeggings.

Ah, the jegging. God’s gift to human legs everywhere. It is my firm belief that kid jeans (or all jeans, for that matter) should be comfortable, first and foremost. They should also be affordable. This is why jeggings are everything. My son exclusively wears my daughter’s hand-me-down jeggings and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They look super cute on his little bird legs, they’re extra stretchy and, as an added bonus, if he decides to be a skater kid sometime in the future, he’s already set. Jeans don’t have a gender. They’re just panels of fabric meant to cover up your legs. Don’t overthink it, and don’t feel weird about putting your kid in cute denim with some give.

5. Colors don’t have a gender, so lighten up.

This is something I am very passionate about. Colors are just mixtures of pigments that give something a hue. That’s it. Boys can wear pink. Girls can wear blue. Will I put my son in a dress? Maybe not. But will I let him decide what colors he likes and gravitates to when it comes to his clothing? Of course I will. One of my favorite shirts to put on my son a year or so ago was a peach-colored T-shirt that used to be his sister’s. It read “Crazy Hair Don’t Care” and was incredibly soft. He also just so happened to have crazy hair, so it was pretty fitting as well. Did people think he was a girl? Yeah, probably. Did I care? Not really, no.

So, buy the jeggings. Throw on that gray hoodie. Pull on the striped shirt. Let your kids be kids. And let them go out and be whoever they want to be. The more we can get out of the mindset that boys and girls have to look and dress a certain way because of their gender, the closer we’ll be to raising our kids on a much more accepting planet.