To people without kids, the children’s clothing section may seem completely innocuous. But it actually presents problems for plenty of kids by suggesting that only certain colors, prints, activities and even animals are acceptable for you to play with, depending on your gender.
Despite huge strides in our society toward inclusivity and gender sensitivity, when it comes to the kids clothing departments at stores, there are still very separate boys’ and girls’ sections — and along with them, distinctly antiquated ideas. These departments reinforce that girls are supposed to like pink and unicorns and cats, and boys are supposed to like blue and dinosaurs and playing video games. But since we all know that kids’ interests are varied and dynamic and stray far beyond these restrictive boxes, why is kids’ fashion stuck reinforcing outdated gender norms?
As the mom of both a daughter and a son, I’ve spent years telling my kids that color has no gender and reminding them that they can pursue any hobby or interest, since a simple stroll through the store can make a boy who loves cats or a girl who loves space feel like there is something wrong with them.
And, while as shopping experts, we here at RetailMeNot love the idea of showing our allyship through shopping (like making intentional purchases from queer-owned brands), this issue honestly isn’t even about acceptance or allyship. It’s really just about letting kids wear what they want, without absurd limitations.
Fashion stylist and TV personality Emily Loftiss (who also happens to be a mom) says, “Style is all about expressing yourself. If I can choose to wear a feminine, flowy sundress one day and then a tailored pantsuit the next, why shouldn’t children have the same option?”
Enter gender-neutral kids’ clothing. It is harder to find, but it is the answer to many parents’ and kids’ problems. And while gender-neutral clothes for adults are more accessible, we are starting to see the tides shift. When you see retailers like Old Navy and H&M periodically put a spotlight on gender-neutral clothes, you know there is starting to be a change in the fashion world.
“It’s huge that you can now go online to major retailers like Target and Old Navy and ‘gender-neutral clothing’ is a searchable option,” says Loftiss. “That’s how you know this is more than a trend, and fortunately, a fashion option that is here to stay.”
Of course that glimmer of hope doesn’t mean we don’t still have a long way to go, and since it can still be a challenge to find gender-neutral clothing for kids, I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite brands for kids’ gender-neutral clothes. Because Loftiss puts it perfectly when she says, “Giving kids the option to wear what makes them feel like them is beautiful.”
Where to Shop for Gender-Neutral Clothing for Kids
What it sells: Basics that are anything but basic. From T-shirts to hoodies to jeans to swimwear, Primary has all the everyday pieces any kid needs. Sizes range from infant through 14Y.
Why we love it: With verbiage like “Every color for every kid” and “Shop for babies and kids, not boys and girls” on their website, it’s obvious where Primary stands on this issue. The brand sells vibrant colors and prints that are joyful and fun, and are also sustainable and incredibly soft.
Price range: Prices range between $12.50 and $48.
What it sells: Mix-and-match baby, toddler and kid (up to size 10Y) essentials made with GOTS-certified organic fabrics in limited-edition prints.
Why we love it: The limited-edition prints (Zebras! Pizza! Letters! Cookies and milk! Stripes!) are exuberant, fun and fully non-gendered, and make it so you can buy your little one your (or their) favorite style again and again and have it look like a completely different piece.
Price range: Prices range between $16 and $38.
What it sells: Beautifully designed clothes for infants to size 11Y that are made using earth-friendly, organic, upcycled and recycled materials (which are also majorly soft) and that have a seriously Instagrammable vibe.
Why we love it: If you want to be jealous of your kids’ clothes, this brand is for you. Somehow designed to be both chic and whimsical at the same time, the clothes have a major fashion point of view, while still being easy and wearable for kids. Some pieces are more of a splurge, but they are just so worth it.
Price range: Prices range between $40 and $200.
What it sells: Supersoft basic pieces with minimalist designs for babies and toddlers.
Why we love it: Everything is made from high-quality, certified organic material, and the brand follows fair trade, earth-friendly practices. The clothes are also manufactured specifically for MakeMake, so they are one-of-a-kind and much higher quality than many mass-produced baby and kid brands.
Price range: Prices range between $21.99 and $32.99.
What it sells: Basics for babies and kids (to size 11/12) in neutral colors with elevated design features like you’d see in adult clothing: Think a pleat-front T-shirt dress or shawl collar cardi.
Why we love it: Not every kid loves bright colors, and if that sounds familiar, this brand is for you. If your little one feels more at home in navy, gray or white than in bright red or sunshine yellow, these basics are perfect for them. That the organic, sustainable fabrics made with nontoxic dyes are ethically-produced is the icing on the neutral cake.
Price range: Prices range between $22 and $38.