Shopping for Clothes With Boys
Years of shopping in clothing stores with boys has convinced me that clothing manufacturers and retailers have failed to grasp some key facts about boy psychology (or, more specifically, boy shopping psychology).
Basically, it's all about getting in and out of the store in a hurry.
If the boy's department is more than three steps away from the door of the store, it's too far away. (Everything about shopping takes too long when you've got better places to be. And, to a boy of a certain age, any place is a better place to be than a store.)
And as for annoying things like having to undo buttons so you can try on a shirt, forget about it. The people in the store are wasting more of your time. The first retailer to introduce a boy-friendly shopping experience (one in which all the garments in the store are already off the hangers and in a big heap so you just have to dig through the pile until you find something you like) is going to clean up big time. If the retailer can't get past this clothing-on-hangers thing, might I suggest this boy-friendly compromise? Attach the shirt to a hanger with Velcro or duct tape but leave the buttons on the shirt undone (both up the front and at the cuffs). Think of the seconds you'll save that hurried boy consumer. And more garments tried on = more sales for you.
All these hard-learned lessons in boyology came flooding back to me last night when I found myself making the rounds of local stores with my ten-year-old son.
To find him
1. something suitable to wear to a wedding
2. a comfortable pair of plain beige shorts (no design).
Here's how things panned out.
Mission 1. My son had his heart set on a long-sleeved white button shirt, but we quickly scrapped that idea after discovering that he has been sentenced to remain in clothing-world limbo until his arms grow a little longer: he is no longer a boys 18, nor is he a men's XS. Fortunately, we were able to find a plain short-sleeved blue shirt that he considered acceptable (not great, but acceptable).
We weren't so lucky on the dress pants front. Most of the pants were eliminated immediately because they looked horribly uncomfortable. The few remaining pairs of dress pants that seemed like something a boy could stand wearing to a wedding for a couple of hours were either the wrong size or the wrong fit. The net result? He may be wearing one of his best pairs of jeans to the wedding with his nice shirt.
Is this a big deal to me? In the big picture of things, no. I'd rather bring a comfortable ten-year-old to a wedding than a well-dressed kid who is itchy, hot, miserable, and eager to share his opinions on uncomfortable clothing with everyone else at the wedding.
Item 2. This part of the mission should have been a total no-brainer. After all, beige never seems to go out of fashion (nor does it every seem to be completely in fashion, depending on your perspective). And shorts couldn't be more in season. (It was 28° C when we hit the store so you wouldn't think the store would be, well, short on shorts.) But they were. There were hardly any shorts left and the ones that were still on the rack were covered in [ cue Psycho music ] ugly designs.
My son was not happy. Frankly, neither was I. In fact, I was sorely tempted to do what he did: toss a few pairs of ugly shorts in the air while demanding of the universe at large, "Doesn't anyone know that some kids like beige shorts without any designs?" and "What are all these winter clothes doing in the store in August?"
Some of his rage against the clothing machine was his Asperger's Syndrome speaking -- his difficulty in coping with frustration and his rigidity when dealing with certain issues (like "the clothing rules": he has very specific expectations when it comes to clothing: they should be free of any sort of design, extremely comfortable, certain colours, etc.; he has a very difficult time coping with the fact that clothing manufacturers and retailers may not be designing clothing according to his specifications).
I wasn't about to try to explain the ins and outs of the clothing industry. I've had a love-hate relationship with the industry for years. (The hate part was predominant until the clothing industry discovered that plus-sized women like fashionable clothing and reproduce -- and therefore require maternity wear.) So I simply said that I was annoyed, too. We loaded up on what we could actually find (a casual shirt, a pair of pajamas, socks, and underwear) and called it a day. Neither of us were in the mood to tackle back-to-school shopping at this point. My inner Scarlett wisely advised me to leave that for another day.