Why you should ignore gender when shopping for kids' clothing

Why you should ignore gender when shopping for kids' clothing

Fashion has always been about breaking boundaries, and that's certainly true of the new focus on gender-neutral clothes. But, it's not just us adults who can benefit from this: giving children the option to wear whatever they want can boost their confidence and encourage them to be their true selves. Here, Steve Cochrane from Childrenswardrobe shares his tips for choosing clothing that'll ensure your children can express themselves. 

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Gender-neutral clothing is slowly making its way into the spotlight, with celebrities including Harry Styles, Zayn Milk and Justin Bieber recently spotted donning clothing and footwear typically worn by women. Not only is this new phenomenon breaking down societal boundaries, but it also encourages individuals to be who they want to be and to discover their own personalities: something that children develop in their early years. 

Children are influenced by the world around them, and with the lines between male and female fashion becoming blurred, it's important that you give your children the opportunity to wear whatever they want to. Here, I will be discussing why this is crucial for their development, as well as offering some shopping tips for choosing their clothing. 

What is gender-neutral clothing?
Gender-neutral clothing doesn't belong to either boys nor girls, it's simply there for whoever wants to wear it. This means that for many designers, their focus is shifting from decorative elements to the functionality and versatility of the pieces. 

This clothing doesn't just drop typically gendered colours and articles of clothing, but it also opens up more sizing options to suit their individual fit preferences. All of this breaks down the barriers traditionally imposed by fashion, making it more inclusive for everybody. 

However, all clothing can be gender-neutral if you look at it that way. I would encourage parents to let their children wear what they like, regardless of the gender written on the label.

Why should I take a gender-neutral approach to clothes shopping?
By ignoring gender labels and allowing your child to dress freely, you introduce them to the concept of clothes without limits. It's important that kids feel confident. 

Not only can giving your kids the opportunity to experiment with clothing boost their confidence, but it can also ensure they feel comfortable in whatever they do choose to wear. For example, some girls may not like the tighter fit of their clothes and prefer something a bit looser, a characteristic boys' clothes typically offer. 

Letting your child choose their own clothes — regardless of which gendered section they come from — removes the restrictive nature of gender and allows them to develop their own unique personality. By eliminating stereotypes as a parent, you'll give your kids the best chances of happiness and the confidence to be who they want to be.  

Shopping tips
Incorporate different colours
Girls' and boys' clothing is typically subject to colour stereotypes, but instead of paying attention to these warped societal norms, it'll pay to let your child wear whatever colour of clothing they want. And don't feel obliged to stick with 'neutral' colours like white, black or yellow — if your child wants to wear blue or pink, let them know that's totally fine. 

When shopping for your child's clothes, it'll pay to think about their favourite colour and to buy clothing in this shade. You could also take them along with you to pick out the items that catch their eye. This can inform your buying decisions in future. 

Purchasing statement pieces
Many parents shy away from incorporating pieces with patterns, sparkles and embellishments for fear of purchasing clothing that's too gendered. But, I wouldn't recommend cancelling anything out, unless you're entirely sure it's not your child's style. 

If your son loves crafting with glitter, you could try buying him something with sparkles on. If your daughter is interested in toy cars, finding clothes patterned with cars, tractors and lorries on will allow her personality to shine through. 

Choosing a mix of clothing types
Society imposes many limits on what articles of clothing are acceptable for girls and which are for boys, so breaking down these rules when you go shopping for your child is important. For example, don't be put off buying a pair of leggings for your son just because they're typically aimed at girls — these are a versatile, comfortable piece of clothing to own, and it shouldn't just be girls who get to experience this. Similarly, choosing slightly oversized sweatshirts for your daughter will ensure she's able to feel comfortable in her casualwear. 

When shopping for different pieces, keep an open mind and only eliminate pieces you think will be impractical given your child's personality. For example, purchasing a skirt for your son or daughter who still likes to climb trees, or who simply feels awkward wearing one, isn't such a good idea. 

Making sure your kids feel comfortable and able to be themselves is extremely important and the clothing you allow them to wear can help with this. So, next time you're clothes shopping for your little one, avoid focusing on their gender and think about their unique personality instead.

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