No one would ever mistake me for anyone with any kind of "style" or fashion sense.  Seriously.  If it's made of cotton and will survive my washer and dryer intact, I'll wear it.  Tyler is the same way. If it has the word "sweat" in the name, he is a fan.  Max, on the other hand, cares about what he wears.  He isn't rolling his eyes at me yet when I lay out his clothes, but I can see it coming. He will smile at me, shake his head, sometimes say "Oh Mommy..." with that tone that says "You are hopeless but I still love you..." and will dig through his basket of clean clothes for something entirely different.

So yesterday morning my Mother gave me a call. She'd been shopping for back-to-school clothes for Max. (She may have bought some for Tyler too, but she wasn't as excited to tell me all about this latest sweat suit I guess.)  She spent at least 30 minutes telling me all about the adorable outfits from Baby Gap but she was particularly excited about this puffy vest. I think I can picture what she was talking about, but let's see if the website has it:
OK. Based on her gushing, I think this must be it. Cute, right? I'm sure the shirt and pants she got to go with it really make the outfit. Will it get the Max seal of approval? Gosh, I hope so. My mom will be crushed if he doesn't like her taste. heh heh. Max is lucky he has his Nana. They can go shopping together!

Now we come to the part where I talk about what is REALLY on my mind.  If you are a long time reader of my blog (back to the AOL days) you know I had a lot of trouble with bullies in my youth. One thing they used to love to pick on me about was my fashion sense. Back then, I didn't buy my own clothes, my mother did. Because I was growing so fast, she couldn't see spending top dollar on trendy things. My back-to-school shopping was done at TJ Maxx, Sears, Marshalls...yadda yadda. I was the "Kmart Blue Light Special" girl from way way back.

Did I want those trendy things? Oh yes. With every fiber of my being. Why? Because a lot of the other girls wore them and I wanted to fit in. Desperately. I sort of wanted to be noticed by boys too, even if the idea scared me to death. Long story short, until I put my foot down and started shopping for myself with my own money, I was stuck.

Having been stuck in the fashion zero hell of my middle school years, I am now highly sensitized on certain issues. Do I think Max is going to get comments about the fleet being in port or that his new vest looks like a life preserver from his fellow pre-schoolers? Probably not. Four year olds don't roll that way, generally. (Anyone get that Back To The Future movie reference there? Anyone?) I do, however, have my worries for when Max is older.

I've seen a LOT of TV commercials lately with various stores advertising their back-to-school clothing lines. Kmart's ads in particular have been standing out for me. Kick me if I'm wrong, but I think the clothes in their ads are super cute!  So here is my question...if you DO buy your kids clothes from Walmart or Kmart, do they feel the need to keep it a secret?  Does this bargain mart shame only strike the girls or do the middle school or high school boys also feel the pain?  Does anyone care anymore where the clothes come from or is it a regional thing?  Maybe in school where you have a broader ratio of rich vs. poor?

I think most folks in our town are in the same general socio-economic class. We shop Walmart without shame and occasionally splurge at the mall after the tax return comes back. But there isn't really anyone around here I would classify as "rich" or "snobby". Not that I have met, so far. Sure I know a couple of the Moms watched Sex in the City and Project Runway so they speak "Prada" with some authority. They have designer purses that cost more than my whole wardrobe. But they aren't snobby about it. Not to my face. And they have nice kids. Kids that don't strike me as being the ones to one day cut Tyler down for wearing his favorite holey sweat pants.

Am I worried over nothing? Maybe. I am certainly starting to worry too soon. I tend to do that a lot. Max is only 4. His Christmas wish list is already 12 pages long on Amazon, so you can tell we haven't instilled in him the realities of our limited income yet (Santa doesn't deliver toys for free anymore kids, not since his toy biz went global.)  The reality is, maybe he can get one outfit from Abercrombie, but the bulk will be from Kmart or Walmart.  I hope my little fashionista can accept that cruel reality and make the best of it.


Sayre said…
I got that BTTF reference right away!

I have a son who is now 12. He's worn plain t-shirts and shorts and pants (no jeans, he doesn't like them) from WalMart his whole life. Now he's growing so fast that some days he wakes up and doesn't fit into anything he owns! He's been demoted from WalMart to Goodwill, as I really can't see even spending that much money for something he may not even wear before he outgrows it!

This year, he's going to a school with a uniform, so my back to school shopping consisted of three embroidered-with-the-logo shirts and two pairs of navy pants. That's it. I LOVE school uniforms! Everyone is dressed the same and there's no stigma from having to wear something less than stylish. And because I bought so few items, it wasn't horribly expensive either.

YOur kids will find their own style - and if it doesn't work in their lives, they'll change it.

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