Last week my five-year-old son asked my wife why we did not dress him in “nice” clothes. Bear in mind that much of his wardrobe is a miniaturized version of my more casual attire. For school he wears blue jeans with sweaters or simple solid-colored polo shirts. Over that he may wear a navy pea coat, a waxed cotton jacket or a bright yellow rain slicker. At church he might be seen in navy blue pants, a white dress shirt, gray cardigan and red, white and blue bow tie. So why does my son think I am depriving him of “nice” clothes? Apparently the kindergarten definition of “nice” involves t-shirts emblazoned with the latest logos from popular culture. It is also apparent that my son is feeling some pressure to conform his dress to that of his peers.
In most retail stores it is surprisingly difficult to find boys’ clothing that is devoid of decoration. It seems that every shirt is embellished with a bulldozer, a football, a rocket, a dinosaur or a pirate. Somehow, more than thirty years later, Star Wars remains a popular theme. There are t-shirts for Spider Man and Sponge Bob and countless other cartoons of which I am either too old or too out-of-touch to even be aware.
So do stores sell these embellished clothes because that is what parents want to buy for their kids? Is this driven by demand? Or do parents just dress their kids in these clothes because that’s what’s available at the local store? In this regard I wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg.
As you may have gathered, I am not a fan of logo-emblazoned children’s clothing. Our society is infected with a sloppy, lazy attitude towards dress. That attitude is being reinforced in the next generation. Habits are learned young. I, for one, do not want to one day find a picture of my son on the pages of People of Walmart wearing tattered jean shorts or a t-shirt that says “disease free” with an arrow pointed at his genitals.