Sunday, 22 November 2015

Got a Girl, Having a Boy: What Clothes to Keep?

When I tell people we're having a boy this time, one of the first things they usually say (after the obligatory, "ooh one of each!") is, "oh well I suppose that means you can get rid of Eleanor's old clothes now!"

Well, yes and no.

It seems odd that people automatically assume that a) all of Eleanor's clothes were so clearly girl's clothes they'd be entirely unsuitable for a boy, and b) ANY clothes should be deemed unsuitable for a boy.

It's drawn my attention to a double-standard I was already aware of in our culture. While pink and frilly is seen as the norm for girls, dress them in 'boyish' clothes and nobody's that bothered - they just label them a tomboy. (Don't get me started on that.) But it's far less acceptable for boys to wear 'girly' clothes, especially as routine. Yes, we might see the odd photo of a boy dressed in a princess costume and all go 'aww' but he was wearing a regular dress, or even just a pink outfit, would there be the same reaction?


As it happens, when I went through Eleanor's old clothes, I was fairly indiscriminate. The piles in the photo above are, from left to right, the get-rid pile, the query pile and the keep pile. The last one was by far the biggest, partly because we were fairly careful to choose 'unisex' clothes from the start, but also because I simply don't see why a boy shouldn't wear pink or flowers. My husband was even less discriminating, promptly transferring most of the query pile to the keep pile.

The get-rid pile was made up of things that were a bit worse for wear or that we weren't that keen on anyway, but I have to admit I did put dresses, tights and particularly frilly tops in there too. Although if he grows up wanting to wear a dress I'd be fine with that, something about deliberately putting a baby boy in a dress feels too much like a 'statement' to me, and not one I'm really comfortable making.

We've sorted through the first year's worth of clothes but it does leave us with a quandary about what to do with Eleanor's old clothes from now on. Do we keep everything to give our future son full choice when he's old enough? Or do I 'de-girl' entirely to save storage space? 

I suspect if it was the other way around - if we'd had a boy and were expecting a girl - I'd be keeping everything just in case. So would it be hypocritical of me not to do the same given our actual circumstances?

I'd be interested to hear what other parents of girls-then-boys did about this. Did you keep the two wardrobes firmly segregated, did you keep everything, or did you go somewhere in between?

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