Most trips to kids' clothing stores are sadly the same: The girls are herded to one side, where they're awash in a field of pink and princesses, while the boys are sent to the other, where they're bombarded with blue and dinosaurs. It doesn't have to be that way. These clothing lines showcase gender neutral clothing for kids that prove that girls can like science, boys can dig kittens, and everyone can partake in all colors of the rainbow.
Supporting women in science, technology, engineering and math is an important endeavor that is finally being addressed in schools, but girl clothes are lagging behind. buddingSTEM offers gender neutral clothing for kids that sends the message that girls can like what's normally pushed towards boys, like space, dinosaurs, science and trains. They also have a collection for girls who love chess—it features the queen piece, naturally.
"Who decided that kittens are for girls and tigers are for boys?" says Courtney Hartman of Free to Be Kids and Jessy & Jack. "I designed this shirt for dudes who love cats, and it's been a huge seller, because it's nearly impossible to find a cat shirt without glitter or cap sleeves. Fighting gender stereotypes head-on is what we are all about. I deliberately design gender neutral clothing for kids that are the exact opposite of some of the stereotypes perpetuated by more commercial designs." The line also features designs with ferocious lions for girls, as well as clothes that say "tough like Mommy" or "kind like Daddy."
"We like to say there is nothing wrong with pink and princesses," says Sharon Choksi, co-founder of Girls Will Be, "but there is something wrong when those are the only options for girls. Our clothing has colors beyond pink, no sparkles or frills, gender stereotype-busting graphics and a fit that lets girls be kids—not too fitted, but not too boxy." The designs feature science, math, art and sports graphics, along with empowering sayings like the bestselling "be bold" design that lets people know that girls are more than just sugar and spice. Girls Will Be also offers not-too-short shorts and pants that aren't skinny fit for girls who want a more relaxed style.
Pink: It's not just for girls anymore. Handsome in Pink reclaims the color for boys with shirts with cool graphics of dirt bikes, fire trucks or hot-pink letters that spell out "big guy." The collection has clothes for girls, too, such as black-and-white baseball tees that say "girly girl" (without any pink or sparkles) and tees that say "Forget princess, call me president." Many of the designs here are unisex and can be worn by anyone with a love of bold colors or clean graphics.
Also founded by Courtney Hartman of Free to Be Kids, Jessy & Jack designs clothes that are truly unisex. "I started Jessy & Jack on my second maternity leave," Hartman says. "I had a son first and a daughter second, and and it really hit me hard when I saw their clothes side-by-side. One day I looked at their respective pairs of penguin pajamas; his were blue with roly-poly little penguins wearing scarves, and hers were pink with slimmer penguins who wore bows in their hair and had rosy cheeks and eyelashes. I got so annoyed I decided to do something about it." Her first gender-neutral kid's clothing collection features animals—sans all the bows, scarves and eyelashes. Another followed that has images typically used on boy clothing, like dinosaurs and robots, but done in shiny, gold foil normally used on girls' clothes.
Babies don't escape from the gendering of kids' clothes. In fact, they may have it worse. Those who don't want their kids to fall in the pink-or-blue spectrum starting at infancy can check out Perfectly Baked's gender-neutral clothing line. Made with an L.A.-chic vibe, most of the clothes here are black and white with maybe a pop of color, and they feature some kind of play on the expression "bun in the oven."
Don't look for logos, sparkles, licensed characters or snarky messages on Primary's clothes—you won't find any. Instead, Primary, founded by former executives of Diapers.com, is focused only on offering solid basics and affordable prices; everything in the store is under $25. Bonus: Their simple designs come in a rainbow of bold colors, so you're not stuck with pre-assigned "boy" and "girl" palettes. If you like what you've purchased, you can keep re-buying the same styles as your kids grow out of them, since they're committed to keeping their basics in stock, in all sizes, regardless of year or season.
By now, it's an unfortunately common story: Rebecca Melsky was shopping for her daughter, but she couldn't find any dresses with science motifs, math symbols, or cars and trucks. So, she made them herself. At Princess Awesome, you can find dresses with atomic shells, hidden ninjas, pirates and cars and trains. And, if you want to do mother/daughter dress up, you might be able to pick up a matching headband or scarf for yourself.
Anyone can wear Quirkie Kids', well, quirky designs; shirts with dinos and rhinos come in pink and gray, and there's nothing in the cuts of the clothes that makes pink better suited for girls or gray better suited for boys. Some of the designs lets kids take dress-up even further, with face masks that match the alligators or dragons on the shirts. Fans of the gender neutral clothing line for kids are encouraged to tag Instagram photos with #freetowearpink, #stillaboy and #stillagirl to show what it really means to be a kid (and not just what kids' clothing at large would have you believe).
Appreciation of '90s hip-hop knows no gender, so neither does Saturday Morning Pancakes's tees, which come emblazoned with song lyrics matched to childhood-themed graphics. Not into hip-hop? The line also includes an Adele-themed baseball tee, with the words "hello from the other side" surrounding a picture of one of those old-school tin-can-and-string toys that kids used to pretend was a phone.
Even if you can find non-pink-or-blue baby clothes, chances are they're one of three other shades: pastel green, yellow or orange. Boring. Skip Hop has debuted two new modern lines, Star-Struck and ABC-123, which come in black and white prints—and look adorable.
This line of gender neutral clothing for kids really lives up to its name. It was started by Jullie Huffman, a full-time AP chemistry teacher named this year's Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year, and her daughter, Jenavieve Brown, a feminist-studies graduate. "One of our shared goals as small business owners is to encourage girls in science," Huffman says. In addition to clothing, Smart Girls Rock has plenty of geek-chic accessories, like charm necklaces where each charm is a planet in the solar system or personalized doodads that spell out a name according to the Periodic Table of Elements.
Butterflies or kittens, soccer balls or race cars, there's no restrictions on who can wear Svaha's designs—every graphic comes in boys' and girls' sizes. And the company is branching out into adults as well. In March 2016, Svaha launched a kickstarter to bring their STEM designs to women's dresses.
Jill and Jack Kids' most popular tee says it the simplest: "Half of all T.rexes were girls." We can't put it any better than that!