A started school 1st Grade yesterday. And like so many, that means that we needed stock up on a great selection of back-to-school attire. What we have found works best for him (and for the elementary school playground) is an assortment of eye catching, graphic tee’s, really great, comfortable pants and playful, sturdy shoes.
I have to confess that I’m kind of obsessed with seeking out really great graphic tees for boys. Because of this I have found a number of great online sources that I will share with you at the end of this article. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that boys tees can have quite an impact when it comes to peer interaction in public school, particularly in the US. A’s friends love to chat about their Transformer, Super Mario or Star Wars obsessions and proudly sport their loyalty with their gear. (In fact, A’s desire to be more like his peers led us to this hair cut. He wanted it short and spiky and I of course am in love with it a bit longer. This was our compromise).
And I’m all about Star Wars and the like but I want my kids to have a little less pop-culture-obsessed upbringing so I try to seek out more unique, yet equally cool, graphic shirts for the boys to wear. And being an illustrator myself, well I just can’t get enough of the unique and playfully drawn tees that are out there!
And of course we love a good solid staple. Neutrals and brights are great for mixing and matching with pretty much anything you throw at them. Especially if you throw in some fun bright shoes or laces.
I’ve found that the key, when it comes to graphic tees, is that you have to find the ones that are somewhat off kilter or quirky but still shockingly cool – so that your kid will be intrigued and satisfied and the other kids will also want to inquire. Take for example this Peanut Butter and Jelly fish shirt from Tiny Whales (purchased on sale early this summer – I don’t see any more in stock). A LOVES this one as the play on words makes him laugh. It’s most definitely a favorite.
We also really love this Jumping Tape shirt from Threadless. A loves the humor of a cassette tape (something that is near unto an ancient artifact for him) jumping rope with it’s own tape.
OK, so I mentioned that I’d give you a run down of some of my favorite go-to online shops for fun and unique graphic tees. And if you make it a point to shop the sales, you can get a lot of this stuff for a really great deal!
So here they are, in no particular order:
- Sweet William // They typically carry most of my favorite brands
- Tiny Whales // Fun and one of kind graphic shirts
- One Jackson // One of a kind shirts from designers for a limited time – so things are always changing. You can even submit and vote on future shirt/clothing ideas.
- Threadless // (and have you seen the Threadless for Gap options?! So great!)
- Little Pinwheel // fun selection and great sales
- Little Bean // so much great stuff
- Minikin // great selection of brands
- Little Dudes Only // fun for when shopping for just boys
- Black Wagon // I’ve got my eye on these
- Minti// Some of the coolest shirts ever
- Mini & Maxiumus // they pair up with artists (young and old) and turn their drawings into cool t-shirts!)
- and an ever favorite, Pinecone and Chicadee (still need that muscle man T!)
There are so many really. These are just some go to’s for me that barely scratch the surface of what is available out there. Anther great tactic is to type in your favorite kids brand, Such as Mini Rodini, and see what online shops carry their stuff. And then hit up their sales!
And of course no back-to-school wardrobe would be complete without a backpack. I could easily get obsessed with all the many fantastic backpack options out there. But after looking around, we decided that we wanted to customize our own. So we purchased a simple grey backpack (found at Borders last year when the brick and mortar was still in business, but you could find one around at a number of places I’m sure) and pulled out our trusty sharpie. I remember it used to be all the rage to decorate your canvas backpack with a sharpie, so I thought I’d give a nod to my old-school days and do the same for A. I went with a simple feather/geometric motif, but you could really do anything. And of course, getting your kids involved is a great way for them to really feel like it’s special and personalized.
A had a great first day, if not a bit rocky at some parts (he told me he cried a lot), as first days go. I’m still getting used to the new format of having him gone all day and Little O gone for a few hours at a time every other day. It’s nice to have a few moments peace but it’s still a bit of a run-around. Most of A’s friends are in another class so he’s struggling a bit with that and I’m not crazy into his teacher’s communication tactics so far, but we are all learning, right? Here’s hoping we all get in a groove soon…just in time for it all to be throw out of whack with a new little baby in Oct! Eeek! We can’t wait :).
I’ve also reposted our Tips for creating a great kids wardrobe here (so it’s not so Easter centric).
TIPS FOR CREATING A GREAT KIDS WARDROBE THAT BOTH YOU AND YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE:
- Have an assortment of some really great and simple staples that you can use to layer and mix-n-match (i.e. solid knit shirts, button ups, sweaters, French striped tees, staple jeans and slacks, dresses, skirts, etc.)
- Throw in an mix of vintage/thrifted goods to keep things fresh, unique and unexpected. I love the timeless quality you get whenever you introduce something vintage. And you can pretty much bet that now one else will have that same piece.
- Buy just a few unique, statement pieces from some of your favorite kids designers.They don’t have to be outrageously expensive (I love to buy from Etsy) but don’t be afraid to stretch just a bit on one or two unique shirts, that one-of-a-kind sweater, a stand out colorful skirt or those bright yellow pants that are sure to make any outfit pop. (And I confess, if you know another kid will be wearing it down the road, it makes more sense to buy a few pieces that stand the test of time both in design and quality). Read more about my thoughts on mixing high+low here.
- Make some of you own clothes!You don’t have to sew to do this. You could dress up a few t-shirts with freezer paper stencils, freehand a fun illustration with fabric paint, or refashion thrifted finds. And if you do know how to sew, by all means, do it! Find whatever time you can to sew something special here or there. It will make a big impact on your kids closet. In fact, 75% of the clothing found in this years Easter ensembles are from past items I have sewn.
- Don’t be afraid to play with sizing. I know that this might sound odd, but I’m telling you, don’t feel like you have to stick with what the tag says. I know a number of t-shirts and jackets that look better a bit more snug than the tag suggests. And when you are working with skirts, capris and gauchos, well there is quite a range of sizes you can work with (adjusting the waist to fit of course). Just don’t be afraid to try it. You never know what might end up creating the perfect balance. That slightly snug sweater from 2 years ago, slung over that boxy blouse, paired with a tutu and tiara just might be the right ticket. And if you don’t like it, well just go back to what you were doing before. No harm done.
- Let your kids have a say in it. Oft times letting them mix that batman shirt with those tailored dress pants and flip flops turns out to be better than anything you could have preplanned. Kids are seriously some of the best stylists…seriously. In fact, I actually try to put together my little ones wardrobes to that they can pull out pretty much anything they want and it more or less works. And if not, well, just pat yourself on the back for fostering independence. (See that sliver of red sports shorts, worn by Little A, seen ever so slightly in this pic? Do I love how they go with that much adored Winter Water Factory top. No. Not really. But our house rule is that when you get home from school, you can change into whatever you want…so that means that Little A is wearing comfortable sport shorts pretty much every afternoon. But hey, if he stuck it out with the skinny jeans at school, I think he’s entitled.) *Oh and another soap box side note: Having your kids give input doesn’t mean you have to only have a wardrobe entirely comprised of Dora and Buzz Light year because that is what your kid is into and you don’t want to “squash their identity”. Well guess what, Nick Jr. or Disney already chose their “identity” and they are just responding to what they were exposed/enticed to (I can appreciate both of these networks btw, but just in moderation, and when using thoughtful selection) . You are in charge of giving them a gamut of options and have a great opportunity here to teach them diversity of design and trying new things.
- Buy fun/great shoes!An ordinary grey knit shirt with some simple dark jeans turns into the perfect outfit with paired with some really great orange converse.
- Just try it and don’t over think it.Kids fashion should be fun, easy, unexpected, and a reflection of them! Sometimes it might look silly and others might not appreciate it. But hey, they are kids! You can get away with it. And fashion should be fun and just a little unexpected. I once had a friend tell me that “If I didn’t feel just a little silly at first when trying something new, then I wasn’t approaching fashion right”.
So what about you? What back-to-school wardrobe solutions work for you and your Little(s)? And if you have some favorite go to places to shop online for graphic tees or kids clothing in general, I’d LOVE for you to share! We are always in the market for new finds and I’m sure so many would benefit from your insight.