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The Bad Jeans.

Like most parents, Flea and I hit the shops each Spring to update the wardrobe – replacing things she’s grown out of, ready for summer.

This year was no different. A couple of weeks ago, we headed to the Trafford Centre in Manchester and did the rounds of Gap and John Lewis, buying everything Flea needs for summer – two pairs of Birkenstocks, half a dozen pairs of shorts, a pile of t-shirts, two hats and some sunglasses.


Until this weekend. I handed Flea one of her pairs of shorts and she gasped in horror. She asked to wear something else. When I pointed out that they were perfectly nice denim jeans, she looked at me as though I was trying to kill her. The problem?


She's now able to read the label. They are GIRLS' jeans.  Completely unacceptable. 

I told Flea that I wouldn’t have minded if she’d asked me not to buy the shorts but having bought them, she’s going to wear them. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I’m bluffing – she’s never going to wear the shorts.  It’s just not worth spending the whole day watching her bottom lip quiver.

Of course, I’ve made a rod for my own back by always allowing Flea to choose her own clothes. I always felt that if you give kids areas of their life where they get to make the decisions, they’re more willing to accept rules in other areas where you make the rules – like going to bed on time and having good manners.

I do sometimes make helpful suggestions, like “Lots of people only wear one stripy thing at a time, you know” or “Maybe short socks would look better with those shorts and sandals” but these are ignored at least 90% of the time. Flea likes to make her own fashion choices, as these outfits from the past month reveal. 


She has a natural flair, I think you'll agree.

So, here’s the question : how much do you try to control or influence what your kids wear, or are you one of those parents who lets them out in their own creations? And more to the point, how the hell do I get her to wear the wretched shorts?


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

About The Author


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.


  1. Alexandra

    Take out the label and iron on a Pirate motif to the back pocket?

  2. mathew

    tell her that loads of indie blokes wear girls jeans for that ultra skinny look.

  3. mathew

    but seriously tho, a 4yo is a 4yo, don’t think there’s much difference in shape – so why the need to write boys and girls on it?

  4. TheMadHouse

    Just take the label out. I know easy to say, but Mini is very headstrong and will only wear certain things, plus he has decided that he will not wear age 4 clothes yet (he is 4 next month) and has been in then for a year!!
    So I cut out all the lables

  5. notSupermum

    I’ve always let my girls choose their own clothes, and the Teenager has had her own clothing allowance since she was 11, she just buys whatever she wants now. I thought it would help her to budget and spend sensibly, and apart from some teething problems when she spent the first month’s allowance on shampoo and shower gel, she’s learned to shop wisely. She also has a very clear idea of what she likes, always has done. The youngest girl has a very individual style, she wears some combinations that shouldn’t work but they look good on her and I admire her individuality.
    As to how to get Flea to wear the shorts? Tough, but I like Alexandra’s idea about the pirate motif.

  6. Muddling Along Mummy

    I got the rage in John Lewis when I realised that their things were classified as boy or girl (I was buying boys shorts for Toddlergirl) – why do they have to categorise them at all???
    I let Toddlergirl choose what she wears although I do steer her choices a bit – I like children to look like children and to have funky mismatching things on so I’m usually ok with her choices

  7. Kat

    Hurm….I should show you some of LaLa’s past fashion choices. You would think Flea is tame 😉
    I would take a seam ripper and remove the label.

  8. lesley

    I’m not a parent, so maybe this is a bad idea, but based on your existing rules/agreement about clothes I’d let her say no to that one pair of shorts.
    I’d definitely check all the other new clothes though, and pull out any Girl labels in clothes she hasn’t seen yet 🙂

  9. Nikki

    Sorry, it’s going to sound really harsh, but tough luck Flea, wear the shorts. You paid for them and it would be wasteful not to wear them. By cutting the label out I think you’re giving in.
    I let my two have some choice in what I buy them, but in terms of labels, it just sounds ridiculous to let them get away with that. Once they’re on, she’ll forget all about it.
    Explain to her how the shorts are cut for a girl shape and that in some countries, children would be luck to even get a single pair. Nuff said!
    She says whilst ducking the hurl of plastic bottles you’ll all be throwing my way!!

  10. Gappy

    I think Flea looks fab. I particularly like the moon boots and spiderman top combo.
    Personally if she really really doesn’t want to wear them? I’d let it go. Life’s too short in my opinion. You need to pick your battles with small children. But perhaps I am just being shockingly indulgent.
    The thing is… if my daughter suddenly announced she wasn’t going to wear ‘girls’ things, I would be secretly so impressed that I’d be more than happy to let her dress in pretty much whatever she liked. As it is she loves pink and princesses. What can you do?

  11. MrsW

    You probably don’t! I just brought my older boy a pair of denim cut-offs and you’t think I’d asked him to don tutu and wings and parade down the High Street! I’m wondering if the whole denim thing is now the preserve of the middle-aged and toddlers and that’s why my 13yo thinks I am a fashion ogre.. 🙁

  12. Grace London

    Mine won’t wear anything that isn’t specifically made for girls – I’m in the same boat as Gappy. I think life’s too short to make someone wear something they hate, whatever their age – I can remember being forced in to pink and frilly stuff as a kid and how utterly miserable I felt. We shop together (mostly by mail order – I hate clothes shopping, Miss London will browse a clothes shop for hours!) and pick stuff we can both live with, and then I let her choose what to wear as long as it’s vaguely weather appropriate.


    My little one insisted on wearing odd socks the other day, I was all “ooh but look these match” and she said “mmm yes but I’m wearing these unfortunately mummy” (she’s 2!) .. I was so impressed I let her go for it and realised that actually the pink sock matched her top and the purple sock matched her trousers .. I think creativity is a good things and there is no better way to be creative than with your clothes. As an aside there’s a little boy at her nursery who always looks amazing in clothes his mum as picked (doc martins ! and a jeans./leather jacket combo etc) but he always looks a bit uncomfortable. I haven’t yet allowed her out in her pyjamas but aside from that I like that she chooses and your Flea looks comfortable, happy and cool…..what a good lesson for later life! The suggestion for customising to suit her (pirate motif ) is brilliant …

  14. Nikki

    I think some of missed the point. I was trying to say that she was happy with them before she saw the GIRL label. That’s why I’d ask her to carry on wearing them. Putting aside a good pair of shorts to indulge her about a label issue I think is one step in the wrong direction!
    I just can’t bear label obsessions – whether it’s parents indulging in expensive brands or simply a word on it that the child doesn’t like!
    Who am I to judge though, just my two pence ;-))

  15. kat

    What do you mean only one stripey thing at a time? Those are people without flair I’d imagine…

  16. Baking Mad Mama

    I love Flea! I quite like all the stripes.
    My little boy has just started expressing a preference over what to wear in the mornings. This morning we were trying out a brand new playgroup and he insisted on wearing his AC/DC T shirt – I was somewhat worried in case everyone thought it was massively inappropriate for a 2 year old but he was on the verge of a tantrum and we were late already. All the mums thought it was ace!
    I think that I’ll probably be willing to go along with most choices unless it’s something insanely unseasonal.

  17. Rachael

    I’m with Nikki on this. Plus, pointing out the glaringly obvious, she is a girl. Hence, girl shorts.

  18. Rachael

    I forgot to answer the question: I let my children choose what they wear, within reason (if they’re going to freeze or melt I’ll gently point that out to them). They spend all week wearing school uniform (even the 3yo) so I don’t mind what they wear the rest of the time. But I do buy clothes with that in mind.

  19. Mwa

    I mostly let them decide for themselves. Depending on the occasion. But generally they can be persuaded out of the very worst of outfits. I think you’re right though – no point being difficult about that kind of stuff. And if you don’t see your child as an accessory, it’s not so bad if they’re wearing awful stuff. (We have gone out in some AWFUL things.)
    As for persuading her – no idea. I have a few things I can’t get my kids into, and I just let it go.

  20. Nappy Valley Housewife

    Personally, I love her style. I do the same thing with my girls–let them choose their own outfits. But now that my oldest is 14, it means that she also buys some of her own clothes. Did you know that ‘distressed’ jeans, aka jeans with holes and frayed strings, are more expensive than regular jeans?

  21. Gappy

    My son had a t-shirt that was in the AC/DC logo, but said AB/CD. I loved that t-shirt…

  22. Susie

    Cut out the tag and replace it with a boys one. Duh….. 🙂
    Your daughter seems to have the same fashion sense as my older daughter lol.

  23. Solveig

    God, I feel a bit awful – I only let my 4yo choose her knickers! I put out the rest of her clothes. There just isn’t time in the morning on my work days to faff around – and it certainly wouldn’t work if I let her choose some days but not others.
    She would also only wear pink if I let her choose. I like pink, but not all over….

  24. Emma

    Do you think she could be fooled if you changed the label?
    Flea has such great fashion taste! Im currently wearing boys shorts in which I live in & a stripey top! 😀

  25. Magic Mummy

    Lol – I’d give up with the shorts if I were you.
    Once my daughter has got an idea in her head – that’s it! There’s no talking her into something.

  26. Kerry

    I would cut out the label and try that. Love the fashion by the way, she does well! Bless her

  27. Tattie Weasle

    Well I think girls are different. Boys will accept your explanation except of course if you are trying to get them to wear pink. I’d let Flea help you to personalise her shorts with patches or something bet she’s wear them then!

  28. veryanniemary

    Yay Stripes! She looks fab. why impose fashion rules on her just yet? Trust me, her class mates will do a bang up job of that soon enough.
    Can you return the shorts?

  29. Dawn Isaac

    Is she actually modelling the ‘bear casually flung over the left shoulder’ look in that first shot or have you set a small furry mammal on her as punishment for wearing double stripes?

  30. Mummy bear

    Wow…she really does have a flair. I LOVE her style…nothing beats a stripe (or in Fleas case, several stripes). I hope Little Miss P is as creative. I am definately going to encourage her to dress as she pleases (I am putting her in dresses as much as I can now, whilst I can!!) As for getting her in the shorts… could get Flea to choose some iron on patches you get in haberdashery shops to make them more individual! She may even enjoy customising!

  31. Sally Whittle

    I know and it’s not even as though this is Next or M&S where tehy only make skinny or boot cut jeans for little girls – these are just regular denim shorts. Stupid shops.

  32. Sally Whittle

    I think I had a clothing allowance from a similar age – it’s great that your daughter has learned what works for her. Maybe Flea will evolve to that stage?

  33. Sally Whittle

    Yes, I pretty much let Flea have a free reign in shops, except I don’t let her buy t-shirts about violent TV shows.

  34. Sally Whittle

    What is this ‘seam ripper’ of which you speak?

  35. Sally Whittle

    Actually, this is sort of what I did in the end. Having let me buy the shorts, I decided I wasn’t going to let her not wear them for such a daft reason. However, not wanting a battle, I put them on her when we left for our holidays at 3am and she was half-asleep. HA! A resounding victory for idle parenting.

  36. Sally Whittle

    I do count my blessing regularly – not sure what I’d do if she suddenly decided pink was her favourite colour!

  37. Sally Whittle

    Ah, this may be true. I’m going to be so hopelessly inadequate when Flea does actually start to care about fashion.

  38. Sally Whittle

    I feel exactly the same, but my problem in this instance is she chose them in the shop. And until she saw the label, she liked them. Grrr.

  39. Sally Whittle

    Certainly, I can’t wear enough stripes on a daily basis.

  40. Sally Whittle

    Arf. It’s a bear bag. All the best-dressed 4 year olds have them this season, don’t ya know.

  41. Nikki

    Good on you Sally LOL, love the strategy!


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