If I ever complain about taking my girls shopping, stop me.
And remind me about my boys.
Do you remember the1990s television show, The Wonder Years? In one episode Kevin is trying on pants with his mother. As she goes into the dressing room to check the fit, suddenly her voice is blaring over the store’s loudspeaker: “The crotch is too big,” she announces, to Kevin’s horror.
Honestly, if there is a non-awkward way to shop with boys, I certainly don’t know about it. It wasn’t really a problem when they were little. Despite my preference for a more parochial look, they wanted to fit in with the norm in our schools—jeans and a t-shirt. Easily accommodated. Thanks to a fortunate fluke of genetic ordering, my older son wore husky sizes, which were easily cinched when they were handed down to my lanky younger son.
I’m here to tell you, online shopping is one of the greatest modern inventions for young mothers. Point, click and it’s delivered in 48 hours. All items can be tried on in the privacy of one’s own bedroom, and returned to the store with ease.
This was my method for years.
But then they really started growing. Not only did sharing clothes become nearly impossible, but also the basic jeans-and-t-shirt uniform became more complicated. They’ve each taken different paths of preference, neither of which makes it easy on me.
One son has become a minimalist. He now simply wants “a” pair of jeans and “a” t-shirt. Okay, maybe two of each, so he has something to wear on laundry day. When we ask what he wants for his birthday, he says “nothing,” so we buy him a new wardrobe. Unfortunately his preferred clothing source— Goodwill—doesn’t have an online store. But the upside is, I often have a load to drop off now that we no longer do hand-me-downs.
My other son is very aware of every item he puts on. He doesn’t want just jeans and a t-shirt. He wants the right jeans with the right t-shirt. He also wants the right underwear (not white, but also not bright colors). This fits right in with his preference for the right smell, (there’s a reason Old Spice has expanded its line of body washes) and the right hairstyle, and the right hair products.
This requires way more hands-on shopping than I’m used to; and is also how I ended up spending two hours at Men’s Wearhouse, completely stumped by the male fashion world. I mean, after we’ve differentiated charcoal and black, and debated wool vs. polyester, what is there to choose? With the girls, there are unlimited design choices. But with guys—it’s a suit. At least, from where I sit.
And where I sit is the uncomfortable bench, watching my son try on numerous iterations of what appears to me to be the same suit, until he finally finds “the one.”
And then we get to the part I’ve tried to avoid—alterations. Cuffed, pinned, cinched, my son turns to me and I notice the crotch is a little baggy.
At least I didn’t say it out loud.