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Thank You Gap, But My Toddler Doesn’t Need A Parka

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Kiddie fashion is everywhere. Gwen Stefani is using intense stereotypes and cliches for Target. Designers everywhere are creating children’s collections filled with sequined hoodies and skinny jeans. And apparently, it’s now necessary for little kids to worry about the trendiness of their winter coat. Forget the snowsuits and mittens, I guess I’ll have to grab the latest issue of Vogue before I can pick out my daughter’s winter wardrobe.

I walked into my local Gap Kids, prepared to pick out a fluffy pink coat that would make my daughter happy and keep her warm. We would probably get a hat and gloves too, maybe with butterflies or hearts on it. I thought it would take us about fifteen minutes, a hundred dollars and we would call it a day.

As I started to peruse the toddler section, I got a little confused. There were a total of two coats available in my daughter’s size. They were both metallic, fluffy and went roughly to my little girl’s calves. That’s right, not a single coat that was shorter than her knees. As I stared at the measly selection, the sales rep walked up and asked if we needed help finding anything.

“Are there any other toddler coats? Are they in with the larger sizes?”

“No,” the woman answered, “We just have these two. Were you looking for a different color, because we can order a couple online.”

The color wasn’t my problem. Sure, we didn’t really need a champagne-colored coat. But I really wasn’t concerned about the hue. “Actually, I was just looking for a different fit. These go past my daughter’s knees.”

Now I should add, given that we live in a smaller city, there aren’t a whole lot of options when it comes to children’s clothes. We have department stores, Gap Kids and Gymboree. That’s all my local malls provide. Anything else and I would have to drive a couple hours to a larger city. With a limited selection, my daughter and I shop at Gap quite frequently. I’m well aware of the size that fits her at this store. So my “past the knees” problem was not the result of size confusion. In fact, these coats were just barely long enough in the arms and still past her knees.[tagbox tag=”children’s fashion”]

I assumed that when I told the sales representative that we needed a different fit, she would say something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m sorry. This is all we have.” Actually, she didn’t even need to apologize. It’s not like she designs the merchandise. But I figured that this would be the end of the conversation.

Instead, the woman looked at me and replied, “Um, they’re supposed to be that long. Parkas are very popular this year.” Apparently, Gap is up on all the trends that I’ve missed in my mommyhood bubble. “Oh, well it’s just not what we’re looking for,” I replied, a little defensive and maybe a tad perturbed. “That’s too long,” my daughter threw in helpfully.

“You want something shorter?” The woman asked the question as if I had just asked for the coat to be made out of gold. As if a normal, thigh-length jacket was completely ridiculous. “Yes, we’re looking for something a little shorter. I guess I’m just amazed at the lack of selection,” I said, starting to let my frustration show.

“Well parkas are the perfect length for kids, because then you won’t need snow suits. And they are everywhere right now.” This was supposed to be helpful, I guess. Or maybe the woman was just trying to educate me. Though for the record I would like to point out that most kids playing the snow wouldn’t want a parka down around the ankles making it difficult to walk. And they would still need snow pants.

In the end, it didn’t matter that my Gap had terrible selection. I can go somewhere else and find a coat. But I resent the idea that I should buy something impractical and ridiculous for my child because it’s trendy. Gap Kids is already selling sequined booty shorts for winter. Maybe they just expected you to pair them with a parka. Either way, girls will spend their adult lives wearing uncomfortable clothing for the sake of fashion. Can’t children’s clothes care a little more about utility and a little less about design aestetic? Can’t a kid just wear a damn winter coat? We don’t need metallic parkas or sequined shorts. Not yet.

(Photo: Gap)