Dressing Boys

Beautiful threads for stylish little men…

One of the things most bemoaned about having boys is the total lack of choice when it comes to clothes. When my two little boy twins turned up, it did cross my mind at one point that I didn’t have another little girl to indulge with beautiful skirts, floaty dresses and soft pink jumpers. I hated the idea that I’d be restricted to the realms of blue stripes and tractors with no variety.  I have loved buying clothes for Elsa, loved trawling charity shops for great little finds or discovering a new niche brand that makes beautiful, high quality clothes with a designer feel.

In addition, the morning was one of my favourite parts of the day with Elsa  – I would spend ages with her kicking and gurgling idly on my bed while I dressed her, picking her outfit with pleasure. It’s been the way I’ve added structure to my day, makes us all start the day properly, whatever the night before was like. And it gave me a focus, something to do with very small babies who can’t crawl and grab and play yet.  It was also the one time I really spent talking to Elsa, gazing into her eyes, singing to (badly) to her and  and generally getting to know her. So the thought that dressing my boys would just become a plain and simple function of the day was, frankly, depressing. Surely, I thought, there must be more to dressing boys than this.

Luckily, the tide is on the turn, signalled in part by that great behemoth and middle-class baromometer of social feeling, John Lewis, who last year announced they would be taking a gender neutral approach to clothes. This  has opened up the world of boys, and girls, clothes immeasurably – jumpers, cardigans, dungarees and trousers that might have previously sat under the ‘Girls’ bracket are now available to both sexes, massively expanding an already considerable range. Elsewhere the high street continues to think in a more open-minded vein, while the Scandi massive, a host of Insta businesses and numerous niche brands have taken gorgeous design to another level, sparking a trend for printed rompers, quality knits and cool neutrals.

So, here are my go-to brands for well-dressed boys, running as a weekly series, and starting with….

High Street Favourites

For mainstream brands, my favourites have to be H&M and Zara, who have both taken a more moderate approach to their colour palette – mustard yellows, greys, dark blues and woody greens, while dungarees are a more unisex cut and cardigans work for both boys and girls. And also, John Lewis, who have started to open out their range into more interesting and unique items, both from their own range, and some of the brands they now stock, such as Wheat Baby, Baby Boden, Pigeon Organics and Polarn O Pyret.

H&M: I shop here for a lot of the boys’ clothes, I love the unisex cardigans they do, some with Merino wool or cashmere, their three and five packs of vests are always in interesting patterns and colours, and their dungaree and romper range is fantastic.  They do a lot of things in a lovely soft, slightly imperfect ‘slub’ cotton – ‘slub’ is a lump or thick spot in a yarn, or the irregular appearance of a fabric caused by a twist in the yarn – the slub trousers and tops are especially good, in warm, rustic colours. H&M is also great for newborns and the first 0-9 months, as their sizing goes in 0-1 months, 1-2 months, 2-4 months, 4-6 months, 6-9 months – meaning you can be more precise about what will fit when, this was especially helpful when I had the twins.

This season’s best (left to right, top to bottom): Cotton dungaree shorts, £12.99; Knitted fleece hooded jacket, £8.99; Grandad collar shirt, £7.99; Sleeveless cotton romper suit, £12.99; 2-pack bodysuits (grey stars and yellow stars), £7.99; Sleeveless romper suit, £4.99; Garter-stitched cardigan, £17.99; Slub cotton jersey shorts, £7.99; Cotton shorts, £8.99; Patterned dungarees, £11.99, all H&M Kids, hm.com

Zara: This is my go-to place for interesting fabrics in well-fitting cuts. I like their shorts and jumpers a lot, and their dungarees are lovely. They do lots of generously cut trousers, especially in a harem cut, with tight waists so they don’t fall down, and their jumpers are always quirky with interesting symbols and colours. Shoes and boots are fab from here, nothing too clumpy or awkward looking, and some great pieces for summer too. And don’t miss the Zara sale periods, when their reasonably priced clothes are even more competitively-priced.

This season’s best (left to right, top to bottom): Oh! Sweater, £16.99; Striped Dungarees, £16.99 Shark Bermuda Shorts, £14.99; Knit Henley Sweater, £12.99; Striped Bermuda Shorts, £7.99; Turtle Bermuda Shorts, £14.99; Dune T-Shirt, £7.99 Basic Trousers, £10.99; Striped Linen Trousers, £14.99; Waves’ Bermuda Swim Shorts, £10.99, all Zara, zara.com/uk.

John Lewis:  is a great place to get good quality plain cotton basics, we’ve all dressed all our children in their five packs  of cotton vests since the dawn of time. As the babies grow bigger, I find it’s a great place for more colourful clothes, cut generously and made to last, and I buy a lot of tops and vests for the boys here. I love some of the more natural looking and pared-back pieces they’ve started doing, and their Heirloom collection is a lovely range in soft greys and collared vests if you want something a little smarter too. Perhaps the best part of their offering is the other brands they stock too, carefully chosen pieces that add to their collections really well.


This season’s best (left to right, top to bottom): Baby Organic Cotton Sun Print Romper, £16; Mini Boden Baby Jersey Joggers, Blue, £14; Bonds Baby Toucan Play Leggings, £12.50; Pigeon Organics Baby Octopus Long Sleeve Romper, £21.20; Polarn O. Pyret Baby Panda Bodysuit, Green, £16; Wheat Baby Stripe Bodysuit, Navy; £22; Organic Cotton Jungle Animal Romper, £14; Wheat Baby Tiger Long Sleeve Bodysuit, Sky Blue; £18; Organic Cotton Short Sleeve Print Bodysuits, Pack of 3, Green/Multi, £8-9; Wheat Baby Frede Romper Playsuit, Ivory, £28; Mini Boden Baby Roll Up Trousers, Blue Stripe, £22; Polarn O. Pyret Baby Cloud T-Shirt, Grey, £12; Mini Boden Baby Dinosaur T-Shirt, Pack of 2, £20; Baby Heirloom Collection Stripe Bibshort Set, Grey; £32, all John Lewis, johnlewis.com.

Next Week: Knitwear

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