Retailers Think I Can’t Dress My Son

Do you want to become a millionaire but just need a good idea?  Well, I’ve got a great idea, and I’ll give it to you free of charge.   Individually sell solid white oxford shirts for infants and toddlers.  “Too simple,” you say?  “Already done,” you add?  On the contrary, you can’t buy them.  I know, I spent an entire afternoon trying.

My quest started innocently enough when I decided to make matching dresses for my daughters for Easter.  I had the material and pattern purchased on New Year’s Day, and the dresses finished 2 weeks before Easter.  I was feeling pretty good about the fact that my daughters’ dresses were done with time to spare.   Why not have my sons in matching outfits too?  All I needed were ties.  

I began looking for ties and soon learned that very few stores sell boys’ ties.  The ones that do sell ties, sell men's ties only shorter.  I love the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”  but not enough to dress my three sons like Regis Philbin.  

After many phone calls and many trips to different stores, I decided to make the ties myself. 

Then I realized that my youngest son, who was almost one, didn’t have a white button-down oxford shirt.  I didn’t see that as a big problem and decided that the Saturday before Easter I’d run to a store and pick one up. 

I’m not going to list the names of the stores I went to, but I will say that I went to many.  Eleven to be exact, and not a single one of them sells white dress shirts for infants or toddlers.  NOT ONE! 

Here is what they do sell.  

These are something called “4-piece sets”.  Before that Saturday if you had asked me what a 4-piece set was, I would have guessed “a plate, a bowl, saucer, and cup”,  but I would have been wrong.  A 4-piece set is a white dress shirt, a pair of pants, a vest and a tie.  This is the only way you can buy nice church clothes for your infant or toddler.

I hear women complaining all the time about how poorly their husbands, sons and brothers dress.  Well of course!  During their impressionable childhood years they could only buy ready-made outfits!  I felt like grabbing an employee and asking, “Why are you selling the complete outfit?  Don’t you trust my ability to coordinate an outfit for my own son?”
After my 10th store, frustration took over and I felt like Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride” when he’s at the grocery store buying hot dog buns.  

I felt like taking one of those white dress shirts out of the package and telling the cashier, “I appreciate you trying to coordinate an outfit for my son, but I just want the shirt.  So if you would only charge me for the shirt and keep your matching tie, vest and pants, I’d really appreciate it.”  At the very least I felt like approaching other shoppers and saying, “Want to buy this outfit with me?  You can have the pants, tie and vest, I just want the shirt.”

At the 11th store I finally found what I was looking for, a single white oxford shirt.  I looked at the price, $22, size 6 months.  I won’t tell you the brand of this shirt, but it was $5 for the material and $17 for an embroidered man riding a horse playing polo on the front pocket. 

 I looked at the 4-piece sets next to these shirts... they were selling for $18.  I left the store purely on principle.

I was ready to go home.  I was tired. My two older sons that I had dragged along were tired. Wearily I decided to try one more store. I won’t you tell you its name, but its initials are D.I. 

I hit paydirt.  They had more white oxford shirts than I had sons.  They ranged in prices from $1 to $2.  I felt like kneeling down at the clothes rack and weeping in gratitude.  I went through every rack, picked out all the white shirts I could find and quickly put them in my cart.  I bought sizes that won’t fit my sons until they are 12, but I don’t care; they are white, they are solid, and they don’t have matching ties, vests, or pants!

As I reached the checkout counter, the cashier saw my cart and said, “This is the best place to buy white shirts.”  I said, “I’ve spent the last 5 hours shopping at every store I could find to learn that you are exactly right.” 

When I came home and began to unpack my goodies, I saw the white shirt that I had bought for my youngest son; on the label it read, “4-piece set”.

Nine years later my son decided for his Eagle Project to collect white dress shirts to donate to other countries.  He collected over 300--not one would have fit a toddler.


Lauren said…
I agree - they should sell them separately. I ended up spending the bucks on the white button down onesie type dress shirts at Baby Gap for Ian cause I couldn't find them anywhere else. I would buy a couple sizes at a time when they were buy one get on half off. I wish they'd make the onesie type for toddlers as well. Dress shirts just don't stay tucked in.