The Quest for Dress(y) Sandals

I just wanted a pair of dress(y) sandals, in brown for BigBrother to wear to church or with outfits that didn’t exactly go with bright red crocs or Thomas the Train sneakers. Last year, I found a pair (viewable to the left) at the Store That Has Everything From Sandals to Cantaloupe. This year? No go.

In fact, I struck out repeatedly. One store did have something that wasn’t quite what I was looking for but would have worked… but… of course, not in his size. I got desperate on Wednesday, knowing that he needed something appropriate for this weekend, and brought it up with my friends over coffee. They informed me that they had found a similar sandal at Payless last year. So, after running some errands, we drove 25 miles to the nearest Payless. I had promised BigBrother a treat if he was on his best behavior when we went into the store and so he excitedly followed me in the store, ready to try on a shoe. Anything for a treat, right?

But there was a problem.

In his size, toddler 9, there were approximately six pair of boys shoes. I wish I was joking. There were multiple pairs of the same sparkly little girl dressy sandals. There were multiple pairs of dressy girly sandals. The boys? Their options were some sneakers or some play-sandals featuring licensed characters. An associate popped into the aisle to ask if I needed anything. When I inquired about a boy’s dressier sandal in my son’s size, she said that everything they had was already out.

Really? Because the girls had over 30 pairs in size 9 and you only had six pairs for boys?

Frustrated, I took BigBrother’s hand and lead him out the door. This, of course, was met with a small meltdown as he assumed that the lack of shoe-trying-on meant that he wouldn’t get a treat. I assured him that he was not the one in trouble and he quite sniffling. Thankfully, two stores down was a Famous Footwear store. Not only did they have a wider selection of shoes for boys in general but they had a brown sandal in BigBrother’s size. And it fit. He did ask to hold the Lightning McQueen croc while I tried the intended shoe on his foot but replaced it happily when I said that we were done and he figured that meant it was treat time. I paid twice what I would have at Payless and left, happy that the search was finally over.


It’s not exactly the price issue. I don’t mind paying more for shoes as shoes are important because taking good care of your child’s feet is a good investment. However, I’m just constantly aggravated with the lack of selection when it comes to any form of clothing for boys.

Why do stores, especially discount-type stores, assume that we want our boys to be dressed in junk at all times? Why do girls get frilly, semi-dressy things for a reasonable price while boys are offered nothing more than junk for the same cost? Why do I have to spend more to achieve the same “level” of look for my boys? When did people stop caring what their boys looked like? I know. You get what you pay for. I understand that concept. And that if I want quality, I will pay more. But for Pete’s sake, why can my friends with girls pay less to dress their children the same way?

Now, don’t get me wrong. The boys have play clothes. In fact, they have a lot of play clothes because at 3.5 and 1.5 they do a lot of playing. I do have to search, still, as I don’t like overly junky play clothes. I still like them to look presentable (until they stain the front of their shirts with whatever it is they’re doing that day like, just the other day, rolling down our hill and getting grass stains). But, seriously, if it wasn’t for the Internet most of the time, I’d never be able to dress these children up. (Do you remember my Easter debacle?) All I wanted was a pair of brown sandals to go with his khaki shorts (of which they only had one pair that wasn’t a sloppy cargo pair) and polo shirts (of which don’t have junk printed all over them) so he could look like a well-dressed child when the situation calls for it this summer.

Surely we are not the only parents of boys who dress them in more than a Lightning McQueen shirt (which he does own as fun shirts do have their place) and shorts all summer. Right?

ShoesI suppose I should calm down. They’ve both got their dressy sandals and their nice clothes for the summer. (LittleBrother’s were a random find late last year.) But I know it will be an issue next year. And the following year. (We don’t hand-me-down shoes as their feet are vastly different: short and wide versus thin and long respectively.) I can only hope that some discount stores catch on that they’re not offering the same things for boys that they are for girls and/or the the economy improves and/or I become a child’s shoe and clothing designer before next summer.

[(Speaking of clothes, I have a rant coming up about finding something appropriate and fun for my class reunion. Help?)]


14 Replies to “The Quest for Dress(y) Sandals”

  1. Oh man!! I have been through this time and time again. Target is often helpful in the shoe department. It is the clothes that drive me nuts. When looking for clothes for my son I do indeed want more than character shirts and shorts. As a matter of fact I only allow a limited number of character shirts into the wardrobe. And yes I was so annoyed when I went to buy my kids summer clothes. For my daughter there was an over abundance of options where as for my son I had to hunt for decent clothes. However, I am a little sick of pink. Pink, pink and more pink gets REALLY old. :)

    Upstatemomof3s last blog post..Who Is and Who Is Not Liked?

    1. UpstateMom; Yeah, we only allow a limited number of character shirts as well. Last summer, he had 2 Lightning McQueen shirts and 1 Thomas shirt. This year, it’s three Buzz Lightyear pieces (I say pieces because it is 2 shirts and one pair of swim trunks). And, unfortunately, we have no Target and I refuse to buy from them online as they have the slowest. shipping. ever.

      But I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the pink issue. I’d twitch!

  2. As the parent of two girls, I have to say that it all evens out in the end. As girls get older, we have to work harder and harder to find modest clothing for girls than for boys. Unless you are handy with a sewing machine to add ruffles, sleeves and other alterations, it becomes harder to find stylish clothing for girls that covers them up properly, doesn’t have words and logos emblazoned on it, etc. at the less expensive stores. Not impossible…just harder! I’ve found consignment stores to be a great spot for quality clothing at a reasonable price, but the older kids get, the less selection there is at the consignment stores. Stores cater to girls under 8. Once they start approaching puberty, stores start to encourage less acceptable clothing for girls. Of course, I HATE shopping anyway. [Why is it that society thinks women enjoy shopping?!? I can’t be the only woman out there who detests going to the store….sorry for the detour.]

    I’m glad to hear you found the sandals you wanted.

  3. Maybe its just me (or where we live) or the kids I have…ha! But I remember mentioning something similar, a few years ago only with girl clothes. Trying to dress my four year old, was almost, impossible. You wanted a shirt, you were stuck with a belly shirt, or a paper thin shirt with no sleeves. Shorts? Can we talk low riders with little “Leg”? – maybe thats what people like? or maybe its just that shopping and I don’t really get a long, but it always makes me wonder are there actually children clothes left in this world, and if so, where can I find them?

    dbs last blog post..We will be (and are) proud

  4. I think it’s Payless. Seriously. I have stopped there repeatedly, looking for season-appropriate shoes for the girls without any luck. I’m really disppointed because it was my go-to store when the girls were infants. Now? Not so much. Gracie is an easy-fit, but I have always found their selection poor. There seems to be one choice in a dressy shoe, once choice in a sneaker (with a character on it, no less) and several shoddy sandals. Bee, on the other hand, has feet so fat that I use the same approach that I do with my jeans – if it fits, buy it. And she’s so hard to fit that I don’t dare try ordering online.

    I just don’t get the suddent dearth of sensible children’s shoes.

    Katie in MAs last blog post..The If Question about running the show.

  5. It is a pain to find nice and inexpensive shoes for boys. OTOH, I can see the dilemma for moms and dads of girls who don’t want to dress their daughters like Bratz dolls. *sigh*

    Judys last blog post..Tears of joy

  6. That sounds frustrating, but it seems to me like it eventually flip-flops. I don’t have kids to shop for, but I know that my husband can consistently find better clothes at cheaper prices than I can. I’m betting it starts to be like that sometime in the teen years.

  7. Ugh. we don’t do the chracter thing either. Its definitely limited and even then I try to encourage them to be worn as night shirts.

    Right now Lilli is in a 2T and I’ve been searching for cute Carters-ish sundresses and matching shorts and tops. HOPELESS. all thats out there is nasty looking tanktops. yuck.

  8. I have 3 boys and 3 girls. I, too, don’t like to dress the boys in “character” clothes. I have found (over many years…the boys are 13, 13 and 5 now) that the best bets are Target, Old Navy, Gap Kids and The Childrens Place. Gap Kids used to sell similar sandals a few years back, not sure if they still do. We go to Famous Footwear a lot. I’m sure I have paid more for clothes and shoes that I would’ve liked to but their clothes have always lasted longer than most. I agree that my daughters were easier to dress when younger. There always seemed to be a larger selection of shoes and clothes for little girls. Good luck!!!

  9. Amen! Now, I totally encourage character shirts because I never had them as a child. But, when it comes to dressy clothes, you just can’t find anything for boys.

    And speaking of dresses – why is it all dress-up clothes are about princesses? Target has an aisle devoted to dress-up clothes, and they’re all dresses and aprons (in pink). What about a firefighter? Or a doctor? Or a chef in a gender-neutral color? No, boys can’t dress up, apparently.

    We go to Stride Rite for shoes. They have an excellent, though insanely expensive, selection.

  10. I have been having this exact same problem this summer as well with my son (age 21 months). I live in a rural area and I still haven’t found a pair of ‘nice’ sandals for him. I also get irritated with all of the ‘character wear’ mostly because my son isn’t really that interested in the TV, therefore, he doesn’t even know who any of those characters are. Why do I want to pay more money for something he could care less about?
    Good luck to you in the future-I will be thinking of you & your sons the next time I am standing in the store [not] admiring the overabundance of girls’ items :)

    Anitas last blog post..Tuesday’s Soapbox: Adoption & Faith

  11. I hear you! Same problem here. I try not to get all the chacter stuff b/c they may love Diego today, but next week they get made fun off because Diego is a “baby show” and want new stuff. (Happened to my son who wanted diego back back last year for kindergarden – but my Feburary he was being made fun off and wanted a new backpack, which I made him wait until the summer to get a new one). But I can’t find nice clothes for my 3 boys either.

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