The Softest Pants For Boys (And What To Do When Sportswear Happens)

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Ok, I need a pick-me-up this morning.  Let’s talk about something warm and fuzzy:  kids.

I love seeing pics of everyone’s cute little babies on Instagram and Facebook.  Kids’ clothing has come SO far, and it’s evident in these pictures.  Babies and toddlers are often hysterically well dressed – in skinny jeans and fedoras, or dresses and rompers that I’d be happy to wear – at all price points!

But something happens to boys, once they start school.  Gone are my days of dressing my boys like little mini hipsters (or whatever look I happened to be snorting over).   Readers, you warned me this would happen – you warned me that one day Raines would no longer happily wear his banana-embroidered skinny pants and “I think I’m gonna kick it with my mom today” tshirt.  I didn’t listen, I DIDN’T LISTEN.  And this ‘something’ that happens….is called sportswear.

If I never see basketball shorts again it’ll be too soon.

To further complicate matters (at least around here), are Raines’ many Pants Problems.  All pants – with the exception of the dreaded basketball shorts – are uncomfortable.  They come up too high on his waist, they slide down too low, they feel tight on his ankles, they feel loose on his ankles, they are too scratchy, stiff, or too soft.   Yes, even sweatpants are hated.  Apparently, they feel too much like pajamas and THAT IS EMBARRASSING, MOM.  We’re big on not being embarrassing right now.

So.  How do I:

A.  Find pants that don’t involve morning tears?

and

B.  Let him express himself with sportswear and still look appropriate?  (I have a strict no-basketball shorts policy when going out to dinner, parties, etc.)

Here’s the compromise I reached with both boys (although Pax’s style is so nuts, it’s more for entertainment purposes)…..

Option 1:  Non-Offensive Sports Shirts + Soft Pinstriped Pants

There will be no mean-spirited or obnoxious sports shirts.  Nothing that says “Rise above the rest” or “Raw talent”.   But plain sport shirts, soccer jerseys, or uplifting messages (I’m ok with ‘heart over head’)…OKfine.  When he pairs them with suuuuuper soft pinstriped pants (elastic waistband HOLLA) and sneakers we end up with an outfit we can both live with.

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Outfit Details

shirt: Adidas Chelsea jersey (gah!  Sold out!  I stock up on these things when they go on sale…I’m not the only one, obvi.  Manchester United and Madrid are both 40% off right now…)

pants: Peek Pinstripe Pants – the waistband on these is elastic, with a drawcord, but they’re more for show.  You really need these to fit in the waist, otherwise they won’t stay up.  We had to size down one full size (to a 7) to get the fit right.  Once we did, they were PERFECT.

shoes: Adidas Superstars

 

Option 2: Thermal Tees + Sweatpant Chinos

Peek thermal tees layer beautifully, and expand (or shrink) so that they’ll fit for YEARS.  And Mini Boden’s sweatpant chinos have changed our lives.  They look very much like skinny chinos (the details are perfection), yet they are essentially…sweatpants.  (Even Raines is fooled.)

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Outfit Details

shirt: Peek layering thermal (R’s is from a couple of years ago, but there’s a ton of good colors….)

pants: Mini Boden Jersey Chinos (these fit true-to-size.  R is wearing a size 8)

shoes: Adidas Superstars

hat:  The North Face (it glows in the dark and is reversible.  If only it would go grocery shopping too…)

 

And Then There’s Pax

Do any of you have a Pax?  He’s very firm on his clothing choices – always has been.  From the time he was three and would only wear Superman tees with an attached cape (for a YEAR), or that menswear suit phase he went through in preschool, or those few weeks when he accessorized with swimming goggles….this kid has strong opinions.

And at the moment he’s very clear on three things:  blue (his red phase has totally ended)…..crazy pants (the brighter and bigger the better)…and….breakdancing.

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Outfit Details

tee: Junk Food (they always make the best sports tees)

leggings: Patch Party Leggings (we’ve had more luck with this slippery fabric lasting longer than the typical cotton leggings….Shoot!  These are sold out, but they make a ton in jaw-droppingly fun prints)

shoes: Supra Vaiders

 

Shop Our Favorite Soft Pants

 

Shop The Boys’ Fav Sporty Shirts

 

How are you guys handling the sportswear craze?  And when it comes time to dress up a bit….what do you do?  Is there an equivalent craze for girls?  Most girls I see around town look adorable.  Sometimes Crazy-And-Adorable like Pax, but they’ve got their own style going on which I always appreciate.  (Hmmmm…maybe that’s how we end up with our chic selves and husbands in dire need of a wardrobe overhaul…. #hahaha)

xo,

S

A huge thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post!  As always, all thoughts, opinions, and product choices are my own (actually, in this case, they were my little guys’).  And readers, thank you for your continued support.  It doesn’t go unnoticed, and is so very much appreciated. 

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About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

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40 Comments

  1. My four year old is picky too. He will only wear sweatpants or something that feels like sweatpants. He also manages to put holes in the knees of all his pants so i would never buy pants at Nordstrom even though your picks are so great! Even $20 is too expensive for how fast wr go through pants. Old navy for sure at our house. And also alll the superhero tshirts. Every. Single. Day. 🙂

  2. I frickin love your kids and how you describe their style “challenges.” Now pleeeeease do this exact same post on girls, specifically a Raines-equivalent re comfy but stylish pants.

  3. My almost five year old daughter reminds me of Pax – I stopped even weighing in on clothing (besides weather appropriateness) probably around two. That girl of mine loves patterns, all of them, all at once. Sometimes she looks so awesome I can’t believe it, other times I have to shield my eyes. Gotta love her strong sense of rocking what she loves.

  4. Thanks for the distraction! My twin boys started wearing jeans exclusively around 1/2 way through 2d grade. Honestly I made the switch because the fit problems were getting ridiculous. I have a skinny tall and a skinny smaller-so either length was too short or too long for waist bands that fit. I have had success with Old Navy regular skinny jeans because they are NOT skinny around the lower legs and ankles, unlike the super skinnies. I finally got smart and switched to slims for the tall lanky guy (you can order online). They like sporty shirts too but only in cotton. Either their sports teams they support or basic brand logos, like Nike, Adidas, I also avoid the slogans. They have aged out of fun phrases/graphics unfortunately. It helps that one of the boys plays competitive year around travel baseball and is constantly getting tournament t-shirts! Like your guys, they will only wear basketball shorts. The big problem now is super expensive sneakers! We get good brands, they prefer Nike, but if they want the specialized shoes, e.g., Jordan’s, Kobes, KDs, they must be on sale for me to buy them. Take a look at the Nike website; these things are seriously pricey, even worse for men’s sizes. They will not wear any shoes other than sneakers, even if it means wet feet. They also have gotten picky about their baseball hats – which they wear every day. They select them from the MLB website, and since they run around $40 I buy them for birthday/holiday presents now. Daughter is a bit easier (age 9). She has a girly but quirky style. She has always refused jeans, though most girls her age wear them, she is super sensitive to seams, buttons, etc. Also, most sporty clothes are either too boyish – she won’t wear boy cut t-shirts, or a bit too big around the waist. So she wears cotton leggings, with cute tops, and/or with skirts. Her shorts also have elastic waists. I restrict the super short gymnastics shorts for underneath skirts and dresses; the length of girls’ shorts is a huge problem. She either wears cute sneakers or Uggs at school. There is a dress code at our public school, which I have feelings about, which restricts bare shoulders. So no cute sundresses or tanks at school no matter how hot it is.

  5. I’m living this too, the soft pants only phase, but agree that $40 is bananas considering the destruction (between dirt, grass, and falling of bikes, how pants even last a week is a amazing). I can still do okay with Carters or OshKosh terry joggers (depending on coupons, around $10). I buy 7 pairs of gray pants at the beginning of the season and put 4 in rotation, using the other 3 to fill in when the holes appear.

    I posted this earlier, maybe facebook?, about too big waist for skinny/tall kids—buy button elastic and buttons, make two holes in the waist opposite each other on the hip, thread the elastic through and sew a button on each side. Voila! Toddler style waist for big kid pants.

  6. Its not a battle I ever chose to fight. My boys did the same thing-when they were little I could dress and accessorize them any way that they wanted. Once they hit school though they immediately realized how uncool they looked compared to the other boys as well as the fact that the way I was dressing them was uncomfortable. They refused to wear anything but sports clothes by Nike and UA. I once even bought them Joes Jeans because they were soft at least. Take heart though-my oldest is 15 and in high school now where the kids all wear Khaki and jeans as much as sports clothes.

  7. This sentence is my FAV – “There will be no mean-spirited or obnoxious sports shirts.” I’m an Instructional Aide at an elementary school, and I see so many “Second place is for losers.”-type sporty shirts, which just breaks my heart! Thank you for highlighting kindness once again!
    ps–Totally diggin’ your kids very individual style. When my now-18-year-old daughter was 18 months, she knew exactly what she wanted to wear, and that hasn’t changed. We had rules about appropriateness, similar to your no bball shorts at parties, but that was it. That individuality and strength is still serving her well.

  8. OMG thank you! I have two boys same ages as yours and they only want to wear comfy knit pants…apparently only made for toddlers? They will wear jeans out to dinner but only when forced. No chinos, no stiff cotton. So we were down to nylon athletic pants. Thank you for these suggestions!

  9. Love those pinstripe pants! Great post. My son is 4 and will only wear something with an elastic waistband and that is a soft material. Jeans, cords, etc. are out of the question. Gap and Old Navy have pants that look like chinos, but are lined with a jersey material with an elastic waistband and those are our compromise if I need him in something other than sweatpants. It’s great to get them on sale since he is super rough on his clothes! I love the kids clothes posts as much as the adults, so keep them coming!

  10. It was my goal for 2016 to get my son (13) into “real” pants. After years of sportswear only, as he’s a big soccer player (Liverpool not Chelsea though), he wore jeans and sweatpants. A&F has jeans that feel so soft and are skinny enough that he proclaimed to go sleep in them. My son, too, loves the skinny sweatpants. He still prefers his Nike and UA shorts but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

  11. I have a crazy and adorable 5 year old daughter who is just like Pax. In fact, she dresses just like him! We let her rock that style all she wants (and her fashion sense started at 18 months). I love all the crazy Terez leggings and she will now, too. Thanks!

  12. My boys were over my shoulder while I scrolled through the post and now they are ALL trying out Pax’s breakdancing moves.

  13. My two long, slim boys (6 & 9) can’t stand any kind of closure at the waist– buttons, snaps, etc. so pull-on, elastic waist only. Drawstrings are ok, but more for looks than function. We have had good luck with Tea Collection, and also, Lands End. Some, but not all LE, come in a slim fit which work well for us. They also liked lined pants for comfort, though they aren’t really necessary in our California climate.

  14. My 6 and 8 yr old boys wear strict uniforms to school. Outside of school it’s basically under armour all the time in typically bright neon colors. That is so common in their world I am taken back if their friends wear ‘dress’ clothes. I typically buy them each skinny jeans, a couple henleys, a couple plaid shirts and maybe one cord for fall/winter. Of course it’s Dallas so it’s still freaking warm and they are wearing shorts to school!

  15. My girls love the athleisure trend! Our favorite brands are Zella Girl from Nordstrom, and Old Navy. Although Zella Girl can be pricey, I watch for sales, and everything we’ve bought has been amazing quality, so it lasts.

  16. I have the same issue with my son – but he’s 10 years old and a tall, skinny size 14. Does anyone have recs for cool looking comfortable clothes for older/bigger boys?

  17. I am still in denial about this as my son is a toddler. So far his strongest opinions are about his footwear. My daughter however definitely has a very defined personal style. She will not wear pants as they are too uncomfortable. I wish someone would make leggings with leather knee patches because the cotton ones get holes so fast. Tights seem to last longer. For anyone else with a comfort loving dress wearing girl who only likes “plain” things.. the mini rodini basic dress with pockets is amazing. And has lasted super well through all sorts of play and layers over a long sleeved tshirt well for colder weather.

  18. I have an 8-year-old who will only wear sports clothes. This post was perfect because I’ve been trying to tell him he can’t wear sport shorts all winter. Ive found that he will wear sweatpants if they have cargo pockets or something to that effect that makes them less “pajama”. As far as dress clothes go we have an agreement that he can choose what he wears to school daily but I get to dress him for church and other “dressier
    occasions”. My problem is that my 4-year-old wants to be just like his older brother.

  19. Love the Boden pants! Bought them and convinced my 4 year old to wear them, win!! But now I see they are “dry clean only”… ugh. Do you have any recommendations?

  20. I’ve been buying girl leggings for my 3yr old who is tall but slim. He has the big star print from Boden, although I want him to have the outerspace print too… and some brushed black from Target that are ridiculously soft on the inside. JCrew has some good leggings too but they are tight, we’ve used those for Halloween before…

  21. I see this is a Nordstrom-sponsored post, but I need to give a shout-out to Lands’ End Iron Knee Tricot Pants. My son, a recent convert to athletic-only clothes, loves them and they are super-well made.

  22. Ohmigod, those Boden sweatpant chinos are a game changer. Mine will NOT wear tailored style pants, it’s all basketball shorts & elastic waist cargo pants. I gotta check them out!

    I will say, my sons recent obsession with Indiana Jones has led to a fondness for fedoras and a faux leather bomber jacket… makes his usual videogame shirt + cargo pants look about 50% more stylish.

  23. Oh my gosh, can you please do this exact same post but for husbands?? My man only wants athletic shorts and tees all.the.time. I mean, just stop. I would love for him to be as stylish aa your boys!

  24. We also returned the gray Boden pants because they were itchy but the camp color version of the same pant is great and after a wash or two got super soft. I by Biden a lot because I have skinny kiddos who done like snaps buttons or zippers plus they have P.E. every day so they like to be able to move

  25. 2 boys in the house on

    Love the suggestions. Wishing there were slightly less expensive options shown. I’m buying for 2 boys that are hard on clothes and $50 for a pair of pants is steep. I’d pay more for the shirts since they seem to last a bit longer. Anywhereelse I can find the jerseys on sale since Nordstrom is sold out of all styles? Thanks for the post!

  26. Hey! I just wanted to let you know I’ve followed your blog for a long time and was so disappointed to see the election completely ignored. Regardless of your political views, this election cycle was a doozy. It felt rather jarring to see this post last Wednesday morning in my feed, without any acknowledgement of what had happened the night before. I stopped reading your blog as a result and just wanted to let you know. I’m not looking for political commentary here — on the contrary, that might be off-putting. I was just so surprised by the lack of even a “Wow! That was intense. Let’s move forward with some distracting discussion of leggings.” I’ve generally loved your blog, though, and wish you the best!

    • Molly – Really?? There was a whole huge discussion on our FB and Instagram pages – and I addressed it directly in this post: http://themomedit.com/2016/11/weekend-5/

      It’s funny, there are many readers who thought I talked too much about the election. (And the beginning of this post – “I need a pick me up, let’s talk about something warm and fuzzy” was in direct response to the election.)

      • Oh wow. I’m so sorry. I don’t follow you on Facebook. I only read your blog. I’m sorry I didn’t reach out to all your platforms. I rarely comment on things and apologize for not looking into all of your stuff more thoroughly. Chalk it up to normal mom stuff and a rough fall for me personally. Keep up your good work, and thanks for the quick response.

        • Also, thanks for the link to your awesome post over the weekend. Since I’d stopped reading, I totally missed it. Sorry. It’s been an emotional week.

          • I SO freaking get that. It’s been brutal over here, too. Hang in there, Chick. Got your safety pin? 😉

  27. This post was so helpful! My son is pickier than my girls. I got the bode skinny sweatpants chinos based on your recommendation and they are perfect! Thank You!

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