Cute Activewear for Kids (That Can Double as Real Clothes)


I was warned, you guys. Years ago, I had posted a picture of Raines in some bright blue chino pants embroidered with bananas. I think I also had him in a graphic tee, and maybe even some sort of leather jacket. Obviously, I had picked the whole thing out. I remember readers commenting that soon, pretty soon, he’d develop his own opinions about style and that his own opinion would likely be…basketball shorts.

Dear god.

But, well…those readers were spot-on and now we’re there.

I have put some constraints on my boys, however. Sports shorts (or sweatpants, or those weird wicking tees that they love) can only be worn in the following scenarios:

  1.  When actually playing sports
  2.  When actually playing sports
  3.  When actually playing sports

Just kidding.

But for my guys, I do find it’s easier to illustrate when gym shorts cannot be worn:

  1. When going out to a restaurant or a party
  2. When doing errands around the city with the possibility of going out to a restaurant
  3. When doing anything outside of the house that doesn’t directly involve doing sports or going to the park.

I’m totally OK with telling my boys that sometimes, they need to Get Dressed. And sometimes they need to Suit Up. I think knowing when to Get Dressed and/or Suit Up are decent life lessons. At least…that’s the goal. Unfortunately, I’ve missed the mark a few times. Raines will never let me forget that ONE time I didn’t read a birthday party invite closely enough, and sent him to JumpZone (or whatever it’s called) in a collared shirt and jeans. HA! He’s still mad about that.

The tricky part is two-fold: weekends and travel. Weekends are, increasingly, for playing basketball at the park, playing soccer at the park, throwing a football around at the park. And travel…well. No one should have to wear jeans on an 11-hour flight if they don’t want to.

So over the last couple of years, between the travel and weekending, we’ve reached some sort of compromise, the boys and I. Each year, they get some sort of versatile sweatsuit. Think: old school hiphop (or those Juicy tracksuits, haha). Nordstrom has a good selection of these bad boys, and our favorites — two years running — are by the more-affordable Under Armour. We’ve taken our UA hiking in Iceland, flying to Greece, and packed into every ski weekend bag. And the boys can wear them to the park. Because if we ever feel like grabbing a drink after or running an errand….the boys look put-together enough. The key, I’ve found, is that the pieces need to have some sort of street design element, and….match. (So unlike my usual style, I know. But for some reason it works.)

So here are the two sweatsuits (tracksuits? matching sets?) that the boys picked this year. And then I rounded up a few additional pieces that are worth considering for your kids’ capsule wardrobes (from both the girls’ and boys’ departments because it’s 2018, and we should be blurring those lines a little).

On Raines (older brother): jacket | pants | sneakers

On Pax (younger brother): hoodie | pants | sneakers

Shop The Coolest Sports Clothes for Kids

Here are my favorite sports clothes for kids, the ones that I’d be OK with my kids wearing around the city, on a plane, etc.,. I’ve tried to helpfully (well, hopefully helpfully) sort them by color to better visualize how to create a fun set.

Not-So-Basic Black


Red-y or Not, Here Comes Pax


Back-to-School Blues


…Skies Are Gray


Green Machine


Our Favorite High Tops For Kids

All the kids seem to be obsessed with high tops at the moment (both boys and girls) and — OMG I sound so old. I’ll stop talking now, but here are the goods we like:


The tougher question, of course, is what the heck do I wear when we have an afternoon of park play and family sports in front of us? Hmmmm….is that worth a post? (Also….ideas, please. Right now I’m eyeing up this little Sweaty Betty number….)



A huge thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post! Keep the playful (yet cool) kids’ clothes a comin’ — you guys do this really, really well. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and product choices are my own (or my boys’ own…or a negotiated middle ground, haha). And readers, thank you for your continued support. It doesn’t go unnoticed and is so very much appreciated.

Previous article7 Black-Wash Jeans, Tried & Reviewed
Next articleShopbop is Having a HUGE Sale
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 shorts known as denim-underwear, always.

Shop Shana's Closet


  1. Oh man, help. Please. My younger son would dress like R all the time. And for school and sports? I’d let him. But he’s built…like a man. Shoulders, chest, QUADS and glutes that do not fit into these boys clothes. Any ideas or brand recommendations super appreciated!!

  2. These look so cool, but my own 10-yr-old Paxton, is getting Old Navy, for much the same reasons Maggie mentioned. I’ve tried, Lord, I’ve tried, but the only thing that is comfortable is sports clothes. He’s got my quads and glutes, poor kid. Dense and solid. Maggie — try Old Navy? My kid ends up looking like a hobo… Raines and Pax do look totally put together and comfy. Well done!

  3. Knowing when and how dress for a situation is an important life lesson. Since he was 10, my son has sworn by the power of a cashmere sweater for his comfort and my requirement of not soccer gear. He loves the comfort/softness but also he can wear his favorite camp/team/ugly tee underneath. The first sweater was found on super sale at Lands End and subsequent ones have been purchased from Everlane, J Crew Sale or found at thrift stores (men’s xs fit him when he was 10). He will throw on a sweater with tech fabric shorts that look like khakis but feel like basketball shorts (from REI, Abercrombie kids and old navy) or joggers in the same material. Basically a sweatsuit in disguise.

  4. My boys are older (the youngest just turned 13), so it’s a little harder to “make” them dress the way I want them to. I still try, but it’s a bit of a losing battle, which has lead to a selection of “dress hoodies” and “dress joggers” in my house. I can get one boy to wear a nicer hoodie with khakis (never jeans, though. Ever) and one will wear cardigans and cool tees, but only with joggers. I’m going with the quirky/cool idea for them. Haha! I do love these Under Armour looks here! They totally work for me. Also, I’ve already purchased the Nike and the Adidas windbreakers you’ve shared for children in my house this season, so I’m happy to see that my kids are at least a little on trend! ?

  5. My oldest started asking for sports clothes when he was 6. I of course wanted to continue dressing him in real clothes, and he didn’t care enough about clothes in general to push it. Then one afternoon I actually looked around at the playground and realized that every. single. boy. was wearing sports stuff while my son looked like he had just moved here from Europe. So I relented. These matching suits from Nordstrom are adorable, but I buy sports clothes for my boys at Target and save my $ for my daughter’s stuff!

  6. Have you tried under armor and adidas? Because I teach 8th grade and lots of boys wear those brands, even the big manly boys. Even my husband wears those brands and looks good in them.

  7. I would love some help on how to dress the “manly” boys. My 9 year old has officially outgrown all kids sizes (in width, not height) and I’m at a loss. In the summer he can get away with mens XS shorts and t-shirts – but winter is another story. Not to mention snowpants!
    I’d love some help on a tight budget ladies- I’m an old navy, thrift store, walmart shopper.

  8. Please do a women’s post of this conundrum! I try and do leggings and tunic here, but never feel playful enough and if I do joggers I feel like we can’t go out after!

  9. I have the exact same problem, Shana. I used to buy exclusively from Carter’s because their fleece pants hit the mark between dressy and comfy. I feel like as long as the pants have a straight leg instead of an elastic cuff at the bottom, they lean more dressy than sporty. BUT this year I had enough of Carter’s and decided to switch to more sustainable options. After A LOT of reading and searching, I have found the brands that meet my sustainability standards but I’m still figuring out exactly what to buy from those brands (and how to do it economically), especially when it comes to pants. I’d love to see a TME post about sustainable children’s clothing. If you want to see what my conclusions are, just email me. I think it might be too much to post in a comment.

  10. Thanks to all for the suggestions!

    Sakina, I’ve been buying Old Navy track pants (the light ones with no cuff) in a size or two larger and using iron-on hem tape to shorten them bc even if I HAD time I don’t sew!!

  11. Ok Julie, here ya go ?. These are just my personal standards and are based on the idea that local, reuse is always better for the environment than buying new. And when you must buy new try to buy organic or at least OEKO-TEX certified. There are a lot more offerings from European brands than US brands but when you factor in the carbon footprint of international shipping I think it loses too many “points”. But I’m no expert, this is all just based on my reading articles, my academic background, and well… common sense. But I’m still learning.

    Sustainable Children’s Clothing Notes:

    Look or GOTS certified organic fabric or at least OEKO-TEX certified fabric. Also look for products made in or at least shipped from the US.

    Companies In Order of Preference: (look for the below brands or anything else, because reuse is always better than new) Locally reused clothing would be ideal, but I’m strictly an online shopper, it’s not ideal but it’s where I’m at, and I’m sure not perfect.

    Art and Eden (expensive printed organic T-shirt’s and joggers, good selection, look for sale items or Amazon off-season items)

    Dhana (less expensive organic printed T-shirts, good source for organic button up shirts)

    Patagonia (good for outerwear, maybe other stuff too but not much selection in our size range)

    Mini Mioche (expensive organic solid basics)

    Hannah Andersson (only if fabric is OEKO-TEX or Organic, they have less expensive OEKO-TEX basics, stuff goes on sale a lot or look on Thred Up)

    For my seven year old’s winter wardrobe this is what I ended up doing:
    Bought Art and Eden T-shirt’s and a few soft pants off-price via Amazon.
    Bought jeans, button ups, holiday sweaters, coats, and Hanna Andersson shirts on Thread Up (but most of the pants didn’t fit so I’ve ordered lots of pants from Hanna Andersson to see if any work)

    Lastly I’ll say, this stuff is a lot more expensive than what I’m used to spending at Carter’s! I would usually spend about $250-$300 on a winter wardrobe (I live in a warm climate) but I’ll probably double that this year. I feel it’s worth it for two reasons 1) I have two boys, so I’ll get double duty from everything and 2) I’m a science nerd; the current state of climate policy is frightening, so I’m just trying to do what I can do.

    Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply