Reader Q | Help! My Daughter Is Not a Boy!


Reader Question:

 I wanted to send an email to you ladies asking for help with my daughter's wardrobe.  She has never fit the girl mold – pink! princesses! glitter! – that overruns kid clothing.  And frankly, I don't blame her one bit.  She prefers an edgy but comfortable wardrobe.  

For years we have solved our troubles by buying her a mix of girl and boy fashions.  She sports an adorable rocker chic/pixie hair style.  But as she's getting older – first grade and more importantly size 7/8 – she's being mistaken for a boy on the playground.  I'd love to empower her with a wardrobe that makes her feel like herself and lets her look as adorable as she is without covering herself head to toe in pink glitter.  The problem?  I can't find cute girl clothes.  Can you help?

She does not want her ears pierced and only grudgingly allows me to paint her nails if I promise to use emerald green glitter or edgy grey polish.  She loves high end denim, but…seriously kid!  I only indulge her when Nordstrom Rack has goodies in her size.  She chooses comfort over fashion every day of the week, and refuses anything that slows her down on the playground.  Her rules, as I understand them:


Yes to bracelets, preferably with spikes
No belts, necklaces or earrings
Yes to jeggings, skinny jeans and yoga pants
No to dresses and skirts
Yes to sleeveless sweaters and vests over tees
No to open overshirts or shrugs
Yes to sneakers, Uggs and maybe a boot
Yes to a touch of glitter, bright colors and well placed pink
No to lace or anything itchy

Would love to hear your ever fashionable and sage thoughts.  Keep on keepin' on, mama!

– Stephanie



Soooo….let me get this straight:  your first grade daughter hates dresses, loves high-end denim, and gets confused for a boy on the playground?  Wow.  That was, exactly, me.  

Allll through elementary school, I was a playground warrior: jeans only, sneakers always, and a fussy belt or shrug would NOT have been happening.  My most embarrassing moment, however, was in 5th grade, when a girl asked me to be her boyfriend.  GAH!  I almost died of shame.  That girl, however, after realizing her mistake, just shrugged it off and was all like, "Whatever.  You're boy-cute now…that just means you'll be really pretty someday."

I mean.  The emotional maturity and self-confidence some girls posses.  I'm still in awe of her.

In any case – I can relate to your daughter's plight.  So I pulled together a small wardrobe, where most things can be mixed and matched.  Because she's so young (first grade!!) I stayed away from getting too edgy…if she really wants some spikes and skulls, those are awesome accessories to add to any of these outfits.  

Here's what I'm thinking:

1.  I discovered pink Converse hightops in 6th grade, and they changed my life.  For your daughter?  Not glitter Converse, not sickly sweet light pink, but a hardcore, bright, almost-neon pink.  BAM.  

2. Add in a few strategic pops of hot pink in outdoor accessories (I'm showing hats here, but scarves or mittens would work too).  

3.  Mix patterns and textures with wild abandon!  You can make some seriously cool outfits just by adding in some pattern – and it doesn't need to be overly girly or glittery. 


Left Side:

hat:     Le Big Neon Hat, $22

vest:    Crewcuts Quilted Vest, $88

shoes:  Converse Kids Double Zip in Paradise Pink, $37

first outfit:

Gap Baseball Sweater, $35

Gap Star Prints Jeans (sold out, darn it)…try these True Religion ones.  ;)


Daily Tea Red Floral Chinoise Blouse, $39

Crewcuts Striped Turtleneck, $26

Gap Gray Super Skinny Jeans, $30


Right Side:

hat:  Gap Rainbow Stripe Hat, $17

jacket: H&M Navy Sweatshirt jacket (sold out)…in stripes or Gap's gray sherpa moto

shoes: H&M Polka Dot Sneakers, $25

first outfit:

Gap shirt (sold out)….love this Crewcuts crown tee but any tee would work

H&M Floral Cargo Pants, $14


Crewcuts Sequin Heart Henley, $38

Crewcuts Pixie Pant in camo, $58


Stephanie, how did I do?  

I know some of the Crewcuts stuff is expensive, but it does tend to last (and I suspect you can find similar pieces elsewhere).  

Gosh, this was fun to put together.  






  1. Keep an eye on the clothing website Next Direct too. They can be hit or miss by season but often have great girls clothes in lots of non-pink options. I’ve gotten a ton of stuff for my daughter there over the last few years in grey, red, navy, black, etc. And it’s all priced low too. They even had an awesome camo print girls line last season, not something you see here in the US clothing lines very often. It was camp without being “getting ready to hunt in the woods” over the top if you know what I mean.

  2. Hmmmm…I want to dissent here. Let her wear what she wants. Let her be mistaken for a boy if she wants. If it bothers her, she’ll change. This may sound like I don’t care about fashion but actually I’m a fashion designer and I very much care about fashion! But I see it as a way to have fun and express yourself, whatever that may be.

  3. Ok – I deleted a few comments from this post. Gang, ANMJ is not a forum to criticize other moms. If you would do things differently…fine. But Stephanie wrote in wanting some ideas on how to walk the fine line of tomboy style with a very young girl, and we provided some.
    And Courtney, I was always mistaken for a boy. And it DID bother me. But as an 8 year old, I didn’t know how to change without wearing clothing that made me uncomfortable. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a mother and daughter exploring expression through personal style together.

  4. I don’t have any suggestions, but I just wanted to say you are doing an amazing job raising a smart, independent girl. Awesome!

  5. I have a semi-girly girl. She likes pink but will mix it up with some camo or animal pattern. For the record, I rarely buy her new clothes, most come from Goodwill. My youngest is happy to wear her pink tutu skirt over her camo pants with a zebra sweater. Get a few pieces you more or less agree on and let her add her own touch. I would skip the high end denim, hit GW, you can find it there.

  6. All very cute outfit options. I have two girls, one is very girly and the other is…not as much. She obviously doesn’t have the access to internet shopping that I have so the only time she gets to look for her own clothes is when we go somewhere together and then the options are like what you described (pink! glitter!). So a little help in finding stuff, what the heck is wrong with that?!
    Mini boden sometimes has some great options- they had star skinnies last season that were like the example shown. I just bought her these for her stocking and although they aren’t spiked, they are a perfect bracelet option for our kind of girls:
    I’ve got to get my grubby little mitts on those h&m cargo pants.

  7. Thank you for posting this! Our daughter is 16 months old and is called a boy a lot. We are still choosing her clothes for her but we are trying to not set her up to think girls can only wear “girl clothes”. Of her own choosing, she does love accessories and wristlets. I just want to give her options so she can choose what she gravitates towards and not what companies define as gender.
    I loved these options! Thanks for a great question and answer!

  8. I second crewcuts – they have a lot of items that don’t fit the princess mold, and right now j crew is offering 25% off everything regularly, if you can wait a few weeks. They also have a great sale area – I wouldn’t be able to justify the prices otherwise.

  9. Yay this is the way my 3 year old is headed ok with pink, but no dresses! I appreciate the insight! Fun! I want to encourage the self in the discovery of the world for my girl, I know she is not trying to be a boy, but explore her individual style ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Wow, I can relate to this so much. I am a big fan of H&M. They have some soft, very comfortable two for one long sleeve T’s right now. Stripes (orangy pink) and polka dots (powder blue) and heart dots (on navy), etc. For a nice price. I actually bought sizes for this year and next. Glad you wrote this!

  11. Zara also has great girl’s clothes that have a little edge to them. Sizes take a bit to figure out since it’s European based but they have free shipping both ways if you’re buying online. Also, their big sale is end of December/beginning of January and you can get some great deals for quality clothes!

  12. LOVE this! You are my favorite blog to read every morning. I don’t think any of the other comments mentioned this, but JCrew has a factory site ( and it has super cute stuff for moms and kids for a bit cheaper than normal JCrew. I could still spend my whole paycheck there, though!

  13. I definately agree with what you posted, and my Neon Pink Converses got me through a lot. I thought it was the end of the world when I grew out of them in middle school. Then I rediscovered them in adult sizes a few years ago….so they still get me through everything!!!! Great choice!

  14. I was also just going to suggest Next Direct. Affordable and cute and not everything is girly – great as an alternative to crewcuts for solid basics, jeans, sweats.
    Also, they don’t have a ton of selection, but I’m LOVING – yes, a lot is dresses and skirts, but they have really cute pieces that are affordable when they go on sale, and very little pink in sight!
    My daughter has not yet discovered that she can dress herself, and so I have a lot of fun avoiding pink (though this was the halloween that she was the only girl at preschool that wasn’t a princess, and then she declared that she was also going to be a princess despite the handmade fox costume).

  15. My daughter was super girly and SPARKLY when she was little – she just gravitated toward the fairy princess look. Now that she is older (1st grade) I am so happy to see her grow and change into a little person with her own style ๐Ÿ™‚ I bought her a pair of tan Umi moto boots on sale last spring and she has worn them almost everyday since. She regularly pairs them with black and gray leopard skinnies and a knit moto jacket (Gap and Target almost always have them in stock) She has a few different colors and they feel like sweatshirts but FUN! BTW, the kids designer denim selection on eBay is crazy good and I’ve scored some gems for under $10. Just my two cents ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Love it! This is what I wanted to wear growing up, but didn’t know how to do it. So I just wore what I thought every other girl wanted to wear…boring! This is fun and I hope to inspire this creativity in my own daughter when she’s old enough to dress herself. xoxo

  17. Ummmm, so can I get just about everything on the styleboard in MY size?!?!?
    It takes a little more effort to weed past the girly-girl majority, but Old Navy (with their constant 30%+ off) mixed with a little H&M works very well here. My daughter is far more girly than I am, but she also likes comfort, warmth and to play HARD, so we find lots of middle style ground. My favorite compromise EVER, if you can still find them in store – not avail online any more – H&M’s army green camo pants from early fall. The camo was actually made out of hearts and I think we both swooned…. I think her fave combo teams them with a navy blue ON T with white polka dots over a l/s white T with a pair of Chuck’s – in pink, natch! We’re both super happy and I can still afford to dress my other three. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I love this! If pink is too much for her in chucks, they make great other girl colors too. I love my easter egg green chucks. Definitely girl, but not girlie. Maybe she would like leggings as well? They fit her comfort criteria, you could find some great prints, and boys don’t wear them.

  19. This is a really great wardrobe…my daughter is 2 and still doesn’t have much of a preference, but I personally can’t stand the pink and glittery. So, until she forms her own opinions…I usually just try to channel Peek! kids, but their prices are INSANE so I rarely actually shop there. Lucky Jeans also has cute, but not too girly. Zara and H&M, too, but you touched on that. I wish those floral cargos were available in her size!

  20. It’s Stephanie here. Thank you, thank you, thank you Shana for addressing my question and giving so many great options for my girl. And thank you to all the lovelies who commented here with additional places to shop. I’m excited to get shopping with some options my girl will actually enjoy.
    I didn’t see the deleted posts. And thank you Shana for stepping in to stop things before they got out of hand.
    I just want to say that my only goal is what I stated originally and Shana quoted at the start of this – “I’d love to empower her with a wardrobe that makes her feel like herself.”
    For years my daughter dressed in primarily “boy” clothes and was constantly mistaken for a boy. She didn’t care, and neither did I.
    But now she’s reached an age where kids questioning her gender upset her. She wants to dress in a way that feels authentic to who she is, but is struggling to find clothes that fit the style she wants. I’d like to help her. It’s just that simple.
    As to your specific suggestions, Shana, my daughter walked by as I was reading this post and immediately stopped to say, “Hey! That looks cool! Would those fit me?” So I’d say you nailed it. I can picture her in the outfit on the far right – camo leggings and a navy henley with sparkly heart? Oh yes, indeed. That looks just like her. She suggested a pink vest to go over it and wants to be sure all hats are appropriately soft and comfy.
    She likes the H&M high tops in black instead of polka dots, then asked if she could wear them with her new leopard print jeggings.
    The Daily Tea blouse was dubbed “too girly” but I failed to let you know ruffles are a no go. I’ll be curious to hear her thoughts on a pair of pink Chucks. She seems opposed for now, but I suspect her objection is that shoelaces just take too long to tie when she could be climbing up the play structure instead.
    Regardless of where she lands, I believe we are on our way. Thank you again for your help, your careful eye and your amazing mama heart. I feel so lucky to be able to ask this question and get your thoughtful and very helpful response.

  21. I was also frequently mistaken for a boy as a youngster. My mom disliked girly, feminine things for herself and strongly disliked fashion and things of that nature, so I didn’t get a lot of help like Stephanie and Shana are seeking to provide for this young girl. It would have been nice to have had that. Kudos to you both! I only have boys, but I really enjoyed this post.

  22. Shana and Angela,
    From Angela’s more detailed comment, I think misunderstood the original post. I thought Angela was trying to force a change on her daughter. If her daughter has asked for her help and is interested in changing her style, that’s great. Great ideas from Shana for her.

  23. Your daughter sounds really cool!How do you feel about arranged marriages? I have a son who is going to be a fantastic husband one day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. My 9-year-old is girly in many ways (very long hair, for one), but she lives in what she calls “soft pants.” Her daily uniform is a T-shirt + knit pants of some kind. She doesn’t care for pink, but we’ve been able to find lots of options in blue, turquoise, green, purple and so forth at even the mainstream stores like Children’s Place.
    She’s also enjoyed “designing” her own things at Fashion Playtes ( You can choose your own garment, color and decoration. Rhinestones optional ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. I’d like to ask you, Shana, somewhat related to this question, did R ever get mistaken for a girl because of his hair? I have yet to cut my sweet boy’s hair (he’s 2) and no matter how boyishly I dress him, he still gets called a girl. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s driving my husband CRAZY. He is demanding a haircut, which breaks my heart.
    Love the outfits you put together here, my 12 year old was exactly the same, and these outfits would have been perfect for her.

  26. Amy- same problem over here. My almost 4 year old gets mistaken for a girl constantly, no matter how boyishly he is dressed. His hair is shaggy, but not long. It used to really bother my husband too, but now we’ve just both decided he’ll just grow up to be really handsome. ๐Ÿ™‚

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