Are you buying dressy clothes for kids?

With the impending photo shoot for my parents’ Christmas present, I realized how few truly dressy clothes my kids have.

Church is very casual out here, and we don’t ever take the kids to really fancy restaurants. I think in general the world is a more casual place. (Is that just being in the West versus the South? Or maybe just that our winter wardrobes are more sparse since it’s hot for so long here.)

I also think the terrible economy has impacted what I am buying for the kids. An outfit can’t just work for Sunday. It has to work across multiple days and settings.

Walsh has khakis and collared knit shirts but only one button-down dress shirt and it was for Easter.

Rose has dresses that are appropriate for church and school so they are not super fancy.

Lilina is the only one that has dressy stuff mainly because it has been passed down from Rose. Also I am willing to pay $20 for a poofy dress for her at Target but Rose’s size would be a lot more expensive.

So for the photo and for holidays at church, I did go and buy some dressier clothes for the kids.

I bought Walsh a dressy white collared shirt that he can wear to usher at church, for the photo, for Christmas and for his First Communion in the spring. (We are going to get some use out of that shirt.) I also got him a snowman tie (less use) and a pair of dark blue slacks.

Rose got a silver and black sweater tunic with some dressy pants that she can use for church and could use at school for a special occasion.

But now the shoes are the problem. (This $10 photos is costing me a lot of money!) I used to buy dress shoes for church and regular shoes for school but now we’re making do with school shoes at church.

Rose has black flats with a strap that she can wear both places but are a little casual for the photo. Lilina sometimes wears her bedazzled tennis shoes or Rose’s old dress up shoes. Walsh is currently wearing blue suede tennis shoes that look fairly dressy with long pants. No one is looking at your feet at church but in a photo, it may be bad. But I’m not willing to buy shoes just for a photo.

Are you buying dress up clothes for the kids or does everything have to work for multiple settings?

If you are not buying dress up clothes, is it because places seem more casual overall or because you can’t justify spending the money for something to be worn to church or a special occasion?

32 comments Add your comment


November 30th, 2011
12:48 pm

Are you taking full body photos? Will the shoes really even show?


November 30th, 2011
12:52 pm

Each boy has one buttoned dress shirt and a decent pair of pants.

They do NOT get dress shoes. Heck, they get one pair of shoes at a time and boots for bad weather. Their shoes get washed in the front loader if they need it. A pair of dress shoes would either be ruined by wear or mostly unused.

…reminds self that AutismKid wants a tie for his dress shirt (and older son isn’t sharing his!) :)


November 30th, 2011
12:59 pm

My daughter (7) dresses to the nines. She is a natural fashionista. This runs in my wife’s family so it comes as no surprise. My sister-in-law that my daughter most-resembles in demeanor and looks is an apparel buyer, and my wife has an innate sense of style as well.

As with most things, I link it to genetics.


November 30th, 2011
1:21 pm

We do not dress up ‘fancy’ for photos. This year we each wore a sweater or shirt that was new, jeans and shoes from our closets. I do understand with little kids however how awful shoes can look after only a few wearings but dress shoes are so easily come by at consignment stores or even the Goodwill. I’ve donated more than my fair share over the years that only got worn a couple of times before they were grown out of. I’ve also found that Ross or Marshall’s have much better deals on name brand dress shoes than even Target or Payless.

Maybe you need to hunt for a consignment store for the girl’s clothes especially. I’ve found some great deals for my niece and nephew at our local store but there are definitely a ton more nice girl’s dresses than nice stuff for boys.

We don’t buy many “dress up” clothes b/c our church is casual as well and my son wears uniforms. We did buy him a nice pair of slacks, shirt & tie for my brother-in-law’s wedding in September but it doubled as his attire for the homecoming dance. I used coupons with sales for his clothes so I didn’t come out too bad (less than $50 for the entire outfit). I needed a black strapless dress for same wedding, I found a Calvin Klein dress at Burlington Coat Factory of all places for $35 and it’s doubling as my company holiday party dress next weekend.


November 30th, 2011
1:39 pm

What about sweaters or is it too hot near you?

No more clothes buying for my kids…hoorah! I did buy an all weather coat for my daughter when I visited her in Athens a few weeks ago. She will need it for professional venues and it is black and basic…should last a while. Otherwise, they buy their own stuff. They both know how to dress up and I think this is a lost art for many young people.

Our last trip for our entire family to see the inlaws was 10 years ago. They told us that we would be having a family photo shoot. No one told us what to wear…at all. I made sure we all had solid colors that were pretty basic…black, royal blue, red etc. Not dressy but not something to wear hiking. We arrive at the photography studio,many states away, and everyone had on jeans and old tennis shoes plus all sorts of mix matched plaids and patterns. We have family friends who are photographers and I always listened to them about having solid colors or a prevailing color theme. It was interesting to watch the photographer try to work magic.

I am all about casual…sitting here in sweat pants and an old turtleneck today as I am working from home. BUT there is a time and a place to step things up a notch. Family friends once did theirs in jeans and red shirts and it was really nice IMHO.

TWG…if you think your kids are expensive now…it gets much worse when they are in HS and college plus driving cars…just wait!


November 30th, 2011
1:56 pm

Why buy fancy clothes when all the rage is for everyone to be in a white shirt and khakis?????

Gordon Sumner

November 30th, 2011
2:03 pm

Have you thought about thrift stores? Or is the concept of standing next to the poors, looking for clothing too overwhelming? If so, then don’t complain about the economy. If not, then head to a thrift store and get some great deals on clothing.


November 30th, 2011
2:07 pm

Cant go rong with over alls.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 30th, 2011
2:11 pm

I do like the idea of the consignment store for the dress shoes — it’s crazy to spend money on ones they will only wear for church. Rose did get a pair of boots last year and wore them both school and church but they don’t fit this year —

I was planning around Lilina’s Christmas dress which is tulle and gold and very fancy which was probably my mistake. She just loves it so much. so I’m wearing a sparkly, metallic red short sleeve sweater, rose has the silver and then the boys in white shirts and red ties. The metallic is our pull together theme.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 30th, 2011
2:16 pm

I am curious though — do you think it’s a societal thing to be more casual or is it a West thing — they are casual out here — No one on our block has formal dining sets or dining rooms — I look crazy with my 1940s Mahogany table, hutch and china cabinet. they were flip flops to church all year long. I rarely see anyone super dressed for work even. very casual.

Dr Flenderson

November 30th, 2011
2:32 pm

Please please post this photo. I need another good laugh.



November 30th, 2011
2:33 pm

Have you thought about Payless for dress shoes? When my now 19 yo was little I spend lots of money on ‘GOOD’ shoes. My cousin said ” Go to payless for church shoes. The kids are only wearing them for 2 hrs a week)…. lesson learned.


November 30th, 2011
2:48 pm

“…they WERE Flip flops….”

Define “Super dressed”……


November 30th, 2011
2:56 pm

TWG…people are different everywhere. This is ONE thing I have learned.

I met another Mother at a UGA event with my daughter. She was from New England. She told me that they had moved here with a job transfer for her husband. She is a nurse. She was adamant about NOT moving to the south. Her husband asked her to visit one weekend and look at houses, promising that if she did not like it he would commute and not make her move here. Well, they looked at a country club neighborhood and she was impressed. They sold their house in NJ, a little bungalow, and got a fantastic house here. It was much nicer and bigger. She proceeded to tell me that while she liked her house a lot, the neighbors were VERY different …a bit on the haughty side and she did not feel comfortable with them as their taste was quite elevated.

This was a funny story to me, as she originally thought …those stupid southerners…and then found out they had airs ( sp?) too. She was a nice lady and I enjoyed meeting her but we are not still in touch.


November 30th, 2011
2:57 pm

“super dressed” => everything
For Ladies
the make up
dress suitable for the occasion
optional other accessories

oh, and everything should mesh to create a pleasing ensemble
it’s slightly less complicated than redecorating your living room and takes almost as much time


November 30th, 2011
3:25 pm

I think it’s just the trend now. I can hardly find dressy clothes for my boys because it seems everyone is casual all the time.


November 30th, 2011
3:56 pm

Dressing up isn’t a problem for mine, as they both have really “dressy” clothes and shoes..They both love to wear nice clothes to church..I would say that about 75% of their clothing comes from either the Goodwill or Value Village..They are nine and I have had great luck buying them used clothes..

As Techmom said though, it’s getting tougher to buy for the boy..The girl has several nice “party” type dresses that work for Christmas and church..I have a tough time spending a lot of money on really nice clothes for them at this age..A good example..My husband took them shopping in July to buy something for VBS red carpet night..The boy wanted to be James Bond and the girl Alan Jackson..He spent $107.00 on the booy for a pair of Polo dress pants and a Polo blazer..Well, said boy has outgrown both of them already..:(

At church...

November 30th, 2011
5:04 pm

…you reap what you sow; around my house we rip what we sew…


November 30th, 2011
5:09 pm

wouldn’t you sew what you rip?

southern hope

November 30th, 2011
5:22 pm

thank you for bringing up this topic! We just had a large group of people over for Thanksgiving and I was amazed by how the kids were dressed…my kids weren’t in tuxes but they had oxford shirts, dress pants, nice casual dress….etc….the guests’ kids were in t-shirts, jeans, one kid in shorts….in other words, a typical Thursday sitting in the classroom. Am i nuts or are they? And if you literally can’t dress up for Thanksgiving Day, what would be a day to dress up?


November 30th, 2011
5:27 pm

I got so discouraged with “dressy” clothes when my daughter got to the ‘tweens era — she had lots of pretty dresses (lots of older cousins, and a mom who couldn’t resist pink :-) But suddenly, when she was 11 or so, we went to the store for a holiday dress and — BAM! — omigod, the stuff was HORRIBLE — all the shiny, sequiney, glittery, Lurex JUNK! There was almost nothing to find that didn’t make her look like a streetwalker. My son was so much easier — blazer, khakis, inexpensive button down, cute tie — done.

Now that they are in their 20’s, they can dress themselves! We did invest in an “interview” suit for my son his last semester that he has gotten a lot of wear out of. My daughter’s coursework includes weekly student-led clinicals with a variety of patient populations. Before the first clinical last year, the professor had to have a “this is what professional dressing looks like” session with the students — most of them didn’t have the appropriate clothing, including how much chest area to cover up, and how little leg to show :-) I am still consulted for “events”, such as what is appropriate to wear to a funeral, for example, but for the most part, they do well.


November 30th, 2011
5:52 pm

@southern…casual is the norm with most folks today. I have NO evening gowns and my husband does not have a tux but we do know how to dress up or should I say dress for church.

I am taking a friend to a play tomorrow night and we are not sure what to wear. I am going with a nice Christmas sweater and slacks as it is a Christmas play. She tells me that she has seen folks in jeans at the Fox Theatre. We are not going there but who knows what people will wear now. Many young people have NO idea how to dress professionally.

DB and I have had this conversation before!

Some folks think dressing up is brushing their teeth and combing their hair!


November 30th, 2011
6:27 pm

MJG has the right idea as to how to dress after reading her posts. Some people call dressing up wearing their “Sunday best.” For the atheists that read this blog, it might be an awkward-sounding explanation, but they get it.

Mr Flacon

November 30th, 2011
6:50 pm

Sunday best for me is my Falcons jersey and a six pack of fine Belgian beer.

K's mom

December 1st, 2011
8:58 am

At our church, we dress up and I like it because it reminds me of being in church with my grandmother. Finding dress up boy clothes is VERY hard to me. I like the “southern” smocked and monogrammed outfits which tend to be costly, so I shop a lot of consignment sales and end of season sales. I am also fortunate becaue my mom loves to buy clothes for him and she usually buys one nice church outfit each season. For Santa this year, the little guy wore a beautiful outfit that I got on clearance at Strasburg for about $15.

I am thankful I am having another boy so that these clothes can be used again. I am also thankful I will never have to deal with the Hannah Montannah on crack look that most girls like these days.

Theresa, don’t forget, you can sell clothes at consignment stores and sales too. I love a good consignment store for purchasing and selling! There is one in Roswell that is FANTASTIC if you want to check it out when visiting.


December 1st, 2011
9:18 am

We wound up deciding to buy a dressy dress for our daughter for the holiday season. We bought it from a local second hand shop because we know that kiddo will likely only wear it a few times before she out-grows it.


December 1st, 2011
9:22 am

For the past few years, I have only bought jeans and pants for my boys from the thrift store. They would get holes in the knees and after I patched them up, they still would get holes in them. So, I now buy them jeans at the thrift store and only pay around $2-$3 sometimes less. The jeans there are nice. I personally don’t care to advertise someone’s name on my clothes, but you can find quality brand names at the thrift stores. My teenage daughter has also become a fan of thrift store shopping. I would say to give that a try.

We took a family portrait with white shirts and 2 of us didn’t have white shirts and I went to the thrift store and got my son a nice white collared shirt for $1.50 and my daughter a white blouse for around the same. So our 10.00 Portrait Innovation pictures didn’t cost us too much more. :-). The last time we took pics, we just all wore a combination of red and grey and it looked great. Didn’t have to buy anything new.


December 1st, 2011
10:50 am

@K’s mom..Where is the thrift store on Roswell that you are talking about and what is the name of it? Pleaae….


December 1st, 2011
1:17 pm

@DB: My SIL is the principal at a private, small school in New England. She had to take the young girls to a store and teach them how to dress. One had a shorter dress/skirt on and she had to speak with her on how to sit so that she wasn’t showing everything to the world. The girl flat out didn’t know. Hmm…

K's mom

December 1st, 2011
7:32 pm

Becky, it is a consignment store, not thrift so the prices are a little higher, but reasonable. It is called Ladybugs and Lizards. This is the website

I have only purchased a few things and sold a few things, but she only accepts items that are in EXCELLENT condition. I plan to go there to look for a double stroller and I will sell stuff there when I am finished with it in the future.


December 3rd, 2011
7:53 pm

i have boys, so i didn’t have to worry about dressing up too much. i just put them in khakis or navy pants with a nice shirt. my mother in law liked to buy them easter clothes, when they were little, so i didn’t have to worry about that. and then, my 13 y/o got to wear his brother’s stuff.


December 4th, 2011
5:47 pm

Thoughts on why kids don’t dress up.

1) It’s expensive. Younger children especially grow out of clothes quickly. Resale shops are better for buying than selling, because they usually only want specific brands of clothing. So buying an outfit to be worn a few times isn’t thrifty.

2) Children, especially younger children, may do everything they do in their play clothes in dress clothes. You can expect stains, tears, scuffs. Little girls may not care if their delicate, feminine frocks are…um, revealing when they do flips, somersaults or handstands. (or climb, swing, slide..)

3) My favorite boys button down shirts are from Lands’ End. No idea what they are made of, but I only know I have laundered multiple stains out of them with no pretreating. That’s my idea of a good investment – something that can deal with what kids dish out.