Back in 2008, just a few weeks after I became a father for the first time, the company that I was working for sent me to work in the Melbourne office for two weeks. As I am in Sydney, that’s a nine hour drive from my house, or an overnight and 16 hour trip with a four week old baby and a new mother who is worried about the baby travelling such a long way. And seeing that my company was setting me up in accommodation that could accommodate a young family for two weeks, that’s exactly what I did; I took my then girlfriend, now wife and our new born son with me.
As I was sent to the Melbourne office for two weeks, on the weekend in between we explored the city. When you find yourself in Melbourne just before Christmas you must stop by the famous Myer Stores window display, and that’s just one of the things we did. Also, as it was in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we were there, there was plenty of shopping to be done and plenty of other shoppers about.
For those outside of Australia, Myer Stores are the more upmarket style of department store which would be online with Macy’s in the US or Marks and Spencers in the UK (with M&S being more like our David Jones, that being a bit more on the posher side). As a result, you generally find those people who can have more money than sense shopping in a store like Myer, happy to spend $30 to $40 on a kid’s t-shirt that doesn’t do a greater job or look any better than a $10 t-shirt from one of the cheaper department stores.
I’ve set up the scene of the type of shopper so that I can relay a conversation had by to extremely well dressed ladies who spoke with an air of arrogance as they discussed the children’s clothing they were looking at purchasing. One of them was shopping in the boy’s section looking for some t-shirts to buy her nephew. Her friend pointed out a rack of clothes situated right near where I was standing looking at clothes for my son. Well, dreaming of the day he’d be old enough to fit into these cool looking designs seeing the sizes started from those to fit size 2 and above.
“Here’s some trendy looking tops for boys.”
“Hmmm, I don’t know. They’re all dark colours. I really don’t know about dressing children in black. Kids should be dressed in bright colours, especially for summer. Kids shouldn’t be dressed in black….”
Now I’m never one to hang back when I overhear ridiculous claims in a conversation. As I had overheard the earlier part of their conversation where one told the other she was looking for clothes for her nephew, I knew my leading question to her…
“So I take if you don’t have kids of your own….?”
It was presumptuous of me, but justified I felt.
“No, what make you think that?”
Now of course, I’m not writing this dialogue verbatim. I didn’t have a Dictaphone, nor do I display Savant Syndrome with a memory of each word spoken, but it’s a conversation that I often have about, even before becoming a writer and discussing parenting issues.
I went on to mention things like children’s stores being riddled with trendy black clothing for children, the fashion trend that started some time in the first decade of the new millennium where companies were making mini versions of band t-shirts like the Ramones I recently mention in my post Nine Things That Prove The Ramones Were The Greatest Kid’s Band Ever, and the final point I made was the thing that made her ears prick up and decide that maybe I was making sense…
“I see you’re wearing black. And if your nephew’s parents are anything like my own son’s parents, I bet they wear a lot of black and are quite happy to throw the children’s clothes in the wash with theirs.”
“I had never thought of that…”
And I guess, as a non parent, up to that point in her life before she had a chance meeting with me, she wouldn’t have had to.
On our previous trip to Melbourne together, my wife and I were flown down one Thursday evening while she was still pregnant with our first born to spend Friday and the weekend there, all expenses paid by a rival company to the one I was working for. I had been offered a job in Melbourne by our biggest rival and the offer was more money, a higher up management position in a globally recognised company, moving costs from Sydney to Melbourne and subsidised renting costs while we were setting up our permanent living arrangements in a foreign city, in a foreign state. Although it would have been a big move for us away from family and friends, it would have been worth it. As the offer was made just before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and as that company had delayed making their decision as to when I would start, by the time they made up their mind, their parent company pulled all funding from the project I was being head-hunted to head up.
To entice me down to meet up with the other company, they flew us down to stay in a 5-star hotel overlooking the trendier part of the city. Again we spent some of the time doing some shopping in Melbourne. Of course, back then, we were always on the lookout for trendy baby clothes to dress our pending fashionista in. We found a very funky onesie that read AB/CD using the AC/DC font logo. It is very cool and was worn by both our boys.
Doing a quick Google Image search for “kids clothes black,” the search returned pages and pages of kids dressed in black clothes. For kids, it seems that black is the new black.
And as our sons have grown older, they both have continued to wear black on occasions.
But that’s not all our boys wear. No child is going to be dressed exclusively in black, are they? Just yesterday we were at Sydney’s annual Royal Easter Show and I saw on many occasions a young couple with both the mum and dad having half shaved heads, nose-piercings, and wearing black from head to toe with their son who was all about the age of two wearing a bright red top and blue shorts. Now I’m sure that he would have some black amongst his wardrobe, but yesterday, at the very least, they dressed their son in what that lady in Myer would have called “traditional children’s colours,” well at least back then.
I think we have progressed far beyond the old days of children dressing in children’s clothes and in “children’s clothing colours” (whatever that means) only.
So to answer that original question that was asked in the title of this post, yes, children CAN wear black. They DO wear black. They WILL wear black.
Actually, truth be told, the way our boys stain their clothing, I really wish they would live in black all the time. It would save on the hours of scrubbing the stains out that we need to do to have them look presentable.
So what do you think? Is it okay for kids to wear black? Is there something you wouldn’t dress your children in?