Basically my kids are both shorts and t shirt boys for most of the year so for shorts at least there is not much variation from year to year. Since neither of them is into fashion they are quite happy to wear plain utilitarian styles year in and year out. In fact, one year I splurged on some funky 'designer' shorts for them - everytime one of them walked out wearing them I burst into laughter. They just didn't suit them. So we stick with the tried & true basics.
|image from MiniBoden|
Are all shorts created equal? No! Here are my criteria for selecting these staples in the wardrobe.
Above all they need to be made of a good easy-care fabric. Machine washable, no need for ironing, won't fade too much and minimal shrinkage should they go in the dryer. A good weight cotton that's breathable in our hot summers but also stays good-looking over a day or two of wear. Washed denim is OK or a chino type of fabric is great.
Next and perhaps more importantly I look at the waist. Lots of styles this year are being described as being easy-on, pull-on, active - this generally means an elastic waist. Great, easy for little kids, comfortable.
The addition of a drawcord has me a little suspicious. From experience this sometimes means the waist is too large on my slim Jimmys. The drawstring simply proves annoying for the older one and is way too hard for the little one to manage on his own. I tend to avoid drawstrings, unless it looks like more of a decorative feature.
Which brings me to my next favourite invention - the hidden adjustable waist. A button-holed elastic band inside the waistband which you cinch up and button to the desired waist size. It doesn't impede the opening of the fly like an external belt does and it can be adjusted over the season as your child grows.
Now let's take a look at a crucial element of the fly-front short. The button or lack there-of. I'm not sure at what age a kid is supposed to be able to do up his own button but I know my ten year old can do it. So can my five year old. BUT as is often the case, when you gotta go, that button proves very tricky. Even at bath-time, Mr. LazyBones ten-year-old is slim enough to be able to pull his shorts off without needing to unbutton them. My little guy is often not fussed about doing his button up. The same goes for the super hard press-stud button found on jeans - they just won't bother. Even I have a hard time doing that up on a wriggly ticklish kid.
I look for the easy-peasy faux-button with slide and hook enclosure. It's my road-tested choice for both boys.
Quality is always an important consideration. It often comes down to trust in a brand's name. Some brands I just know will always have loose buttons or zips that break, cheap elastic that doesn't stay elastic for long. I am prepared to pay a little extra for the assurance that his won't happen and that the clothes will last the distance through both kids, eventually. We also have almost all boy cousins in the family so hand-me-down-ability is appreciated.
There are lots of other stylistic choices to make when it comes to shorts: with heaps of pockets = cargo shorts; flat-front; surf, board or beach shorts (still not the same as swim shorts); and of course the actual fabric - plaid, madras, plain canvas, terry, camouflage, tropical print etc. But once you've made a decision on the functional aspects of the shorts many pairs are eliminated from the choice pool.
Here's my go-to list of reasonably priced (online) brands for boys. You'll note that each of these companyies offers a remarkably similar (and probably somewhat boring) selection of shorts for boys. How you'll ultimately make your choice will be in the shop's other offerings - the coolest t shirts, accessories like hats and maybe even sleepwear. When I'm shopping online I am always looking for a one-stop shop since we always have to pay shipping being internationally situated. If you're eligible for free-shipping (yaye for you!) then maybe this won't be as much of a consideration though I still think combining your shopping into as few shipments as possible is better for the environment.
#1 Our winner this year is Mini Boden. All our boxes are checked, the sizes and colours available are pretty great and there is a lot of other cool stuff to add to the order. The website is thoughtfully arranged and easy to navigate. It's got enough bells and whistles to inspire you without being overwhelming. US site or UK site (for international orders).
#2 It might be boring but Landsend has been a constant for me for years. The sales are great. The shipping is always fast. I've always been happy with the quality. Probably my favourite things are the size options of husky, regular or slim. This is also a one-stop shop. Kid's stuff sells out quickly so if you want a full selection to choose from then don't wait for the sales particularly if you want pjs.
#3 The Gap. Again it's not the most dynamic brand but when I look in my kids' wardrobe I see a lot of the essential chino shorts that they wear every single day in summer. We were given some as hand-me-downs from a couple of brothers and still these shorts are not worn out. I also live pretty handy to a Gap outlet shop so I don't have to shop online for this one.
# 4 Worth a look: Crew Cuts by J Crew. Just a little more expensive but you get a bit more fashion punch for your dollar here.
# 5 Hanna Andersson another store where you can get all your shopping done in one go and the designs look OK. They seem to have more elastic waist shorts than some of the other shops which might be just what you're looking for.
Thanks for reading! I hope this is a helpful shopping guide for you and your kids.
Note: this is not a sponsored post, I am in no way affiliated with any of these brands. These are my genuine opinions as a mother of two boys, aged ten and five.