Yeah, not so much!
Believe me, I scoured the town centre looking for something affordable and sensibly-sized before heading out to one of the out-of-town places where I was sure I'd get fixed up at the massive toy shop. Nothing doing. I tried bargain stores, charity shops, pound shops, Mothercare, Boots, the toy shop, Argos, Asda Living - you name it, I tried it.
The problem was that the cheap little 'top and hat' outfits that I was looking for no longer seem to exist. If I wanted a full body-suit Spiderman costume (in a size that was sure to be enormously too big) or some other ugly-looking, muscle-bound creature, I would have been fine. But I didn't want the boys to go dressed as some creature from the black lagoon - they are cute and I want them to stay that way!
Can't see either of the boys looking cute in this!
I could have had a fireman helmet, but it had to be a Fireman Sam Helmet with a massively inflated price tag. I could have had a builder's hat, but it had to be a Bob The Builder builder's hat, again, hugely over-priced.
I couldn't help feeling wistful as I scanned the plethora of princesses, fairies and nurses lined up on the girls' racks. It just reinforced my idea that it's far easier (and more fun!) to dress girls!
For a start, in pretty much every shop, the girls' clothing racks outnumber the boys' by a significant amount. In our local Asda there are rows and rows of girls' clothes, and then two little racks for little boys, tucked away at the back - they're not even next to each other, but arranged at a 90 degree angle with an aisle in between.
Then there's the choice in boys' clothing. Once I've found the elusive rack, I'm nearly always disappointed by what's on offer. In affordable (by which I mean cheap!) shops, the t-shirts are nearly always incredibly gaudy colours. I don't always want to dress the boys in bright primary colours. Sometimes I want them to be able to go into a room together without everyone reaching for their sunglasses! But if you want something more classic and restrained you're probably going to have to spend some real money at Next, Gap, or even Vertbaudet or Jo Jo Maman Bebe. I resent forking out double figures for a sweater that's going to last 6 months at the most.
And then there are the logos and motifs on the clothes. Fair enough, there are a lot of diggers and other vehicles, but then there are also a lot of monsters, skulls, aliens and scary-looking creatures, even for very little kids. And the words! Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I don't want to dress the boys in clothes which advertise character traits that I don't particularly like - cheeky, naughty, etc. Dress a kid in a t-shirt that says 'I'm a Little Monster' and you pretty much deserve it if he starts doing exactly what it says on the tin!
Mind you, I did recently buy NB a t-shirt that said 'I do all my own stunts'! Rather appropriate I thought!
Now, I know that all is not peaches and cream in the world of little girls' clothes either. There is definitely an overload of pink, and also the thorny problem of modesty. I cringe every time I see a little girl walking around with 'Princess' or 'Gorgeous' embroidered across her bum! But it seems to me that there is so much more choice in the shops that it should be relatively easy to avoid these issues.
And girls' clothes also have the advantage of being more flexible. Take a little summer dress, add a long-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of tights and hey presto, you have an outfit that is perfectly suitable for winter. On the other hand, boys' summer outfits involve shorts and you can't put a pair of tights under them to make a snazzy winter ensemble. This means that you go out enthusiastically (and with misplaced optimism) to buy shorts at the beginning of the 'summer', and by July, you are so desperate to get some wear out of them before the 'summer' ends that you force the boys outdoors to freeze their legs off in the shorts every time the sun so much as peeps out from behind a cloud.
Ah well, such is the world. We did manage to solve our fancy dress dilemma though - I dressed them in swimsuits, poncho towels, sandals and sunglasses and told everyone they were the Beach Boys!