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Defying the Taste-Makers

Some time ago, it came to my attention that the fine folks who do market research for places like Kohls and Pottery Barn have zeroed in on demographically specific tastes a bit too accurately for my liking. At that time, I was on the hunt for cute Star Wars pajamas that cost less than $45-$50. As I ended up shelling out exactly that much money at Pottery Barn kids to avoid the garish items at Target and Kohls, the search was an abject failure.

Amusingly, I now find myself on the flip side of that equation, as it appears that Simon’s current passion, baseball, is hopelessly out of fashion in certain circles. Not attending baseball, mind you. Almost everyone I know caught at least one Bats (or Giants, or As, or Red Sox, or Indians, or you get the picture) game this summer. Almost everyone enjoys packing the kids up on a warm summer night and munching on nachos and beer while the kids play. And I honestly don’t know if t-ball or youth baseball enrollment is down.

Hunting the elusive baseball tee

What I do know for sure is that as a sartorial icon, baseball has fallen on hard times. It is easier to find tees dedicated to skateboarding, soccer, and biking than it is to find ones dedicated to baseball. At some stores—and I’m looking at you Tea Collection and Janie and Jack—it is easier to find tees dedicated to Mexican wrestling or rowing than it is to find a shirt dedicated to baseball. Being in the taste if not income bracket for these stores, I can understand the hipster ironic appeal of the luchador’s mask or the aspirational quality of the oar. I’m only tempted by the former, but I understand the attraction of both.

Lucha Libre? Si, si, si!

But Simon has not donned a mask or rowed in a coxed four. What he has done, and continues to do every day and twice a day if he can manage it, is go out in the backyard and hit balls with his Daddy. Matt now pitches overhand to him, Simon is whacking them further than ever, and he’s got a new lucky bat, juiced balls, and Cincinnati Reds cap to add to the fun. I don’t know what we’re going to do when winter hits, but I thought at the very least I should incorporate Simon’s love of baseball into his fall wardrobe. I also thought this would be easy to do at any of my favorite haunts given the current trend in graphic tees.

My education began at Gymboree and Boden and continued at Janie and Jack and Tea Collection until I figured out what was going on. In the end, my shopping research would teach me that the higher a store’s average price tag, the less likely I was to find a baseball tee in it. I will cynically offer that I also believe that the higher price tags were inversely proportionate to the likelihood of the child having direct experience with the featured sport, unless you know more preschool rowers, luchadores, or boxers than I do.

No, to find what I was looking for, I had to think a little less fancy and a lot more Midwestern. Gap Kids had a single baseball tee. Land’s End also had a single, token tee. Where I hit my bonanza was at Kohls, the very store whose ugly Star Wars pajamas last year sent me straight into the welcoming if costly arms of Pottery Barn Kids.

Of course, I’m not an innocent in this game. Simon’s other favorite sport to watch, Nascar, is a subject I do not openly discuss, and there will be no hunt for a Nascar tee in my future. Nor will there be, if I can help it anyway, light-up shoes or camouflage anything.

In fact, given all my rules about shopping for Simon (no sports stuff unless he plays it or watches it, no camouflage, no hideous sneakers, no colors that are bad for him) and his own size restrictions (needs a slim size for pants, does best with shirts with plackets as they accommodate his giant head and skinny neck, has a narrow foot that requires lace-up shoes), shopping for him this fall is going to take more time and money than shopping for me and two to three times as much as shopping for Matt.

Realistically, I might be walking back several of those nevers just to keep the kid in clothes. See, I can’t help but notice that Zara Kids, whose online store opens September 7, has some very cute racing tees. Sure, they’re thinking formula racing, but it’s still a car racing around a track and still something I have zero interest in. If it’s European car racing, that’s OK, right?

7 Responses to “Defying the Taste-Makers”

  1. Amanda says:

    Get him an actual team shirt–like the Reds, if that’s who he follows. Your local target or wal-mart will have whatever team people in your area follow. I have Indians’ hats, tshirts, even socks.

  2. bethnbobinnc says:

    Don’t be hatin’ on the camo stuff. ;) We have recently made a trip down that road. Drew likes it for some reason…. We also had a NASCAR phase that petered out, thank g-d! I’ll keep my eyes open for baseball stuff. We seemed to have a fair amount of it over the years but I haven’t looked in stores for awhile.

  3. Jessica says:

    Beth, Everyone likes it but me! I’m almost OK with it when it’s cutened up with sharks or lizards, and of course it’s OK for kids out fishing or kids with family in the military. But I admit to a knee-jerk hatred for really little ones—babies and toddlers–wearing military-style camouflage. It’s like Amanda’s unstoppable hatred for key-hole necklines.

  4. Jessica says:

    Amanda, he’s got a short-sleeved Cincinnati Reds tee with number 19 Votto on the back. It’s not his best shade of red, but I realize that mommy is getting a little insane with the clothes rules. I just assumed that a cool graphic tee of someone swinging a bat wouldn’t be so hard to find and was shocked to discover it was. Thankfully, Land’s End has one (1) cute one, and Osh Kosh makes a bunch.

  5. Amanda says:

    Yep, still have that hatred–will until I die. Soooo 70s porn star. Glad to know someone out there still makes baseball ts.

  6. Amanda says:

    And speaking of which–you live in LOUISVILLE! Can’t you find a Louisville Slugger T?

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