Gender neutral clothes: What’s the point?

Gender neutral clothes

The gender neutral argument is starting to lose its way and the plot.

I’m a feminist, I want equal opportunities and I absolutely hate gender stereotyping, and for that matter stereotyping of any kind.

But the news this week that John Lewis has stopped labelling its kids clothing as “boys” or “girls” made me roll my eyes.

It’s not that I think it causes any problems, I just don’t really see the point. It doesn’t do anything to further the feminist movement or help to stop pigeon-holing young girls.

Here are the main reasons why I think this move doesn’t address the issues at hand:

The message

My key problem with children’s clothing isn’t that it’s divided into boys and girls clothes, it’s the slogans and suggestion that come with the designs.

For example, you get boys tops with dinosaurs, planets and catchy can-do slogans, then you get girls tops with #fashion and “Born to be a Princess”.

The clothes state that boys are little scientists and astrologers while girls are wannabe WAGs.

Take the gender labels off, the clothes still say these sexist things and it’s still wrong to put these kind of limiting and shallow slogans on any child.


The issue isn’t that the clothes are separated into blue or pink.

I wear pink, does that mean I’m asking for my arse to be pinched, that my husband rules the roost, that I can never hope to be promoted above men in my career? No it doesn’t. It means I like wearing pink.

I’m still a clever, self-asserting, mostly confident woman who knows her own mind.

It’s our attitude that dictates blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Our attitude that says pink means weak and blue means strong. So let’s just change that attitude.

I put my girls in blue frequently, I think they look great.

Expression of creativity

The way we dress is often an expression of our own personalities. My husband wants to wear a shirt when we go out, I want to wear a nice dress.

This step towards unisex clothing could take away from that creativity of dressing.

What we are drawn to

When I was growing up my mum couldn’t get me in to a dress if she paid me.

Now I yearn to wear my dresses more frequently, but sadly they’re not toddler play appropriate!

You can ditch the gender labels, but mums will still want to out their baby girls in pretty dresses. Sorry, but it’s just the truth. Not all mums, obviously. In fact I love dressing my girls in joggers and dungarees, they definitely don’t have totally frilly, girly wardrobes.

We’re reducing a huge issue to a very tiny detail

The gender divide does not come down to what clothes we wear.

It does not come down to whether my husband wears a suit or I wear a dress.

It does not come down to whether I wear pink or blue to an interview.

It does not come down to my heel height.

It is a far more entrenched issue than that. Can we focus instead on equality in the workplace, teaching healthy attitudes at school and encouraging a wide variety of opportunities for young girls.

Does it matter if they’re wearing pink to science class? No, it matters that they’re excelling and have the right opportunities laid out in front of them.

So, sorry John Lewis, but I don’t think much of this move. I’ll still be buying your clothes, though it sounds like I’ll have to root around to find the cute dresses. Are they going to be hung next to the toy vacuum cleaners?

What do you think of the move by John Lewis to ditch gender labels? Is it a good idea? Will it make any difference to gender stereotyping?

I would love to hear what you think.


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  • Love the idea of ditching gender labels. My husband has two pink shirts that he absolutely love – and the color suits him quite well. I only buy jeans for my eldest daughter at the boys section as those seems to fit her properly and it doesn’t have pink glitter or frills on there. When it comes to sneakers and boots – we head on over to the boys section as well.

  • I kind of love the idea of ditching gender labels for certain clothing items. My husband has two pink shirts – which he looks very handsome in and the color suits him. Then my eldest daughter doesn’t like the girls jeans as it has frills and glitter on – so we end up buying her jeans at the boys section. I suppose certain things we can ditch but girls clothes are still nicer than boys.

    • I definitely think we should be free to mix it up in whatever way we and our kids want to. I know what you mean as some items of clothing do seem to cross the genders. I just feel the issue was presented as a great step forward for equality and I don’t think that’s the case xxx

  • This is a really interesting post and one I could talk about for ages! I too think that gender inequality is so deep rooted now that it comes down a lot more than the clothes we wear. My daughter adores dresses as she loves to ‘twirl’ but she also has a lot of ‘unisex’, ‘boys’ clothes and I’m pleased to pass them down to my son.

    Something that actually became apparent to me with my son in the clothing area is that girls actually have a far more ‘equal’ situation when it comes to clothes. They can wear skirts or trousers, pink or blue and nobody bats an eyelid but my son Wolfie has long hair and every day wears a glittery hairclip (the least girly one I can find as surely boys have short hair right) and people are shocked when I say hes a boy saying ‘poor boy’. He’s not poor he’s happy as they come, he also sports unicorn leggings and most of his sisters old wardrobe yet even u have drawn the line at skirts.

    As for John Lewis, I suppose they are recognising something which I see as a good first step into addressing the huge divide in the way our children are raised although I see your point it may just make it harder to shop haha. I already thought their selection of quite neutral clothing was good!

    So to solve gender inequality starting from the day our babies are born and popped in either a pink dress or dinosaur dungarees I do think that clothing has something to with it but me than that I would say views of older generations, toy marketing, schooling etc has a lot to answer for.

    Sorry for the super long comment. I look forward to reading more of your blog!



    • Thanks so much for your thoughts. That’s a shame about your little boy, can’t believe people say that to him!! What a horrible thing to say, he sounds really stylish to me! Love long hair on little boys.

      I love the JL neutral stuff, it’s great. I definitely have a mixture of clothes for my two girls. I just don’t think wearing pink or blue makes any difference to their personality or inner strength, so by saying “it’s ok, you can wear blue now”, it’s like blaming the problem of gender inequality on what we wear. I t

      Anyway, I too could talk for days and days! Thanks so much for reading and commenting xxx

  • Great post, i totally agree, i dont think gender should be defined by what you wear at all, i was always a tomboy growing up and still to this day i dont wear dresses and hardly wear skirts, and you’ll never see me wearing pink, i just dont think people should be judged by what they wear. #twinklytuesday

  • I think this is huge for the British high street. A household name has recognised that there is a problem with stereotyping children and they’re trying to address it. I get your point that inequality is a much deeper issue than clothing, but it’s a start.

    For me, removing gender labels gives children the opportunity to choose what they truly like and not what society dictates to them. Speaking from experience, children are often bullied/ridiculed when wearing clothes/shoes labelled for the opposite gender. Whilst one major retailer removing gender labels isn’t going to fix that overnight I think it’s a positive move. #DreamTeam

    • Fair enough, these are good points. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all, mainly for the reasons you said, I just don’t think it will achieve very much. But if more follow suit, who knows. Thanks for reading xx

  • I like the idea for this reason – most of my daughter’s clothes come from the boys section. She likes Star Wars and superheroes more than she does ponies and flowers and she doesn’t understand why girls aren’t supposed to like those things. I agree that I’d much rather see more girls clothing with better messages and variety but I think this is a start in the right direction, probably more so for little boys who might like My Little Pony and are probably more likely to get a hard time fro wearing “girls clothes” #twinklytuesday

  • I think you are right. It’s more than how clothes are labelled. Not sure there is ever going to be a fix for it though. Baby steps I guess. Maybe it’ll get better. #dreamteam

  • I honestly don’t really know how I feel about this! In one way it’s a great move to welcome anyone to wear what they want, in others, it’s going to take longer to do the shopping! I dress zach in all different colours but I wouldn’t purposefully but him a dress! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  • If I am completely… completely honest…. I don’t think that taking ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ off clothing labels is going to make a jot of difference other than annoy parents who may not be able to quickly find a particular item. I think, as you say, it’s more in the slogans and dare I say it… colours that would have made a difference to me. Not John Lewis specifically, but for the life of me I couldn’t find ‘girls’ black jogging bottoms for school p.e. Girls jogging bottoms in pinks, purples and yellows… yes. But only boys could buy the regulation black joggers. *Rolls eyes. Anyway. Fab post and totally on point. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeam xx