The Black Hole

First Born is growing. Like a fertilised weed. A very well fertilised weed. Working Boy and I cannot help but notice that every few weeks he has crept a few millimetres closer to that moment where he will be taller than his mother. It could be months away, it could be weeks away, it could be days away, but the moment is coming. They say a watched pot never boils but when your child starts encroaching on your superior height, you can practically see your power slipping away before your eyes. 

With such obvious growth, it somehow still always takes me by surprise when his clothes don’t fit from one year to the next. Or sometimes from one month to the next. As the weather cooled over the last school holidays, it became painfully obvious that First Born needed some new tops. And jumpers. And shirts. And pants. Even undies (Sorry First Born. There was a reason I never told you about my blog). 

First Born’s feet are now a 40. He is a size 16 in clothes. Let me tell you something about these sizes. They are literally the black hole of clothing. They do not exist. Most of the kids shoes finish around a 36. The men’s shoes start at a 41. I am not joking. We have had a good few years now of floating around blindly in shoe no man’s land. Cooking Child is just entering this unenviable phase, as First Born will finally make his entree into men’s shoes. Last year an excellent friend in the same predicament tipped me off that Windsor Smith has some styles starting in a 39. There’s a reason that these days my kids ONLY wear sneakers outside of school and it’s not their sporting prowess. Sneakers seem to be the only shoe form that bridges the gap. Until we emerge firmly in men’s shoes, my kids will live in Nikes. There are worse predicaments in life. 

As for the clothes, some of the brands have TRIED to target the situation, and for a while the gap was bridged – there’s FREE by Cotton On (for 9-14s), Seed Teen, and Pavement. These are my first points of call. But this season…..nothing. There are just so many boringly plain things, or stupidly sloganed. And only Pavement goes to a 16 which means that First Born has grown out of teen sizes but is still not quite ready for men’s.

I have ransacked DJs, where I can generally dress my entire family with ease……nothing fits the bill. Or the boy. I am not stingy when it comes to First Born’s clothing. There are 3 smaller bodies waiting to wear it, so I am more than happy to pay more for something that will last. But I can’t pay for something which does not exist.

I have been to Country Road and the gap between where the boys clothes finish and then Men’s clothes begin is Grand Canyon-esque. 

See that space in between man and child? That space is where all the clothes I need for First Born are hiding. Somewhere between child……and man. I can just see their teen range when it finally emerges (and I’m sure it will)…..County Road: Manchild

So what do I do and where do I go? How do I fill the black hole of shopping?

First, Zara. They opened their kids’ section in WBJ with so little fanfare that even I only realised it was there about 3 months after it opened. Shocking confession, I know. Last year, First Born wanted a white shirt. They had a size 14 shirt which was plain white enough to keep Working Boy happy, with a small twist to keep me happy. Their 13-14 is generously sized so this will keep Cooking Child clothed for a while, at least, though First Born is still in the wasteland. 

I went to Myer. I don’t love shopping at Myer, but their teen boys’ section is reasonably well stocked. I’ve had luck with Mossimo (ha! My autocorrect turned Mossimo into Missoni – who knew the phone had the complexity to make Freudian slips?) and Bauhaus, one of Myer’s in house brands. 

I’ve been trying the smallest size of menswear with mixed results. XXS t-shirt from TopMan? Success. Size 28 chinos from Cotton On? Success. I have bought t-shirts and shirts from Cotton On in size S which First Born tries on and says “It’s a dress”. Interestingly there appear to be size XS and XXS but these options are always blocked out online. I’m not sure if this is because they are not available or whether the more experienced gap mothers snap up all the XXS and XS the second they become available. I’m sure by the time Master T reaches “the gap” I’ll have worked it out. 

The other problem, apart from actual size, with trying to bridge “the gap” by shopping small sizes of menswear is that the styles are often too adult for a twelve year old. And the prices are also too adult (this is why Cotton On’s regular 30% off deals come in handy). 

Speaking of gaps, it occurs to be that one place I have not searched to fill the gap, is, in fact, The GAP. Wouldn’t it be ironic if The GAP actually filled the gap? 

In the meantime, the gap is alive and well, and living in my house. I’m open to suggestions.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

OT #2: 10 best Shopping Apps

So I’ve had my pensive moment, and now it’s time to get back to the task at hand. “Thank g-d!” you’re thinking. “You promised us shopping hints and tips and all we’re getting is a discussion of the origins of your predilection for sweets, and glorified accounts of Baby N, under the guise of a “shopping blog”.

So back to business today. As I have mentioned to you before, a not insubstantial amount of my spending is done online. Without further ado I present to you:

Shopping Girl’s Top 10 Shopping Apps

(Okay just a bit more ado first – Remember when I said I don’t speak some languages like practicality? I also don’t speak HTML or whatever it is I need to speak to do special things on my blog. My idea was to have the icon of each app that you would be able to click on, which would take you to the AppStore. I cannot for the LIFE of me figure out how to do this, and I am not spending anymore precious writing time trying to figure it out). Now, onto the list:

1.Shopbop
Let me count the ways in which I love the Shopbop app. On the other hand maybe let’s not, because they really are bountiful. Shopbop’s best feature is that it emails me when items on my wish-list go on sale. Not even my best friend does that (however, it should be mentioned, she makes up for it in other ways). It also emails me when stock of a wish list item is running low. Seed from Bondi Junction calls me when new stock comes in but no-one calls me when stock is running out! And for that not so subtle hint, you can share your wish list 😃 Plus really fast, free world-wide delivery. It’s a winner.

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2. eBay
The most important thing to remember is: one girl’s garbage is another girl’s Gucci. When funds are running low, and you cannot survive another moment without an army green parka (this is just a theoretical example of course…..ps. check ASOS) sell your stuff on eBay. We all have stuff we don’t use or wear. Often quite good stuff. Sell it. Those are dollars sitting in your cupboard that could be better spent…..spending. The app makes it ridiculously quick and easy. Seriously I can cook dinner, help kids with the homework, feed a baby and list an old Country Road shirt simultaneously.

3. Safari
Okay I know technically this is not an app, but it’s on my iPhone and has an icon. And it is the GATEWAY to all Internet shopping. On that basis alone it makes it into the top 10.

4. Booko
What? You don’t know Booko? Get with the times! Type in the name of the book you want, and all the online retailers that sell the book will appear before you IN PRICE ORDER including shipping. It is equal parts genius and dangerous. In the unlikely event that you want to purchase a DVD, you can look that up too. I got the app because the website was difficult to use on the phone, but seems they have rectified this problem recently with smartphone interface.

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5. Shopping list
I LOVE ShoppingList. I NEED Shopping List. There is nothing more frustrating than getting home in the nick of time to put the baby down for a nap and cook dinner. Only to discover that you forgot to buy your main ingredient. Or you forgot the nappies. It’s always the nappies. And there is NO getting out of having to go back to the shops if it’s the nappies. There is no substitute for nappies. You cannot choose a different recipe with nappies. I have different categories on shopping list – you can make up your own, and have as many as you like:

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As I run out of groceries, I add them to my Coles list. If we are entertaining, I plan my menu and then add my ingredients. I use it as a “to-do” list for errands. You can drag and drop your items easily so I order my shopping list in order of the supermarket aisles. I would lose my mind if I wasn’t mostly organised. Shopping list is my life.

6. Shopstyle by POPSUGAR
Shopstyle is awesome. Trying to find green sequinned leggings because you’re having a Kermit fashion moment? Filter your search terms and watch the options appear before you. Dying for a pair of Rag & Bone Newbury boots? Type it in and you can clearly see where you can get them and how much they cost at each store. PLUS like beloved Shopbop you can set sale alerts on the items that you like. So the second your shoe goes on sale, you’ll be the first to know. Along with all the other Rag & Bone and Shopstyle fans out there.

7. xe.com
If you’re going to shop internationally, you need to know your exchange rates. If your brain is fried from too many readings of “Where is the Green Sheep?” (If I was a sheep, and my only responsibility was……nope can’t think of a single sheep responsibility, I would also be asleep. I’m thinking I should consider being a sheep)……See, child-induced brainfry. I cannot even finish one train of thought without getting distracted. I am so used to being interrupted, I interrupt myself. AS I WAS SAYING – xe does the currency conversion for you, so all you need to calculate is if your bank balance can take the hit.

8. Instagram
“Instagram is not a shopping app!” I hear you protest. Au contraire mes petits pois (that translates as “on the contrary my little peas”….I think something gets lost in translation), and I will prove it.

A few months ago (I am being deliberately vague), I was scrolling through my Instagram Feed, when a picture of a gorgeous black lace dress caught my eye, and purse. It appeared in the feed of Gail Elliot, former supermodel, and current designer of Little Joe. The accompanying text indicated that the dress was on sale at Fashion Weekend for $80. Reduced by hundreds. Size Medium. Someone had already replied to hold it for her. I posted a message below to say that if the original buyer did not want it, I would love to take it. Gail wrote to me herself (yes, herself! The woman is besties with Cindy Crawford!) to say she would get her “girls” to check if there was another, but later she wrote back to say she only had a small and would keep that for me if I wanted. Great! Thanks so much!!! I said. No I didn’t. Size small I said to myself? I think medium was already pushing it. A few weeks later a message popped up on my Instagram. It was Gail. She said that she and Cindy wanted to go for drinks. Oh and also that another medium had turned up when they unpacked from Fashion Weekend, and did I want it? You bet your bottom dollar I did. I went to Paddington the next day and picked it up.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you shop on Instagram.

9. Pinterest
I use Pinterest not actually to shop, but to keep track of what I want to buy. Like this:

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I don’t need the whole world to see everything I have my 👀 on, so I have secret boards too 😉.

10. Lasoo
Does your son want an iPod for his birthday? Would you rather not pay top dollar? Did your dryer recently catch fire? Do you have an aversion to paying retail? Then Lasoo is the app for you! Lasoo is basically a database of catalogues from popular (Australian) stores. This is not the place for your boutique buys, but if your toaster’s toast this is a great place to check out where your product is on sale at the moment.

So that’s it. My top 10 apps.

XOXO Shopping Girl

This post is dedicated to the sparkly silver ex-lolly bowl featured in the previous post, who has moved onto a better place where there aren’t babies cruising around, hell-bent on bowl destruction. Rest In Pieces, lolly bowl. You don’t really have a choice.

What I bought today # 1

When I was younger, in the late eighties, “matching” was where it was at. I matched my (roll down) socks to my top. And my earrings. And my eye shadow. I loved to match.

The seeds of matching were planted in me young.

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Dresses courtesy Marks & Spencer – looks like around 1981/2

I’m the one on the right, with the haircut like a Mario Bros mushroom and the Hello Kitty bag. Please note how my sister and I are some 30 years plus fashion forward, rocking the sandal and sock look.

Somewhere along the way matching lost its credentials. “Too Matchy Matchy” is a scathing fashion insult. Black bag no longer means black shoes. You can clash prints, red & pink, black & navy – the list is endless. The less you match the better. I can no more imagine wearing pink eyeshadow (which is supposed to “wake-up” your eyes in incidentally) because I’m wearing a pink top, than I can imagine wearing 4 different colour roll down stocking socks, 2 on each foot. And yet once upon a time I wore it all. Together.

I tend not to dress my kids in matching clothes either. This is not because I have something against it. It’s more that when you have 4 kids of the same gender, and are passing down clothes, you get sick of them. The last thing you need is for your son to finally grow out of the green Seed t-shirt with the the map print dog, and low and behold, there is the next size up waiting for him. I never want to see those dog t-shirts again. Sorry Seed. They did look quite cute at the time.

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But today I went against my grain and bought Master 6 and Baby N matching tracksuit pants. Both needed a pair, I really liked the print, I didn’t want to spend Baby N’s limited pram
patience hunting for another pair I liked…..and I knew Master N would get a kick out of it. I was right. He is thrilled. It will be 5 years before Baby N wears the size 6 pants – I think that’s
plenty of time for me to forget about them and like them again.

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Jack and Milly tracksuit pants from Myer

Unlike my mother, whose motives I assume were intentional (I can’t imagine any other scenario where we could all wind up in the same dress), what I DO tend to do is unintentionally dress myself and my boys matching. I dress myself first; there is a mood that contributes to my choice, or a look i am trying to achieve. When I lay my kids’ clothes out, subconsciously that aesthetic is lodged in my brain. It is embarrassingly not uncommon for people to say to me “oh cute you match!” And I will look at myself and my offspring both dressed in Breton stripes and grey denim and realise, indeed we do.

It happened again this morning, again without me even thinking about it. I put on my long grey Maison Scotch dress, and, to break it up a bit, added my white furry gilet.

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I had a few things to do at school (check lost property, uniform shop, visit beloved ex-pre-school teacher) and cogniscent of the apparent SUB ZERO morning temperatures in Dover Heights, I popped a Seed white fluffy bunny (it has ears) snow suit over Baby N’s pyjamas, to keep him cosy in the icy winds. Our school, I swear, is 5 degrees colder than the rest of Sydney. So there we were, both in white faux fur, without me even noticing. Until it was pointed out.

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I bought a school jacket too today. For my son. I don’t have as much to say about that, though it is in keeping with the theme. Uniform is about as matchy-matchy as you can get.

XOXO Shopping Girl