Updated on 03.12.13

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Hierarchy of Pants Edition

Trent Hamm

My four year old son has a giant aversion to denim, for some reason that we can’t determine. In fact, he has a very strict hierarchy of desires when it comes to picking out his pants in the morning.

Sweatpants are at the top of the hierarchy – they’re the most desired item – followed by dress pants/khakis, then corduroy, then denim brings up the rear, far back.

Since he’s four, we often indulge his sweatpants preference. Unless there’s some sort of special event, he’s often dressed in them. Of course, that makes things easy for us – you can practically buy kids’ sweatpants in bulk for a pittance.

Children are so quirky. That’s why I love them.

What Marriage Has Taught Me About Money I like the inherent disagreement about what marriage is in this post. I look at marriage as kind of like a sports team for life. You’re both striving to win and that requires cooperation, but success also relies on individual play as well. (@ get rich slowly)

Writing Another Long Email? Read This. Turning your long, informative emails into a blog is a really, really good idea. In fact, it’s why I started doing the Reader Mailbags and I’ve started doing it with some of my own personal emails on other topics. (@ brett kelly)

Life After Bankruptcy: What’s Next? This paints a pretty rosy picture of post-bankruptcy life, which is a contradiction to many of the things I’ve heard from readers about it. Even this rosy picture, though, sounds fairly difficult. (@ wise bread)

Are Your Working Hours Jeopardizing Your Productivity? I work when I’m most alert – and I can usually crank out a lot in that timeframe. When I’m not feeling it, I do something else entirely, because that’s more likely to make me productive during my next peak time. (@ freelance switch)

the perils of justifying yourself Justifying poor behavior usually leads to a situation that isn’t as good as you might otherwise have. Take poor spending decisions, for example. (@ white hot truth)

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  1. Jennifer says:

    Neither of my kids will put on denim jeans, either — three and four and a half. They will wear jean shorts, however. Weird.

  2. Anna is now Raven says:

    Young children are like that. When my older son was the same age, he refused to wear anything “fuzzy.” No one else could figure out his standards for determining what was fuzzy.

  3. matt says:

    I had the same thing with jeans as a kid, and preferred sweatpants, until I got to the point of being made fun of and called ‘sweatpants boy’ I then switched to khakis, and later discovered the reason I didn’t like denim was because it was so stiff, and designer jeans didn’t have that problem, so I would pick up seconds from stores like marshalls for the same price as normal jeans.

  4. Complete agreement, Trent…my two sons will not wear jeans under any circumstance–kids????
    Interestingly, if I spent my life in sweat pants I would be considered a loser (see: George Costanza).

  5. Anne Dryman says:

    I read your posting about your son not wanting to wear jeans. Here is what I say …. as a parent, you have to pick your battles. This would not be one of them. Let him wear what he wants.

    What worked for me was that his clothes have to be clean and they can not have also been worn as pajamas the night before.

    His idea of what is comfortable vs. what is cool will change many times as he grows up.

    Four is my favorite age. Please give him a hug from this Gramma.


  6. lurker carl says:

    Better for kids to control the clothes they will wear rather than the food they’ll eat.

  7. reulte says:

    My boy also dislikes denims and I suspect it is because denim is a thicker, stiffer material. He prefers khaki shorts and I have no problem with that. Now, if I could only get him to wear a belt . . .

  8. Brittany says:

    I hated jeans as a kid! In fact, I hated jeans until I was about in 8th grade, when I discovered the glory of stretch denim. Matt is right–regular denim is just stiff and uncomfortable. Stretch denim wears out a bit faster (probably would be ripped to shreds by a rumble tumble boy), but at $5-$8/pair at a jeans warehouse, going through a pair every year or two is worth having comfortable pants, especially now that I am all growned up and can’t wear sweatpants all the time.

    My little sister went through quite a long phase where she would only wear one red sock and one yellow sock together or one purple sock and one green sock together. In the interest of picking battles, we’d always let her, and people would get so bent out of shape about it (“Don’t you know her socks don’t match?!”) when ever we’d go out.

  9. Katie says:

    Brittany, did your sister end up going into art, or is interested in it? Your note about her made me laugh because I started thinking of color wheels. Those colors go together!

  10. friend says:

    “Hierarchy of pants.” I’ve gotta nominate that for your best headline of 2010 so far. Wacko.

  11. mandolin says:

    I would not wear jeans as a kid either…I found them very uncomfortable to my little kid belly. I still do not like most jeans with the exception of a couple of designer brands of jeans and comfort fit jeans made by Reitmans. My sisters loved jeans but we have very different body builds. So it may be he’s got a good reason to not like jeans, maybe with his shape they just uncomfortable. When he does get a little older…I might try having him try on expensive jeans to see if it is a comfort thing…as well as jeans with weird tops. The comfort fit pant I swear by, has a flexible band a top that is pretty comfortable. I don’t think they make men’s pants …but probably some company does.

  12. Krista says:

    Hahaha! When I was about 8 or so, I hated socks. They “bugged” as I put it. So for a whole year (winter and all) I didn’t wear any. Yup, barefoot in my snow boots in Canada. Then I found one pair that magically didn’t ‘bug’. So I made my parents buy me a dozen copies of that pair and that was all I would wear.

    It was very weird, I really don’t know what was going through my head, and we all still laugh about it today!

  13. Brittany says:

    She actually is really interested in art! I never made that connection before. I’ll have to mention it to her…

  14. Bill in Houston says:

    I rarely wear jeans either, even on Casual Fridays at the office.

    My hierarchy of pants is “nice shorts,” “gym shorts,” “sweats,” “Dockers,” “suit pants,” and finally “jeans.”

    I loved them as a kid, but as an adult (especially in southeast Texas) I rarely wear them. Friday is “Go Texan” day (the day the trail riders to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo arrive). I will wear jeans (and boots, but no hat) to work.

  15. Susan says:

    My almost 11 year old son dislikes jeans as well. He would prefer to wear cheap sweatpants everyday if he could. He has another year until junior high….when peer pressure may encourage him to change his ways. I don’t really care so long as he is clean and covered!

  16. Anna is now Raven says:

    Isn’t it hilarious that so far we’ve all commented on the pants thing, not on any of the financial items.

  17. Bill in Houston says:

    “Bon pantalone!”

  18. Rich says:

    @ Anne (post #5) I completely agree about picking battles. Getting ready for preschool was a daily battle for me until I gave in to my 4 year old. I started letting him pick anything he liked.

    We had a hand-me-down 3 piece suit we used for a wedding hanging in the closet. He wore it at least 10 times to preschool (with vest and coat no less). His teacher thought it was hilarious.

    He is now 5 and doesn’t care at all what he wears.

  19. Steffie says:

    My 16 year old son has never liked jeans, he wears khakis all the time, even to do yard work. He says the jeans ‘hurt his skin’. It’s not worth worrying about this quirk when I have so much other stuff to think about; drugs, girls, grades, gangs etc….. I buy him two new pairs for school, the ‘work’ kind,usually the Dickies with the reinforced pockets/knees, they are stronger than the dress ones like Dockers. Actually it comes out cheaper, I don’t have to worry about what style of jean is cool this week at school.

  20. mes says:

    My 4 year old picks out his own clothes most mornings, and it makes him happy. He does love his fuzzy (fleece) pants, but he’ll wear almost anything. Maybe that’s because I buy most of his pants used, so they’re already broken in, and not so stiff anymore.

  21. My son was JUST like your son when he was younger. He absolutely loathed any pants except sweatpants or running pants (what he called “swishy pants”!). I’m pleased to report that he’s been wearing jeans for the last 4-5 years now (he’s currently 10)…it just took him a while to come around, and mostly, he came around all on his own.

  22. chacha1 says:

    I don’t even own any jeans.

    Loved the “white hot truth” post linked above. Another discovery!

    The marriage debate on GRS probably rages on. Anytime JD puts up a marriage-related post, interesting stuff comes crawling out of the woodwork … just like here. :-)

  23. Leah says:

    I didn’t like jeans either. I didn’t wear them until 7th grade or so, and then I gave them up again for high school (only wore slacks) and college. I now wear jeans, but I still prefer wearing thrift store pairs that are a bit broken in. As a kid, I mostly wore leggings (thanks, 80s!).

    I liked the marriage posts too. Good to keep sharing them. I’m always interested to hear about how people work out their relationship stuff. Even more interesting, I think, is the post just prior about managing money in a partnership without being married.

  24. Nicole says:

    Jeans are so cold in the morning.

  25. friend says:

    P.S. At the moment my 13-y-o son wears jeans every day, even to church. This preference has taught him to do his own laundry, as he owns just 3 pairs. Fine by me.

  26. Tricia says:

    I used to do therapy in the school system. I saw this alot with kids that had sensory issues. They wore sweatpants because they had no restrictions, tags in the back of the shirts had to be cut off, socks had to be worn inside out (the seams would bother them). There are kids that are just super sensitive to textures, and at a young age, they don’t know why, and can’t explain it either. I once saw a teacher take 25 minutes to get a kindergartener to put his boots on, he just had a problem with the tightness and smell of the boot.

  27. almost there says:

    I guess wearing jeans depends on when you grew up. As a teenager of the 70s I would pay $10 for a pair of jeans and even today, thanks to globalization, I can find the kmart brand jeans on sale at the same price. My favorite were the Seafarer brand Bell bottoms that I used to wear as a sailor (squid, popeye, swab jocky, etc) .

  28. Stan says:

    I’m going to skip the jeans/no jeans discussion and comment on the Wise Bread blog about “life after bankruptcy.”

    For the most part, I thought the blog post was spot on…people can and do rebuild after a bankruptcy. I filed a Chapter 7 in 2004 and have been able to get on with my life just fine since.

    Like anything else in life, it’s important to look at what happened and learn from what happened. Some folks don’t learn and are back in the same boat later on, I know.

  29. Kerry D says:

    I’m still trying to think through if there’s anything really wrong with children wearing clothes they slept in the night before… Aside from potentially being a bit wrinkled…

    At times this has been my son’s obsession, and I chose it as a battle “not” to fight. Now he likes to sleep in his underwear only, so that problem took care of itself. The current discussion is whether it is appropriate to reuse socks! ;0 I tell him no on that one, each day deserves fresh underwear and socks! I think he secretly recycles when I’m not looking… (yes, he is somewhat sensorial, Asperger’s leanings.)

  30. Christine says:

    Maybe the demin is too stiff. You can soften them up a little by running them thru the drier on fluff for 10 minutes before wearing them.

  31. Geoff Hart says:

    My son also had an aversion to jeans; still does, in fact. For him, the problem is that he has extremely sensitive skin, enough so that he used to wear his shirts inside-out so the labels wouldn’t touch his skin. (Took us a while to figure this out and start removing the labels.) Maybe your son is the same? (My son has a genetic neurological disorder that is responsible for this, but some people are just unusually sensitive without having any underlying medical problem.)

    It’s also worth checking the fit of the jeans. I have a couple pairs of jeans that I love — they fit almost as comfortable as my sweatpants — but a few others seemed fine in the store and now I simply can’t wear them because of how they (fail to) fit my waist. The styles vary so greatly in their cut that perhaps you just haven’t found the right cut for your son.

  32. elderly librarian says:

    My son preferred sweat pants because they are soft and don’t restrict movement. He was and is still very sensitive to fabrics and has distinct preferences. He won’t wear anything just to be cool. He also wore “mismatched” socks. (the same socks, different colors) Yes, he is artistic too. He just bought his first pair of jeans in years and years and he is over 21! I was surprised. Not so uncommon! Children go through weird phases and laugh about it years later.

  33. Beth says:

    The sweatpants are soft and comfy. Is he growing so fast that they dig into his waist less than the jeans?

  34. Evita says:

    I am with your son on the jeans. I don’t like to wear them either and as an adult, I can choose not to (I don’t own a pair anymore). Good of you to indulge his preferences!

  35. Jen says:

    I was a sweatpants kid, too–my mom used to line-dry our jeans, and they were stiff as cardboard. I switched to leggings when they came into fashion and finally learned to appreciate jeans in middle school (when Mom no longer had a clothesline).

  36. Tammy says:

    My little girl has a weird aversion to buttons–of any kind, on any clothing. If I am wearing a blouse with buttons, she does not want to sit on my lap, because she might touch the buttons. She had terrible fits about wearing any pants with buttons or snaps (and the best fitting toddler clothes have the adjustable waists with buttons on the insides!). She only wanted to wear what she called “softy pants”. My husband said she was always dressed like a hobo in her sweatpants.

    It was a phase that she is slowly growing out of. She will now wear pants with buttons, but she still doesn’t like shirts with buttons…mine or hers. And the only way I got her wearing those pants was by not giving her much of a choice. (You can wear this pair, or this pair.) Good luck! :-)

  37. BW says:

    a little late to comment here, and I see other people said similar things above, but I would not wear jeans until about 7th grade. I found them uncomfortable and was also unable to unbutton and rebutton them to go to the bathroom!!

  38. Kerberos says:

    I’ve never liked the stiffness of jeans, and to this day (I’m 33) I don’t wear jeans.

    Now I don’t let the stepkids get away with anything though. We where taking the kids out to breakfeast at Mcd, one of the kids age 15 had his pajamabottoms on. I told him to get pants. He countered with “I’ve seen other kids do it!”, i just replied with “Yes, and they are retarded, now get some real pants on!”, sure enough he grumbled but got his jeans.


  39. Marsanne says:

    My son is 9 and still won’t wear anything but khaki pants or those nylon basketball shorts. He always wore the basketball shorts until he began school, then he went to khakis. That’s all it’s been since, and I’m not sure it will every change. :)

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