Mom message for retailers

February 06, 2009|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Retailers have been bemoaning the fact that consumers are spending less. People aren't shopping. If they do go into a store, they're not leaving with packages.

If a purchase isn't need-based, it will have to wait.

Well, I have a Mom Message to retailers, particularly those who sell clothes for children.

Perhaps if you'd give us what we need, we'd be more willing to part with our hard-earned dollars.

We don't need dresses that make our daughters look like indecently exposed Easter eggs. It's 35 degrees outside. Why would anyone put their little girl in a spaghetti-strap dress that only comes to the top of the thigh? Do you really expect to sell those?

Besides, Easter is late this year. It falls on April 12. It's too early for most of us to think about buying clothes for spring. We want clothes that are durable and warm, clothes that can be used for several occasions. We need to get the most for our clothing dollar.


Maybe retailers want us to buy the scanty dresses so we'll add a sweater purchase, too. At least the girl's arms would be warm. But why should we have to do that? Whatever happened to dresses with sleeves? I'd like to find one or two.

On a recent Friday evening, my daughter and I went to six local stores. We were looking to buy her a skirt and a dress. I was hoping to get both for less than $50. By the end of the evening, I would have spent twice that if I could have found something that worked. However, we went home with no skirt and no dress.

At one store, I asked the clerk where the skirts were. She looked at me as if I spoke a foreign language.

"Skirts? I don't think we have any of those. Hey, do we have any skirts?" she called out to a co-worker.

"What? Skirts? Nah. We haven't had any of those for a while," her co-worker said, examining me as if I were an antique.

At another store, there was one rack containing skirts, but those skirts were about the length of a ruler from waist to hem.

We decided to try the juniors department. An extra-small skirt was long enough, but when my daughter tried it on - whoosh - the waist band quickly became a hip band.

"Mommy, I really like this one. I won't be embarrassed to wear it because it's the perfect length," my daughter pleaded.

I shook my head. "It's too big around the waist, hon."

She wanted to know if she could use a belt, pin the waist band or do something to make it work. I knew that if I bought the skirt, the length would be too short by the time the waist fit.

A friend of mine suggested making my daughter's clothes. I wish I had the time, inclination and talent to do that.

But my stronger wish is that retailers would wise up and offer practical clothes for people who want a little simplicity in their lives. We need clothes that mix and match, clothes that can be layered, clothes that can be thrown in the washer and dryer, clothes that our kids will actually feel comfortable wearing.

We don't need trendy, music video clothes that advance the age of our children. If you want us to spend money, think in a practical sense. If you do that, you might be surprised at how quickly the sales add up.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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