The Problem With Some "Girly" Tees (But Not Ours)

February 08, 2016

The Problem With Some

In our last update we introduced you to our unisex tee for Spring/Summer '16. Today we're excited to introduce our soon-to-be-released "girly" style! It will only be available in toddler sizes (2T, 4T, and 6T) because we couldn't find a youth sized girly tee that met all of our standards (more on this below). But we're super excited to have found a good choice for the littler girls, at least. Let's take a closer look at what was considered, selected, and ruled out.

As a reminder, here's what we demand on your behalf when we select a new style.

The Free To Be Kids Promise:

  • Ethical production. All potential suppliers must either be certified sweatshop free by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production or based in the US with a proven track record. If they're not, we won't even consider working with them. 
  • Quality manufacturing. Garments must be well sewn and symmetrical with consistent shape, straight cuts and seams.
  • Fabulous fabric. Of course the fabric has to look good, feel soft, and drape beautifully, but that's only half the battle! It also needs to show ink well when it's screen printed. What's the point of designing all these empowering tees if the designs don't show up well on the fabric, right?
  • Comfortable and fashionable cutClothes should fit a range of healthy bodies, move well, and look great!

What Is A "Girly Tee"?

Girly Tee, Left, vs Unisex Tee, right

Traditionally, a "girly tee" has a shorter sleeve (called a "cap sleeve"), a wider neck, and a more fitted cut than a unisex tee. "Girly tee" styles vary considerably in length, fit, and the fabrics used in their construction, ranging from jersey (typical t-shirt fabric) to baby rib (a stretchier knit). We considered several stretchy baby rib styles for our Spring collection, but most only came in neutrals and stereotypically "girly" colors (pink, lavender, black and grey). Limiting girls to "girly" colors is not our thing, so those styles were definitely out.

Our winning girly tee is from LAT Apparel, a favorite supplier of ours because they are WRAP compliant (meaning their factories are certified as meeting strict labor practice standards). Their toddler girly tee comes in a rainbow of colors so we were able to pretty closely match our unisex tee colors for Spring. We also really, really like the cut. As we mentioned in our previous post, our unisex tee is a fairly slim fit compared to a standard unisex tee - not too loose, not too tight. This girly tee (the grey one on top) is only a touch slimmer than our unisex tee (the teal one in the back), but the neck is just a little wider and the sleeves are cropped short. 

Girly Tee and Unisex Tee comparison

We love it, and we're buying this in three colors for our Spring/Summer collection because we think you guys will love it too! Some of you, anyway. Some of you will prefer the unisex style for your girls and that's awesome too. We like to give you options. One thing to note is that since we're sourcing unisex and girly tees from two different brands, the colors will vary slightly - in particular, this aqua is not quite as bright as the unisex turquoise. But we are happy to have come pretty close. 

Why only Toddler Sizes?

Here's where we get to the part where we're less than happy with our supplier. Witness:

Yes, you're seeing that right. The mint green tee in the back is a youth size 8, and the purple one in the front is a 2T, and the torso is exactly the same size. No. Just no, no, no to this. We recognize that as our daughters grow from chubbalicious little toddlers into pre-teens they stretch out considerably - but you guys, not this much. This picture doesn't even do justice to what a long skinny tube of a tee the size 8 is. I had a very, very skinny eight year old try it on and it was basically skin tight. Yes, some exceptionally skinny little girls can wear this shirt, but they are the only ones who could possibly wear it, and that's not okay. Since the youth sizing totally violates our fit criteria ("clothes must fit a range of healthy bodies"), we're passing on the youth sizes for the "girly tee." We'll keep looking. 

Know of an ethically manufactured youth girly tee that comes in a good range of colors and is constructed to fit an actual human girl? Send us an email at - we'd love to hear your tips!  



Owner/Designer, Free To Be Kids


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