Tomboy Flower Girls: Spring

Throwing petals. Splashing in mud puddles. As we do.

Parka with AppliquÉs and Printed Skort, from zara ($59.90 and $29.90)

Last week our high-fashion flower girl roundup sparked an interesting debate. Should we keep the word tomboy? And what exactly does tomboy even mean these days? Well, as far as the staff is concerned, tomboy is one word that we are certainly keeping around. To quote Meg, “Tomboy is a badge of honor, and without the word, we have no words with which to discuss (and give pride to) little girls who love activities that are culturally more associated with boys.”

However, aside from the usual definition of “girls who love activities usually associated with boys”, there’s another thing that I think we self-appointed tomboys associate ourselves with, and that is an independence from mainstream style. Growing up, I was the most amicable child you could meet… until you wanted to put me in an outfit I didn’t like. I knew what I wanted: t-shirts, sneakers, pants, and anything mostly functional and minimally frilly. All other outfits need not apply. I didn’t care if it what I was wearing was stylish, if I looked like a boy, or if it even matched. But what I did care about? Being allowed to make those choices in the first place.

So, perhaps a little differently from our last tomboy roundup, this one is for the girls who know what they want to wear and aren’t going to change their minds for anyone. They know what they want out of their clothes, whether it’s function, comfort, or a desire to dress up like Katniss Everdeen. Sometimes it’s dressing masculine of center, but other times it’s just wanting to wear your favorite hat with every outfit for a solid year. It’s for girls who hate dresses, but also for girls who love them. And it’s for little girls who love blazers and button down shirts, and just don’t care that they “look like boys.” Simply put, it’s for girls who want to choose what they ought to wear. And I think that’s basically everyone.

I Just Want to be Katniss: 1. Talia Tulle Skirt Skater Dress from Nordstrom ($82) 2. Dr. Marten’s Brooklee 8-Eye Boot from Zappos ($65) 3. Bear Crusader Youth Bow Set from Amazon ($30) 4. Seamless Leggings from Forever 21 ($4.80)

RING BEARERS CAN BE GIRLS TOO: 1. Jacket with Striped Lining from Zara ($55.90) 2. Girls’ Crew Cut Garment Dyed Jean from J.Crew ($72.99) 3. Girls’ Short Sleeve Tissue Oxford Shirt from J.Crew ($32.50) 4. Kids’ Classic Wing Tips from J.Crew ($118)

Bear Hats Go With Everything: 1. Straw Hat from H&M ($9.95) 2. Jersey Jumpsuit from H&M ($12.95) 3. Girls’ 3/4 Sleeve Cardis from Old Navy ($19.94) 4. Kids’ Suede Bucks with Contrast Sole from J.Crew ($98)

SCREW THE FLOWERS, LET’S BLOW BUBBLES: 1. Lace Blouse from H&M ($10) 2. Guess Girls’ Lace Shorts from Bloomingdale’s ($29.62) 3. Boots from H&M ($29.95)

Ruffles are FINE, BUT I’M WEARING PANTS: 1. Cotton Floral Jacket from Ralph Lauren ($125) 2. Girls’ Classic Cafe Capri from J. Crew ($49.50) 3. Summer Ruffle Tank Top from Boden ($24) 4. Ballet Flats from Boden ($44)

And pretty, pretty please, if you had a tomboy flower girl in your wedding, we want pictures!

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  • Anon

    Awesome. Especially love the bear hat!

    • Meg Keene

      Who doesn’t love a bear hat, I ask you?

      • Anon

        If such a person exists, I am not sure I want to know him/her.

    • Jessica

      Buying it immediately for my niece!

  • vegankitchendiaries

    Those glitter shoes from Boden: I DIE

    • Right?! I now own three pairs of glitter shoes: my purple wedding shoes, black sequined flats, and a gold glitter set I impulse bought from Ross. Kids can’t have all the fun. ;)

      • WHY don’t I own glitter shoes?

        Also, how do you find flats that aren’t wildly uncomfortable??

        • A lot of trial and error. I tend to buy cheaper flats and if they aren’t comfy then I don’t feel too bad about it. Honestly I think I’ve just gone without heels/other shoes for so long that my feet have gotten accustomed to the lack of support in most styles of flats. I wear pretty minimal/barefoot walking shoes too. Not counting tennis shoes, I’ve worn heels or non-flat style shoes maybe twice in the last year.

        • Rebekah

          My flats are all from Payless, and they currently have black metallic glitter, silver glitter, and gold glitter (which will be my wedding shoes).

          • Jacquelyn

            Wore the silver Payless ones at my wedding. Super comfy!

          • ART

            Interesting – I swore off Payless a few years ago as being terribly uncomfortable, but may take another look. I’m expecting to fully thrash my wedding shoes so I don’t want to spend a lot of money on them!

        • I don’t have the glitter flats yet, but I finally bought some champagne silver flats at old navy. I love them!! There will be glitter flats in my future.

        • Meg Keene

          Are flats uncomfortable? Other than boots in winter and nothing in summer (when I can ;) they’re pretty much all I wear.

          • I’ve found them all to be SO uncomfortable. I can’t make it more than a few minutes wearing most of them. They cause blisters where they dig into the back of my feet, and I haven’t found any that can fit a decent arch support insert. But I’ve never spent more than $15 on a pair, and they pretty much all came from payless, kmart, etc.

            I pretty much live in boots with arch supports until it’s so hot it’s physically impossible, and then I wear a pair of mary jane semi-flats. (They are . . . not cute. They look like orthopedic wear.) I used to wear flip flops constantly, and in the last 2 years, I’ve had too much foot and leg pain to keep wearing them.

          • I had to stop buying cheap shoes a few years ago. I determined it just wasn’t worth it for the blisters/digging in/ache-y knees and back. Spending more money on all my shoes, but especially flats and sandals, has made a huge difference. Also, I can spend $25-30 on a pair that lasts one season, or $50-100 on a pair that lasts 2-4 years, so I still end up spending the same amount of money. I LOVE my Frye flats, but they were obscenely expensive for flats. Some other brands to try for “comfortable but still cute”: Kenneth Cole Reaction, Born, Steve Madden, Bandolino. Good luck!

        • Amber Finkelstein

          The trick is buying them, putting on a pair of thick wool hiking socks, and blasting those suckers with a hair dryer.

          Then wear them with socks (both hiking and trouser) a few times- take it slow, and make friends with them over time, you’ll know when they’ve come around to you. That tends to take care of the pinching, and makes them a lot more comfortable when you wear them with hose. And you really have to ease in to wearing them without any kind of sock. It’s a process, but it’s totally worth the time.

  • emilyg25

    Is it okay that I’m almost 30 and I badly wish every one of these outfits came in adult sizes? Especially the bear hat.

    • JDrives

      If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right, either!

      • Meg Keene

        Is it wrong to put a little boy in a bear hat? I can make him a tomboy, right? RIGHT?

        • JDrives

          How could that POSSIBLY be wrong???

        • Sarah E

          Pretty sure there are zero gender-rules about bear hats. (and if there were, they’d be stupid and worth breaking.)

          • Meg Keene

            I mean he wears a lot of bear suits and things. We just haven’t branched into straw hats. But I like to push my luck, so why not.

            INTERESTING NOTE: of all the things I put him in (including lots of purple), people are most upset about the skinny jeans, which are apparently “for girls.” They also happen to be THE SINGLE MOST HILARIOUSLY CUTE THING you can put a chubby toddler in, so suck it.

          • Shotgun Shirley

            Ahahaha, I will hand-you-down H’s bright yellow brand name skinny jeans. (A gift bought by Russians, because of course.)

    • Kay

      I am 30 and wish everything came in my size, too. I actually squealed with glee at the complete bear hats outfit. So if it’s wrong, then we can be wrong together!

    • I want a bear hat too!!!!

  • Great roundup, Lucy!

  • kcaudad

    The ‘ruffles are fine, but I’m wearing pants’ outfit is great! I have a pink ruffled shirt like that; I wear it all the time to work under a blazer or cardigan. Now I just need a flower-print jacket to complete the look. Also, we got my flower girls gold glitter shoes like those! My little 3 year old neice LOVED them and kept trying to wear them before the wedding day!

  • Laura C

    I just decided to have flower girls. The blue in the body of Katniss #1 is similar to the color range my bridesmaids are wearing. I’d say it was fate, but I think they may just be wearing something they already have from wearing in another wedding.

  • Fiona

    Love love love. I just wish one of my 3 (THREE!) flower girls was at least a little bit of a Tomboy…

  • lady brett

    love y’all. possibly because this is the most accurate statement about my childhood style ever made: “other times it’s just wanting to wear your favorite hat with every outfit for a solid year.” or maybe because of that bear hat, particularly (especially fond, as our wedding in fact had a “ring bear”).

  • Daniella

    Best flower girl rounds up yet!!

  • These are all adorable! I think the ring bearer look is my favorite, but the romper in “bear hats go with everything” is so cute too!

  • FOUR-DOLLAR LEGGINGS from Forever 21? In adult sizes, please!

    • Only problem in adult sizes – those suckers don’t breathe and are SO uncomfortable. (Says someone very cheap who loves leggings.)

      • And can be see through! Check the rear view mirror ladies! Forever 21 as much as I live it is dangerous.

  • KC

    What’s the term for boys who enjoy activities culturally associated with girlhood?

    • Fiona

      My brother used to call them Tomgirls… (he was one…having three older sisters can do that to you)

      • lady brett

        <3 this. all the other words i've heard are…not appealing to say the least.

      • Meg Keene


        I love that. We need a positive word for that. Nancy boy is… not it.

        (I like metrosexual, we use it in this house RE: my husband. But I don’t like applying anything —sexual to children. Particularly because liking dolls does not make a little boy gay any more then liking trucks makes him straight, not that it matters either way. Kids are just kids and are interested in all kinds of things, and our job is to just make that… cool. Their sexuality will be whatever it is, and has nothing to do with dolls.)

        • Fiona

          NOTHING to do with sexuality. I quite agree! Also, trying to sexify kids is quite not cool.
          My broski (of the tomgirl nature) is quite heterosexual, though very comfortably so. He dressed up as a drag queen for one Halloween, and people liked it so much, that he wanted to do it again. However, he couldn’t just repeat the same costume, so he dressed up as a DRAG WITCH. With fishnets. And heels. And black lipstick. and it has gone down in local Halloween history as being awesome. The end.

        • laddibugg

          Even for adults, I just say ‘metro’…I mean I don’t see the sexual part at all.

    • I don’t know that there is any term that’s as universally accepted, currently.

      You could say effeminate, but I don’t know that it’s a term that boys would self-identify with. Finding an exact opposite of tomboy is tricky, because I think that it’s much less accepted for boys to self-identify as feminine, especially without having adults impart some kind of sexual identity along with that self identification.

      Metrosexual was thrown around a lot among some guy friends of mine growing up who cared a lot about fashion, theater, and otherwise more “feminine” pursuits (who were otherwise your average identifying-as-cisgendered males), but some embraced the label and some absolutely hated the term because it was often used to bully and other people. So, hard to embrace.

      I hope a term will come around and that it will become as commonplace to say your son is a “tomgirl” (to use a nice term from another commenter) as saying your daughter is a tomboy without worrying about gender or sexual implications on down the line. Because sometimes I just don’t know that we’re there, when it comes to boys. But that could also be a regionally influenced thing (hello, south).

    • Sarah E

      I like “tomgirls,” too. Though I admit the first thing that jumps to my mind is Eddie Izzard’s routine on being an “action transvestite.” :-)

    • Mai Zaru

      I can’t agree more… I can’t think of a term that describes a boy with other girly interests other than “tomgirl” or “metrosexual” or even a “crossdresser”. As a 17 year old Palestinian teenager, I always think about all the labels I’m given in life and most of which are stereotypical and quite unfair. As we grow older, we find people to analyze our actions and behaviours and upbringing and associate us with a certain group. The focus of culture has drifted to the focus on sexuality for instance and
      defining the norm. It’s true… we have been taught that boys are all about masculinity, muscles, and strength with a passion for video games, cars, fishing and etc. while girls are all about playing with dolls and wearing dresses and etc. Some places around the world still think that women are all about being housewives that dress up to meet the expectations of a guy. Well, to me I think life is an endless self-exploration. As for these children, no need to associate them with a certain group or under a certain label- let them live their life and find out their best side, find out who they truly are without putting them on a certain track. I surely disapprove of the male dominance and the titles given out, especially in my hometown. We are denied of so many rights, entitled under various stereotypes and assumptions, and are forbidden the right to explore and find out who we are behind those cultural beliefs regulations and expectations regarding sexuality. I honestly wouldn’t call them anything because they’re children and have the right to be who they are without putting them on a track and giving them directions. Let them be who they ‘truly’ are without any boarders and expectations. Let boys dress up and play with dolls and let girls play with cars and video games… In the end we are all created equally. Whatever one decides to be regarding their ‘sexuality’ we could be nothing more than supportive.

    • Jane Patterson-McGuire

      There aren’t really any positive ones, currently. If you really want to explore the notion, including where it crosses the super-fuzzy line into “gender creative” kids, you might like the Pink Is For Boys blog.</A.

  • Class of 1980

    You can also call these “Action Clothes”. I got that from the blog of a mother with a confirmed tomboy. When her daughter was very young, she told her mother that she didn’t want to wear dresses.

    She said … “I wear action clothes.”

    • Meg Keene


      I, on the other hand, refused to leave the house without a dress on for almost all of preschool. My mom had to put paints under my dresses so I didn’t catch my death in the winter.

      • MerlyBird

        Ditto!! :D

    • Action clothes! I love it! While I was all about dresses that spun, the fuller the circle the better, I also had a thing for these really terrible pink/white (and super dirty) toms-esque flats. We wear what we want to wear. We’re girls, we do what we want. and why not?

    • I love the term “action clothes.” And who doesn’t want to be ready for action? That’s the approach I tend to take with shoes…I have to be able to walk in them…or run or whatever! The trick is…stylish (and comfortable) action clothes, which is basically my goal every morning. :)

  • I want to wear the entire bear hat outfit, and I want it today.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I think into junior high, my baby sister (now a college freshman) described herself as a “tomboy” and “I’m not a girly-girl.” I seem to recall a conversation about some classmates and a response, “I don’t like them. They’re girly-girls.” Around age 10-12, she had a kind of bowl haircut and dressed in boys’ clothes. In my college graduation pictures (from a conservative religious school where girls had to wear skirts to classes and meals), she’s wearing a kind of Hawaiian shirt, but black with flames, and black cargo pants. She was often mistaken for a boy, which she enjoyed.

    She’s still not a girly-girl, but she sure grew out of that phase, learning to straighten her now-long hair, apply make-up, and get excited about choosing dresses. She had the stronger opinions regarding dresses, shoes, and flowers for my wedding.

    She was president of her senior class and is excelling at college.

  • I love all of these outfits. LOVE! Bear hat! Ruffles and pants?! You nailed it.

  • Caitlin_DD

    So, those bear hats are all over the place in China… in adult sizes! They have cat ears too. This roundup is making me reconsider my need for one. But can I get the rest of that outfit in my size too?!

  • Andy Black

    love this! cute outfit! Unique Wedding Favour

  • Kayjayoh

    Ok, while I’m not personally loving the Katniss outfit itself, I’m tickled by the inclusion of the bow set. “Flowers? What flowers? I’ve got arrows here!”

  • Anne B

    Great picks! I think these types of styles are super important to point out. Because girls that don’t want to wear dresses still need to dress up appropriately for fancy events. That’s just something that kids of all genders need to learn – sometimes you have to wear the right thing. But the right thing doesn’t have to be a frilly dress. I would hate to force a child to wear something they can’t stand, so teaching them that while they still have to wear an outfit that might be different from their favourite play clothes, they should still feel comfortable and like themselves.

  • Rachelle Reese

    Can we please talk about adult flower girls… Has anyone ever done it? I’m actually going to be one in September basically because the groom’s son son is going to be ring bearer and the bride wanted me in the wedding too. We thought it’d be sort of cute and tongue-in-cheek to call me the flower girl since I’ll be walking with him rather than labeling me a bridesmaid. We’re thinking about this dress as a way of incorporating tulle without it being too childish or bride-y but still hints at my being a flower girl!
    Any thoughts from the APW crowd on this idea?
    Also, I really want the screw the flowers let’s blow bubbles outfit in my size for everyday wear.