It’s The Great Tag Debate

February 6, 2009 by Michelle

You’re all familiar with issues around standardization. Remember the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD battle that recently ended? And there’s Mac vs Windows. Some of you may even remember VHS vs Beta. There are tons more out there, but I’ve come to realize that there is one that just won’t ever be settled.

It’s time for us to take up arms and demand a single standard. All those of us with children, children who rely on us to help them with everything, we need to make our voices heard! Our efforts to teach independence in our children so that one day we may be able to sip coffee for more than thirty seconds, that maybe we can enjoy a freshly toasted bagel rather than scarfing it down and not even noticing that we burned it — all of this is in jeopardy.

I speak, of course, about tags. The tags in clothing that help people — small children in particular — know which was is front and which is back. These little snippets that help us teach children in simple ways how to dress themselves so that we can take a well-deserved breather.

I tell you, Parents. This is a conspiracy. The corporations don’t want us to take a break. They need us frazzled so that we buy more of their coffee, more wine, more pre-packaged goods because we don’t have the time, energy or sanity to do otherwise.

I give you a random sampling of Little Miss’s closet as case in point. She is three and a half (barely!) years old. Keep that in mind as we view her clothing.

Our first item is a pair of pants. Notice the nice tags that are easily seen. This is the only factor differentiating the front from the back of the pants. As long as I can teach her front and back (and thankfully, I’ve succeeded in this), she can put pants on without help.

Next up, we have a sweater. The tags in in the same place, and again, this is a shirt that she can put on alone. Fortunately, she’s yet to try to put it on with the black velvet pants shown above. I will admit that there are times I have to step in and assist with outfit selection, but luckily she’s shown enough sense to avoid this disaster.

Even this lovely pair of underwear has a tag in the back. This is an alternate standard, but luckily it is fairly compatible with the preferred standard. All I have to do is ensure that the wee ones know to look for writing if they don’t see a physical tag. The back and front rule remains the same.

Next, we run into an issue. This pink shirt (which, yes, she has worn with the black velvet pants, sorry, Fashion Police) does not display a tag in the bag. Looking closer, you can see that there is neither a printed nor a physical tag.

This is the alternate and unpreferred standard. As we begin searching through the shirt for some way to identify the front from the back, we eventually do uncover a physical tag.

Now. Maybe some of your children are brighter than mine. Maybe this is just an area where I’ve failed as a parent or the wee ones just don’t get it, but getting them to understand left from right is a challenge. Explaining that this shirt has the tag on the left doesn’t work. Just about half the time, we end up with this shirt on backwards and I need to — under great duress — fix it.

We move on to our final exhibit now. Below is a second pair of girls’ underwear. There is no tag in the back.

Investigating more closely, you see that there is in fact a physical tag, however. It is on the left side of her underwear. Now we have some underwear with tags on the left and some in the back.


This is my personal favorite. With shirts and pants, it’s pretty apparent which hole goes where — the head hole and waist hole are easy to identify. Underwear? Not so easy for small children to idenfity.

Little Miss sees underwear and proceeds with her rule. If you look closely at the last picture, you’ll see that the leg hole on the right is stretched out more than the leg hole on the left. That would be because there are times when Little Miss dresses herself and manages to put her underwear on sideways so that the tag is in the back.

I’ve yet to figure out how to explain in a way that sticks with her a method of identifying the proper way to put on underwear. Now that I picked up on her error, I’m back to supervising the dressing on a daily basis. I no longer have a chance to enjoy my granola while the wee ones get dressed. In fact, I now tend to eat my granola long after the wee ones have headed to daycare or school when my stomach finally reminds me that I’ve forgotten to eat.

I hereby resolve to only buy clothing with tags in the back from here on out. Regardless of how cute an outfit is, if the tags are not in the back, it will not pass my threshhold. Take that, corporations.

Ok, take it until the wee ones know left from right. Then if an outfit is extra cute, it’ll come home with me regardless.

PS Anyone want to guess the lovely searches I’m going to have after posting about my issues with little girls’ underwear? *sigh*

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  • Smoochiefrog


    Me thinks you’ll get some great Google search results. 🙂

    Here’s an idea. Always have her get dressed facing the same way: her dresser, her window, the door. Tell her that when she gets dressed facing that way, the tag will always go on the side close to the ________.

    For example, I tell K to get dressed facing sissy’s bed. That way she knows that tags go toward the window if they’re not on the back of the clothes. Works for us every time!

    Just an idea.

  • Veggie Mom


    As long as she doesn’t put the underwear on her head and wear it that way for any length of time…at least outside, in public, right?

  • Jen


    I’m with you! It drives me nuts! My daughter (also 3 and 1/2) does the exact same thing with her undies! She will walk around half the day like that too…until I happen to be with her in the bathroom and notice. I would LOVE some consistency with tags!

  • Tina


    Oh my that is just hilarious. I don’t have kids, so I never thought of this being an issue, but as an adult i’m embarrassed to admit that i’ve had this issue a few times as well. Especially getting dressed in the dark in a hurry. There’s a reason for tags people!

  • Michelle


    Smoochiefrog – That may work for most of it… it’s the ones where the underwear sometimes has a tag on the side and sometimes on the back. There’s no real rhyme or reason for it, and those are the ones that are throwing us the most!

    Veggie Mom – Uh. Yeah. I hadn’t even thought of that possibility (don’t know how I missed it considering she woke me UP like that recently!). Socks on the hands for the fun of it, I’m fine with. Underwear hats, no.

    Jen – Hear, hear! I have my first convert. Make the pledge with me that only back tags will be allowed in your house, too!

    Tina – That cracks me up that you’ve done the same thing! I actually have one skirt where the tag is on the right, and I have to stop and think EVERY time!

  • Angela


    Oh my goodness, they are making things difficult aren’t they! I will be taking lessons from you as you go through all these little minefields of parenting, so I’ll be ready when the time comes!

    As you saw from my closet, I’ve only recently figured out where all my own clothes are, LOL!

    And don’t worry, I’m definitely going to make your guac next!

    Hugs and happy weekend!

  • Debbie


    I have issue with no tags too. I use a dot system to organize my kid’s clothes and pass them down. I put the dots on the tags. Now, no tags. I can’t figure out what belongs to who.

  • Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom


    Oy, I can see we’re going to struggle with this too! Maybe you could try some of the iron on tags with your child’s name to help identify the back on these non compliant clothes? 🙂

  • morninglight mama


    We have this problem every single day with our 2 year old– especially with the underwear. (Multiple times a day on that one, since every time she goes to the bathroom, she feels the need to completely undress from the waist down!)

    I was thinking of getting a clothing labeler and putting a mark on the back of everything, regardless of tag– then she just looks for the tag… I’ll get around to that by the time she’s 15, probably. 🙂

  • Cookie


    Funny! BUt my kids manage to get shirts on backwards even if it DOES have a tag in the back!

  • anymommy


    You’ve got me giggling. But, I have to disagree. I’ll take backwards clothes over constant complaints about itchy tickets.

  • Christie


    Oh man, I hope you don’t get any weirdos after that post.
    But amen to the tag issue. I agree, so cute that your daughter put her underwear on sideways.

  • Amanda


    thanks for stopping by from SITS yesterday!

    That is a great post, to funny! (and true).
    And your traffic should get more interesting after posting 2 pictures of little panties! hehe

  • Michelle


    Angela – I hope you know the guac comment was tongue in cheek! And yes, please learn from others (not just me). At least your clothes are organized now. I need to go through mine and toss all the ones that don’t fit anymore or that I never wear….

    Debbie – Ooo, a dot system! That’s a good idea. Except for the no tags thing. I wish I had a suggestion for you.

    Steph – For some, I’d marked an “F” for front on some underwear… And the ones today I hadn’t. Little Miss had an absolute MELTDOWN this morning when I showed her that she’d put them on backwards. Great. Another perfectionist in the household.

    morninglight mama – It’s a good idea, isn’t it? But I’m with you that they’d be out of the house before I got to it!

    Cookie – Well, ok so there are times that Mister Man puts his clothes on backwards for fun. But there’s a difference in a shirt and underwear. Underwear is a bit more… painful!

    anymommy – Glad to hear it! And there was a time with Mister Man that we had to cut out EVERY single tag. I had forgotten about that. That was definitely more of a pain.

    Christie – Yeah, I’m a little afraid… but the whole concept was cracking me up.

    Amanda – The ones that are funny and true … those are the best ones, I think. Glad you liked it! I think I’m going to go check out Stat Counter now….

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