Last month, we took our boys camping. The nights were predicted to dip into the 40s, and my husband suggested packing sweatpants and hoodies for our sons to sleep in. It was a great idea, but what he didn’t know was that I’d already been trying to find a pair of sweatpants and a new hoodie for one of my sons for a few weeks prior to the campout.
This should have been an easy thing. You can buy kids’ sweatpants and sweatshirts for $6.98 each at Walmart! However, my oldest son has a contact dermatitis allergy to polyester. I’ve discussed this before on the blog, and I’m very familiar with checking tags before I buy clothing for him. But sweatshirts and sweatpants present a different problem — nearly every well-known brand, whether it’s Hanes, Fruit of the Loom or Joe Boxer, makes their sweats with a blend of cotton and polyester. Hitting a big-box store for 100% cotton T-shirts is easy. Finding 100% cotton sweats are nearly impossible. I visited a variety of stores prior to our campout looking for one 100% cotton hoodie and one pair of 100% cotton sweatpants, and I came up empty handed.
On the way to a recent Super-Couponing class, I passed five (count’ em, five!) Goodwill stores. Secondhand finds would be fine for camping, and surely, the prices would be good! So, on the way home, I stopped at each of them and browsed the boys’ clothing racks. Trust me, every Goodwill store along my route had plenty of hoodies and sweatpants to purchase for $2.99, but not a single pair that weren’t a cotton/polyester blend.
It really is strange that 100% cotton sweats have become so difficult to find. My son’s current hoodie came from Meijer a few years ago. I snapped it up when I saw what it was made of, and he’s worn it for three years. But he’s almost nine, and it’s a size 6/7. And I haven’t seen another 100% cotton hoodie sweatshirt there since. I even considered making him a new hoodie (hey, I’m pretty decent at sewing, believe it or not) but guess what I couldn’t find at the fabric store? Sweatshirt-type fabric in 100% cotton.
So, I started doing some research, and I learned a few things. Most European children’s brands of sweatshirts and sweatpants are still made of 100% cotton. But there’s a significant price difference between the $6.98 Hanes sweats that Walmart sells and what you’ll pay for some of the European brands. Here are some of my finds:
Hanna Andersson is a Swedish brand that’s been available in America for more than 20 years. Their website even states that they pride themselves on offering “beautiful quality pure cotton” clothes. Locally, there are Hanna Andersson locations at Woodfield Mall and in Northbrook and Oak Brook. Of course, you can shop online too, and here’s what I found:
I had no doubt that either of these would be of great quality, but these prices were simply more than I wanted to spend on campout gear.
Again, these clothes looked great, but the prices were so much more than I wanted to pay for sweats.
I hoped to find a sweatshirt cheaper than this, but I ordered his sweatpants from here as this was the best price I was able to find. When the pants arrived, I was happy to see that they were also made in the USA – rare to see these days! If you’re interested in ordering from here, I would order a size up as these do run small. I ordered size 10 pants for my son, who wears size 8 jeans, and they are just the right size for him to wear now. Next time, I’d go two sizes up…
Other places I looked…
In the past, I’ve purchased 100% cotton sweatshirts and/or sweats from Land’s End, The Gap, Oshkosh and Gymboree, but I could not currently find any sweats that weren’t a cotton/poly blend on any of these sites at the time of this writing.
And, through my extensive Google research, I also learned that if you want 100% cotton sweats for adults, you should be prepared for some sticker shock:
- JustSweatshirts.com has adult zipper hoodies for $64.95 and adult sweatpants for $44.95 a pair.
- The Oregon Cotton Mill sells adult sweatpants for $65 per pair!
- Clothing Warehouse carries adult zipper hoodies for $67.11.
As I continued to look, prices went up even more from there:
- American Giant manufactures 100% cotton, American-made sweatshirts. A cotton zipper hoodie will run you $89.
Another made-in-America company, Flint and Tinder, has a 100% cotton hoodie for $99 which is made with American-sourced cotton and comes with a ten-year warranty.UPDATE: A reader emailed to let me know Flint and Tinder’s hoodies are no longer 100% cotton, unfortunately. She ordered one when they were all-cotton, then went to order another and was extremely disappointed.
I have to admit, both of these sweatshirts look pretty great if you want something for adults that’s American-made & will likely last and last.
But again, I was shopping for a child who will outgrow his new sweats in a couple of years. We’ve got a couple more cold-weather campouts coming up, and I really needed to find a new hoodie or two for my son. I headed to Ebay to look for 100% cotton sweats and found a couple sweatshirts to bid on:
I was excited to win this zipper Gymboree hoodie on Ebay for $3.99! While secondhand, it’s 100% cotton and looks to be in good condition. The total with shipping came to $8.74. After my several-weeks-long hunt for a cotton zipper hoodie, I’ll happily take it.
And, I used Buy It Now to purchase this new-with-tags pullover rugby hoodie for $13.24 on Ebay with free shipping. It’s also 100% cotton, and it’s made by a French brand. (I learned a lot about European brands during my sweatshirt research, and Z-Enfant.com was a site that carried some cool European brands of hoodies. That in turn gave me ideas of which brands to look for on Ebay!) When this sweatshirt arrived, the original price tag on it read 24,99 €, which is about $33.75 US dollars – so I think it was a pretty good deal. The quality of this one is great too – very thick and soft.
Lastly, I picked up this secondhand Hanna Andersson green zipper hoodie for $1.29 on Ebay. With shipping, I paid $5.79. (What a difference between the $32 this sells for new!) The seller noted that it’s a little faded, but I was okay with that considering the price and the fact that this will be a playing-outside sweatshirt. When it arrived, I was even more pleased to note that the fading the seller described is barely noticeable – it’s much more visible in the photo than in life. But that honest description also likely enabled me to pick this one up for a great price.
A note on sizing too: If you’re buying European brands, the sizing is different than it is in America. Kids’ clothes are typically sized in centimeters — the size being your child’s current height in centimeters. So, this 130cm Hanna hoodie will fit my 130cm-tall son just fine. And, he’s got room to grow into the 138cm French hoodie.
My last tip for Ebay: Verify with your seller that the clothes you’re buying match the description. Prior to buying these three, I had bid on another secondhand pullover hoodie. It was listed as 100% cotton, but when it arrived at my house…
The seller did refund my money as she’d assumed the sweatshirt was cotton. After this happened though, I emailed each seller to ask that they please verify that the tag inside the item stated that it is 100% cotton. (Yes, I may have seemed like I was being a pain to them, but it’s easier to ask first versus having to send back an item that didn’t match the description.)
Did you have any idea that it would be so difficult to find 100% cotton sweats? I sure didn’t..!