My House is a No Smocking Zone

nosmockingI have to tell you something that may get me kicked out of the South. Branded a traitor. Shunned from the sidewalks of Uptown. It’s a stance that causes more emotional debate amongst the contributors of this blog than any other. Here it is:

I don’t like smocking.

Okay, there is a big caveat here. I’m a boy mom. I have a feeling if I had girls instead, they’d have been rocking the bishops, whatever those are.

But jon jons are a big no no in my house, and I’m just not that into a boy in a bubble.

5764972439_69ee1241c5_bWhen the boys were almost two, we were approached by the owner of a local clothing store who wanted them to model for their next catalog. I was blinded by the prospect of fame and fortune for my little ones, so I agreed. But I cringed when I had to dress them for their photo. The little Peter Pan collared shirts were just a little too dainty for my taste, and the boys acted like I was choking them as I buttoned them up. I was relieved when I saw they were going to be modeling simple blue shortalls (or jon jons?) – I don’t know what they were called, but I was just happy that they weren’t smocked.

I will admit, my little blonde boys looked passably adorable in the outfits, but I think their true feelings were shown in the photo that ultimately ran in the catalog. Of the three boys, one was frowning, and one was crying.

(Yes, that was the end of their modeling career.)

Karmic retribution came in the form of their payment: gift certificates to the store for an outfit for each of them!


photo by Eau Claire Photographics

Now, I don’t mean to sound judgmental here. I have lots of very dear friends of boys who love to dress their boys in smocked shortalls, and it didn’t bother me that they cringed at the sight of my guys in tiny jeans and button down shirts. I was flabbergasted when a close friend had a baby boy earlier this year, and at her shower, she was given monogrammed boxers. So he could wear them under his monogrammed gowns. With his monogrammed bonnet. Later, when I saw tiny little Hank all decked out (and in no doubt of his initials), I just wanted to stick him in a knit sleeper from Carter’s, but I respect my friend too much for that. Plus, I’d given all of our newborn clothes away already. But I love my friend, and no matter what he’s wearing, Hank is the sweetest, smiliest baby boy I know.

I think part of it is that I’ve never really felt like a typical Southern girl, even though I was born and raised in south Louisiana. So dressing my kids in a “Southern” way just doesn’t feel authentically me. Just like I don’t drink sweet tea, how I didn’t wear pearls on my wedding day, and how I can’t stand etoufee.

What’s your stance on smocking?

48 Responses to My House is a No Smocking Zone

  1. Jamie October 3, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    I got a good LOL out of reading this. Glad I clicked the link on Twitter. Ha! You crack me up. I despise john johns and all things smocked as well. But dont touch my sweet tea girl! 😉 Thanks for sharing! Have a great day.


  2. Elizabeth October 3, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    You know I LOVE smocking, but I must admit, if we would have had a boy, there probably would have been very little smocking in his closet, if my husband would have allowed any.

    I’m not a fan of sweet tea & I didn’t wear pearls on my wedding day either, but oh how I love a good bowl of etoufee! 🙂

  3. Linzy Cotaya October 3, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Totally agree on no sweet tea. And if I had a boy my husband would be totally against it anyway so my little boy would own little to nothing of smocking. But I am an avid monogram lover so I would have to sneak that in there somewhere!!

  4. Andie October 3, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Pam I love that you wrote this. As you know, I’m an equal opportunity dresser. Sadly, smocking was banned a loooong time ago in our house (probably when Andrew was 6-9 months old?) and Scott was only ok with applique shortalls (or jon jons) until Andrew was around 12-15 months old. Then he REFUSED to let me dress Andrew in them, as you know. I also LOVE little boys in jeans and long sleeve button up shirts or dressed like little gentlemen too… as you can see in Andrew’s 18 month photos where he dressed in a seersucker vest and bowtie. 🙂

    I do know if I would have had a girl, though, I would have been all over the smocked bishop train! LOL

  5. Ashley October 3, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    You know how I feel. Although now that I think about it, we really had less smocking but a TON of monogrammed jon jons. Oh how I love a little boy (note I said little) in a monogrammed jon jon.

  6. Penelope McClenny October 3, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Agreed Pam, although I’m not really sure why. I would have to say at least one of the first reasons is the cost. Sheesh!!! $65 for one outfit, or at least that was the average cost when we lived in Mobile. One outfit that will no doubt get stained and be unable to resale. Like the most other ladies, I don’t know how I would feel had we had girls, but I know I would still be just as cost-conscious 🙂 There are also plenty of Southern material traditions I am not as big of a fan of, although I’ve also lived the vast majority of my life in the South. I rarely notice what someone is drinking, eating, wearing when I feel I can point out a Southerner in a crowd. I think (and hope!) they are always first identifiable by politeness, the ability to slow life down a little and enjoy the moment, and a real dedication to and enjoyment of family and good friends.

    • Pam Kocke October 3, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      I like that! By your definition, I think I am a real Southern girl, then. 🙂

  7. Stacey October 3, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I’m SO with you! I have a boy and a girl and they have never worn smocking. I just don’t like the bubble look. My girl wore onesies/pants and dresses until about 1 years old then separates. My boy will do the same of course minus the dresses!

  8. Jamie Centner October 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    We are also a NO SMOCKING household. Being from Colorado, the whole concept is fairly new to us, we’re more about hemp,denim and Birkenstocks ;-). I’m pretty sure that I brought AJ home from the hospital in denim (in NYC) and had no idea that it was even considered a faux pas in any way. That being said, if I had a girl, I’d be ALL OVER IT!!! I especially like the bubbly girly romper things!! SO CUTE!

  9. [email protected]&Fuzzy October 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    LOVE this..I have three boys…NONE of them wore smocked ANYTHING…LOL…and we are true southern boys…LOL

    My husband wont allow it and I don’t really care for it. I prefer to dress my boys like little men- polos and kakhis and purple and gold or black and gold if ya know what I mean.

    I see nothing wrong with it on BABY boys, but over the age of say 9 months or walking….my opinion would be to JUST SAY NO…:)

  10. carla g October 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    hold the presses!!!! Did you just say you can’t stand…etouffee!?!?!

    I’ll try to forgive you on that one. I’m .. eh.. with smocked stuff. I like simple unsmocked jon jons, though. I have all boys, too. Not much is cuter than a simple jon jon, IMO. I don’t do the smocking or the bubbles, but I do like jon jons for special occasions.

  11. Laura October 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm #


    I am not a native Southerner and am appalled by all the smocking! I have twin girls who have never worn a bishop dress. (I didn’t even know what one was until I moved here and had kids.) I gave away any smocked gift I received. I honestly didn’t realize these dresses/outfits were still being made!

  12. Kari October 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Well, having two boys, I drooled over all the girly, frilly things. Mine wore a bit of boutique – some smocked, some monogrammed, mostly jon jons or longalls. But somewhere between 3T and 8s, it all just lost its luster. I say “3T and 8s” because my oldest entered Pre-K wearing 4T and graduated to Kinder in 7s. He is now 7, 2nd grade and wearing size 12. Smocking is so long gone, I can barely remember it. :/

  13. Blaineyblue October 3, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    I like the smocking and anything else fancy for little boys. My 10 year old is going on his 8th year of polos, button downs and khakis and it’s all solid colors. So while I think it’s only cute on my boys til size 2T, I am glad I dressed them fancy when they were babies.

    PS: I love the honesty: I don’t like to cook with cast iron skillets, please don’t disown me!

  14. Mel October 3, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    You are my new best friend! I love this post.

  15. Lindsey October 3, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    I’ve got to agree. My baby, to me, looks adorable thin and dainty dresses (it’s hot down here) or cutest in her little towel after a bath. I don’t need a fancy shmancy status of a dress.

  16. 2 Smocked Closets October 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    Looks like I need to get some more smock lovers on here to weigh in!!

    My oldest is a boy and has worn smocks since he was born. He is 3 now and out of bubbles and longalls but still rocks the smocked t’s and polos. He is definitely a boys boy and goes out to play and gets filthy in them and that’s ok.

    My daughter is 13 mos old and 98% of what she wears is smocked.

    It’s what I like and what I think they look cute in. They’re only this little for a few years and I prefer to dress my babies like little kids not like little adults.

    • Ashley October 4, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Let it be known that I am on team #smockallthethings too!

      • Rdelamet July 11, 2016 at 12:17 am #

        With all the things going on in the world you want to write about this? Who cares what someone does or does not dress their child in and how dare you even call something so trivial out. Get a life and focus on important things.

        • Ashley July 11, 2016 at 8:14 am #

          With all due respect, this post was published 2.5 years ago. If you go to the home page and read the pieces we published over the weekend, we hope you’d see that we are cognizant of what really matters in the world, too. There’s a time for solemn and a time for levity; it isn’t “either/or.”

    • Myndee October 4, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      I first read that as she was 13, not 13 months and I thought “Oh HELL no!” haha. Team #dressthemlikelittleadults here, but I do love me some monograms.

      • 2 Smocked Closets October 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

        HAHA Myndee!! no she’s not 13 years old. .That would probably make her destined to be a crazy cat lady for sure.

  17. Amber October 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    LOL Pam:) I like BOTH, smocking and “real” clothes, HOWEVER, I find smocking to be expensive,so the “real” clothes are just a LOT easier and cheaper. BUT, I’m not going to say that I don’t LOVE the sweetness of the long-alls and Jon Jon’s when somebody else decides to buy them for Nathaniel.

  18. Southernsmocks October 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    2 Smocked Closets right there with you! My little guy is 3 now as well and we did smocks, appliques, jon jons and longalls.. and still do smocked tees w/ our shorts and pants.. I love the look and was glad that I had the time to dress him like this – I can’t tell you how many compliments we always got when we were out as well on his clothing. (we love a monogram too!)

    They are only little once and have a lifetime to wear khakis and polos so why rush it?

  19. Jennifer October 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    I am 100% teamsmockedeverything. I LOVE it. I just know that we’ll be arguing over how short her skirts can be and how tight her jeans can be. So, for as long as I can, I will dress her like a sweet old fashioned doll!

    And the price thing is a misconception. Now, don’t get me wrong outfits can cost you an arm and a leg, but with online merchants, ebay, and zulily, I rarely spend more on a smocked dress or bubble than many do for a printed Baby Gap tee.

  20. Lisa June 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    I’ll put a little boy in Ralph Lauren over jon jons and smocked outfits any day of the week!!

  21. megan October 10, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    It may be a brhs thing. 🙂 98% of pictures posted by a friend who went to EHS have her two girls and boy in matching smocked outfits. I’m going to see a huge matching bow on the boy’s head any day now!!

  22. Whit October 10, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    I laughed so hard Pam…then when I realized that a few short months ago I babysat these boys…I laughed. Not only am I totally with you on the no smocking, but I could never see them in smocking.

  23. Jamie Rebecca October 10, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    I wish I was able to post a photo with my comment to show you just how DARLING a smocked set is on a sweet little boy. My son is 23 months old (today) and still wears Jon jons, longalls, and all things Pima cotton, knit, and monogrammed. This summer was our last time wearing bubbles and diaper covers, unfortunately. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around putting a baby less than a year old in a pair of jeans! His is that comfortable?! It’s totally a southern thing and to each their own but I did a little inside when I see a baby in “little man attire”. They have their whole lives to dress like little men! Baby’s don’t keep!

  24. Anita Obenschain October 11, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Boys have their whole lives to wear regular shirts and shorts. My baby looks awesome in fancy baby clothes, although he does not wear them everyday. When I take pictures of him with smock clothes, I get over 100 likes on social media as opposed to taking a picture of him with regular clothes. My grandmother dressed my dad up and he looked so cute. I really treasure those pictures of my dad and my baby boy dressed up. I’ll have those lovely pictures to share for generations.

  25. Joni Gilbert November 13, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I just had to respond to this post… THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    I am about as southern as southern can be … but I cannot stand smocked clothing on boys. I was discussing this with a coworker and just came across this blog post. Not only did it make my morning brighter but it also reassured me that I’m not the only person that feels so strongly about it! 🙂

    Again thanks for a great post … and many blessings to you and your family!

  26. Lauren July 3, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    Can I get an amen?!? Boys and smocked outfits, IMO, look horrible! Love this post, laughed out loud.

  27. Sue July 4, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    I’ve never heard of smocking being a “southern thing.” I don’t know what the big deal is about not letting a baby boy wear something that is smocked. I guess I’ve never noticed one way or the other. But look at the way boys up to what we would call school-age used to be dressed a hundred years ago and earlier–much more “girly” and frilly, even with long curled hair many times. So smocking on a baby boy’s clothes is “much ado about nothing.” For a few generations children have been allowed to be children rather than “miniature adults” as in some previous centuries. But, kids are being pushed sooner and sooner out of the home and into school, and schools are pushing higher curriculum on younger and younger children now. Let the kids be kids and stop trying to dress them like adults. I like the pretty dresses for little girls and the cute baby outfits for boys and girls. Many people now seem to view parents as neglectful if they haven’t put their child in preschool as a four-year old. Good grief. Let little kids be little kids. They only get to be little for a short time as it is. I don’t understand this push to dress and treat them like older kids earlier and earlier.

  28. Jessica July 4, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    This article, wow. It’s rude. All of it. This southern belle, who drinks sweet tea and wears pearls EVERY day is proud of the smoking her child wears. And of having class!

    • Pam Kocke July 4, 2015 at 10:48 am #

      I’m curious to hear exactly which part is rude. Did you see how I said I respect others’ opinions on how they dress their children? Can you not respect my opinion?

  29. Karen Riales July 4, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    I think little boys look cute in smocked clothing. My son wore them until he was 4. After that, he had smocked t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. You just make sure as they get older to use boyish designs(firetrucks, dinosaurs, camping, etc.). If you learn to smock, these outfits are cheap–just your time. I didn’t care if Michael wore them out playing, painting, or whatever. They wash & wear as good as any other outfit.
    I agree that there are so many places online now to be able to afford the outfits.
    I think that babies are so cute in the smocked bubbles.
    My husband did not object to them. Of course, he figured that I’d win out on that issue.
    Now, I have a granddaughter & it’s so much fun to do all the dresses & other outfits for her. My son does not seem to mind. His wife is tickled with the pretty outfits. Of course, I do her play clothes & then dressier ones for special occasions.
    I also applique & embroider various things.
    Long live the smocked outfits!

  30. Lynne July 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    I LOVE this!! I am from the North and live in the South now…. Smocking mocking!! I don’t even like it on girls, even though my sister (who also landed in the South) bought my niece an over priced bib collar dress that both her girls wore maybe once asked me to have my daughter wear at least once…. although she did look cute in it, it was as close to smocking as I could get. As for boys, I just don’t like them. I am also that mom who thinks they look adorable in jeans and ts. But to each there own. Thanks for the giggle.

  31. Ashley July 10, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Bless it! To me there is nothing sweeter than a baby boy in a bubble. I have two boys and just adore it. I do cut it off after 3 but my 5 year old most always has a monogram on his polo and coordinates with his little brother who wears mostly jonjons and bubbles. I just can’t help myself and they are edible!
    It takes all kinds to make the world go round I suppose. 😉

  32. Ashley July 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Oh and dare I say my youngest who is two has never worn a pair of jeans.

    • vjhr May 23, 2016 at 11:28 am #

      Good for you! A baby in jeans is simply awful.

  33. Jenny July 10, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    I choose to disagree. Smocking on boys as well as girls is the sweetest thing!! My son is 5 and wore a poll with a smcoed flag for the 4th! They are only little once and will be able to dress like men the rest of their lives. I love the sweet simplicity of smocks. Jeans and button downs seem so uncomfortable for babies.

  34. Hope July 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    Well I’m a boy mom ,and both my boys have worn smocked clothing. The 2.5 yr old still does. My husband prefers it he cringes when he sees baby boys in jeans, and gasp I smock and sew. They have their entire lives to dress like men, and only a short while to be babies.

  35. Suzy July 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    I am a Southern girl who likes my tea unsweetened but loves sweet little boys in jon jons, longalls, smocked clothes – all of it! Love little girls in ruffled dresses and hair bows too! There is plenty of time for boys and girls to grow up and wear grungy pants hanging down to their yah yah or sexy dresses and short shorts. Yay for the innocence and sweetness of babies and toddlers!

    • vjhr May 23, 2016 at 11:29 am #


  36. Mandy Teal July 10, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Like someone else stated, boys have the rest of their lives to wear regular clothes. I dressed my son in smocked outfits the first 2 years of his life. That’s all. And he looked darling in them, especially when they coordinated with older sister’s smocked dresses. Don’t knock it until you try it! Let little boys be little boys.

  37. Christy E July 11, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    It was all fun and games til you brought etoufee in this! Haha!
    Mom of 1 boy and dislike smocking too. But love etoufee 🙂

  38. vjhr May 23, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    For their ENTIRE lives, a male’s uniform consists of t-shirts, polo shirts, jeans and khakis. Why anyone would miss a brief opportunity to dress them in something other than this is totally beyond me. I cherish every photo of my now-teenage son in real baby clothing, not tiny adult clothing. No tiny oxford shirts with ties, either. They look like they are wearing a costume. And a baby in jeans is simply AWFUL. Their sweet delicate skin should be dressed in soft comfort, not stiff denim. Even worse than jeans…I once saw a baby at a wedding dressed in a tuxedo. I couldn’t even wrap my head around that one.

  39. Susan August 19, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    I was with you up until etoufee. You crossed s line with etouffee!

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