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Horrified by Bethenny Frankel? Plenty of adults wear children's clothes

July 15, 2014 at 2:41 PM ET

Critics of Bethenny Frankel take note: While most mothers aren’t trying to squeeze into their 4-year-old daughters’ pajamas, there are plenty of women (and men) who turn to children’s clothing to save money and find styles that may be missing from the adult sections of department stores.

Frankel has been slammed online after posting a photo of herself on Instagram while wearing her daughter’s “Hello Kitty” PJs. Many commenters were aghast at her skinny body and some wondered whether she has an eating disorder, while others said she looked “like a fool.”

Lots of slender and savvy shoppers might disagree. For them, traditional adult styles don't always work or cost too much, so children's clothing is often a better option.

Channing Hargrove, a 27-year-old fashion blogger in New York City who describes herself as “super petite,” said she often shops in the children’s department.

“Not only is the clothing cheaper… but I find it fits me better,” Hargrove told TODAY.com. “I find that I don't have to worry about sleeve or skirt lengths, and boys' blazers are structured perfectly with just enough room in the sleeves.”

At 4'11” and 106 pounds, she wears a size petite 0 or a regular 00, both of which are very hard to come by unless you’re shopping online, Hargrove said. So when she’s browsing her favorite stores, she’ll pop into the children's section to see what may work there. More often than not, she finds something in the boys department. 

Taylor Quimby, a producer for New Hampshire Public Radio, freely admits he buys children’s underwear to save money.

“Not toddler-sized briefs with Iron Man or Thomas the Tank Engine plastered on the butt, I’m talking about plainly colored, boys' XL boxer briefs,” Quimby wrote in a column on Monday.

Those briefs have the same waist size as a men’s small but can cost several dollars less than the adult version, he said.

Then, there’s journalist Chris Faraone, who recently wrote about his affinity for buying Ralph Lauren clothing in boys’ sizes for the same reason.

“Go ahead. Poke fun. But they cost roughly half the price of adult sizes, and are of virtually indistinguishable quality,” Faraone wrote in Esquire. At 34, and standing 5'10'' and weighing about 200 pounds, he manages to fit comfortably into boys extra-large shirts, he said.

There’s even a Tumblr blog, titled Shopping in the Little Boys’ Section, devoted to putting together “grown-up looks” from children’s clothes by a 5’2” writer who “decided to renounce adult sizes altogether.”

If you want to give the children’s department a try, you have to be mindful of details that may be a bit too cutesy for adults, Hargrove advised.

“I don't want to look like a little girl, so I'm careful to take note of bows, glitter, or obvious elastic waistbands that would be a tell-tale sign of shopping in the girls department,” she said.

“It will take a little bit of guesswork to figure out your size but once you do, it's really interesting to see what you can come up with.”

No one can usually tell that Hargrove is wearing children's pieces when they are paired with strong, adult accessories, she said.

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