Dd is 2.5 and mostly wears nice hard-wearing jeans and tops with animals on. Mostly bought in the boys section because of the pink thing. But not overtly 'boys' clothes. She has quite short hair 'cos it's practical. Again not very very short, just not in her eyes.
And now other children at playgroups have started saying things like 'You can't play with THAT <indicates doll or pink thing dd wants> you're a BOY'.
So I now feel like I need to put a hairgrip in her hair or give her pink socks or a T-shirt with a frigging cupcake on or something so that she doesn't get massively confused about her gender.
To me the issue here isn't what you dress her in, it's who you are mixing with.
I have never heard a pre-school child judge another on his or her clothes, but again, we are up north. My kids wear a mix of clothes, and play with a mix of toys, so do all the other kids I know. I do feel very sorry for you though.
I agree that the problem may be the playgroup rather than DD's clothes. I'm also in London and at the playgroups we attend the prams, train set, tea set, builder/cowboy dressing up, princess/fairy/tutu dressing up is used more or less equally by both genders.
my dd2 thought she was a boy until she was 3 and a half, we didnt avoid pink clothes, she wore some pink and some other colours, for us it has been quite easy to find striped, blue, beige, yellow, red girls clothes, although they do have pink and flowery clothes too. My dd1 loves girly stuff.
I am also in London, and I have no issue that dd2s favourite toys were cars for ages, and now she likes animals, and ds sometimes likes dressing up like a princess, likes dolls and pushing the pram, and the homecorner.
I'm surprised that you all struggle to find non pink clothes. There are loads of non pink clothes out there. H&M do vests and leggings in every colour under the sun. My 12 mo DD rarely wears pink, usually red, purple, green. I get a lot of stuff from Verbaudet as well. In fact I don't think she has a single pink thing in her wardrobe other than the odd polo neck.
OP I'm in the same position (and also in London). For the last 3.5 years I've been putting them in gender neutral clothes. Bright colours. Bold prints. Soemtimes trucks, some times flowers. But I avoided pinks and light purples (they had some, but no more than other colours), dresses, frills, bows and heart and princess motifs.
Apparently this isn't gender neutral. Everyone seems to think it's male.
They started to be called "boys" more and more by other children. I never cared about random adults, because they normally have the grace to accept when the girls replied "no I'm a girl". But kids often don't. They go on and on. And after two incidents that made them really unhappy I made a change.
Now I try to make sure there's some "marker". One daughter has had a growing affinity for pink anyway (thanks Peppa Pig ). So she now has a pink coat. They both have pink wellies. They have some hello kitty stickers on their blue scooters. I'm not prepared to grow their hair because even at the current short length it gets tangly and hurts. I can't bring myself to make them put up with pain to look the part. Am searching for hairstyles that will work better.
I hate it. I'm uncomfortable with it, and I don't agree with it. But I think you're right about the point being that they grow up confident. And I don't think they'll do that if they feel socially ostracised.
From what my friends with older girls tell me, the pink phase is just a phase and they mainly seem to start rejecting it at 6 or 7. But the pressure to be concerned with their looks does not fade, it gets worse. So I'm hoping as they grow to show them how to be aware of it and negotiate it as best they can. I'm also hoping I can convince them to see past "looks". But I think it's a big ask and I'm not sure it's possible, awareness may be the best we can manage.