Earlier this week I gave an interview to CNN.com about the sizzling state of tween fashion these days. Hot fashions for kids make me hot under the collar as a mother. I feel like the fashion world is working against me, pushing my young girls into adult clothing styles just to get at my money. My message to the fashion world, “Hands off my kids and my wallet!!” But that’s easier said than done since everywhere you look shirts are getting shorter and waistlines are getting lower. What’s a mom to do when faced with such a tiny selection of tween clothes, both literally and figuratively? Well, I’m here to tell you all is not lost. You can beat the fashion world at their own game and still empower your resident fashionista in a way that won’t make them feel like the odd tween out at school. Here are 7 tips to keep your tween fashions cool instead of too hot.
Trim to Fit 1 of 7
Don't be held hostage by the fashion world's "Shorty Mc Short Shorts". Trim old jeans and pants into submission. Make shorts that are just the right length for your daughter. Then your child can not only be age appropriate, but individual in their style.
Layer 2 of 7
In my house we keep a large assortment of tank tops on hand for layering. That way we are ready for anything, including the return of the 80's and Flashdance fashions! Be sure to check your school dress code though. Many have a specific width requirement for tank straps.
Leggings 3 of 7
Want to extend the life span of a favorite skirt or dress? Add leggings to your shopping list. They are a great way to express creativity. You can even get some fabric paint or markers to literally put your fingerprint on the style. We also use bike or volleyball shorts under baggy shorts for some extra insurance. They not only add coverage but they can also add a splash of color to your daughters' outfit.
Be Thrifty 4 of 7
Today's fashions are crazy short, tight and low cut. But that hasn't always been the case. So why not hit the thrift stores for some of yesterday's treasures. My eldest daughter discovered high waisted pants on one of our excursions and realized they were exactly what she had been looking for all along. Better to have your kids exposed to fashion choices than exposed by them.
Observe and Discuss 5 of 7
Sometimes it helps to take the spotlight off of your child and put it on other people. Do some people watching and discuss the fashions that you see. The goal is not to engage in a "judge fest" but to openly discuss how different fashion choices make them feel when they see them on other people. You may have an easier time explaining to your child why some styles concern you when you point them out on other people instead of pointing at your child directly.
Establish Ground Rules 6 of 7
Getting dressed for school can be nightmare if you and your daughter are at odds about what is an appropriate outfit and what is not. Your school doesn't have to be the only place with a dress code. Establish some ground rules at home. Don't just talk about them, write them down. You can even go so far as to draft an agreement with your child that you both sign. Clearly spell out the consequences if rules are broken. Likewise, build in some rewards if there are no infractions at all. Good behavior should be acknowledged as much as bad behavior. Even more so in fact.
When You See Something Say Something 7 of 7
If you think tween fashion is inappropriate don't just sit at home stewing about it, say something. The advent of social media has made it so much easier for us to engage in protest and gather people to echo our concerns. Take a picture of something that troubles you and tweet it, instagram it, post it to Facebook. Be loud and proud in defense of your child. If not you then who?
Look, it’s not childish to want to hold onto childhood. Don’t let the fashion world’s drive for profit run over your childs’ right to grow at their own pace. Protect them by encouraging their fashion exploration and the development of their own individual style. Fashion only exists because consumers buy it. If you want tween fashions to be more age appropriate don’t withhold your opinion on the subject, instead withhold your dollars from the fashion world. They’ll get the message, believe me. In the meantime keep the conversation flowing with your child. Encourage them to take ownership of their body and their choices.
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