As your daughter gets older and starts entering her tween and teen years, shopping for her and her needs goes from relatively simple to more complicated. This holds especially true for clothing – while younger children tend to be relatively content with clothing that fits well and is comfortable to them, your tween daughter will be beginning to develop her own sense of style. This means that you will need to develop a new plan of attack when it comes to shopping for and with your tween daughter.
1: Take Inventory Regularly
As your daughter goes through puberty, she’ll go through several growth spurts in addition to the regular growth that you are used to. These growth spurts tend to hit a bit earlier for girls, at around 11 to 12 rather than 13 to 14 for boys. Take inventory of your daughter’s wardrobe regularly and keep an eye out for clothing she wears that’s too small or worn out. As her own sense of style develops, you’ll probably see that some clothing comes out of her wardrobe less often as well. Toss out clothing with holes or stains and donate outgrown or unloved items regularly. This will help keep her wardrobe organized and make it easier for you to see what needs to be replaced when it comes time to actually shop.
2: Make a List of Needed Items
When you have a clear idea of what is still in your daughter’s regular wardrobe, make a list of items that need to be upgraded or replaced. Focus on basics that you can easily recognize first – for example, if you notice that all her pants are short at the ankle, it’s time to look for new jeans and leggings. But don’t forget that asking your daughter about her needs is also paramount, since there are aspects that may not have been clear to you or that you forgot to consider. These oft-unrecognized aspects can range from bras that she’s outgrown due to recent bodily changes to the need for new shoes that better reflect her daily activities. Communicating these changing needs may be awkward for both of you at first, but establishing a habit of communication will ensure that you’ll be able to keep on top of your daughter’s needs as she goes from tween to teen.
3: Establish a Realistic Budget
When you think about clothing budgets, your first instinct is probably to think about restricting the amount you’re spending on a clothes shopping trip. While limiting your budget is certainly important, it’s important to understand what a realistic budget looks like as well. You’re probably used to shopping for a younger kid, but it’s a simple fact that getting good quality, comfortable clothing that your daughter will actually wear can be unexpectedly expensive as she enters her tween and teen years. Do some of your own research before you lay down the line on a budget. How expensive are jeans and good quality leggings? Do the reviews on that cheap bra indicate that it will be uncomfortable for daily wear? Remember that getting the best deal doesn’t necessarily mean getting the cheapest option, and be willing to listen to both online reviews and your daughter’s concerns when it comes to establishing a budget. It’s better to buy a few good quality items she’ll use regularly than a wardrobe full of the cheapest options that she’ll avoid.
4: Find Sales and Promotions for Needed Items
One way to cut down your budget, at least a little, is to be proactive in looking for sales and promotions. Many stores will have regular sales every month or every few months, and post-holiday and back-to-school sales can be a massive boon if you’re looking for a way to cut your bill down a bit. In addition, you can look for online discounts on specific items relatively easily. Simply search for the specific item you need and click on a few results to compare the different prices and current sales to see if you can score an unexpected deal. Some states even do “tax-free” days, where state sales taxes are reduced or eliminated for back-to-school shopping.
5: Be Aware of School Dress Codes
As your daughter enters her tween years, she may begin pushing the envelope on what she wears. In addition, school dress codes will often change as the kids get older. When shopping, keep in mind that you’ll want to buy clothing that your daughter will be able to wear in a variety of situations, including at school. School dress codes can often be rather ridiculous, especially for girls, so make sure you know and understand the dress code of the school your daughter goes to.
6: Establish Ground Rules, But Prepare to be Flexible
On a related note, if your daughter is trying to push the envelope on what she wears, you may be tempted to quickly lay down the law on what she’s allowed to buy and wear. The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath, step back, and consider your logic. The tween years are when many kids are trying to figure out their own sense of style and identity, and the last thing you want to do is create an environment where your daughter feels like she can’t be herself around you. In addition, being too strict about what she wants to wear can end up backfiring when she gets a summer or after-school job, and more money of her own, a few years down the line. Many kids will react to strict rules and enforcement by doubling down or going even further in the direction that you’re trying to discourage.
While it may be necessary to establish some ground rules when it comes to what you’re willing to buy for your daughter, take care that you’re not overreacting. A blanket ban on leggings, tank tops, or crop tops may be your first instinct, but there are many styles of these types of clothing that are, in fact, very comfortable and worn by most of your daughter’s friends. Showing a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to your first instincts will make your daughter feel more free to develop her own identity and sense of style. Make sure that you view shopping for clothes as a cooperative, even fun, experience and not one where you have to constantly be putting your foot down. Good communication in even these seemingly small scenarios will bolster your relationship with your daughter and prevent fights and communication breakdowns down the line.
It’s a cliche at this point to say that the tween and teen years of raising a daughter are difficult, but with these tips they don’t have to be. Establishing good early communication, understanding where your daughter is coming from developmentally, and learning how clothing for teens and tweens differs from clothing for kids will all help you stay on the same page with your daughter and make shopping for clothes that much easier. Creating a relationship of good communication and mutual respect in this one, sometimes quite fraught area will also help your relationship early on and ensure that you’ll be able to guide your daughter through middle school, high school, and beyond.