And a teenager in the house is definitely one of them
It causes arguments, frustration, anger and throwing toys out of the cot…. And that’s just me trying to get my oldest to bring his dirty laundry down.
By end of school holidays it’ll be the word Mumm I want to hear opening, not ”Muuuuuuuuuum, where’s my other school shoe?”
A question I often get asked is where, and how do I buy my kids clothes? It’s a constant battle that us parents are up against, amongst other, things that honestly drive me frankly up the bend..
With one teen, one tween and a 9 year old that acts like he’s 18 since he was born, I’m trying to navigate what is appropriate, alongside what’s available and in a price bracket that isn’t going to force us to sell one of my kidney’s.
There are days when I want to wring their necks because of their choice of outfits, particularly when we have a family gathering, function or leaving the house to be fair… don’t even get me started on Christmas day! It normally goes like this…. “George.. shower, Will, put some pants on and Marguerite, can you choose something clean" is generally what is said and where it definitely starts to go awry.
Am I asking too much to send my kids out into the big world, hoping they'll have standards?
Personally I find it tricky to navigate this stage when they are now surrounded by influence left, right and centre. High end designers are releasing these cool pieces targeted for the fashion conscious teens, but they can’t afford it. So it’s generally us, the parents that are left with the burn, the brunt and the expectation to purchase said items and we are the worst (actually, make that the "worssssssst parrrrrents everrrrrrr") in the world because we’re refusing to spend $99 on a pair of Tommy Hilfiger boxers… THAT NO ONE WILL EVER SEE!
We expect our three kids to save, no matter their age, they’ve got chores, jobs and they can spend some, save some and we also get them to donate sometimes. Whether that’s from their hard earned money, or old clothes and toys to keep their asses grounded.
We want our kids to understand that not everyone has parents who can just whip out a card whenever they want something. We do buy their basics, and most clothes particularly the younger two, but if George wants that $200 Ralph Lauren polo, guess who’s buying it?? (He found one in a really cool consignment store in pristine condition recently, so was well chuffed).
I recently had my teen niece from the States stay with us, and as my job as “Cool Aunty”… oh…I’m not?? Damn it… I mean “stylist” she asked me to take her shopping to give her some ideas around that next stage. It’s really hard out there for them, as it’s such a tricky age.
Too old for Cotton On jnr, or any other store with the “junior area” and too young for most other places. So it was about teaching her to listen to herself and trust her intuition with what she’s drawn to without getting caught up in peer pressure. Then there’s self-body issue situation that we can’t hide from as that’s the stuff that can stick for life.
In my time… We all looked and dressed like boys. Our choices were limited to Moleskins, Barkers track pants, linen skirts and shirts and multiple aertex’s (had to keep a good one for gatherings of course) plus boat shoes. To keep warm maybe a Guernsey home spun jumper. I then rinsed and repeated for every type of gathering possible. NO WONDER the boys I liked never looked my way.. we all looked like one of them..!!!
There is a lot of choice, and there is more out there then you think, but it is about sitting down and talking through with your child and finding out what makes them tick. We want them to dress their age, but not too old.. so how do we do this? I’m no expert, just a parent who wants their kids to grow up with a sense of self that will take them anywhere and enough self love to keep to allow them to feel they can achieve anything.
My advice is to start their own Pinterest page, or save pics off Instagram if they are on there. Start collating some cool looks that they are drawn to. Sit with them and do it with them so they can show you and involve you in their style exploration.
Allow them to have fun with fashion, as this is the time when they start to appreciate their own sense of self-awareness around their style personality among other personalities that start to flourish and eventually become them.
They will always feel the external pressure of their friends and peers and this never stops even when you're adulting. If there are friends who they look to for inspiration, I can assure you that that friend will be looking for inspiration too from friends and have their own insecurities about other things.
So here are my top tips and places..
Start them a Pinterest page, and get them to explore their style.
Most stores will carry similar styles and trends, so if you find store expensive, look around as I can guarantee you’ll find what they are looking for elsewhere.
Online will be your friend, sit with them while they are looking, and give them a budget to work with and give them a sense of pride in their choice.
We live in Christchurch and the choice is a little limited when it comes to where to go for them to be an individual and not look like everyone else if they want to explore that side of them. But there are some good stores around that do cater for that in the meantime.
H&M in CHCH carry some great pieces for that slightly younger age, as long as you prevent them from that area that has skirts the length of a belt-width.
You want them to feel current because that’s just second nature, and some kids won’t even be into fashion.. My youngest is into hunting, so his choice would not be H&M but instead H&F (Hunting and Fishing)
Teach and talk to your children about self image, don't be afraid to talk to them about your own, whether from your past or present, it makes you human to them.
With this comes the question around quantity over quality. I could spend endless amounts on my kids as they're pretty cute, but I don’t because there’s only one place it always ends up, and that’s the floordrobe.
Below I've linked all stores that we tend to look at the most with my teen, tween and grommet.
The popular online store ASOS has seen a serious boom in popularity recently, brought on by its well-priced fashion, speedy shipping and no-hassle returns policy.
Known for it's up to date trends, basics and affordability.
The Designer Wardrobe
Great for one offs, hired pieces for events, functions, school balls and consignment.
THE ICONIC features a new kidswear section with a whole range of clothing dedicated to teenage girls. Hallelujah...
Culture Kings (have great sales too at times and George has managed to get himself some great pieces on sale)
Full to the brim with cool surf, skate and street brands.
Similar to Glasson's, but for everyone.
Great pieces for guys, and young guys, and even goes to an XXS which is that awkward stage, not quite a teen.
No online store available here in NZ, maybe one day..
My personal opinion with Zara as super easy to deal with, Most clothes turn up exactly like pic, but I prefer to shop in store here.
If you struggle with all the above, and would love some more one on one advice, I'd love to hear from you..