Starting a new grade in elementary school? Heading off college? No matter what stage our daughters are at, they want to have fun, make new friends, and… look fabulous.
And why not? There’s nothing wrong with making a fashionable statement based on eye-catching outfits that express your daughter’s spirit within the boundaries of modesty. So moms, when you head out to the mall to update your daughter’s wardrobe with some back-to-school shopping, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Let your daughter take the lead about colors and styles – while you set the tone about what constitutes “kosher” coverage. You’re sure to find solutions that will make you both happy, and have a good time shopping, too.
Back to School With A Smile
Here are ten tips to get you started:
- A flattering jean skirt is essential for every girl’s wardrobe, but skirts don’t have to be boring, or look like a stuffy school uniform. Look for fun appliqués or flounces (for younger girls) or a sophisticated drape (for high school and college students). Because they go with everything, jean skirts are the foundation of flexible and modest dressing.
- Stock up on casual pencil skirts in a variety of solid colors. This will give your daughter inspiration in the morning, so she can mix and match to create fun new looks.
- Even non-dressy girls appreciate a comfortable dress that slips over the head and gets her out of the door fast. Whether it’s made of tee-shirt material or a more substantial fabric, look for a dress that’s simple enough to be dressed up with some jewelry or a wide belt, or dressed down (a baseball cap worn fashionably backwards and high-top sneakers?).
- Speaking of flexibility, you’ll want to buy more tops than bottoms when you’re shopping with your girls. Pair your school skirts with elegantly casual tees with ¾ length sleeves, or a boat-neck collar. Button-down shirts that skim over the skirt’s waistline are crisp and fashionable choices for fall days on campus.
- If your daughter’s looking for fun fashion, relax – you can afford it. Along with simple colored shirts, stripes and plaids, stock up on bright and inexpensive logo tees that will give your daughter a chance to express her personal style.
- Want to vary the look? Add more interest to a basic top by adding a stylish vest – denim is a good choice to match those jean skirts. Every girl should have two or three outer garments for layering as fall turns to winter, whether it’s a hoodie, pullover, or long sleeve button down cardigan.
- Don’t forget workout clothes. If your daughter’s school has a specific policy about “Phys Ed” fashion, you can probably rest assured that the girls will be steered toward appropriate and modest active wear. But if the school doesn’t supply the dress code, you can step up to the plate. From long basketball shorts to covered sports skirts with leggings, there are a lot of options out there. Find something colorful and comfortable, and your daughter will probably find fashionable uses for them outside of gym class.
- Accessories are make-or-break items for casual back-to-school fashions, but you don’t have to break the bank. Set limits and ground rules with your daughter, but let her do her own shopping in this department. You’ll be surprised how many hair ornaments, belts and bangles she finds that bring her in under budget!
- Shoes, did anyone mention shoes? Before you head out to the store, take a back-to-school inventory. For growing girls, a new pair of school shoes is essential. Your daughter will also need sneakers for gym, boots for wet/snowy weather, and a pair of Mary Jane’s or dressy flats.
- Finally, find the accessories your daughter needs to keep organized. For younger kids, consider purchasing a roller backpack or a backpack with straps. A cute lunchbox will make your daughter feel special, and might even encourage her to eat her vegetables!
Well, the data is in, and it confirms what so many of us already knew. So why aren’t children’s clothing designers – especially the ones who design outfits for our little girls – paying attention?
A team of social psychologists recently published an academic study about how clothing choices affect how children are perceived by adults. According to the study, when children dress in “sexualized” clothing – a general category that includes skin-revealing cuts, as well as garments decorated with provocative images or text – adults are significantly less likely to believe these children to be intelligent, competent, or responsible.
The Numbers Show…
In the study, 162 male and female volunteers from an American liberal arts college were shown one of three images of the same fifth-grade girl, manipulated by computer software so that her clothing was either childlike, somewhat sexualized, or definitely sexualized. In each case, the child was also described in terms of her level of accomplishment – either average, or above average.
No surprise: When participants in the experiment were presented with the image in highly sexualized clothing and the girl was described as “above average”, the response – as reflected in the answers given to a set of standard questions – was: You must be joking.
Teach Kids to Dress for Respect
Most adults understand that they have to dress appropriately if they want to be taken seriously. But for kids, what constitutes “appropriate” is never clearly defined, and this can have serious social consequences.
Full A-line Skirt with Elastic Waist
Even the most responsible parents can be uncomfortable about exerting authority over clothing choices that – in many cases – haven’t truly crossed the line. After all, if parents are seen as obsessing about a hemline that’s too short, or a shirt that shows a little too much shoulder, children are likely to dig in their heels, and insist on just those outfits that push parental buttons.
But if we want children to respect our values, we have to clearly define what those values are. This includes listening to your child, and coming to a workable agreement about what it means to dress appropriately, within mutually-acceptable limits of modesty.
From Worst-case Scenario to Best Results
Modest dressing is often presented to children in terms of avoiding danger. We all want to keep our children safe, and it is unfortunately true that too-provocative clothing may in some instances invite dangerous, inappropriate attention.
But one of the best ways we can protect children is to teach children about the powerful, emotional impact that our clothing choices can have. Scientific research has confirmed that it’s possible to dress – not just for success – but for respect.
I admit it. When I heard about moms in New York City spending thousands of dollars to hire professional organizers to pack their children’s camp trunks, I was shocked. I was also jealous.
Successful packing for sleep-away camp – whether the little darling’s adventure lasts one week or two months – requires more than just working through the camp’s checklist. The trick is to balance the camp’s directives against your child’s very real needs to cover up, yet look cool in all weather conditions. All this, without the availability of a private laundress (er, that would be you).
Swim/Run Skirt with Contrasting Leggings for Girls
First Things First
Before you begin, use a laundry pen to mark every single item that’s going to camp – from socks to soap dish – with your child’s name. Sew-on or iron-on labels are also an option, but only for parents organized enough to order them in time to be available on packing day (Did I mention I was jealous those New York moms?).
Basics that Mix and (More or Less) Match
Children contend with all kinds of situations while they’re at camp, so flexibility is key to successful packing. Limit stand-alone outfits, and instead, choose simple tops and bottoms in colors that work together in a wide variety of combinations. Prepare your camper for the inevitable changes in the weather by packing items that can be layered on during the chilly morning hours, then peeled off as temperatures rise.
A lightweight fleece under a rain poncho will help your kid weather any storm, and will also save the packing room that would be taken up by a dedicated raincoat. And for super hot, sunny days, remember, less is not always more. Pack long-sleeved shirts, long pants or skirts made out of light, breathable materials. You may also want to look into clothing and swimwear that has sun protection built right into the fabric. Such items – formerly sold only in specialty camping stores – are now easy to find, and not that expensive.
Speaking of swimming, if your child is going to be down at the lake every day, a single bathing suit is simply not enough. There’s nothing more unpleasant than suiting up for swimming in something not quite dry. Encourage your children to wear modest swim suits that keep their upper arms and thighs covered and protect them from the sun. Modest swimwear is a fashion statement, and a time-saver; some kids use their modest swimsuit as a wardrobe basic, both in the water and on land.
Color Me Happy
It’s not so long ago that the term “camp shirt” referred to a straight-cut, conservative cotton blouse with a spread collar and buttons. Indeed, this kind of shirt is still in demand for school uniforms. But when camp time rolls around, children want to “make the scene” and meet new people while wearing fun fashions that expresses who they are – or who they would like to be.
I’m not suggesting children should be 100% free to choose their own camp wardrobe. But letting your camper pick out a few splashy T-shirts is more than just a clothing investment. It’s an investment in your child’s confidence, and ultimately, the success of his or her camping experience. Just think of that when all the packing’s done, and the bus is pulling away…
The school year is about the end, and summer is just around the corner. Hooray! No more rushing to prepare school lunches and waking up at the break of dawn for carpool! Now it is my time to relax. No wait, I almost forgot that it is time for summer camp! Usually during this time, I panic about the preparations for my kids‘ summer camp. My eldest kids usually go to sleep away camp for nearly 2 months, so I have many things to organize and buy. I have to be especially prudent and plan ahead of time, so I don’t wind up in the same unfortunate situation as last year. Last year, I left buying all the summer camp clothing at the last minute, which resulted in not finding everything and my kids throwing fits. This year, I’m very proud of myself. I put together a list with the help of my kids, listing all the things we need to buy for camp.
At the top of my summer camp clothing essentials were casual and sports skirts. Camp is all about casual and comfort is the key. Knee length casual cotton skirts are great for summer camp as they are very cool and comfortable. Playing sports can be tricky while wearing modest clothing, but there are athletic skirts that are comfortable, flexible, and modest.
I originally forgot to include sports skirts on my list. Luckily, my daughter reminded me to about getting a couple sports skirts, since laundry is not done that often in camp. The mesh sports skirt is fun as it looks just like mesh basketball shorts. The French terry Lycra one has some stretch and is great for running, walking, and sport. Modest running skirts are also on the list, but hard to find, so start looking early. I bought a running skirt with built — in leggings which is super comfortable. Now my daughters can enjoy rock climbing and playing sports without any fear of being exposed!
Enjoy an active summer!