Teens want independence, but few parents are ready to give their teens a credit card, a car and complete autonomy in choosing their wardrobe for the year. Especially if your teen is heading to a school without a uniform but with a strict dress code, letting a teen make their own shopping choices could be disastrous for months to come, if it doesn’t wreck your household budget in the meantime.
Then again, parent-teen shopping trips aren’t well-known for being pleasant experiences. Often, clothes shopping is a major point of contention between parents and teens, who struggle to compromise on issues like style and price. It’s not uncommon for shopping trips to end in tears, from one or both parties.
Ultimately, as the parent, you have all the power in controlling how your teen dresses — but that doesn’t mean you should use it. Instead, you should work with your teen, strengthening your relationship as you cultivate a new wardrobe together. Here’s how.
Talk About Personal Style
Since they came home, you have been dressing your kid in whatever clothes you think are cute — but that has changed. Your teen is beginning to fine-tune their personality, developing a sense of taste that will inform their decisions for the rest of their life. You need to allow them to experiment with personal style, so they can cultivate an identity that they understand and respect.
Some teens know exactly what their personal style is, and others need time and space to explore. Before you go shopping together, you should have a conversation about how they currently envision their style. Not only will this help you better understand what kinds of teen clothing you should look for — what stores you should visit, etc. — but it will also help them focus their attention on a certain style, so they don’t regret any purchases in the immediate future.
Understand the Trends
It’s safe to say that teen clothing looks much, much different than it was when you were that age. It might help you wrap your head around what your teen wants to buy if you have a better grasp of what other teens are wearing right now. Here are some popular trends for 2020:
- Oversized tops. Bulky, chunky and oversized are in, but most teens tend to stick to oversized tops and fitted bottoms.
- Matching sweat sets. Think: a sports bra, crop top or sweatshirt matched exactly to sweatpants. Often, these sets are DIY-ed somehow, like tie-dyed, bleached or enhanced with iron-on patches.
- Recent retro. A number of trends from the ‘90s are back in style, and unfortunately, the early ‘00s are coming back, too.
Determine a Budget
You should know all too well that clothes-related expenses can get out of hand, fast. Especially because your teen won’t wear these clothes forever — just for the next few months, until they change their personal style or grow out of their old sizes — you don’t want to break the bank building their wardrobe.
Fortunately, today’s teens are more cost-conscious than those that came before. Many are eager to shop at consignment and thrift stores, where they can find the one-of-a-kind retro looks that are en vogue, and many of the trendiest brands, like Champion and Brandy Melville, are much more reasonable in terms of price than popular brands of yesteryear.
Even so, you should assess your finances and make a strict budget for each shopping trip. You should do this with your teen, so they gain a better sense of their financial constraints and practice financial literacy as much as possible.
Go Slow and Steady
You don’t need to fill your teen’s wardrobe in one giant shopping trip. In fact, doing so is destined to cause stress and strife. Instead, you should make shopping a regular boding activity between you and your teen. You can set aside one weekend day every month to hit the stores and pick up pieces to fill in wardrobe gaps. At most, you and your teen should only be shopping for a couple of hours at a time to reduce the likelihood of bad feelings.
Cultivating a wardrobe you love takes a lifetime, and it begins in teendom. You shouldn’t give your teen full freedom to control their clothing, but you shouldn’t dictate what they can wear, either. By communicating, going slowly and making choices together, you can settle on a style that suits your teen, your parent sensibilities and your budget.