Keeping It Real

By Holly McElwee

May 1, 2014

By Holly McElwee

Shopping for “modest” clothing for my teenage daughter used to frustrate me, not because my daughter wants to wear clothes that I disapprove of. Modern clothing manufacturers don’t understand that some parents aren’t comfortable with plunging necklines, booty shorts, and midriff-baring tops on 13-year-old children. Yes, I said, “children,” because that’s what they are. These girls aren’t women, they’re children.

After much trial and error, I’ve developed a few of strategies for locating modest, age-appropriate clothing for my teenage daughter.

Set boundaries. My daughter and I have discussed criteria for her clothing. I’m fortunate that she is a very modest person who wants to dress conservatively. As the parent, I set clothing expectations according to school dress codes and our own family requirements. Her height and body shape also play into the clothing decisions that are made. I’m very clear about what I will approve of for her closet.

Avoid Juniors’ departments. I know, those departments have all the trendy clothes, but they also have totally inappropriate clothes, too. We cruise on over the regular misses section where there’s plenty of trendiness along with higher necklines and longer hemlines.

Try it on, try it on, and try it on some more. We choose many different items from the racks and partake in a marathon try-on session. There have been times my daughter tried on 20 different pieces to only find one acceptable outfit.

Enlist the help of a seamstress. I’ve been blessed with a mother who can sew well. She often hems, alters, adds, and adjusts clothes for both of my girls. I’ve also worked to develop a few sewing skills of my own. This gives us many more wardrobe options.

Buy in bulk. Once my girls find jeans, shorts, or shirts that fit well and meet their style wants and needs, we buy several versions of those items in various colors. This is a trick I often use in my own wardrobe, too!

Use accessories well. We invest in some key pieces of clothing that fit well and meet the style criteria, and then we change up the look with accessories. Belts, shoes, jewelry, headbands, purses….the options are endless. It’s easier to replace accessories when they fall out of fashion, and it’s fun to incorporate them, too. Plus, when I share these items with my daughters, it looks like all the girls of the household have huge wardrobes.

Frequent the favorites. When we find a brand or store that often has good choices, we make it our go-to shopping spot. Venturing away from the familiar is when we start to lose our way or get frustrated.

Network. I try to talk to other moms who have daughters in the same age bracket. We can share tips for shopping locations and brands. We also help each other watch for coupons and sales.

I use these strategies to lead my family to fashion success, and I won’t compromise in my standards for their clothing choices. Age-appropriate, modest dressing is possible, but it definitely takes work.

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