Are you the mother of a tween?

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 20 Comments

It’s not a trick question but it can be a tricky question when it comes to clothes shopping.  My own daughter is now 14.  In the 12 months prior to her turning 14, she went from kids’ clothes to adults’ clothes, right before my eyes. Scary stuff.  And not just for my budget.

The variety of fashion choices opened up … she was out of the fashion wasteland that had been her tween years.

From the ages of about nine to 13, girls today are super keen to grow up.  Their minds are all a Gaga and Beiber.  They want to grow up. Fast.

Some tween fashion role models? Singer Willow Smith and Mad Men's Kiernan Shipka.

They want to be hanging out at Supre, Dotti and Valley Girl but even if the clothes fit them physically, it’s all just a little bit too adult for my liking.  Or is that just me?

And therein lies the growing dilemma, how do you temper their desire to look and dress like they’re 15 and still guide them into clothes choices that you’ll BOTH be happy with?

In Miss A’s latter years, I’ve escaped easily in this department  – she threw more tantrums over dresses as a three-year-old than when she was 13.  (The story of her screaming the length of our local shopping centre when I wouldn’t buy her the pink-frilled licensed character dress of her dreams is one that I’ll be replaying at her 21st.)

She’s always loved new clothes but she’s never shown a desire to look older than her age.  (She’ll kill me if she reads this, but the other day she was actually worried about how short her dress was.) Go figure.  Clearly, I’ve done something right.

So, how do you work with – not against – the growing up too quickly trend and come out in a similar position?

You could try not letting your daughter out of the house (except for school).  This is a method threatened by fathers from birth.  Dads wish they could enforce it; mums know that it takes greater psychological warfare than that.

My one big tip is to try and make shopping for clothes a fun thing you do together – before the tween years turn to teen.  (For this to remain a fun event, you need to exercise extreme patience, not sing along to Katy Perry even if it’s being blasted on the in-store music system and become immune to eye rolls.)

For us, it’s generally a school holidays thing.  Yes, she goes shopping with her friends now she’s older; but I’m still considered a good sounding board (and cash supply) as a starting point.

And I tell her the same thing that I tell my clients – that top or necklace are not coming home unless you absolutely LOVE them.

Tween stuff I like

Tween fashion

1.  Country Road Kids took their size range up to size 12 about a year ago.  I like their girls’ collection as it’s not too frou frou and it’s quality that lasts.  For info about this outfit, head here.

2.  Eeni Meeni Miini Moh.  Love, love, love this range out of Queensland.  It’s age appropriate but with a nod to trends and very wearable.  This skirt is way too cute.

3.  Witchery extended to kids in 2010.  Much, like Country Road, it’s appealing to the kids of its core customers.   So much so, I’d seriously like a women’s version of this dress.

4.  NIVEA lip balms are perfect for tweens – they feel like they’re wearing “makeup”; you’re happy that they’re not; the bonus is and that their lips are not cracked!  (NIVEA Fruity Shine $3.98 – out in May; NIVEA Pearl & Shine $3.98 – out in June).

5.  The Lost Girls by Minkpink is a new tween range from from this Australian brand.  I love that the range includes lots of options for all girls – from the girlie girls to the tomboys.  More info on the website here.

Comments 20

  1. Thanks Nikki for your info ! I was in Cotton On just today asking when they are going increase the sizes for kids above 8. My two girls love their clothes but my eldest is going to be 10 in January and is petite but will outgrow the range probably in the next 6 months 🙁 I will be looking at your suggestions thanks 🙂

  2. Hi I live in Melbourne and started my very own shop called KissChasy Clothing in Moonee Ponds for all of the above reasons. I start at size 6 and go up to size 16.. I have sourced far and wide for age appropriate clothing and giftware Check out my facebook page..

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  3. I have 3 tween girls, yep, one two three of them, they can even share their clothes, which is handy as i like to invest in decent clothes since birth, it’s served us well. I like the basics from Country Road & my high schooler is almost an XS at Esprit’s EDC range, but with zero signs of hips or boobs on any of them (imagine whippit thin long distance runners, they just don’t have any signs of puberty) they dress suitably. I did make the year 6 graduation dress, all the teachers said “most suitable outfit ever” as it was, sweet & age appropriate, she chose the fabric & design, i made it, she still loved it!!
    I am alarmed more by the length of skirts & tiny shorts many girls in this age group are wearing & they do NOT have the figures for it. It’s not that hard to find a plain T or tank, teamed with a cute denim skirt or shorts, ballet flats & cute headband to look like a cool tween. We only do the earring thing just before high school, i had to wait, so can my girls!!
    My girls aren’t interested in trying to look older, they are petit & not tall yet, so they’re happy in stylish dresses for parties & cool casual. Have to say, i’m willing to pay CR, Witchery, Oilily prices for the right look & they last 3-4 children (my son is going to a few handmedowns from his sisters).
    Really like your picks, if a skirt is too short, go the fun tights, done!! I would never put my children in black, including shoes, just anohter one of my rules & they don’t fight it. I’m into colour though, i’m a designer so they trust my fashion choices. Finally – i’ve always taken them shopping for my clothes, their clothes, homewares, everything, even my son doesn’t mind shopping. Love Posie

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      Sounds like you’ve got just the relationship with your girls that is crucial at this time. And yes, I hear you on the no hip thing – my daughter changed almost overnight It was a shock! I too have spent on these labels – a less is more justification – and when they’re at school, they don’t need so many clothes.

  4. Hey Nikki,
    Just be happy your daughter isnt wanting to wear shoes like Willow Smith is wearing! What the?

    As the mum of two little boys, I’m not facing the situation first hand, but wonder about the closing gap between what is acceptable and available for children/tweens/teens to wear, and what we, as mums wear.

    Case in point: I turned up to my god daughters birthday party wearing my new lightweight Country Road trench, and there was a 4 year old, wearing an almost identical one. I wanted to point out (in a whingy voice) that I bought it first, but then her mum mentioned she bought it for her last season. In Europe.
    Usurped by a kindi-girl.

    When will it end?
    The worst thing is when mums are called names like ‘muttony mummy’ for being accused of dressing like their daughters ala Demi Moore a few weeks ago. I wrote about that here:

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      I love that story – out-fashioned by a 4-year-old!
      And as for mums dressing their age – I’m of the firm belief that we no longer need to be pidgeon-holed into dressing a certain way based on age. It’s more about what your style, shape and lifestyle are about (and staying classy!). I think my daughter semi listens to my fashion viewpoint because I do dress for 2011. And that’s a good thing!

  5. love this – I have 2 girls in this age group and it is so hard to find modest looking clothes for them. They are just to young to wear what I see in the shops. One of my daughters like you is in adult size and we have sooo much trouble. Thanks for the ideas. N x

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      It is difficult, Naomi. For the daughter who’s moved into adult sizes, then try JayJays and in Myer’s Miss Shop there is a range called One Tru Love that is age appropriate for these girls.

      1. I soo agree with you on that Nikki…. JJ’s has been great for my 13yr old… keeps her in casual style and still within our very limited budget. their special are amazing. She actually some by some nice frilly pieces from Valley girl and if you shop carefully together ( and if you are lucky enough to have a sensible girl like mine 🙂 ) then they can really add to the wardrobe. Unfortunately I have no budget for the designer shops but she always dresses in her own style with a combination of kids and teens look…I am lucky she still asks me for advice and approval LOL but I think this is because I have always bought her clothes and tried to keep them current before she got to wanting to choose her own
        Another great topic Nikki


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