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Tips for dealing with disastrous teen fashion

Suzi Milovanovic has been a mother of all kinds: stay at home mom, work from home mom, and go-the-office working mom. She blends all these perspectives in her contributions to various local and national print and online publications, tel...

"You're wearing that?"

Teen fashion trends: Who, what, where, how do I get it? That's how today's teen fashion super-sleuths react to the newest fads. While some may be skeptical about getting half a dozen tattoos or piercing in obvious places, others are zooming ahead with these and other innovative teen fashion trends.

Punk GirlTeen clothing and other types of teenage fashion, including hairstyles, jewelry, makeup and accessories, remain a controversial issue from one generation to another. Few teens appreciate or ask for fashion advice, leaving them susceptible to trial-and-error approaches to their appearance in response to peer pressure. Parents often worry about how to guide teens without controlling every decision.

In dealing with anxieties related to teen fashion, casually ask your teen (and yourself) a few questions that may help resolve your feelings on the issue.


  1. What's the motivation behind the new look? There may be many reasons ("it's mad cool," "it's hot") a teen decides to try a new fad. Sometimes the quest for the latest teenage fashion reveals a curious attitude or a creative effort. Don't assume your child is trying some new teen clothing style or fashion trend for shock value or because of a rebellious spirit. Give him the benefit of the doubt until he explains why a certain teenage fashion is appealing.
  2. Does the new look meet your decency standards? If it fails the decency test by showing too much skin, promoting offensive lyrics or depicting inappropriate body parts, simply remind her of your standards and expectations and suggest she choose another item that is more acceptable. Kids may seem to resent teen fashion advice from parents, but actually, some appreciate the guidance and protection afforded by standards that are consistently enforced.
  3. What kind of example does it set for the other in the family and in the community? When an older sibling wears controversial clothing, younger siblings may try to emulate her, wearing items that are not age appropriate. Evaluate each child's personal fashion choices to ensure that all are within acceptable limits. For instance, little girls may be able to wear shorts or halter tops that an older girl should not wear in public, and vice versa.
  4. Does it open the door to future disasters? When parents reluctantly allow a teen to wear a fashion that is borderline inappropriate, they may be opening the door to greater demands from the teen to wear increasingly worse styles.

Joy Rigberg, MEd, MA, educational coach and founder of Conscious Joy Coaching in Phoenix, believes in freedom of expression. She says, "When the method you keep trying continues to produce the same results, it's time to make a change, or continue down the road of insanity."

Ms. Rigberg also advises to be more tolerant with your teen and remember that you too were once that age and probably rebelled or had fashion disasters in much the same way. If you did, Ms. Rigberg suggests sharing those stories with your teen. As a result, she'll respect you more and come to see you from a different, more accessible perspective.

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