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You're not leaving the house wearing that!

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Style conflicts with your teen

It seems like it’s been said since time began: “You’re not leaving the house wearing that!” Your mom said it to you, and now you’re saying it to your child.


Whether the issue is modesty, appropriateness, or you just don’t like what your child is wearing, style clashes happen. Is there any way around style conflicts with your teen?

What your tween and teen wears (or wants to wear) is as much — if not more — influenced by what peers are wearing as by what you want your child to wear. Your child’s personal style is emerging — he or she is finding a comfort level in his or her appearance — even as he or she tries not to look too different from the crowd. Just because you might not wear an outfit doesn’t mean it’s not OK, but your influence over your child’s appearance is still there, and it still matters. But how much should you negotiate?

A generational thing

Think back to your own adolescence and what was in style clothing-wise. Think about the look on your mother’s face when you came out of your room dressed in a manner so foreign to her, her face was like a neon billboard of her thoughts. Yes, that’s what your face looks like to your child. And yes, you have become your mother.

Decide what’s negotiable

Just as it was with you, your children’s clothing style is a reflection of their personality and what they are feeling about their place in life. Some clothing options are about fitting in, and are essentially a “uniform“ of a peer group, and some are about standing out.

There likely are enough areas for conflict in your relationship with your teen, so pick and choose an additional area — like clothing — carefully. Is what your child wearing really all that bad? Or do you just not like it? If it’s not obscene, overly revealing, and still fits into the school dress code, you may just need to step back — and let your child make his or her own style mistakes.

How to help your teen deal with fashion peer pressure >>

And what’s not

Before there’s even conflict, be clear about what elements of attire truly are not negotiable. Rude or obscene T-shirts, for example, or too short skirts, belly-baring tops, or items you consider sleazy. Don’t just bar the attire, explain why you won’t negotiate on those items. In addition, ask deeper questions, ones that get to the heart of why your child would want to draw attention to herself in that way. Are there other issues driving those choices?

Get outside help

If you and your teen are open to it, consider getting some style help. Some local boutiques and larger department stores offer consultant services that can help you and your teen put together current, peer-approved looks while meeting your appropriateness and modesty requirements.

Style conflicts happen between every generation. Before they become too big an issue in your house, figure out what’s negotiable style-wise, and what’s not — and head off clothing clashes with your child.

More on teen style

Tips for dealing with disastrous teen fashion
Teen wants Seventeen magazine exposed
Back-to-school fashion for kids

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