As a divorced parent, I think that clothes shopping can be a real pain. It would be nice to make believe that your child would easily transition from one house to the next with a ton of clothes that they love, as well as food, games, friends, and a million dollars that they have stashed away some place. (One can dream right?) Add to this fact that I am the father of a daughter who needs to take her to shop for clothes; she hates dressing rooms and trying on clothes, and visits to a clothing store can be a real nightmare. Even for parents that are still together, shopping for your kids can be a real challenge. Then, when you get to those tweenage years (Do not look it up in Webster’s just yet. Maybe it will become a thing eventually. Just call me Mr. Carroll.), your child is going through all sorts of physical and chemical changes. It would be hard enough if I had a boy. But as I have a girl, it’s a whole other pain.
Take all of these issues and add to that having a daughter who is tall for her grade, while not developing some of those curves yet (thankfully), and it gets really awkward trying on clothes. All the clothes that are out there for women pretend that the people wanting to purchase them have a bust, or are a size negative 20. What do you do when your child doesn’t have a bust, and you don’t really want them to either? And if they don’t have a bust, how can you explain to them that most stores only make clothes for mannequins? I don’t think homeschooling them is the answer. Kids are socially awkward enough at this age. Taking them out of school sends the wrong message to them. So you have to have good places that they can get some clothes that are age appropriate, and size appropriate at the same time.
So I run down the checklist of things I need:
- Cute but not cuddly cute
- Room to grow into but shouldn’t look like they are wearing a boat
- Fun, but won’t get your child kicked out of school (You’d be surprised these days how thin that line is between acceptable and not acceptable.)
- Modest but they shouldn’t make you hearken back to the 1820s
- Not Goth (although that’s coming) and not like they exited a 80s music video either (Neon looked good on no one.)
- The dreaded it factor. Somehow your kids know “it” when they see “it.” Whatever “it” is.
I am sure that there are a ton of other things that one could consider: length of the sleeve; height of the skirt; whether you insist your child wear leggings, jeggings, or whatever the heck they think they are; holes or no holes; sheer or not sheer clothing material and where it is appropriate and inappropriate. I could go on and on for days, but then we would all be curling up on a floor in the fetal position wondering whether it would be better or not if the other parent should take them. Just letting you know, to all the women out there, if you want to torture your guy, or get back at an ex, make them do the clothes shopping. They will be muttering under their breaths to themselves for days. They might even require the services of a therapist and antipsychotics.
And if you don’t intend on torturing them, or you need to find a good place for you to do your tweenage girl shopping, check out these five stores that can definitely help you out.
5) Kohl’s – They have a plethora of choices of items with which to choose. And to be honest they have some really cute, and yet not too cute items for them to try on. They have made an arrangement with Disney to carry some of their line of clothing, and this has extended into the adult sizes. When the Cinderella movie came out and my daughter was teetering between sizes (I hate the designers can’t seem to agree on what the size of any particular item is.), we found some amazing adult sized Cinderella clothes that were pretty good. And what was even better is that they weren’t so cute that I was going to scream out with the cuteness, or demand that I take a picture with my daughter. Because as much as she loves picture taking, she’s not really into having that done while she is trying on clothes.
My only warning about Kohl’s it that the prices are ridiculously inflated. I know that people have heard of inflating prices to have a “sale” on Black Friday. At Kohl’s they seem to do this all year long. There are perpetual sales, which seem to be impossible. And they always have advertisements in the mail with “coupons” for even bigger sales. I think they have to believe that some people out there are suckers and are willing to pay their inflated price tags. I am not sure who they are. Despite the warning, they do have some great clothing and if you keep track of the sales and the coupons you can get your child reasonably priced clothes that they will enjoy wearing.
4) Justice – As long as you like the style of clothing, justice has some amazing clothes that your kids will love. They have a large selection of all different types of clothing for girls. As long as your tween enjoys wearing some brighter outfits and hasn’t gone fully Goth yet, then you can find some beautiful clothes here. From dresses to clothing sets and accessories for the girl who is starting to look at purses and jewelry, Justice gives you a plethora of alternatives.
My only warning about Justice is the price tag. They do have some good sales from time to time. And the clearance rack can have some good deals, although they are a bit limited. I understand that the price of clothing goes up markedly as the child passes from children’s sizes into adult sizes, but here they seem to be really high. Maybe I have had too many years of shopping at Target to be able to come to a store where I get an outfit and a skirt for 100 dollars (with a 50 percent off discount) and be happy. But maybe that’s just me.
3) Forever 21 – The greatest thing about Forever 21 is the variety of clothing styles that they have for kids in the tween set. I realize that the name on the store makes one begin to wonder whether or not this is the right place for your tweens, but they are one of the good stores out there that have a wide variety of items and styles. Some places focus on pants. Some focus on dresses. Some focus on other types of outfits, but Forever 21 carries a bit of everything.
Thankfully my daughter is a fairly modest girl. She is the girl who has to wear pants or long shorts under all of her dresses. I suppose she has a fashion sense all of her own. This being the case, she doesn’t want to go to Tom Boy R’ Us and she doesn’t want to go to a high end dress shop either, no matter how fancy those dresses are. Forever 21 has a good mixture of all styles. Maybe they aren’t a high end clothing store, but given how much things will change for your child in the coming years, do you really want that?
2) Target – Given that I have admitted to being a regular Target shopper, one would wonder why I wouldn’t put this store number one on my list. Don’t get me wrong. My daughter absolutely loves this place. But it isn’t necessarily because of the clothing. First, they do have some great clearance at Target, not just clothing but with all of the other items that they sell. If you are a regular shopper there, you go down the back of the store and you will almost always find some amazing deal or other that they have. But that is not what you are looking for when you are seeking out clothing. The good thing is that they still have some good clearance items. However, these clearance items are nowhere near as good as the one they have for kids clothing. I also think that they have a good blend of cute clothing for children while not being too cute. And they almost always have a wide variety in sizes from which to choose, which is important as your kids are at that awkward stage. Plus Target has a good deal of clothing that is for tweenage boys as well as girls.
The danger here, simply put, is that you will walk out of the store spending far more than you intended, and you will get caught spending money on the wrong things. If your significant other or your pocketbook doesn’t mind about that kind of spending then fine. My pocketbook is jealous of your pocket book. Just beware of getting side tracked, and beware of endcaps. You might not escape with your life
1) Hot Topic – I suppose you could say that I have lost my mind here. Isn’t this the semi-goth clothing store that they have in a plethora of malls throughout the states? Why would I want to allow my child to go Goth before it’s time? Maybe I don’t even want to let them wear Goth clothing at all. Black is just not a good color. I suppose that if this is true, I might recommend one of the previous retailers. But seriously, Hot Topic goes way beyond that. Before going the first time to look for tween clothes, I had a friend of mine with a daughter recommend that I try this place out. I had been in it before. I wasn’t really looking for tween clothing. Shortly thereafter, I was out at the mall with a friend getting lunch and she needed to get something in there. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I instantly knew why that friend told me that this was the place for my daughter. It’s like a nerd paradise for clothing. The clothing they have is not just Goth. It has Band T-shirts, Fantastic Beast clothes, Beauty and the Beast clothing, Suicide Squad, Dr. Who, Disney clothing, a Miss Peregrine’s line, and much much more. If your kids are into anything today, they will love this place. I will admit that some of the clothing there may go way beyond the modesty rules that you have for your child. And that is perfectly ok. You are a parent. You can go in there and say what they can and cannot purchase. And if you find it hard finding what you are looking for in the store, as Hot Topic is probably the most boutique of all of these stores, aside from Justice, their sales staff is amazingly helpful with almost anything you could want. They really do put the customer first.
My daughter, who can be the most difficult when trying on clothing in the store, had her eyes light up immediately. And what was great was that I didn’t even have to fight to get her to try on all the clothing. She just went right in. Furthermore, my daughter is not a big accessory person, but they can add to an outfit and can be very cute. I had never seen my daughter so excited to look through a variety of accessories before. She came up to me showing me all of the different things she was interested in. I suppose that I should have been nervous that she was excited about spending money, but getting her to be excited about the clothes she was wearing was worth it.
On top of all this, they have the most amazing clearance selection of clothing in all different sizes. I was able to purchase an incredible trench coat with ornate Nightmare Before Christmas designs on it for forty dollars. They had buy one get one half off deals, and buy one get one thirty percent off deals. And this included things that were already clearance priced. I can’t go here all the time. But I knew that between price and my daughter’s excitement about what she was wearing, that I had found the place to go when it came to tween clothing.
So these are my top five clothing stores for tweens. What are some of your favorite tween clothing stores? Do you know of some amazing boutiques that are unique to you that people should check out? What things do you look for when you are trying to purchase clothes for them? How difficult is it for you as single parents to get clothes that you know you will have for your child when they stay with you? I would love to hear from all of you. And if you like this blog or would love other information about great places, clothing, recipes, travel destinations, or just need a good laugh, subscribe to The Single Dad’s Guide to Life.
This is me, signing off for now.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life