Fighting the Fashion Battle With Your Tween

By: Danielle.

If you have a tween or young teenage daughter the arguments over what she can and cannot wear may already have started. Peer pressure and celebrity influence seem to get stronger with each generation, and your daughter is already trying to fit in by looking, and maybe acting, much older than she actually is. Frequent disagreements about appropriate clothing can stress the mother-daughter relationship and erode communication on other topics too.

There are ways to end the on-going battle over clothes and help your daughter feel good about herself without dressing like a backup dancer in a music video.

Set Clear Fashion Boundaries

Discuss with your tween what is absolutely not acceptable. Low-cut tops, jeans that reveal underwear when she bends over, clothing that’s tight fitting, short skirts and high heels are definitely not appropriate for a girl between the ages of 9 and 12. If there aren’t clear boundaries your daughter will be much more likely to make inappropriate choices. And once the boundaries are set, keep them.

Sometimes, it’s a parent’s job to say no. You hold the purse strings, so you hold the power – though that may change as your tween grows into a teen and gets her first job. If she wants something you deem cheap and trashy, don’t give in; you’ll only be setting a precedent for more arguing and limit stretching next time.

Take an Interest in Her Fashion Preferences

Face it, your tween might actually know more about the fashion world than you do. Find out what style of girls clothing she identifies with. Is she boho chic, retro, romantic or modern? If you don’t know, ask her. Ask which celebrities she admires and why. Look at magazines together and discuss the outfits the models are wearing. Making an effort to understand the look she’s going for will help you purchase clothes or put together outfits that she’ll like. It may be that she doesn’t understand how to translate the looks she likes into outfits that are age-appropriate. Once you understand her general sense of style, you’ll be in a better position to help her.

Model Modesty

Yes, as an adult you do have the right to wear whatever you want, but it makes it much harder to emphasize appropriateness to your tween if you’re wearing low-cut blouses or super-short skirts to the grocery store. Your opinion will carry more weight if your daughter sees that you practice what you preach.

Encourage Her Individuality

T.V. personality and acclaimed psychologist Dr. Phil encourages parents to help their daughters discover their unique talents in order to build their self-esteem. A girl with self confidence and a strong sense of what she can contribute to the world is much less likely to emulate those trashy reality TV stars.


If it covers everything it’s supposed to cover, does it really matter that you don’t like that blouse or those pants? In other words, pick your battles. That’s something smart moms are already good at. As long as she’s keeping it age-appropriate, let your daughter experiment with fashion. She will be much more open to listening to your opinion if you make room for hers as well.

Take comfort in the fact that this too shall pass. Your tweenage daughter is struggling with her identity as an individual and is learning how to bridge the gap between little girl and young lady. She’s got a big job and so do you. Remind yourself that years from now when she looks back on family pictures she’ll thank you for not letting her run around in Daisy Duke shorts and lingerie-inspired tank tops when she was 12 years old, even if her friends were.


Danielle writes on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts. Every time she questions the age-appropriateness of her own fashion choices she asks herself, “Would Gram approve if I wrote this to her house for Sunday dinner?” If the answer is “no”, a reevaluation may be necessary.

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