Tips on Buying Preteen Clothing

What you should know about tween fashion before you buy

Mother and daughter window shopping
Set a budget before you take your tween shopping. John Giustina/The Image Bank/Getty Images

If your tween is asking to update his or her wardrobe or is begging for a pair of must have jeans, prepare yourself. The fashion industry knows that there's a lot of money to be made in preteen clothing, and tweens are heavily marketed to in television ads, magazines, and in the movies. Peer pressure contributes to their sense of fashion conformity and personal identity. In other words, you can't really pick out your tween's clothing anymore, and that could make for some family conflict.

All of this means that in the coming months and years you'll probably make several trips to the mall. But before you set out on a shopping expedition, make sure you've armed yourself with the knowledge you'll need to stick to your budget, help your tween find appropriate clothes, and have fun in the process. Here's what you need to do.

Take Your Tween Shopping

There was a time when you could pick-out all of your child's clothes by yourself, but that time has come and gone. Preteens are fashion savvy, and they know what they want when it comes to their clothes. If you purchase clothes for your tween when he or she isn't around, you'll probably have to return the items, or it's possible that items will end up in the back of a drawer somewhere, never to be worn. Avoid hearing, "I want to choose my own clothes now!" or "I can't believe you thought I would wear that!" by bringing your tween with you when it comes time to purchase preteen clothing.

You can make shopping a little easier by allowing your tween to preview clothes online, before your shop.

Tips for Back to School Shopping

It's become a tradition for many families to stock up on preteen clothing during summer sales or Back to School sales. Be sure you know your child's school policies and dress codes before you set out to purchase his or her fall clothes.

Also, remember that tweens can still be pretty hard on their clothing, so look for items that will wear and wash well over time.

Girls and Clothes

Girls can be especially difficult to please during the tween years. Be patient as your daughter tries to find her style. It's also important for you to point out if certain clothes are too revealing for someone her age. Be aware that girls can be fashion fickle, but that doesn't mean that you have to replace her wardrobe just because she's tired of a certain look. Make sure she understands upfront that any items she purchases will be a part of her wardrobe until they're outgrown or too worn to wear anymore.

Give Your Tween Some Space

When you shop with your child, give him or her some space and privacy. Hang back while your tween searches the racks or let your child go into a shop while you wait outside or in the doorway. Once he or she has picked-out choices, you can offer up your advice and approve or reject the items your child has picked out.

When You Disagree on What's Appropriate Clothing

It's unlikely that you and your child will make it through the tween years without a major disagreement over clothing. Your daughter may want a skirt that you consider way too short or inappropriate in some other way.

Or your son may want a T-shirt with some salty words displayed on the front. Whatever the concern, you need to know how to deal with disagreements in a civil way. Discuss your family policies on clothing before you go shopping, and be prepared to stand your ground.

Other Tips

  • Establish your budget before you go shopping and share your budget with your tween.
  • Make a list of items your tween needs, and a separate list of items your tween would like to have.
  • Take occasional breaks while shopping. Split a snack with your tween in order to recharge your batteries.
  • Make sure the items you purchase are versatile, and can be mixed and matched with other items your child already owns.
  • Consider bringing one of your child's friends along. They can offer up advice that your tween may consider, and make the experience a little more fun.
  • Don't try to buy everything your child needs at the mall. You can find good prices online, to round out your child's wardrobe. 

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