Monday 6 August 2012

You're not going out in that!

My friend recently took her daughter clothes shopping for her birthday - I know she wasn't looking forward to it, fearing clashes over style choices and what defines appropriate dress; and that scenario reminded me about this overdue blog! 

Of the “Seven Stages of Style” from a blog I'd done previously, it was the issue of teen style which had generated the most discussion at networking groups and amongst friends.

I've got a while before I face this particular parental challenge, but this issue still resonates for me as my parents continue to (albeit occasionally) question my outfit choices...usually the bright colours and with 'the look' rather than specific comments/demands!

And the generational gap teens face is just part of the issue. For them there's also the often frustrating lack of financial independence and the weight of peer pressure, but the even bigger picture is that those years are confusing (not that the teen themselves will agree because they believe they know it all!) on both a physical and emotional level. If our clothes reflect who we are -and they do - then if we're ‘confused’ in ourselves, then so might our style be. My suggestions for dressing your teen therefore takes this into consideration.

Remember too that nagging will only turn clothing issue in to a(nother) battle and someone will come out a loser. Follow Damson Belle’s Top Tips for dressing your Teen, for a win-win scenario:

  1. If you don’t take care of your own appearance, have no idea about what’s ‘trendy’ or dress inappropriately yourself, how do you expect to influence your teen? Hence, tip one is to Think about your own style (sorry!) and whose style you praise.
  2. Start where your teen is. If your daughter insists on wearing a miniscule mini, perhaps shorts or the addition of tights might be the compromise; if your son insists on jeans and a t-shirt, add a waistcoat for a cool twist.
  3. On a similar note, compliment/reward them when they get it right (or at least near to it) or some other element of their style... do they wear the right colours, do their make-up well or take pride in their clothes for example – Find something, you can do it! Maybe even take a picture and display it proudly, or what about a visit to a fashion show/museum.
  4. Have realistic expectations: Don’t expect a shift from tracksuits to suits in one transition. Think about progress with your real teen, rather than your try to create the perfect style-teen.
  5. Talk to your teen to find the ‘future focus’ – Does your son/daughter want to be a fashion designer or a doctor... ask them to think about how their style choices now will look to their future selves. This might also give you something else to focus on and help you guide them.
  6. On a similar note, get your teen to think about who they’ll attract with the way they dress especially if they have started to take an interest in the opposite sex! After all, their mates may be into grunge, but is the guy/girl next door?!
  7. Take this another stage, and get them creating... Can you work with your teen to customise their jeans and t-shirt?
  8. Who’s their hero - Is it a sports personality, film star or musician? – What positives can you get them to embrace from that person’s style (old or new) or their style evolution? (Does Madonna come to mind for anyone else?!)
  9. Perhaps most importantly, make sure you help your teen embrace their uniqueness and best self. This is really important if your teen is simply dressing to ‘fit in’ or follow a crowd.
  10. Enlist the help of others – can you encourage their school to talk to teens about personal style or get a relative who they listen to help?
  11. Get in a professional... How about a make-up lesson, personal shopping experience or group session for your teens birthday. We'll make it fun as well as informative!
  12. If all else fails, get out old pictures of yourself (or threaten to dress like your teen self again if you’re feeling bold)! - It will show them you were once young, and remind you that you were too!

Now, as only you know your teen, please pick which tips will work best for your circumstances and don’t be afraid to try a few, and then try again.  Don’t get stressed out and accept that in the end, you may just have to wait - and you may be waiting a very long time!