School Shopping

Ah, the joys of school shopping.  I was exhausted by the time we got home and I hadn’t even tried anything on.

I remember marathon days of deciding an entire school year’s worth of wardrobe in one hot, sticky summer day, the feeling of peeling off shorts and pulling on long pants in a cramped dressing room so unnatural.  And forget if you tried to find a winter jacket, the smooth silky lining of the sleeves so cold against your short-sleeved arms.

Yesterday wasn’t one of those marathon days.  My mother had wanted to buy each of my girls a back-to-school outfit.  I was merely the consultant and chauffeur who scoured the sale racks for basics while the girls tried on clothes.  I would share with you the details of my extreme couponing, which I am so stoked about, but that is not relevant at this time.

Once I’d discovered there was nary an item to be had under $3.99, I would wander from rack to rack looking at the cute patterns and prints of fall ’13.  There were a few revolting numbers with lace and sequins that gave me flashbacks of Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ video.  There were some shiny jeans that looked vaguely like hot pants.  There were some open weave sweaters a little too sheer for my mother-of-grammar-school-aged-children liking.  Maybe I’m just paranoid for the teenage years and want to set the no-sheer standard now.  But there were a lot of fashion forward clothes that were modest and something I’d be comfortable letting my kids wear.

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That said, there were a lot of clothes, that if they were in my size, I’d wear.

A disclaimer. I hate kids’ clothes that make them into mini-me’s.  I find it creepy in a Toddlers and Tiaras sort of way.  I feel that kids should be kids, allowed to be and/or kept innocent, modest, and cute for as long as possible.

But I was jealous as I roamed the racks.  I wanted to buy some of those outfits in my size.  I found myself taking cues from the fashion trends I was seeing in the kids’ section.

This depressed me in two ways.

One, it reiterated mass media/marketing’s pull on our children to grow up too quickly.  Pop culture, fashion trends, merchandising drive our children’s ideas of what’s cool and how to be.  A dwarf fashion plate at age eight stalking the cat walk.

Two, with limited funds and the fact that my children actually have a place to go each day, their wardrobe wins out over mine.  They will be better dressed than I will this fall.

I do feel comfortable with everything we bought the girls on this back-to-school shopping excursion.  They will be both fashion-forward and appropriate, cute and trendy.

The colorful birds on skinny jeans will continue to fly through my imagination, while combinations of coral and navy dance through my head.  At least I seem to have kept my girls as girls for one more year.

Image from Tobi Fairley

Image from Tobi Fairley

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7 Comments

  1. erin

     /  August 13, 2013

    I too went back to school shopping with my fashionista yesterday. middle school is hard to dress for ,for the reasons you mentioned. not age appropriate at all. Luckily mine isn’t yet caring what everyone else is wearing. stress YET. no skirts or dresses that I could find to my liking though.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  August 13, 2013

      Oy, middle school! I can imagine finding clothes for that age would be even harder. Enjoy what you have left of the YET!

      Thanks for sharing your experience with your fashionista!

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  2. Oh Jennifer, I do remember these ‘back to school’ days so well. I seem to remember when my daughter was about 8 years old and suddenly everything for girls seemed way to inappropriate. Thankfully, my daughter was a tomboy (which I’ve recently discovered is very common in young girls with Asperger’s!) and so I didn’t have any battles on that front. Not until she turned 13 and wanted to be a goth…now that’s another subject! All the best with the new school year loomng fast 🙂

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  August 15, 2013

      Did you find yourselves fighting over hair color rather than wardrobe choices at that point!?

      Eight years old does seem to be age at which things shift, though, eh?

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  3. I still have yet to go shopping for my 6 year old, but thankfully our district wears uniforms….easier shopping. My older sister is awesome at finding the deals and matching her children in a trendy way. If we ever move out of the uniform district I might just have to fly her down to help me out.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  August 15, 2013

      Uniforms are so much easier! I would say they even obliterate early morning fights, but my preschooler used to balk at my choice of skorts though they were all navy!

      Definitely enlist your sister if uniforms go by the wayside!

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