How to Enforce School Fashion Guidelines while Letting Kids Express Themselves

From tacky to trashy and everything in between, back to school fashion trends are big news for back to school shoppers. But when Mom’s idea of appropriate clashes with her kid’s, watch out—it’s a fashion emergency!


It’s no secret that clothes are a powerful communication tool, but when your child is sending a message that you don’t want delivered, it’s time to step in and offer some fashion guidance. Fortunately for most moms you can strike a balance that allows for self-expression within the realm of appropriate attire.

Here’s how:

1.Communicate your expectations. Lay out the law for wardrobe basics.  Perhaps skirts have to sit no less than two inches above the knee or hair can be colored, but it must remain colored a natural hair color. When your child understands the expectations, she can work within them. While pink hair may be out,if she’s a brunette, open the door for blond.

2. Consider why she’s opted for that look. Your wardrobe says a lot about you. If you and your spouse are conservative dressers and all of a sudden, your child insists that everything be neon, chances are he’s trying to communicate his independence.  If you set the bar really high and expect him to be perfect, his clothing may reflect that he’s rebelling and sending the message that you can no longer control him.

3. Give her choices when it comes to school shopping. When it’s time for school shopping, take her with you. Let her go to her favorite stores, but give her choices of acceptable items. Let her choose the items she likes, narrow it down to what you feel is appropriate and let her choose her outfits from amongst the filtered group.

4.= Negotiate and compromise. So you won’t let her wear the mini-skirt she’s insisting is appropriate, but perhaps she can wear the skirt, with a pair of solid leggings underneath it. Consider where you can negotiate and compromise so that you find a mutually agreeable fashion solution.

5. Set aside school clothes and home clothes. His favorite torn jeans really need to be tossed but he’s just not ready to part with them. Fine, let him wear them when lounging at home. Or her favorite shirt has a stain on it and you just can’t bear to let her wear it to school. Turn it into a pajama top. If there are a few articles of clothing that your child really makes a fuss about having reserve them for at-home use only.

6. Only allow in the house what you’re willing to let her wear. If you’re not going to let her wear the skin tight jeans to school, don’t buy them. If you won’t allow him to wear sweats to school, pull them out of his drawer. When your kids’ bureaus are filled with only acceptable choices than you can give them more control over what they choose to wear.

7. Let go of the little things. Sure, you’d like her to wear matched socks and clothing colors that don’t clash. If your child’s selections aren’t offensive, try to let it go.If she insists on wearing a striped skirt with a polka dot top, who cares? Let the little battles go so you have more leverage with the bigger ones.

8. Be a fashion role model. Take a close look in the mirror. You may be surprised that your child is attempting to dress like you. If you tend to wear plunging necklines and your daughter wants them too, it’s time to give your own wardrobe a back to school makeover, too.

For many kids, peer pressure is huge influencer in how they want to dress. It’s important to be sensitive to your child’s desire to fit in without pushing past your boundaries. Be willing to compromise when you can and your child will end up with a back to school wardrobe that satisfies both of you.