By Ageleke Zapis
I remember back-to-school shopping with my mom as clear as any childhood memory. Like many things from the way back machine, it was a rose-colored PG-rated experience, another thing from America’s kinder, gentle and long-gone past.
My mother and I always shopped at the May Company for my school wardrobe. Together we’d pick out a couple pair of jeans and pants, couple tops, skirts, a couple of dresses for church and a few pairs of shoes. It was all relatively basic clothing, no “fashionista” here. My options consisted of what color T-shirts I wanted, as opposed to today’s lipstick wearing little ones. Though I’m all for letting kids experiment with clothing, buying children’s clothes for school has changed dramatically. The choices can be overwhelming so as a public service I’ve developed some rules to follow when back-to-school shopping, to help steer parents clear from “7 going on 22 Day” at school.
Rule 1: If you find yourself saying “I wish they made that in my size” it’s not appropriate for your child. And no, it won’t look “cute” if you are both wearing the same outfit;
Rule 2: Just because it’s loaded with sparkles and shiny gems doesn’t mean it’s okay to wear. Sparkly, glittery, silver, skintight leggings are not good for anyone, not even a 5 year old;
Rule 3: If it looks like something that would fit your kid’s Barbie doll, it’s also a NO;
Rule 4: No questionable slogans or logos on clothes. Do you really want to see a child wearing “Juicy” on her bottom? I don’t want to see an adult wearing “Juicy” on her bottom. Same holds true for the dreaded “I’m a Flirt” slogan seen on too many T-shirts. My friend was going to buy this awful T-shirt for her daughter but when the child thought it said “I’m a fart”, she opted to put it back on the shelf. And worse yet? The “Porn Star” brand of t-shirts that come for mom and daughter (Mom’s say “Porn Star”; the daughter’s size shouts out “Porn Star in Training;”
Rule 5: No Daisy Dukes. You remember those God-awful shorts that Daisy Duke wore on the TV series Dukes of Hazards? Daisy Duke was in her mid-20’s when she wore them;
Rule 6: Your child’s closet should NEVER look like Carrie Bradshaw’s closet;
Rule 7: Camis and pushup bras are never a good idea for pre-tweens. But if they are going to wear them, remember, they are UNDERGARMENTS and should be worn UNDER something;
Rule 8: No fishnets. Never, ever, ever, ever. Unbelievably in a recent visit to a mall, I saw these in hot pink, foot-less tights version, in a size for a six-year old;
Rule 9: Unless you are going for the Teresa Giudice from the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” look, avoid head-to-toe cheetah print. This rule holds true for everyone, not just children. Lilsugar.com had a comment on who should be wearing animal-print: “Everyone from wild girls (gross) to meek-as-a-kitten little ladies.” Hmmmm;
Rule 10: Just because “everyone else is wearing it” doesn’t mean your child should be wearing it. Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Madonna dress to get attention. That’s not the kind of attention you want for your child. You are the parent. It’s your money and your final decision. Ultimately it’s your choice how your child dresses;
Ageleke Zapis is author of the children’s book, Django Goes to School and A Childless Woman’s Guide to Raising Children, where she sets her sights on helping parents rein in their kids… before they take over the planet. It can be purchased at www.amazon.com