Teen style - stifle or support?

posted on: Monday, 12 May 2014

It was my daughter's thirteenth birthday this weekend, which was lovely. The mainstay of the gifts given were clothes. I find her endlessly easy to buy for as there are just so many cool things for girls of this age. However I was struck that her desire for new clothes was all tied up with how she wants to present herself to the world. This is no different to any of us; clothes are a way to project our own style.

I am always encouraging her to be a bit different from the rest, to embrace her individuality. But I am conscious that in amongst that sentiment I still want her to look relatively presentable. Such a fine line with girl's clothes - they can't be too grown up, yet the my-little-pony-pink wardrobe has long been left behind. Very few brands get this right and actually very few brands exist to cater for the middle ground of child to teen. At the moment on her desire list it's Topshop, American Apparel and Jack Wills. None of which are cheap and all of which are actually adult brands but with a distinctly younger feel.

What featured heavily on this year's birthday list were high-waisted jeans in a stone-wash that I would have been proud to have sported in the 80's (we all know I heart the 80's). Crop tops - also Madonna circa 1985. High tops. A bit of neon. I realised quickly that I was vicariously getting my chance to dress her like I did when I was young(er). Is it a coincidence that her fashion is a newer, come-around-again version of what I had? Is that how fashion goes - on a 25 year loop?

The last thing I want to do is stifle her style - but it's also my job to make sure she doesn't leave the house looking like a state. Where to draw the line? Vetoing her clothing choices spells teenage rebellion! And can I blame her? So we muddle through and I talk a lot about 'less is more' and the perils of showing too much skin and keeping to only a couple of clashing patterns.

I realise that when I was her age my Mum gave me the same advice, but deeply instilled was the impetus to look elegant but also individual. Elegance can often be synonymous with classic and classic can look dull! And no one wants to look dull, surely?

And after all that I also ask myself - why does it matter? Shouldn't girls be taught that it's not all about how they look and dress so that they can escape the demands of needing to feel perfect?! It's a minefield. And seriously, while we are here; how influential is Cara Delevingne with teenage girls? I figure the key - as with all of these things - is to be thoughtful about it. I spend a lot of time explaining to my kids why things are important - what is and what isn't. Meanwhile, as for the thought-provoking quotes that I stick to her mirror every couple of days (her friends who visit think I am nuts) - this is the current one:

'The rules' and how girls learn to dress...

posted on: Tuesday, 18 September 2012

I have to admit I consider it an anthropological study to look at what women wear. That set of outfit choices as they got up this morning; what generated it and what it resulted in. I find myself making assessments as soon as I meet people, which sounds judgemental. It's not; I am simply interested in the sheer variety. Having a daughter has increased this instinct as the same applies every time she gets dressed. She's at an early age so I can hardly have a view on what she wears other than: is it appropriate or not? I have decided that I have a thing about inappropriate. Yet with young girls' clothes - there is so much that is inappropriate. Why is that?

via elsa may

So we go back to basics - her wardrobe is full of Breton stripes and liberty-esque prints, topped off with red Converse. Can't go wrong with Converse...

A friend overheard me referring to the 'dressing rules' to my daughter and inside I cringed at my prescriptiveness. Don't wear sequins in the day time. Only wear sports clothes when doing sport. Wear natural fibres. Less is more. Shouldn't I be one of those mothers who declare that their daughter can wear whatever they like? 'Express yourself, let your imagination run free'. Yet in real life that attitude doesn't seem to be a keeper. So I have become the custodian of the outfit, rightly or wrongly!

When I was growing up, the single most pervasive message my Mum gave me (after all it's mothers who teach daughters how to dress, surely?) was to be different. To stand out. I lived in fear of being the same as all the other children, although looking back, my circumspect 11-year-old-self did not carry off any outlandish outfit choices. One wonders what Olivia Palermo's mother taught her?! I am intrigued to know...

I fear it is fickle to suggest that clothes matter this much and of course, in all reality, they don't. They are just the outward message and it's our missive to get beyond that and get to know people for their inner qualities. But I still do love the art of dressing, I can't help myself.

via elsa may

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 27 May 2011

Bonjour vendredi! This week has been one of extremes...I have to say my parenting skills have been put through their paces. An early-in-the-week trauma that required my daughter to be very brave set the scene, and since then we have been gently resetting ourselves back to normal.

I spent one afternoon on a Mummy day (as opposed to a work day) watching a rounders tournament in one of the most beautiful school settings I could imagine. I have to say, when it comes to private schools, there really is another breed of school mother. I can knock it, because I am in it; by virtue of geography, hard work and luck. Nevertheless I am secretly in awe...

We have best friends visiting this weekend, with the promise of a proper British beach hut experience, come rain or shine. It's a bank holiday too so time will be spent in the garden. Normally my realm only extends to the inside of the house; the outside is his domain. I can't get concerned over weeding flower beds and mowing the lawn. However last weekend we planted a mass of pretty roses and flowers and all week I have wanted to nurture them, water them, just enjoy their prettiness. Planting a garden is like having money in the bank. It can make you feel replete.

via dustjacket attic photograph by Olivia Graham

from marilyn tov
Be a brave girl Boo...

by lilcoletterpress on this etsy

photograph by Robin Stubbert

I really need to take heed of this:

by thetwitterpated toad from this etsy
Oh, summer sun...when will you arrive?

via 79 ideas from free people
Wild mint is growing free in our garden...the smell in the evenings is divine...

photograph by Robin Stubbert

via dustjacket attic photograph by by Pasquale Abbattista
Outdoor dining...under the blossoms...

via this is glamorous via country homes and interiors
I liked this, so I bought it.

from Jigsaw
A print called 'Suburbia'...was it designed for me?

'Suburbia' by caleb gray from this etsy

via tinywhitedaisies from Livs Lyst

This weekend, get outside...and breathe it in!

Words on a Wednesday...

posted on: Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Thank you so much for all of your empathy, kindness and advice following my last post. Wonderful to know that there are those out there who understand! Somehow it has lessened the burden knowing that. Honestly - thank you.

Photograph by Elizabeth Messina via happiness is
So what else is new?

I have never been one to hold back on the shopping front and this habit is reaching new proportions as I revel in dressing my daughter! Girl's clothes can be the stuff of dreams and I would go as far as to say most mothers who have boys will mention that they would love to be able to dress little girls. The pinkdom of it all...

via ilovegorgeous

With my daughter, suddenly she has tipped over from a little girl to a 10 year old; not a young woman by any stretch, but on her way. I am loving choosing clothes for her now. The absolute flawlessness of her (in my eyes) means that I do, I admit, get great pleasure from seeing her look comfortable in her own skin. And rightly or wrongly in our house that has something to do with nice clothes. Have I ruined her already?! I realise this is wildly superficial and children shouldn't be bothered by what they wear, but the point I am making is that she is on the verge of growing up and she is finding her style. I find this fascinating! She makes these cool little outfits which are appropriate but also fun. I think it's just lovely. If ever I wanted a mini me; I got one.

via dreamy whites
I have thought a bit recently about why people choose to have lots and lots of children. You know those families where there are three or four siblings all bustling along together at the school drop off like baby ducks following their mother? I find myself wondering what that would be like, although I know for sure I don't want more children. I have huge admiration for any family where the children outnumber the parents. And there must be something incredible about having lots of brothers and sisters; of that feeling of solidarity and unity. I am one of two and I have two children. It's all even for me. I am also fascinated by those mother ducks who have a gaggle of beautiful, tousled blonde children and look amazing and have tidy houses. Oops there I go again comparing myself...female angst at it's best.

via a lady's findings from dream spun kids

I have been running this morning. I find that I want to run the most when I think of it, usually late at night, with a little fission of excitement at the prospect of running the next morning. Then the morning arrives and I am less keen..but the schedule dictates. During the event, hmmm there are definitely moments when I wish I was not there. But after - when those endorphins kick in and my muscles feel tightened, then it's all good.

I went to a parent's talk yesterday at my kid's school, on Internet safety. It was given by the Police and seriously it was an eye-opener. Given that social media sites are kinda my thing, there wasn't anything technically that I didn't know. But what shocked me was the way in which young children, when online (facebook accounts at 10 - eh? no thanks) are so vulnerable. The point most laboured was this: do not share personal information. Of course the fact that I have a blog sent a shiver of worry through me. Am I putting my family in danger by sharing? Ugh...does not bear thinking about. Why is it that something I love could become something so ugly when looked at through different eyes?

'you can't wrap them in cotton wool...' via here from Southern Weddings Magazine
I am being everything to everyone this week, with far too many social engagements and events and work things happening....when does that down time I said I needed start?!
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