Back To School Week: I’m Raising A J.Crew Daughter In A Forever 21 World

Oh joy, it’s back to school shopping time. If you are like me, and have an elementary school-age daughter, you have all ready started comprising her back to school wardrobe or at least you are browsing children’s clothing retailers websites, donating too small items, and making a list of what you need to buy for the upcoming year. If you are also like me, you are gaping slack-jawed at some of the less than age appropriate offerings some of these retailers expect us to outfit the under 10 set in. But if you aren’t like me, and you aren’t scowling at mini one-shoulder zebra print sequin tops and low-rise colored skinny jeans, then lady, you need to be! Because if you are going to let your daughter dress like a Solid Gold dancer circa 1974, then my kid is going to want to do the same thing. And because I don’t let my daughter, this means I’m going to make up lies about your daughter so my daughter doesn’t want to copy your daughter and you don’t want me telling lies about your daughter, do you?

“Mom, how come Lucy gets to wear clothing from Justice? Why don’t you let me buy things from Justice?”

“Well, because .. See, Lucy, I think, has to shop at Justice because it’s the only store that has her size. She can’t wear anything else because one of her legs is slightly longer than the other one.”

How long can my lies go on! Because sometimes it’s not enough to tell your 7-year-old “Baby, we don’t buy stuff like that because in my house, the only people allowed to dress like a Vegas cocktail waitress are the ones who scoop the litter box.” For those of you unfamiliar with Justice, it’s a children’s retailer who states:

 “Our girl feels special when she walks into a Justice store. Crossing the threshold, she is immersed in an energetic environment where hottest fashion is brought to life. Justice stores are the destination of choice for tween girls across the country, and with good reason.

Our merchandise sets the trends that keep tween girls fashionable—and, even better, feeling self-confident.”

By selling the 7-12 set bedazzled shirts and sequin sweaters. And jeans that show the tops of their teensy Justice leopard print panties. Justice also carries a wide-array of girl bait like lip gloss, brightly colored clip-in hair extensions, adorable Japanese erasers shaped like cupcakes and kittens, and the occasional Monster High doll, which makes it utter catnip to any child.

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    • BrendaKilgour

      “Solid Gold” debuted in 1980. Otherwise, very funny and right on as regards children’s “fashion.” PS no ear-piercing until they can pay for it themselves!

    • Lawcat

      Call me a snob too, but most of the outfits out there are just obscenly tacky. Plus, a lot of these places don’t make quality clothes. They are cheap, “in the moment” designs that wear out within a couple months. If I’m going to spend money on clothes, I want them to at least last through the year and be in style.
      It’s hard teaching kids that classic always works when they’re living a sequin leggings world.

    • Alicia

      My daughter is all girl when it comes to clothes, and she was literally crying when I told her that no she couldn’t have that sequined dress set we saw at Kohl’s. And looking around Kohl’s, The Children’s Place, (I’m avoiding Justice too) and even Old Navy and Target, sequins are everywhere. I did allow a couple of tamer pieces that had a little sparkle, zip up hoodies, and a couple shirts, so she could have her sparkle, and I didn’t see my 7 yr old dressed up like she was hitting the dance floor instead of the classroom. Some people might say I caved to her, but I really didn’t, because she didn’t get the outfit she demanded, and I picked out options I deemed acceptable that I thought would appeal to her want of sparkles. Here’s something else … All those bedazzled outfits are either dry clean only, or handwash only. So yeah, I told my daughter when she starts washing her own clothes, she can have a bit more say in it, but I will have final veto power in whatever I pay for ;)

    • Lindsey

      Every time I take my 12-year-old out shopping and see the crap retailers are offering I thank my lucky stars that she still just wants jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes.

    • Andrea

      Ladies, I DO hear your plight. And I am kinda sorta grateful that I don’t have a daughter to dress. But we moms of sons have another problem, in a sense, that is 100% opposite of yours. Have you ever tried to buy “decent” clothing for boys? You know, clothes that DON’T look like they are only fit for the gym? Try Kohl’s, Target, Old Navy. ALL they have for boys is gym style pants, cruddy skater-type t-shirts, and hoodies. Oh sure they will have one or two kakhie pants and polo shirts. But kids don’t want to look like dorks. At least mine deem those types of clothes “church only”. What to wear to school then????

      Not to mention the fact that the boys selections of clothing is a TENTH of what they will have for girls. Ugh.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Have you ever checked miniboden.com? When my boys were a little bit younger I shopped there a lot, and they always have coupons. They ship from the UK but their prices are very comparable to gap. But I hear ya, boys have problems with clothes too!

      • CW

        Henleys are easy to find and paired with corduroys or even a decent pair of jeans they strike a good balance between dressy and casual.

      • LiteBrite

        I hear ya. I have an almost five-year-old boy. Thankfully we can still shop in the preschool section, but this is most likely our last year. Looking around at the selections for young boys I just sigh.

        Having said that, I’d much rather dress a son than a daughter, especially with what passes for girl’s fashions these days. (God I sound old.)

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    • em

      I teach first and second grade and I have to say that some of the clothing kids (mostly girls) come to school in is shocking, but also unsafe! Those little wedge sandals may look sweet, but try wearing them on the play structure or in gym class. Six year olds should be free to run and play and not worry about people seeing up/down their clothing or getting hurt because their clothes do not suit school activities. Best clothes for school in my mind are still jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers.

    • CW

      I just tell my DD that the Bible calls for Christians to dress modestly, and we are to worry about pleasing God rather than conforming to whatever our corrupt modern society deems popular. Matthew 7:13-14 is a good passage for this: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

      • caricake

        One of the things that bothered me about this post was when the author mentioned that she is sick of coming up with clever little lies to explain to her daughter why she can’t have certain items of clothing even though her friends do. Specifically, she mentioned telling her daughter that one of her friends has one leg that is slightly longer than the other so she needs to shop at different stores. That drives me nuts. I feel that sort of thing is not right. If you, as a mom, have a certain principle or opinion then you should be brave enough- and honest enough- to tell your kids just that. So CW, I may not agree with a lot of your values or parenting decisions but I have to say that I respect the way in which you are open and honest with your daughter about your values and expectations.

      • Sara

        I see your point, and I agree that parents should be courageous enough to stand behind their convictions….but I’m not gonna lie. I kinda spit out my coffee a little bit when I read the part about one leg longer than the other. :)
        CW, my motivation doesn’t come from religion as yours does, but I also like to dress modestly (I just don’t feel comfortable showing a lot of skin–it has to do with how I was raised, but not specifically religion). For now my daughter is ten months old and she happily wears (and drools on) whatever I put her in, but I hope that I’ll be able to pass along my values with a similar strength of conviction and teach her to dress with pride in and respect for herself. It seems easy now, but I know that like many parenting decisions, what seems easy in theory is a lot more difficult in practice.

      • Maureen

        All the commenters talk about how they dress their daughters modestly to not look like child prostitutes, but when CW says she dresses hers modestly because they’re Christian, naturally she gets voted down. Personally I commend parents for sticking to their values, whether those values are religious or secular.

    • Ann

      This article is spot on. I have a ten year old and I am so grateful that she has a uniform. I so believe in uniforms in schools (and they don’t have to be expensive, khakis and school color shirt works!) because then all children are focused on what is important. I hate that the fashion for girls is objectifying and sexually motivated and we are kidding ourselves if we think it isn’t. I am never buying those tacky clothes because it is my statement that is not ok to send that message to my daughter or collectively our daughters.Self expression is important and the creative clothes of youth are the beginnings of a sense of self, but it should never be about succumbing to some male sexual fantasy especially before these young girls even know what that means. The implications are dangerous at worst and tacky and uncomfortable at best.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Our middle school is uniforms and I’m so excited. It makes dressing kids so much easier, more affordable, and on weekends they can wear what they want. I think uniforms are adorable.

    • Penny

      Get over yourself. Now little girls aren’t supposed to like bright colors, wacky patterns, glitter, and sequins? Why not let her develop her own sense of style?

      • Lawcat

        Most of the designs are tacky, cheap, and a hot mess. If my daughter wants to look like a fashion nightmare, she can do so with her own money. It’s never to early to teach kids *how* to dress. You can have a bit of a flashy style without being overly done.

      • Tinyfaeri

        I agree, Penny. A little kid should be able to wear bright colors, patterns and darn near anything that sparkles. A 7 year old shouldn’t have to worry about fashion as much as figuring out her own style. If that style is Punky Brewster, so be it. As long as she’s not running around naked, and it’s not inappropriately revealing, who cares?

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        It’s the revealing part that freaks me out. I’m totally pro-sequin. Unless it is on one-shoulder tops, more apropos for da’ club.

      • Tinyfaeri

        See, a one-shoulder top on a kid that doesn’t have anything to reveal yet isn’t actually revealing to me any more than a bikini on a 7 year old is. That said, I would think school dress codes would ban one-shouldered tops same as tube tops – some don’t even allow tank tops.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        ah-ha! But see, would you send your kid to school in a bikini? I don’t know, I’m old and square. If I had my way, I would dress my kid like Madeline until she was 16. :(

      • Tinyfaeri

        Of course not, it would be a little out of place, and if it were the fall, she’d probably be a bit chilly. But would I send her to school in the shirt you used for the picture with the article? Yeah, probably, if the school dresscode allowed it. Especially with the strap on the other shoulder, though woredrobe malfunctions are less common when you don’t have breasts to speak of.
        Really, most of the revealing things you mentioned would be covered in a school’s dresscode. Even way back in the 90′s, we weren’t allowed to wear spaghetti strap tank tops, anything that showed the belly or underwear, too-short shorts or skirts, tube tops, etc. If one-shouldered tops had been around, they probably would have been banned as well. And that was in high school, middle or elementary were at least as strict.

      • kate

        oh man @tinyfaeri, you just took me back to high school in the 90s with that. lol. we also had “the fingertip rule” for shorts and skirts and i always complained i couldnt find things that long cause my arms and legs are both really long.

    • BB

      I agree with the sentiment but I pretty much buy all my daughter’s clothes at Target and they are as modest as can be.

      • Stellargirl

        Target is usually pretty good, but they have their moments. I found denim short shorts with frayed edges and tears near the pockets (the ripped look that is popular) there a few months back in the little girls’ section. It was pretty awful.

    • Amy

      This article could really, really benefit from a proofreader.

      • kathleen

        Amy, I agree. Especially the misuse of the word ‘comprised.’ And for those of you who downvoted Amy’s comment, it is important to edit and proofread anything that is to be published. It reflects poorly on the credibility of the company when they fail to edit their work. This is particularly true when the problem is pervasive, as it is here at Mommyish.

    • C.J.

      I have 2 daughters, 7 and almost 10. We have a rule in our house, they can wear what they want as long as everything is covered. We have explained to them that although people shouldn’t be judged by their clothes, they often are. We explained to them if they wear clothes that are not appropriate some people (especially boys) will think they are not nice girls. Kids know a lot more than we did, the older one knew exactly what I meant, the younger one had a clue. We encourage them to have their own style, which they do. The older one is into fashion, she is very good at putting interesting outfits together and the more layers the better. She gets lots of compliments and is the cheapest kid to dress because she doesn’t want everyone else has. To her fashion is about being able to show her own creativity and not about what is in the store windows. The younger one likes comfy clothes, just finally got her to start wearing jeans last year. I don’t know if explaining that your clothes is the first impression people get about you (even if it is not correct) worked or if I just got lucky and that is the way they would be anyway. I’m just thankful they don’t want to dress like they should be on a street corner somewhere.

    • BritGuest

      thank God for Uk school uniforms. Usually one plain block colour polo shirts, sweaters, cardis,(ours are blue) the grey or black trousers shorts and skirts or pinafores and white blouses/shirts. Though even they can be subjected to a hierarchy (who got theirs from the outlets or supermarkets) but they are all very practical, with various hardwearing features built in to many ranges now.

      i did go looking for party shoes for my 5 year old recently and was horrified at both the cost and the fact they mostly had heels!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/hildaherrera82 Hilda Herrera

      Oh my…what is wrong with fashion and sequins????!!! Some of the comments are very old fashioned,as long as our girls don’t look like SNooky we should be fine…but i must agree on one thing “no heels ” for my daughter,mostly because her little feet are still developing and for her own safety….she loves sneakers and sequins ;-)

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Yeah I don’t mind sequins, just the sequins coupled with midriff tops and booty shorts. I agree on heels!

    • ellemck1

      Oh! One of my legs is legit longer than the other, thanks to genetics and uneven hips! So does that mean I have an excuse to wear these kind of clothes, except in adult sizes? Or does this exception apply only to minors?

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Yes! adults can wear alllllll that stuff! And makeup! and those sweatpants that say JUICY across the booty!

    • Kim

      My parents told me if I wanted clothes like that I had to buy it with my own birthday/christmas money. When that came in I usually forgot about clothes and headed for the nail polish and cosmetics.obviously they preffered the nail polish, but with small reatrictions on what I could wear to church, if I bought it I got to wear it. Worked like a charm.

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      I’m glad I have a boy!

    • Lisa

      I think you lost them all at “J Crew.” I work in childcare, and I can say that we all appreciate the parents who send their kids in practical and non-trampy attire. Bonus points for parents who don’t mourn the loss of their youth by trying to relive it vicariously through their children.

    • kr

      I love this article! As an 18 year old who chooses to wear button downs, cardigans, skirts and tights almost every day, I completely understand this mentality, and encourage you to use all your willpower to stick with it for as long as your daughter is living under your roof. I’ve always been partial to modest dressing, but the older I get the more I see its importance. By doing my best to look put together and classy, I’ve gained respect from both adults and my peers. I’m offered leadership opportunities, impress in job interviews, and find that older people are much more receptive to my opinion in conversation. Obviously these things stem off of a multitude of factors, but I truly believe that one of the main reasons I stand out is because I’m not using my body to do so. After all, in this unfortunately hyper-sexual society, it’s difficult to receive the respect you’d like unless the impression you make on people demands it from them. (Bonus- the only boys who bother to pursue me are absolute gentlemen, and any parent’s dream son. :P )

      • Maureen

        Except you are using your body to do so. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you are using your body and clothes to send a message, just like the sequined tramp-stamp girls do.

        Personally I think it’s possible for young women 18 – 30 to dress modestly but still in a young/fresh style. I have a very conservative 23 yr old friend who dresses like a dowdy soccer mom (mom jeans, clogs, plain oversized button downs in every color from the gap) and it isn’t helping her out. I also dress modestly but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with say, a crop top that bares a little midriff (unless you’re a child!)

    • Adina

      I find this article pretentious and silly, especially the title. J. Crew is vastly more expensive than Forever 21. Who can afford to outfit their daughter in clothes retailing up to $100 per sweater? Oh course the author readily admits she’s a snob. While I agree that young girls are sexualized in our society, that doesn’t mean that they can’t dress in something bright, frilly, and not look like they’re ready to file your taxes. How sad this mother buys her daughter “unisex” clothing, far opposite of the spectrum of “club wear” but equally sad.
      There is a balance that is lacking in the article that makes this mother’s point rendered useless. Modesty, yes, Grace. Poise. Absolutely, teach those things, demand those things. But remember you can be whore and a bitch in a three piece suit with a skirt down to your ankles. Forever 21 has modest clothes as well as club pieces. The key is to find them, teach your daughters how to carry themselves while expressing fashion choices in a modest way.

    • Guest

      I find this article pretentious and silly, especially the title. J. Crew is vastly more expensive than Forever 21. Who can afford to outfit their daughter in clothes retailing up to $100 per sweater? Oh course the author readily admits she’s a snob. While I agree that young girls are sexualized in our society, that doesn’t mean that they can’t dress in something bright, frilly, and not look like they’re ready to file your taxes. How sad this mother buys her daughter “unisex” clothing, far opposite of the spectrum of “club wear” but equally sad. There is a balance that is lacking in the article that makes this mother’s point rendered useless. Modesty, yes. Grace. Poise, absolutely. Teach those things. Demand modesty. But remember, you can be whore and a bitch in a three piece suit with a skirt down to your ankles. Forever 21 has modest clothes as well as club pieces. The key is to find them, teach your daughters how to carry themselves while expressing fashion choices in a modest way. Sequins do not equal loose morals anymore than a cardigan and string of white pearls equals the “modest” way to dress. So keep lying to your daughter and see what she decides to wear when she’s out of your grasp and is finally able to make her own choices.

    • Guest

      I find this article pretentious and silly, especially the title. J. Crew is vastly more expensive than Forever 21. Who can afford to outfit their daughter in clothes retailing up to $100 per sweater? While I agree that young girls are sexualized in our society, that doesn’t mean that they can’t dress in something bright, frilly, and not look like they’re ready to file your taxes. How sad this mother buys her daughter “unisex” clothing, far opposite of the spectrum of “club wear” but equally sad. There is a balance that is lacking in the article that makes this mother’s point rendered useless. Modesty, yes. Grace. Poise, absolutely. Teach those things. Demand modesty. But remember, you can be whore and a bitch in a three piece suit with a skirt down to your ankles. Forever 21 has modest clothes as well as club pieces. The key is to find them, teach your daughters how to carry themselves while expressing fashion choices in a modest way. Sequins do not equal loose morals anymore than a cardigan and string of white pearls equals the “modest” way to dress. So keep lying to your daughter and see what she decides to wear when she’s out of your grasp and is finally able to make her own choices.

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    • Katrina

      Amen!

    • Chloe

      This is just great, thirty years from now we’ll have kids on here complaining about their forty year old mother running around in old too tight justice clothes screaming “IM FINALLY OLD ENOUGH” let her dress like a seventies roller disco girl for now because by the time its appropriate, it will just be wierd…trust me. Plus try to put this in new perspective, it isnt slutty it looks pretty ridiculous, gives me a chuckle. Could you imagine walking into a classroom, everyone covered in sparkles and sequins, I would die of laughter, take some pictures, don’t rob her of the chance to look back on these years and say “i looked like a wacko, but it sure was fun.” You’re looking at the girl that yes, owned a highliter yellow tutu and rainbow zebra knee socks, my dad just shook his head. Now I prefer cardigans, just let her grow out of it, its pretty dang fun in the here and now though.

    • Victoria

      There is J. Crew Factory which is significantly cheaper than J. Crew. Also, one can buy knock-off J. Crew clothing that looks SO much better than that shiny and bright shit.