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The ‘tween years’ is that awkward period of time where kids go from cutesy and childish to hormone-ravaged pimple pots. Navigating the hormones – and wardrobes – can be a nightmare for all involved.

Do you remember being a tween? One moment you are into Disney characters, scented felt pens and collecting erasers and the next minute it’s all about boy bands, boy-band posters and lipgloss.

While most of us can still remember our own tween years without too much fuzziness, many are also now facing the parenting onslaught that is the tween years – for our kids. When the topic arises among tween-endowed parents, especially those of girls, the biggest questions are always around fashion.

The tween fashion market is an interesting one. Tweens aren’t cutesy kids anymore, but they are still too young to be dressing in typical teenager garb. Add to that the fact that kids in this bracket are developing at very different rates – some will be larger and starting to mature and forced to go into adult sizes, while others are sill firmly at the Size 8-10 rack. Many will admit that tweens are also more fashion-conscious these days. They are online and aware of trends and are following what their celebrity favourites are wearing. Kids are exposed to so much more than we were as kids and you can see how it is easy for them to grow up too quickly. But what parent really wants that? Tweens really are still children, who should dress like children.

Pacific Fair Shopping Centre resident stylist and blogger Kirsty Ashe agrees. She was a guest speaker at haven magazine’s recent ‘Puberty Blues’ high tea event. A high school teacher by trade with more than 13 years’ experience, and a mum to kids aged 6 and 8, she’s an expert when it comes to tweens. Kirsty suggests that mums and tween daughters should sit down and have a good conversation about body image and fashion, when the time calls for it.

“Mums should sit together with their daughters and Google or Pinterest fashion images and talk about what’s appropriate,” Kirsty suggests. “It’s also really important that mums are modeling a positive body image themselves as girls of this age group really mirror their parents.”

Kirsty suggests the typical tween girl’s wardrobe, just like her mum’s, should consist of a good pair of jeans, a key dress or two and go-to shorts, for starters.

“There should be no mid-drift tops and no short shorts allowed,” Kirsty states. “The pockets of your shorts should not be hanging down lower than the leg length, as you see often these days. It’s just not right.”

Kirsty says that this is the time for “tasteful” accessories to be introduced to inject personality and individuality into your tween’s style. Think scarves, belts, statement necklaces and a cute shoulder bag, or the like. Among the retailers that Kirsty says are her choices for tween fashion are Seed, Witchery, Valley Girl (“The store at Pacific Fair is the best I’ve seen,” she says), Sportsgirl, Cotton On, Glassons, Forever New and Bardot.

As for makeup, Kirsty says tweens should go only as far as lipgloss – and that’s it. She does encourage parents to educate tweens from the age of 11 or 12 (depending on their skin type) to keeping on top of a regular cleansing-toning-moisturising facial routine.

“Tweens should not be wearing makeup. My opinion is that makeup is not appropriate until the age of 15 or 16. From my teaching days, I’ve seen so many girls who one day find black eyeliner and then that’s it – they go to the dark side and never come back!” she laughs.

Visit www.kirstyashestyle.com

Belinda Glindemann

Belinda Glindemann  

Belinda knew she was destined for a career in communications and publishing from the age of 11 when her Year 6 teacher introduced her to poster projects and glitter pens. She completed her journalism cadetship in the Whitsundays and went on to hold various newspaper and magazine editor roles across Brisbane in a media career spanning more than a decade. When Belinda's not writing for haven, she runs her own PR agency, kid-wrangles two young daughters and drinks way too much sweet tea.