My daughter likes nothing more than clothes. She likes choosing clothes, buying clothes, owning clothes and wearing clothes. It’s a common phenomenon among tween and teenage girls.
When it comes to clothes, I will buy the basics – jeans, leggings, T-shirts, underwear etc, but I won’t buy a blouse she wants for one party. Or a third swimsuit. I will buy things of Next sort of prices. Expensive brands and third swimsuits need to be birthday or Christmas presents.
The same rules apply to the boys too. The kids have pocket money and if they want something different from the norm and they don’t want to wait until their birthday or Christmas, they have the choice to buy it themselves.
But a couple of years ago, my daughter made an ‘amazing’ discovery. You can buy clothes that are cheaper than Next clothes. You can buy lots of clothes with your own pocket money.
Yes, you can go to Primark and New Look.
I think every girl anywhere in years 6 to 8 wears New Look pretty much all the time. There is one particular hoodie, in a large range of colours, which I reckon every single girl in the UK aged 10 to 13 has got.
It’s no wonder they like New Look. It’s not just about the clothes and the prices, it’s about the freedom to go shopping with your friends and choose things together.
But here’s the thing about New Look. It’s not very good quality. It starts to fade and look shabby after a few washes. And some of the designs are, dare I say it, a little bit tacky. My daughter’s lovely middle class, grammar school friends all look like they’ve come from the mean streets of the Bronx, not the nicer parts of Gloucestershire.
And do you know what? I don’t mind that. If choosing her own clothes, going shopping with her friends, dressing a little bit tackily and wearing the same outfit as every other 12 year old girl in the UK makes my daughter happy, then I’m happy with that too.
But my husband isn’t happy with it. Needless to say, he’s never been a tween girl. He doesn’t understand the pleasure of knowing that you can buy a skirt for £5. He doesn’t want his daughter to look like a chav. He wants her to wear Jack Wills.
Now my daughter loves Jack Wills, but her pocket money doesn’t stretch that far.
I’m a great believer in kids understanding the value of money and their parents not spoiling them, but if my husband really wants my daughter to stop shopping in New Look, I’m afraid he has to put his money where his mouth is.
After a year of moaning about her ‘scruffy’ (he did have a point) New Look coat, he bought her a Superdry coat in the sale. It looks approximately a million times better than her old coat. It was still £60, which seems a lot to spend on a child’s coat. But we spent £80 on one for my son last year, followed by £20 on repairs after Topman refused to exchange it, despite it having a crappy zip.
I understand that girls often have different needs from boys when it comes to clothes. They care more about what they wear and they want to have more clothes than boys. And maybe, just maybe, this means we might have to be a bit more generous and buy her more clothes and buy the Jack Wills clothes when we would normally buy her Next.
Do you buy all of your tweens’ and teenagers’ clothes or do you expect them to contribute? Do you buy brands or basics? Do girls need more clothes than boys?