My daughter, my husband and the cheap clothes

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?

Superdry coat, My daughter my husband and the cheap clothes, Shopping, Fashion, Tweens

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. As a mum of five then my children got what they needed not what they wanted. But yes like you I would buy the basics, shoes when they outgrew the one pair they had, jacket every winter if they had grown.
    My middle daughter was a name brand snob and my younger son very very choosy about what he wore.
    Like you I had a set budget and if they wanted something over that budget they put their own money to the difference. The boys use to do this every Christmas with name brand trainers ( they use to change out of their school shoes on the bus and put on their trainers) I would put my money and they would top up in the sale to get whet they really wanted.
    All mine took part time jobs as I refused to buy “luxuries” not just in clothes but in general apart from birthdays and Christmas. I felt they appreciated it and looked after it better this way.

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    • It sounds like your principles were the same as mine. If I’m honest, we could afford to buy them a bit more, but I don’t think it does them any favours. I think it’s important that they learn the value of money and that if they want things they have to earn or save the money – or wait for their birthdays and Christmas. Because they’ve always been brought up like this, they’re happy with it. Although they do occasionally get shocked if one of their friends is bought something expensive by their parents (which is now cars for my eldest’s friends!).

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  2. Sarah,

    One point worth bearing in mind is that more expensive clothes can eventually be passed on to a younger child, or go to a charity shop. Cheap clothes tend to reach the end of their useful life quite quickly, and then if they can’t be recycled they will go to landfill.

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    • That’s a very good point. I’m always keen to reduce our environmental impact. We don’t have any younger family members to pass things on to, so do always give them to charity.

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  3. That’s a really difficult one isn’t it? I think we’ll do the same as you and get them what they need. Or maybe buy their school uniform and give them a budget for their own clothes so they can make their own decision between lots of cheap clothes or a few nice ones. It sounds like you and your husband have got the balance just right to me, your daughter is learning about money and clothing so that when she has her own money to budget with, she’ll have a good understanding of what to do with it.

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    • All of our kids are very good with money, having been given pocket money from a young age. I like the idea of a clothes budget, so she can decide between lots of New Look stuff or one item from Jack Wills! X

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  4. We used to do the same with our boys. I had a budget to spend for school shoes, trainers and basic items of clothing, if they wanted something different they had to put the money towards it or wait for christmas or birthdays. I think it’s a good lesson to learn. As adults now they buy mainly designer clothes and I can’t help thinking at the level they wear, they are wasting their money, tends to be Tommy Hilfiger and one child has Phillip Plein trainers (go google it then tell your husband, it could be worse) lol

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    • It’s a very good lesson to learn! My eldest is now into designer stuff, but he is earning his own money, so he buys it himself. I don’t buy anything for him any more, apart from school clothes, shoes and socks!

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  5. I am lucky that we haven’t got to this stage with our daughter yet. She is pretty much happy to wear what I buy for her and still gets excited about a bag of hand-me-downs. I’m sure that will change over the next few years though. The boys, on the other hand, cost me a fortune. Everything has to be a brand name and I spent a fortune in Foot Asylum at Christmas. I don’t really see the harm in the cheaper clothes as it allows for changing fashion but I agree that the quality is really rubbish and I’m not sure they are always the most ethical option either.

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    • The cheap clothes definitely aren’t very ethical. Life was easier when I just chose all her clothes myself from Next, but it’s nice that she gets pleasure out of choosing her own. My eldest has suddenly got very expensive tastes, but he buys them himself, thank goodness.

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  6. I buy the basics and Flea uses her allowance to top up – she will buy cheap things from online – SHEIN and PLT and places like that. They’re even worse than New Look if you ask me!

    For birthdays and special events I’m sometimes buy her a brand, or we’ll go 50/50 – but she knows her choice is that one pair of expensive trainers or cheaper trainers and a coat and jeans etc.

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    • That sounds like a very sensible way of doing things. I bought myself something from SHEIN once. It was horrendous! I sent it straight back, I will never be going there again. Luckily my daughter hasn’t discovered it yet.

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  7. Katie is also a typical teen (nearly typed tween then, then realised she is a teen !!!) and she also loves shopping for clothes with her friends. I actually think New Look is on the more expensive side, but I agree that the clothes can look past it after only a few washes. I don’t mind buying Katie’s clothes, but I am finding I am buying less and less as she prefers to use her pocket and birthday money. I think it’s because then I don’t have a say as it’s her money x

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    • I’m seeing my daughter as more of a teen now, even though she’s still got a few more weeks to go! Quite a few of her friends are 13 and it’s easier to say I’ve got ‘three teenagers’. That’s interesting that Katie likes to buy her own clothes so you don’t have a say. My daughter still likes our approval and doesn’t like it that her dad doesn’t like her cheap clothes. x

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