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FASHION POLICE

It's Back to School Shopping

September 20, 2002|Jeannine Stein

A few weeks ago we asked for your feedback on back-to-school shopping. This annual ritual can confound even the best-prepared parents, considering the time involved in shopping for one or more children, confusing school dress codes, the cost of clothing and the availability of suitable (i.e., not overtly sexy) styles.

From your responses, we know these things to be true: Many parents and their children (especially girls) are dismayed at the dearth of traditional, conservative styles and the plethora of tight, skimpy, spangly ones; sales are always welcome but sometimes hard to come by; national chain stores such as Target, Old Navy, Sears, JCPenney and J. Crew are on most parents' go-to list, as are catalog companies L.L. Bean and Lands' End; most kids have strong opinions when it comes to their wardrobes, and many parents try to respect that; fast-growing kids are especially difficult to shop for; and shopping for clothes is sometimes treated as more than just a trip to the mall--it's an important lesson about budgets and getting the most for your money.

On the subject of school uniforms, views were split evenly, with some parents practically begging for them and others decrying them for, well, their uniformity.

Thanks to all who submitted your well-thought-out and articulate responses. On to your comments:

I don't consider myself a prude--in fact, I'm fairly liberal. But I don't want my 11-year-old daughter looking like a streetwalker. I could find almost nothing for her in the stores except shorts that barely covered her [bottom], shirts that looked as if she should be at a disco instead of math class, and no dresses at all. I did find a few brightly colored T-shirts at Sears, but I had to order the rest of her clothes from Lands' End--their clothes are modest but still cute. I've noticed some parents are buying their daughters three-inch heels that I wouldn't want to wear. The other day I saw a third-grader in a pair! Uniforms? I'd be first in line.

--Paula Radosevich, Temecula

I took my seventh-grade granddaughter shopping at Target. I was amazed at her complete confidence in knowing her school's dress code: no logos, no spaghetti straps, no exposed navels. She tried on two tops in gorgeous colors, and jeans-type pants, which fit perfectly, above her waist but not up to her arms. I think teens today are so down to earth that they know their own minds and do not slavishly follow trends in styles.

--Helen Baznik, Tustin

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My daughter will be going to a middle school this year where uniforms are required. I love the concept of uniforms, and usually my daughter did too. But this is the first year that she said she didn't want uniforms. Too bad, said I. Uniforms are the great equalizer. Plus, they cut down the dilemma of what to wear. If you don't have much, you don't have a lot to worry about in terms of choices.

--Stevie Wilson, Long Beach

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For my fifth-grade son I bought a half-dozen T-shirts with his favorite logos on them (Quiksilver, Billabong, etc.), four new pairs of shorts (he won't wear pants, even when it's cold out) and two new pairs of sneakers, all of it on sale. I take him with me only to buy the sneakers.

As for my seventh-grade daughter, who was away at camp, I bought a lot of pants and shorts for her to try on. I also bought two new pair of school shoes and a pair for gym class, plus a nice pair for special events. She has some things left over from last year too. I spend more money on her than I probably should, but I remember seventh grade and how important it was to feel that you looked good.

--Sharon Greenthal,

Los Alamitos

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I have three daughters, ages 10, 12 and 14. I don't know if others have this problem, but they are hard to fit. So instead of doing big back-to-school clothes shopping, we buy stuff all year. We go shopping together and although I make the purchases, they get to choose. They won't wear it if they don't like it, and I have taught them to make their own decisions. Also, we discuss things like fit, quality, care, price, etc.

I find it difficult to shop now because the clothes are made poorly and my daughters think the styles look horrible. We constantly lament that we are such a casual society now that "casual day" wear consists of jeans and T-shirts, not slacks or cute little skirts or dresses.

Our school has voted a couple of times on whether or not to go to uniforms, and I always vote no. I think uniforms are great if your child is in private school or your district needs to do it for disciplinary reasons. But I don't think it should be done just to make it easier for parents. If you can't work with your young child on the issue of clothes, what are you going to do when big issues come up?

--Sandi Consiglio, Arcadia

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