Teenage Girls Dressing Appropriately

Teenage Girls Dressing Appropriately

What is an appropriate way for your teenage daughter to dress?  My 13 year old is quite clear that for her age it means not wearing tiny crop tops and refers to those that do as ridiculous and asking for trouble.  My son on the other hand at 17+ likes a girl in a crop top, but thinks at his sister’s age it is too young.  It’s clearly a fine line.

Over the summer a couple of innocent events and conversations with my kids have brought this issue to the fore and made me think not only about the messages our young girls give off with the the way they dress but also about how we as parents manage it.

An end of term school trip to France for my daughter highlighted “skimpy dressing” as an issue.  The Madame in charge of the trip stipulated at a parents pre-trip meeting that the girls should not wear any tops resembling a bra or “short shorts” which caused a great deal of mirth amongst some parents as they pointed out that early July in Southern France would almost certainly be hot so shorts would be a good option for the girls surely. Madame, however, was unswerving in her views and drew a line across her own legs to indicate what length of shorts would be acceptable.   Not “short shorts” meant to the knee, not above and absolutely no bottoms on display.

Lucky for me with a pale redhead for a daughter I spend my life in the lead up to summer seeking clothes that will keep her cool whilst simultaneously cover as much of her skin as possible to avoid sunburn, so I sat there feeling quietly smug that I already had the acceptable shorts nailed and that Madame would be happy.

My daughter however returned from the trip with stories of girls that flouted the rules and appeared at breakfast wearing the shortest of crop tops and the shortest of shorts. Each day they were told to change or stay behind, until the last day when maybe worn down by their persistence (we have all been there) they just let them get on with it.

On a different note, my son attended a party over the summer at which a girl in his group befriended some boys unknown to them and got herself into a situation my son felt uncomfortable with.  As a result, he intervened and took her home in a cab but the post party analysis amongst her girlfriends in particular raised her style of dress as an issue.

When we asked our son his view he said “That’s what they all wear!”  He is right of course,  it is the fashion inspired by celebrities to show off your perfect torso…..and really shouldn’t indicate anything other than a nod to a trend and a desire to show you look after yourself.

It is tough for our teenage girls growing up in a technology saturated world which with the endless obsession of posting picture perfect selfies, exposes them to a more mature way of dressing earlier than perhaps than they otherwise would.

All teenagers need to be allowed to experiment with clothes and make mistakes in order to develop their own sense of style and individuality, this is a normal part of growing up.  However, there need to be certain parameters that also allow for change as they grow and mature. What is appropriate for a 17 yr old is different to a 13 yr old and what one parent thinks is acceptable another will think is tarty and wholly inappropriate. It is a moral minefield but as parents we have a responsibility to reflect on our changing world and set the tone which will guide them.

Personally I don’t like to see very young girls in skimpy clothing and I count myself lucky that my daughter as a redhead needs to cover up more than most in the summer and is naturally bashful so doesn’t like to draw attention to herself.  I am not saying she goes out in a nun’s habit, she loves clothes and we regularly hit Oxford Street for some R&R, but if in Topshop rather than gravitate to the racks of “barely there” clothes, she will head down to the vintage section to seek out something a bit quirky to mix with a pair of skinnies and trainers and she does wear “short shorts”, just not with a minuscule top.

Ultimately it all comes down to age appropriate clothing and some parental guidance.  My daughter’s instagram and snap chat feed is full of pictures of some girls in her school year dressing in what she deems as inappropriate clothing.    It is one thing wanting to look nice and to wear the latest fashion but quite another promoting your sexuality, particularly at too young an age.  The line is a fine one for sure and as parents the moral compass is in our hands.

Picture or two teenage girls in shorts and t-shirt in an alley with grafitti.



  1. Alisa
    March 10, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    We’re on the cusp of this in our house with a nearly 9 year old fashionista. Girls in her class have been wearing bra-lets since they were 6 and we have categorically banned these from our daughter’s wardrobe. I would classify our rules on dress as being fairly strict, especially compared to those of her classmates. But if asked ‘why’ I feel like our reasoning is like walking a tightrope. On the one hand, it is absolutely wrong to say that girls wearing skimpy clothes are asking to be treated in a certain way. No No No! However, I am not down with the idea that girls feel they need to show their bodies off to gain attention. We are more than our bodies! (End Rant…!). But having been a teenager once myself (something I’d NEVER wish to repeat), I can understand the desire to fit in with a peer group.

    Jo- I love that you take your daughter to the vintage section of TopShop. This is a concept I am trying to quietly introduce in our house. You can be stylish by having your own look and not following the crowd.

    Wish me luck! I fear I am going to need a healthy dose of it as Minnie-Sue gets older…

    Great read! Thanks! It’s wonderful to hear this input from people who are in the middle of it or out the other end 😉
    Alisa recently posted…5 Reasons Your Business Needs to Think About Modern FamiliesMy Profile

  2. February 7, 2017 / 12:55 pm

    I think its time that we exercise a harmonious balance freedom and what is appropriate. Though a tough thing to do ,…but that’s our prime parenting reponsibility i guess.
    We have some interesting read as well on teenage daughters.

    • Jo
      February 7, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Yes you are right Priscilla it is all about getting the balance right, like most things in life. Thanks for your comment and I will pop over to take a look at your posts.

  3. Rhian Harris
    October 13, 2016 / 11:03 pm

    I’m all for kids being kids for as long as possible – I just think it’s probably impossible in this day and age. Thank Primark for that! #BloggerClubUK

    • Jo
      October 30, 2016 / 3:19 am

      Ha ha yes you are right there for sure. #BloggerClubUK

  4. September 21, 2016 / 11:08 pm

    My daughter is 12 and we’ve had an interesting time of it re crop tops. Basically she prefers to wear them (just as well) over a longer vest. Re the whole teenagers dressing thing, I’m at a loss as I simply didn’t have a ‘westernised’ adolescence due to my then super strict parents’ Indian values. Whilst I don’t want to be that strict with her, I’ve definitely had to send her back to her room to change her attire but we live in SUCH a hot climate here in Malta that frankly, the half naked look is not surprising here! #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      September 22, 2016 / 3:23 pm

      Yes I can see that the heat would present a whole different clothing challenge! Thanks for commenting. #coolmumclub

  5. September 21, 2016 / 10:29 am

    A really balanced well-written post and I agree. I will defend a woman’s right to wear what she wants whilst I still have breath in my body and I hate the way that what women wear has been politicised – as in recent events in France etc. However, as a mother of three girls (aged 18,15 and 11 years) I have had to create boundaries based on my gut feeling of what is acceptable. My boundaries may not be right! I question them all the time and I feel quite out of my depth a lot of the time too. I sense that there may be a backlash against very revealing outfits and it may come from young people themselves. In my experience there is a certain amount of self-regulation that goes on among their peers (as in your son) and perhaps we’ll go full circle and they’ll be all covered up in 20 years?!! A great read. 🙂
    Sharon Parry recently posted…Wicked Uncle review – birthday giftsMy Profile

    • Jo
      September 21, 2016 / 2:43 pm

      It is difficult when some retailers market “older” clothes for younger girls, but again we have a duty as parents to monitor that and draw the line. There will always be some that don’t see an issue with it though but I hope that the majority will relish their young girls being just that for a bit longer. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Trista, Domesticated Momster
    September 21, 2016 / 1:12 am

    I see some teenage girls in outfits that make me question their parents. Especially since the parents are the ones buying the clothes. And if they aren’t and the girls are somehow changing at school well I will have to be prepared to check backpacks when my girls reach teen years *shivers at the thought* I could say the same for some adults too though. There is appropriate attire for every age group. I see all these 50 year old woman running around in things that are 5 sizes too small and perhaps taken from their teenage daughters closets. Thanks for linking with #momsterslink and I hope you will join us again this Thurs-Sun!

    • Jo
      September 21, 2016 / 2:39 pm

      It is the parents’ responsibility to monitor their girls’ outfits outside of the house, of course there will always be some who do manage to find a way around it but ultimately setting the parameters of what is acceptable should be possible. Loved your comment on the 50 years olds, as a near 50 year old I am constantly questioning what is ok to wear at my age, but rest assured it isn’t crop tops! Thanks for commenting. #momsterslink

  7. An imperfect mum (Catie)
    September 16, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    With most of these issues I believe it is about open communication. About talking with your children openly and honestly about their thoughts and feelings. I feel problems start when our kids feel they have to hide things from us. I do also believe that we have a parental responsibility too! Great post! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

    • Jo
      September 16, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      Oh Catie I so agree with you. If the lines of communication are open everything is so much easier particularly when it comes to tackling the sensitive subjects. I couldn’t bear it if my kids didn’t share things with me. Thanks for your comment. #ablogginggoodtime

  8. Jo
    September 15, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    The social media world of our kids makes it so much tougher, but we all know that don’t we? It just comes back to getting that balance right. #coolmumclub

  9. September 15, 2016 / 2:19 pm

    I agree with everything you said – and how mature of your daughter but also your son for being so honest – and for his gentlemanly behaviour at the party. Having two teen girls this is an issue that is discussed regularly – it’s not easy and social media only compounds the issue. I think as parents that have a positive view on girls and their bodies we just have too keep the lines of communication open – it’s a constant and we can’t back down if we are to give our girls some self worth and respect! Great post x #coolmumclub
    justsayingmum recently posted…So What Will Those Teen Years Be Like?My Profile

    • Jo
      September 16, 2016 / 9:59 am

      Thank you I was quite proud of him – they never cease to amaze sometimes. It’s also interesting listening to the brother’s perspective on what is okay to wear and is very clear on what is unacceptable for his little sis! Thanks for commenting. #coolmumclub

  10. September 15, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    As a mother of two little girls, and a sister to two teenage girls I am pretty worried about the teenage stage! As you say, it’s not just the clothing itself but the constant posing, pouting and posting on social media. I don’t think I’d be too keen on seeing scantily clad provocative pics of my teen online, no matter how trendy the clothes were! I guess that’s a different issue. Who knows, I guess I just have to muddle through that stage when it comes. Great discussion, thank you for sharing with #coolmumclub xx
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    • Jo
      September 16, 2016 / 9:56 am

      Yes none of us know how we will be until we are having to deal with it ourselves. There is always an issue to deal with during the teenage years but there are many fab bit too to compensate! Thanks for reading. #coolmumclub
      Jo recently posted…Treating Your Teen’s Acne & Products That WorkMy Profile

  11. September 14, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    I have a 12 year old and I have noticed that some of her friends clothes are getting smaller. Aspen has always been behind on being fashion conscious and is only just starting to feel influenced by what friends say and wear. She does wear short shorts but not bottom showing ones by any means. It saddens me though as I wish they could wear things without it seeming sexual, at 12 they are just not sexual at all and not mature enough to understand how people look at them. Yes they need to be appropriate, but we also need to teach our boys to respect girls too. It really is hard to find the balance with kids wanting to be ‘cool’ and still needing to remain young. I wish they could stay innocent longer. #bloggerclubUK

    • Jo
      September 14, 2016 / 1:46 pm

      Oh I so know what you mean. It is really tough with girls because there is always a group that is ahead of the pack in terms of clothes, make-up, parties, boys and I just want my daughter to hang back for a bit longer. Luckily she is and at the moment there is no interest just bemusement in observing everyone else, but I wonder how long it will be before she feels the need to catch up. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. #bloggerclubuk

  12. September 8, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    Oh gosh, this must be such a difficult one!! I feel a bit torn, because I think that if you have a body you’re proud of, you should be able to show it off without fear of judgment, or sexual attack. However, personally, I’m not a fan of it, just because that style of dress is not, and hasn’t ever been, my personal style preference. Like your daughter, I’m much more of a quirky, vintage style that covers me kind of person! And even when I was a teenager, I had serious (albeit needless) body issues, and never would’ve worn crop tops and short shorts (which are obviously doing the rounds again, because I remember this combo being a thing circa 1994!) I think plenty of guidance from parents is required, and maybe a more enforced cover up until the teenager is 16-18!! It’s really a very difficult one!
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    • Jo
      September 8, 2016 / 10:48 pm

      I made a few of my own bad clothing decisions but think they were predominantly bad fashion choices rather than inappropriate but I remember my parents always being quite vocal on what was ok and what wasn’t, certainly until I was in my late teens at least. Like fashion this is no doubt a recurring theme. Thanks for commenting. #bigpinklink

  13. September 7, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Great post – and I found myself nodding along. I don’t like to see young teenagers in overtly sexy clothes, I wouldn’t have been allowed and I’m not sure I would have wanted to (who knows, it was a long time ago) but I do agree that they need to make mistakes in order to learn. And so we have photos to shame them with at times (he he). It is a very fine line, and one that needs guidance as you say. Good luck. thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo it’s fab to have you along

    • Jo
      September 9, 2016 / 2:43 pm

      Thanks Stephanie, we all have different views on what’s ok don’t we but a 13 yr old as a 18 yr old is not a good look in my book. Like the idea of the gallery of shame, need to dig some of those out for my eldest’s 18th! #PoCoLo

  14. Rebecca Taylor
    September 7, 2016 / 11:21 am

    This is a fantastic post highlighting such an important issue. It must be a relief to know that your daughter has her own mind and sense of fashion and doesn’t cave to peer pressure/imitating what those around her are doing.
    Yes, I think they are only young once and should relish in their youth – a pretty dress or shorts and vest top in summer are not inapprorpiate, but there is a line and a balance.
    Thank you for sharing. #momsterslink

    • Jo
      September 7, 2016 / 11:17 pm

      I am glad you found it interesting. It is a divisive issue but one which as I said I think is important. Thanks for commenting Rebecca. #momsterslink

  15. September 5, 2016 / 11:18 pm

    This is something I worry about, even though my daughter is still just a toddler! I really don’t like the trend towards girls dressing much older than they are, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want my daughter to feel excluded from her peers because we make her wear clothes that are age-appropriate. It’s going to be a bit of a balancing act! #bigpinklink

    • Jo
      September 6, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      Yes I think striking the right balance is the key. Thanks for commenting. #bigpinklink

  16. Tooting Mama
    September 5, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    Teenagers and clothes eh? Your daughter is so level headed and your son so responsible – that’s down to you! Peer pressure comes with the territory of teenage life, and now there is the added complication of social media and how people present themselves online. It’s a tough one, I do think some parents need to be more responsible and be prepared to be bad cop. I hope I will be able to foster my daughter’s self esteem so she won’t feel the need to be pressured into anything she doesn’t want to do. What is interesting though I now live in France, and children do remain children much longer here. #bigpinklink
    Tooting Mama recently posted…Guest Post: The Adoptables, champions for adopted kids in schoolMy Profile

    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 11:01 pm

      Oh thank you for your lovely words. Felt like I was sticking my neck out a bit on this one. We all mean well but as mine are growing up and maybe because of the age gap between them I am seeing some issues from many perspectives. We all try to do our best by our children at the end of the day and that is all we can do but I think there is a need for some of us to be a bit more alert and that includes me! Interesting about your comment re children in France as that is what Madame was saying when some parents questioned her regarding the “short shorts” she simply said “Not in France!”. Hope all is well. #bigpinklink

  17. September 5, 2016 / 6:39 pm

    Oh this is a tough one, I love clothes and when I was younger it was either a lot of boobs or cleavage for me, but now, and maybe thankfully 3 children later the boobs and most of the time the legs stay hidden but am I being a hypocrite by telling my 14 year old she can’t wear something I would have worn at her age. Yes I am, but it won’t stop me, she is my baby and she has the face of an 8 year old and somehow has in the last 6 months got the figure of a stunted Jessica Rabbit (she is rather short). And as beautiful as she is, she is too young for any kind of cleavagy top and shorts that show her bum cheeks – and that will be my rule until she moves out 🙂

    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 10:55 pm

      Robyn, I loved this…you have made a tough subject light hearted and as you say it is all different now and isn’t there always one rule for us back when we were their age and one for us? I am finding that more and more every day as I constantly “lecture” my teenagers about stuff with that wide eyed look that says I never did that and have no idea what you mean! xx

  18. September 5, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    It is a balancing act & can depend largely on the child. My daughter is 9 so no crop tops or bralets but she does wear fairly short shorts. Not on purpose its just all that was in the shops! She still wears swimming costumes & bikinis on youngster’s makes me a little uncomfortable but each to there own I guess. #bigpinklink

    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 10:51 pm

      Everything in moderation I suppose. My daughter does own and wear “short shorts” predominantly when we are on the beach because why wouldn’t you and also when it’s uber hot in London, but would rather not as I have to smother her in 50+ sun factor first and that’s just too much effort for her! I agree it is a balancing act…#bigpinklink

  19. September 5, 2016 / 10:47 am

    I can see how this can be seen as a problem for some parents; kids get exposed to so much these days in comparison to us growing up. They are expected to dress a certain way to fit in. Sometimes I think we should raise our kids right and we wouldn’t worry about their dress code so much. #sharewithme

    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 2:48 pm

      Yes you are right there is so much external pressure as well as from their peers to behave and dress a certain way. It is so much harder. Thanks for commenting. #sharewithme

  20. September 4, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    My girls are 3 and 4 and I worry about this when they get older. My eldest is 12 and he has friends (girls) who dress VERY inappropriately and I often feel shocked at the photos they post on social media wearing very revealing outfits. My girls always wear age appropriate clothing and yet I know as they grow they will want to follow their peers and wear these kind of clothes. I hope we will be able to come to a compromise and wear clothing which both I and them accept! #momsterslink
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    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 8:46 am

      It is difficult when our youngsters are exposed to adulthood so much earlier nowadays with so much online access at their fingertips. It is about compromise as with everything with children of course and trying to encourage them not to rush into being an adult – they have so little time to be a child and a lot of time as an adult, it’s a shame some want to escape their childhood so quickly. Thanks for commenting. #momsterslink

  21. September 4, 2016 / 8:07 am

    I am reading this as we are in the aftermath of the bukini ban on many French beaches and the whole issue of what women should and shouldn’t wear. I have boys and therefore the crop top/excessively short shorts arguments will not crop up directly but I will need to talk with them about how they perceive girls who dress like this. Girls should be allowed to dress how they want with as much or as little skin on show as they choose and everyone should accept their choice but as many do it as a sexual thing it is difficult to separate out hose who simply have a nice body they are proud of and wish to show off to the world … or at the opposite end of the scale women who prefer a modest outfit as befitting their religion should not be told they must reveal more. I really do not know what the answer is. #pocolo
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    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 8:38 am

      It is a fine line isn’t it Rosie and an emotionally explosive topic. Thanks for contributing. #PoCoLo

  22. September 3, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    there is a lot to be said about this piece, butthe thing that jumps out at me the most is that your son’s friend got into a pickle that thankfully your son was there to intervene in, and afterwards all the kids thought the problem was how she was dressed? I don’t know any details, but it seems to me that if the boys were acting innappropriately, they are the ones to blame, not her. #momsterlink

    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 8:37 am

      Thanks Jeremy you have a very valid point. #momsterslink

  23. September 3, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    I’ma mother to 4 boys so dressing them hasn’t really been an issue but I’ve always worried as they get older that these days they’d have a difficult job knowing if a girl was over 16 by the way some of them dress. The image you’ve used in the post is a fully grown woman and she should be free to choose what she wants to wear, it is up to the parents who buy their girls the clothes to make the judgement on whether they should let their child wear clothing that the celebs wear or not.

    • Jo
      September 5, 2016 / 8:36 am

      You have made a valid point regarding the difficulty of telling a girl’s age from their clothes, which is certainly a problem from the boys perspective. Also have amended my image – thank you so much for commenting.

  24. September 3, 2016 / 7:39 am

    My daughter is 11 and I will have all this to come. I keep trying to keep her interested in long girly dresses but I am not sure for how long ..

    • Jo
      September 3, 2016 / 1:11 pm

      There is a time when they all turn their back on dresses, my daughter is fine with them if she is going out somewhere “smart” as she calls it ie with the parents or she is on holiday and it is too hot for anything else but nowadays it just seems it is trousers all the way.

  25. September 2, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    I have a ten year old daughter. She wears short shorts but personally I think they look great on her. She’s very sporty and I’ve never considered them inappropriate. She doesn’t however wear skimpy tops and has, I feel a good sense of what is ok and not. She doesn’t have outrageous taste but one thing I am very conscious of is that whatever she wears I want to know about it – I’d rather know and discuss it with her, than her get changed somewhere in the future when I’m not looking. My best friend at school had a very strict father who refused to let her wear things and she just left home, walked around the corner and got changed – it’s a fine line but basically I intend not to make it a big deal, as i do have a sensible daughter. Thanks for linking to #sharewithme
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    • Jo
      September 3, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      It sounds like your daughter has the balance right. An interesting story about your friend, you are right the moral is not to be too heavy handed as with just like everything else with youngsters it can simply backfire. Thanks for your thoughts. #sharewithme

  26. September 2, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    Im 28 and there are times i feel so old for looking a girls and thinking OMG were your parents in when you left the house? YOU ARE 12!!!

    haha Lets just say, Holly will be slightly more controlled (if I can ha)

    • Jo
      September 2, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      I am with you all the way! I think some parents are just oblivious. Glad that you are on the same page, sometimes I just think maybe I am too old! Thanks for commenting Lisa. #momsterslink

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