When is Trendy Too Expensive? Finding Balance Jen and John Speak

When is Trendy Too Expensive? Finding Balance

My daughter is of the age when she’s beginning to notice not just WHAT her friends wear, but where it came from. Because jeans are apparently cool when they come from Justice, but not nearly as cool when they come from Target. Even if they look exactly. the. same. (And don’t even get me started about people who wear pants with stuff written on the butt. Over. my. dead. body.)

And I struggle with this.

Now I lean very much on the practical side of things when it comes to outfitting my children. When they will wear it just ONE season before they grow out of it, the thought of blowing my hard-earned cash on expensive clothes is ridiculous to me. There are perfectly trendy clothes at Target, Old Navy, etc. (and for that matter, the rummage sale and second hand store) that look just fine. And this is coming from someone who is all about dressing well.

But I also remember what it was like growing up and NOT shopping at the trendy store. I struggled to fit in as a child on many levels. This was one of them. And so I can relate to my daughter’s desire to shop at Justice and buy the cool stuff in order to fit in and be cool.

This all came to the forefront when a girl down the street got a diary from Justice. She had it out at the bus stop every morning, and all of a sudden my daughter DESPERATELY wanted a diary from Justice. I told her she could have one from Target (who didn’t, apparently, have one with a lock.) I’m all for encouraging things that encourage writing. We compromised by finding one at Barnes & Noble (where I had a coupon.) And she’s been having a great deal of fun writing and drawing in it. Even though it didn’t come from Justice.

But I wonder about the culture that says to our kids they must have exactly this from exactly this place in order to be cool. And by the way, you have to spend a lot of money to achieve that status.

I want my kids to be aware of current culture. But I also want them to realize that it’s not the label that makes you cool or not. And I want them to have the confidence to carry that message without me having to stand there and tell them that.

I think we achieved that with the journal. It’s serving its purpose and she’s happy.

But she also knows that I think Justice is way too expensive and I don’t intend to shop there. I wonder when that will come to a head. At some point I’ll probably give her the option to spend her own money there if she wants to. But she’ll understand she gets less for her money by shopping there than elsewhere.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you approach it when your kids want the trendy thing from the expensive place? Would love to read your comments.

  • I have a 12 year old daughter and a limited clothing budget, so I totally get where you are coming from. I also suffered from the snotty comments about my clothes coming from K-Mart when I was in 7th grade and never quite recovered. So… here’s what I do … I shop Gap, Abercrombie, and Justice for my daughter, but she knows that it must be on sale. I have helped her realize what a “good” price for different clothes are. I buy clothes for her birthday and Christmas and VERY rarely in between unless she has a gift card or truly needs something (i.e. it’s 40 degrees and none of her pants fit anymore). I’m fortunate for a July birthday where we stock up on school things thanks to great summer sales.  We do hit the good consignment stores every now and again to look for the “name” brands.

    I’ve really tried to help her see the quality in the clothes. Even Justice has some crummy fabrics that just won’t hold up the wash. We’ve had problems with Old Navy dyes bleeding and shirts not holding up. There are certain things we’ll pick up from Target and then supplement with “better” things from the “nicer” store. To buy something, we decide if it is a good deal (price and quality). It’s kind of like how I shop for clothes. I’ll by Banana Republic work pants and a cute trendy shirt from Target. I’m trying to help her see her closet as a kind of investment. She does have the overpriced Abercrombie sweat pants, but I got them on sale, they were a birthday present, and she knows if she asks tomorrow for another pair she won’t get them.

    • Thanks for sharing your approach Kimberly! You’re right, it’s all about finding that balance that works for you, your family, and your budget!

  • Lori

    My daughter is 14 and I remember well when she suddenly became aware of labels and designer names.  She’s always had a well-developed sense of her own personal fashion. The problem began when her “friends” started teasing her about her clothes.  Suddenly, she wanted to be like everyone else. So, like Kim, I agreed to shop at Justice, but only from the deeply discounted sale rack.  I worked on the volume principle — she could buy one shirt at full price, or three on sale.  She quickly learned the value of shopping sales.

    Some name stores are strictly off limits — we don’t shop Abercrombie because I find their advertising and merchandising offensive.  That wasn’t a hard sell; after a little discussion, she agreed she didn’t like it either. We buy a lot of stuff at Kohl’s (again, love their saless).  And we make periodic stops at Marshalls or Gordmans to hunt for deals on designer stuff.  She knows if she wants to pay full price for something at Hollister, she’ll be using her own money.  And occasionally she does pay full price.  But, more often than not, she comes home from the mall with a bag full of cute clothes she snagged off the sale rack for less than $10 a piece. 

    The good news is… it will get better.  Right now, think about letting her pick out one special thing from Justice that she can wear often (a pair of boots, a jacket, etc).  You may even ask her to pay a little toward it so she knows this is super special and she needs to take care of it (I did this with my daughter).  Then, when the girls start to give her a hard time, she can point to her special fashion piece.  This actually helped a lot with J.

    Good luck, my friend.  I wish you strength!


  • Chris

    I have 2 girls and the guideline for clothes is that I buy the essentials (do you have enough pants to get through the week at school?) and they buy anything else out of their allowance.  They learned pretty quickly when its worth spending more on a product and when the less expensive one will do. They do splurge once in a while, but it tends to be a high value purchase they enjoy for a long time.

  • Abigail

    I have a 11 year old daughter who was teased in school about her clothes. I get her clothes from Target and sometimes Abercrombie but she gets mad at me and says “My social life is over! I’ll never get the clothes I want!” I take her to Justice and now her closet has 99℅ of Justice shirts,tees,jeans, and shoes. She has jewlery from Justice. I tried to make her happy and I realize just wasted 567.23.