I took my pre-teen back-to-school shopping and lived to tell the tale. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. But, really. Maddox starts middle school next week, and unlike all the other kids moving up together from the public school system, she is coming from a private school which basically means she knows about three people including the school counselor who helped us with her schedule. So, you can imagine that sweet girl is a bundle of nerves. And she’s projecting those feelings on anything that reminds her of her new school. Including buying clothes to wear for school which she desperately needs. Apparently, my 11-year-old has been ahead of her time with her capsule wardrobe over the last few years. Because when you’re wearing a uniform to a private school everyday, your “casual” clothing choices get very slim. So we needed A LOT of stuff.
Enter her favorite stores: GapKids, H&M, Nordstrom. Each of these good places has the pre-teen in mind. The girl who has outgrown the “kids” clothing section (even though it still comes in her size) and is too small for the juniors or women’s departments. This is a tricky age, you guys, and I dare say there is a HUGE market gap in clothing for middle school girls. Maddox isn’t a sporty kind of girl, a girly girl, or a wear-an-inspiring-message-on-your-shirt-of-how-amazing/smart/strong-girls-are kind of girl. She’s all of those things by the way, she just doesn’t like to wear it on a tee shirt. So, that limits the selection. Oh, and one more thing, Maddox isn’t a huge unicorn lover. And THAT, my friends, is what totally threw us for a loop on our back-to-school shopping trip. Because somewhere along the way the market determined that unicorns and alpacas were the animals of the year, and now they are EVERYWHERE. Which is fun-loving and whimsical and precious, but is not my child. Even H&M lost their way and started making unicorn shirts in sizes 12 and 14. WTH?
Maddox and I also had a mini-battle over length of shorts. It didn’t last long. That child is in her gangly phase, all legs, and some buyers at H&M obviously don’t have children or they wouldn’t have made shorts with a 1/2″ inseam, but I digress. I also had to be careful not to insert my own style on my daughter. So, I became Sweden and let her make the decisions. In the end, Maddox found her groove and settled on a style that I support wholeheartedly: understated, neutral, a little earthy and eclectic, well fitted.
You guys, Nordstrom saved us. With affordable, well-made brands like Tucker and Tate, Love Fire, and Treasure & Bond, she found the things she loved and they didn’t break the bank. Plus, I got some good Nordy Rewards points, so everybody wins. The best part of all is my girl’s grateful heart. She’s carrying a heavy load of anxiety about her new school and we’re working on that. But expressing her style won’t be a problem for her anymore.
Things we found go left to right, top to bottom: