Back To School Shopping With a Tween Boy

Shopping with a Tween Boy

Back to school shopping can be stressful, particularly when you have a picky fashion conscious tween.  My nearly 13-year old son has a very strong sense of his own personal style, and refuses to stray far from it. And while I appreciate his independence, I wish he were more open-minded to trying new things, like mixing patterns and layering.

But boys in middle school know what they want to wear, and that’s usually what the rest of their peers are wearing.  And if that’s only khaki, black and camouflage for the entire year, well, that’s what they want to wear. Having clothing that’s similar to others at school is one way they feel they can avoid embarrassment. At the same time, they want to establish their individual needs and style, and this is the time they will begin do so.

My son’s favorite place to shop is Tilly’s, a store that markets clothes with the west-coast lifestyle look and feel.  He likes Tilly’s because they “get” him. There is as much space dedicated to boys clothes as there is to girls clothing. And there are lots of accessories and products to sample, smell and experience.

This year’s fashion winners and losers for him are:

  • Shorts – solid colors only
  • T-shirts – no yellow and absolutely positively NOTHING close to the entire pink family
  • Socks – the biggest priority.  Lots of them and only of the highest quality (Who knew Nordstrom socks have smaller, more comfortable seams at the toe?)
  • An umbrella for rainy days – absolutely no way!
  • Backpack – in “no one can tease me” solid gray
  • Accessories – belts, hats, etc. – turns out the clothes are simply a backdrop for the accessories
  • Grooming supplies – loves them: the more the better!
  • Shoes – not sure why his back-to-school shoes need to cost more than the pool maintenance man, but there you are

And my best kept secret for getting my son to embrace something that I like?  I tell him I hate it.