Clothing Basics for Teens

Teens stay busy spending some of their most impressionable years carving out a persona, style and autonomy that sets them apart from their family and friends. While you might not approve of the way your teen dresses, it's best to choose your battles and remember that style is just one of the ways that she expresses herself. Helping your teen to create a basic wardrobe of stuff that will take her through her teen years means you help her get the foundation covered so she can personalize the rest.


If teenage-dom had a uniform, it would definitely contain jeans. Jeans are a must-have item for teens, since most are hoping to fit in with their casual peers 1. When shopping for jeans with your teen, look for good-quality denim that won't lose its shape after a day of standing, sitting and moving around. Of course, you can give your teen a little leeway when it comes to the shape and style of the jeans, as long as it fits within his school dress code and standards you expect.

Casual Tees

What's a pair of jeans without the perfect casual T-shirt? Teens typically feel most comfortable when donning casual clothes, which means you might need to bite your tongue when your child reaches for a T-shirt over a more polished blouse or sweater. On the bright side, T-shirts can be purchased fairly cheaply, which means your teen can mix and match different Ts to create the ideal look while still staying within her allowance amount.


You might be surprised when your teen heads outside in the middle of winter, clad only in a light jacket or a thick hoodie. Purchasing basic outwear that is functional yet fashionable means your teen will be more likely to select the right clothes for the job and keep warm during cold months. Puffer jackets, lighter casual jackets and coats with warm hoods can all entice your teen to dress for the weather.


Your teen should have a couple of different pairs of shoes to alternate during the various seasons, from a warm pair of boots in the winter and spring to flip flops in the summer and sneakers for the fall. Taking your teen shoe shopping ensures you'll buy the right size and also that you'll buy shoes that he'll actually wear. Shoes should be sturdy, since walking, working, skateboarding and other activities can wear away cheaper shoes.

Clothing Battles

If you find that your teen isn't dressing up to snuff, even if you've purchased the right basics, remember to pick your battles. Clothing is one way that teens express their personalities and design, so you shouldn't expect your teen to dress exactly how you want. Instead, set clear rules for what's expected, such as shorts to the mid-thigh, no ripped clothes or no offensive slogans on shirts. By choosing guidelines and then allowing your teen to have freedom when it comes to fashion, you won't have to have any big blowups due to your teen's wardrobe.

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