How to Make Teen Clothing More Appropriate

By Kay Ireland
Explain why your teen should dress appropriately.
Explain why your teen should dress appropriately.

It's the age-old battle between teens and their parents: appropriate clothing. While you might wish your teen dressed in the jumpers and corduroy from her elementary days, she might be experimenting with rising hemlines, lower necklines and new trends. While fashion is a mode of self-expression, it's OK to give your teen a few guidelines for appropriate clothing. Together, you can choose clothes that you both like and work to modify clothes that aren't appropriate as-is.

Talk to your teen about modesty, style and appropriate clothes. Let her know that you want her to be comfortable in her clothes and that while fashion is about self-expression, she should evaluate the message she sends with revealing, vulgar or ripped and dirty clothes. Tell her that you want others to get to know the real her, not simply judge her based on her appearance. Being critical of her clothes or being controlling with her fashion choices can push your teen away, according to the book "Guest Pass" by Yumi Bryana Cha.

Layer thin camisoles under shirts that are too low-cut. You can purchase layering camisoles in a variety of lengths and embellishments, which help to cover both midriff and neckline so clothes look more appropriate. Go shopping with your teen and choose camis that can give her wardrobe more mileage and keep you happy.

Ask that your teen wear leggings under short skirts, suggests educational psychotherapist Dr. Russell Hyken, Ph.D. for Educational Psychotherapy Services. While shorter hemlines might be in style, explain that short skirts can be too revealing and uncomfortable. Adding leggings can help your teen keep her legs warm and herself covered so she can still wear her favorite mini skirt.

Follow the "one tight" rule for your teen. If she wants to wear one tight item of clothing, the other items should be loose. If she's rocking her favorite tight T-shirt, then she needs looser pants or a loose skirt. If she wants to wear skinny jeans or leggings, then she should wear a looser tunic up top. That way, she gets to wear her favorite styles within reason.

Check clothes for rips and stains regularly. Many school dress codes disallow clothes that are ripped, so you can either repair rips or get rid of the old clothing. If your teen objects, point out the dress code. Or, if the dress code allows, ask that she wear leggings under her ripped jeans or a jacket over her favorite stained shirt.

Allow your teen to wear what she wants in the right setting. If she wants to wear cut-off shorts, advise that she save them for the beach or just hanging around the house. That way, your teen doesn't feel stifled by your appropriate clothing rules and still gets to express herself and her personal tastes.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.