Clothing advice for tweens?

So, we have established that we don’t want a “sweet and sassy” girl, but does anyone have any suggestions for better tween fashion options? My oldest daughter is 9, but quite tall, so she wears a size 10 or 12. For school she can wear khakis or jeans and a cute top, it’s still pretty easy to shop at Old Navy or Land’s End for her casual clothes, but she needs some outfits or dresses for mass and other dressier times. This summer, she wore little cotton Lilly Pulitzer shifts (bought super on sale from Rue LaLa in the spring, for about $15 each), and as she grew she added leggings to keep them from being too, too short.  The Land’s End kid dresses come in her size but they look too young (and therefore a bit nerdy), but the dresses in the department store are too trendy.

Where do you have good luck shopping, and what are your girls wearing for fall and holiday this year?  I like for my girls to have one or two “church” outfits each season, which also work anytime we want to be more put together during the day, and then also at least one dressier dress for the Christmas season — up until now, I have always been able to find gorgeous Christmas dresses on sale by shopping off season, usually in June, but I struck out this year.

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  • JMB

    My youngest daughter is 10 and wears sizes 10 – 12. We went on a cruise this summer and I had to get her some dressy clothes so I took her to Bloomingdales where they have some nice in house brands – Aqua and a decent Ralph Lauren selection. My advise is to buy less stuff but decent quality so you can pass them down. I’ve had some good luck with the Gap lately and find myself shopping there again after a few year hiatus. My older daughters like Old Navy, Abercrombie, Hollister and H&M. One has impeccable taste and the other is completely sartorially challenged so I shop with her and we try to buy “outfits” so she knows what to put together. I resisted Abercrombie and Hollister for a long time, but having received lots of hand me downs from those stores, I saw that they were generally well made and hold up longer than Old Navy stuff. The only store now that I flat out refuse to step into is Justice, oh and Claires kind of drives me nuts too, but only because of all the junk that ends up in my house from that store!

  • Patty

    My daughter is 11 today and wears 10/12, closer to 12 for length. She wants to be “stylish” but she has standards, too. We are pretty much on our own in terms of hand-me-downs. I refuse to shop at Abercrombie and Hollister. Justice was workable for a time (we were very selective) but their clothes have been recently so covered with glitter even she can’t stand it. A search for dressy clothes takes us to a department store at the mall almost every time (Macy’s, Dillards). She wears a uniform to school, so what she needs otherwise is a couple pairs of jeans, a couple pairs of casual pants and a dress/skirt, but we always, always end up with too many clothes. We have to go through her closet and basement clothes stash again soon so I can start the search for fall and winter.

    I have been selected by a friend’s teenager to “help” glean thru homecoming dresses. Not looking forward to the junior’s dept. I think this early introduction is designed to help me not have a stroke when shopping with my daughter in a few years.

  • Kellie “Red”

    We have had good luck with Christmas Dresses at Department stores. If I don’t get something after Christmas the prior year, I wait and go in December (it is all on sale after Thanksgiving). Last year, I struck out and went to Burlington Coat Factory. I found a VERY nice dress for an 8 year old, but the sizes in that department ran up to a 12. The Gap often has some nice church dresses, but not dressy enough for Christmas.

  • maryalice

    I am with you on the glitter! Some of the dresses I checked out at Macy’s would have been fine except that I don’t find sequins appropriate for 10 am on a Sunday morning!

  • maryalice

    Thanks for those tips, I will try the Gap, which seems to be more on the preppy side this year, perhaps. Sometimes I think it depends just on what sort of trend they have working — the random “punk rock for babies” thing never did it for me, but the baby clothes at the Gap are cute again, too. Also, I totally agree about spending a bit more and having a few nice pieces, and I am going to have to do this with my girls, because stores like Target are totally out at this point.

  • Adele

    The retail options for girl clothes past the age of six gets truly ridiculous–I wish I were talented enough to sew stylish clothes for my daughter! When I was about 10 or 11 , my mom started buying me adult women’s dresses in petite sizes so the length would be right. Stores like Ann Taylor and J Crew are stylish enough for a young teen to want to wear, but without the cheap glitz of clothes specifically designed for “juniors.”

  • maryalice

    Ooh, J Crew petites is a great suggestion! Someone on FB also recommended Johnnie B, which is Boden’s tween line. I really liked this look:

    The little dress with leggings and cardigans.

    I hear that Lily Pulitzer is also doing fall styles, so I am going to look into that.

  • JMB

    JCrew has a children’s line but I find they are cut very small. I personally think adult JCrew is too expensive for what it offers – unless you have a coupon or it’s on sale, it’s not worth it. Ann Taylor is a little too corporate for my taste – I don’t even shop there and I’m almost 46! AT Loft is more my style, plus every 4 to 6 weeks, everything in the store is 30 to 40% off, just “like” them on FB and they will notify you when it happens. As for tweens, another nice brand is Splendid. You can find that at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. I’ve also had good luck with Juicy Couture. If you go to the retail store, there is usually a back section which is deeply discounted. In fact, I stopped at the Juicy outlet store in the Poconos recently and the stuff in the outlet store was more expensive than the discounted clothing in the retail store near my house!

  • Lara

    Boden is a fabulous line for all. Their teen line is great and I cannot say enough how well the clothes are made and stand up to washing, wear and passing down to younger siblings. Nordstrom carries a limited selection of each line in store, which is where I have found the best sales. Otherwise, it’s online.

  • Texas Mommy

    If you order from Boden, make sure you google for a coupon code!! I like their clothes for me (they also have maternity) and can usually get a good deal!

  • La Sandia

    If you are looking for dresses in particular, Shabby Apple ( has a nice selection of pieces that are modest but not frumpy. They also have a kids/preteen section, although the preteen selection is pretty anemic. But some of the regular-size dresses might fit a teenager or tween, especially if she is tall for her age.

  • Kate E.

    I was going to suggest Boden as well. Their clothes WEAR great. I just saw a little boy who was wearing a pair of pants we gave him that I think are on their 4th go round and still look sharp. She could probably wear the 12 in their kids line as well as the johnie b stuff and they have some adorable skirts and tops, great sweaters too.

    I like CrewCuts, pricey but classic without being too “old and preppy” as opposed to adorable and preppy.
    I loathe what Hanna Andersson is doing this season but they can usually be counted on to have some simple attractive holiday dresses that they adjust in style for the age, check back when that is released later on this season.

  • Hi,
    We usually get our holiday and special occassion clothes at Burlington Coat Factory, not sure if there’s one near you? They do have a website but you can’t browse/purchase clothes online I don’t think. For a lot of my child’s dressier clothes and sweaters I love Hartstrings (dot) com. It’s a Philadelphia based company and while the set prices are expensive, they have really great sales. (psssst-they have 75% off clearance going on right now). I think 12 may be the highest size though, but not positive on that.

  • Laura Kasemervisz

    I love Gymboree, but the girls’ sizes only go up to 12. They’re a little expensive but they have good sales and run 20% off coupons periodically.

  • Katie

    I love Gymboree too. Some things might be too young, but they always have great dresses each season — and I always shop when there is a sale — 30% off everything right now including sale stuff (for me using the discounts on top of the sale stuff is the only way to go), and then you earn “gymbucks” to use in a month or so.

  • Kathleen

    I love Olive Juice! It’s classic stuff and the quality is top notch!

  • ontheroad

    I think that it is so important to speak to this issue with store managers….I was livid the day I saw fur cuffs, headband, and sexy outfit for <2 yo. I took the outfit to the manager at the dept store and he took note. Honestly, so many mothers feel resigned (or are oblivious) to this sexualizing of clothes for young women (beginning at birth and going to absurd for tweens). The trampy stuff — including tshirts w/ inappropriate slogans — frustrates me to no end. I will not take my children shopping except when absolutely necessary because I do not want them to see the x(#@# that is on display in the stores. As for Abercrombie — there marketing campaign (including a shopping bag a few years ago w/ a young man in bed with several girls – one of whom was holding up a (his?) pair of boxers — has had me boycotting them ever since – I don't buy their stuff even at garage sales and will allow pass-alongs only on rare occasions.
    On-line gives me an opportunity to look. Dept. stores sometimes work. I, too, believe in fewer, tasteful pieces that cost more—sometimes more than I spend on my own clothes — teaching modesty is worth it.