Our Clothing Guidelines

Written by Laura on April 12th, 2012

Balance, Body Image, Family Structure, Healthy Living

When Princess was 23 months old, I took her shopping with me. We went to one of my favorite children’s clothing stores and found some great deals. On the way out, she spied a pair of bright pink camo butterfly pants on the display table. Squealing with glee, she grabbed them and hugged them. I laughed and tried to take them from her, but she hung onto them for dear life, giving me a look that clearly said, “These pants are mine!”

We’ve always been fairly relaxed about clothing requirements in our household. I know that if I make something completely forbidden, they will probably want it more! That said, we do have four basic guidelines when it comes to clothes. They must be:

  1. Appropriate for the occasion;
  2. Appropriate for the weather;
  3. Not exposing private areas;
  4. Not violating values our family holds.

Guidelines one and four are closely tied together, as clothing that violates our family values is never appropriate for any occasion. I actively discourage, and refuse to buy, clothing that insults any group, insults their siblings, or is rude. We were gifted shirts that say “Recycle my sister!” and “Will trade sister for candy” that were promptly returned to the store. Likewise, we feel shirts that express distaste for school rules, or express greed (“All I want for Christmas is money!”) sends the wrong message about the wearer. Our children also know that there are different clothes for different occasions. They wear “church clothes” (polos, slacks, a nice dress) for church and school clothes (t-shirts, pants, comfortable dresses) for school. We model the same guidelines for ourselves and, of course, everything is wash and wear!

I am stricter than many parents I know about my children wearing weather-appropriate clothing. I grew up in climates with extremes, spending part of my life in an area with extreme heat and another part with extreme cold. I have seen people become ill from being over- or under-dressed for the weather. We teach the children what a person might wear during the summer or winter. We encourage layering, so they can adjust their clothing based on changes in the weather.

Right now, our third guideline is the easiest to follow. They are young, and wear what we purchase for them. My older children do go shopping with us, but we steer them to stores that generally have clothing we approve of. As they get older, they will have more opinions and options and might see their friends wearing clothes we don’t approve of. I keep an open dialogue about what is not appropriate, and why, without judging the person. (We talk about clothes, not about the character of someone.) Both my sons and daughters have the same “modesty guidelines” for clothing — no short shorts (or skirts), no revealing tops, and cover your belly!

Of course, within these guidelines, everyone is free to express their own style. My husband wears polos and slacks everyday, even on weekends. Our third child is very picky about what he wears. Our oldest prefers athletic pants, and our daughter favors anything with sparkles and pink. We have no restrictions on characters, so Thomas, princesses, and Angry Birds pepper their wardrobes.

While pink camo-butterfly pants are not my style, they are completely “Princess.” I enjoy watching the children discover their own style as they grow!

About The Author: Laura

Walden Mommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door My NPN Posts

Laura is the mother to a herd of four small children, wife to her Engineer Husband, and owner of a pesky dog. She blogs about her life in the Midwest at Walden Mommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door.

9 Responses to Our Clothing Guidelines

  1. Funky Little EarthChild  

    We are pretty relaxed when it comes to clothing. One thing I will not allow, like you, is clothing that is against our values. That means no, “Sister 4 Sale” shirts or “My Brother is Stupid” shirts in our household. No violent images (guns, tanks, etc). We limit most character clothing as well.

    • Laura

      My big pet peeve are the shirts that are anti-sibling. I deal with enough sibling rivarly without having them wear clothes that fuel the fire!

  2. Sandra Mort

    I agree, though we have different rules for #4. For example, we don’t do camo, since IMO it glorifies the military & violence.

    • Laura

      I’m, personally, on the fence about camo. The pink butterfly camo print I spoke about is fine, imo, because there’s no way anyone could mistake that for “military”! But, as a rule, I don’t like my kids in camo for a variety of reasons, yet I come from a strong military background. I guess I end up on the “eh, camo is not our thing and we’re not in the military soooo…” side of the fence!

  3. Cindy McCabe

    When my son was 14 we went school shopping at the local mall. I gave him $200 to buy some jeans, t-shirts and shoes. He knew if he brought back anything inappropriate it would go back to the store. Shopping was a breeze and we continued to do that in the future.

  4. Laura

    That’s a great idea! I may have to do that when my oldest child is older!

  5. Crunchy Con Mommy  

    I love your laid back approach to kids’ clothes. We pretty much do the same thing, except my son is 2 so he doesn’t have too much of an opinion yet except loving licensed characters, which we mostly limit to PJ’s. I guess I feel like if he’s going to be a walking Disney Channel ad, they should be paying us instead of the other way around, lol. Anyway, I think cartoon character tees are the only clothes I ever really say no to at this point.

  6. Sarh S  

    People I have talked to have thought I was strict on clothing rules. My sons can wear pretty much anything, no gang, alcohol or drug images will be allowed once they are old enough to know what that stuff is. My daughter I do not allow to wear tube tops or shorts/skirts that expose anything, I will only buy what goes to her knees or an inch or two above. She is only 6 yrs old, but in a size 10/12 in girls. The clothes they make now are just ridiculous!

  7. Jan Messali  

    I loved reading your post. As an elementary school teacher, we occasionally have to send a student home to change because his/her clothing isn’t appropriate… for example, girls wearing spaghetti straps. But we do see t-shirts with anti-sibling messages frequently. I don’t care for these either.