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african-american-mother-daughterIt’s the time of year that puts mothers of teenage girls over the edge: back to school shopping. Many an argument has taken place in department store dressing rooms.

Moms wonder why daughters want to wear certain things. Daughters don’t understand what the fuss is about. In order to resolve these fashion dilemmas, every mother needs to know a few things before heading to the mall.

Step 1: Consider the mind of a teenage girl.

She may want to wear clothing that is suggestive, sexy, or immodest because she wants attention, is trying to establish her own style, or wants to be fashionable. However, the most important reason lies in the fact that she doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t expose herself. She doesn’t understand or embrace her dignity.

Step 2: Teach your girls at a young age how valuable they are.

She is worth far beyond any jewel. Being a princess, she must present herself in a respectful way, which includes her choice of fashion. Her face should be her focal point; encourage her to draw the attention to her face and eyes. The eyes are the “window to the soul” that portrays thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Help her to choose a flattering hairstyle. Wearing earrings or other jewelry, appropriate makeup, and colors that are becoming to her skin tone will all draw the eye to her face. (If you are not confident in teaching these things, seek out help from a salon or cosmetics consultant.)

Conversely, putting emphasis on the bust, midriff, or bottom draws the eye away from the face and reduces her to mere body parts, or an object to desire. This includes not only her peers but the old man at the grocery store.

Step 3: Understand that she may not understand what message she is sending.

Along those same lines, girls may not realize the negative impression they give of themselves when they choose to wear t-shirts with nasty sayings, or to show cleavage. Many a decent girl is walking around giving others thoughts of her that simply are not true. Whether we like it or not, we are judged by the way we look. This may be wrong, but it’s a fact and all of us do it, even if it’s unintentional. A bad impression can cause the loss of a possible friendship or a part-time job. Once your daughter understands why she shouldn’t dress immodestly, her desire to do so may be diminished. Offer modest yet stylish alternatives: She can get the attention she desires by being the girl who likes bright colors or wears hats. There are styles to choose from (not always in the junior department) that cover the appropriate areas and look hip. Many stores offer at least a few things that are acceptable.

Step 4: Try to have Fun with your rules for clothes

When shopping this fall, expect  that it will take a lot of time. You will have to hit many, many stores to find a few acceptable garments. Check the petite department to fit smaller bodies. Several stores have merchandise available to purchase online, which  saves time. The selection can be better as well. There are a variety of gently worn clothes at thrift stores and consignment shops at a fraction of the cost. Be prepared to spend an afternoon at these establishments. Also, consider   layering tops if a single piece doesn’t offer enough coverage. Moms, after you have set some guidelines, let your daughter have some space in picking their fashions. However, continually remind them of the desired focal point: always the face. Say “NO” when necessary, but try not to veto her choices unless it is essential, letting her have some freedom in her choices. You must help your daughter learn to choose appropriate items, which may cause conflict. Some of the disagreements arise when mothers and daughters don’t have the same taste.(Take the fashion personality test at the left) Embrace these differences! Do not try to dress your daughter as a clone of yourself. Your girl is a unique person with a style all her own. The reverse is also true. Instruct your daughter that you have a style that you prefer and no, you won’t be wearing that leopard-print tee shirt (unless you like that kind of thing).

Step 5: Set the Example

Mom, keep up your appearance in order to have a positive influence on your girls. You are the first and most important example of fashion to them. What teen will be open to mom’s advice on fashion if she looks sloppy and unkempt? Keep abreast of basic fashion styles. You do not want to embarrass her by neglecting your appearance. Make no mistake; we are not talking about spending a lot of money or embracing vanity. We are simply speaking of knowing your own dignity and expressing it in your overall look. You make a good or bad impression, just as much as your teen does. This can be a challenge for busy mothers. Fashion can be a major issue in families. There are girls that are rebellious in this area. The above strategies may fall on deaf ears. Continue doing your best to influence your daughter and stick to your guidelines. It may be helpful to have a friend of yours, whom she admires, talk to her. Many times hearing the same message from someone else makes all the difference. Pray and keep things positive, using shopping as a fun   activity to do together. Educating your girl on her dignity and using fashion to portray this can be rewarding and enjoyable for mother and daughter.

Have fun at the mall! The time for mother – daughter bonding can be successful if you truly try.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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