February 20, 2020


Dear Nikki,

I don’t know what to do!!! My parents make me wear a dress almost every day. Not just for church or dinner at grandma’s house, but even to school! I just want to wear hoodies and jeans like everyone else!! My mom says I look too “boyish” when I wear jeans. Help!!!

Dress Mess

Hi Dress Mess,

Okay, WOW. There are definitely days when my mom’ll say, “You’re wearing THAT?” and I’m like, “Well it IS on my body, so looks like I am!” I think we all have battles with our parents about clothes sometimes.

But only dresses all the time?! That’s hardcore! 

My first recommendation in situations like this is to explain to your parents HOW you feel and WHY, but do NOT under any circumstances use the phrase “everybody else.” As in “everybody else wears jeans!” or “everybody else’s parents let them wear what they want!” or “everybody else is NOT wearing dresses!”

That “everybody else” thing is like a blazing alarm that make parents LOSE IT. Again, I repeat—AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS!

Instead, tell them how you feel and why. I don’t know exactly how you feel, but here are some things I would probably feel in your situation:

I would feel different from everyone else. (LOL, there’s that “everyone else” thing again—another way to put it is, “I would feel like the dresses made me stand out in a bad way.”) Parents often tell us not to be a sheep and go along with the crowd, but it’s like they’ve forgotten when they were our age and how much they just wanted to blend in sometimes.

I might feel uncomfortable in dresses all the time. Like, physically uncomfortable. If we’re talking elementary school recess, SO many activities would be hard to do. If we’re talking middle school, it would be awkward to sit on the ground, and to step over the benches at cafeteria tables.

I would want some control over how I look, because that’s just a normal part of getting older. It’s fine for parents to pick out their baby or toddler’s clothes. But even preschoolers have favorite outfits! Clothes are one of the first ways we have to express ourselves to the world!

If your parents are willing to listen, here are some suggestions you could make:

  1. Start slow. Maybe they would agree to jeans on Fridays, for example. Or maybe you could start with pants that aren’t jeans. Some flowy wide-leg pants are almost like a skirt? You could try some black pants or khakis that would seem more dressed-up too. They might also be open to a cute skirt + leggings with a hoodie.
  2. Pair jeans with a nice top. This is on the same theme as above—jumping straight to jeans and a hoodie might give your parents a heart attack. Instead, maybe try jeans and a nicer sweater or flowy top. You could also ease them into the hoodie by pairing it with dresses! 
  3. Don’t give up on dresses. Make a point of looking really nice for non-school occasions like church or family gatherings, so they don’t think you’re going to live in jeans and hoodies from now on.

Do your parents like picking out your clothes? How do you handle it? What sorts of clothes do you like to wear? Tell us in the comments!