I recently reconnected with some long-lost family members that I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years, and when we had the great family reunion of 2018 last month, I went through some of the albums in a giant plastic tub that were filled to the brim with old childhood pictures featuring myself and my little sister.
As I was going through the old albums, I couldn’t help but show them to my boyfriend so that we could have a good laugh at the ridiculous outfits my parents shoved my sister and me into for school photographs, holidays, etc.
I swear, I think I wore at least two ridiculous red velvet dresses that made me look like an extra from The Godfather two years in a row for my school's picture day. Combine that with the bob haircut my parents forced me to get and the giant red bow in my hair, and it was a total recipe for misfortune.
For parents that are reading my story and want to avoid making their poor child look like a walking, talking fashion faux pas, below is a list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind when it is time to hit the stores to go back-to-school shopping.
Let's start with the 10 Big Don't parents should be aware of...
20 Don't Give Them A Silly Haircut That Will Make The Other Kids Laugh
I can’t speak for anyone else, but whenever I look back at some of my old primary school pictures I can’t help but wince so hard. I honestly don’t know what my parents were thinking—they saw I had thick, bushy wavy hair and they thought to themselves “Hmmm, a bob would look fantastic on our daughter.” No. Just no.
Babble notes that parents should learn from my parents’ mistakes and not give their poor child a ridiculous hairstyle right before school starts. A haircut that will inevitably make their peers laugh hysterically at them or make the kiddo want to pass out from sheer embarrassment when they’re adults and looking at these old photographs.
19 Avoid Old-Fashioned Clothing
Babble adds that another fashion faux pas that some parents seem to think is absolutely adorable, for some reason, is dressing their kids up in old-fashioned clothing and then sending them to school.
For the love of all things holy, please do not do this to your child. My parents got this ridiculous-looking red velvet dress for me when I was a youngster and I was forced to wear that stupid thing for picture day, the annual holiday play, etc. As my boyfriend so eloquently put it when I showed him the picture, it looked like it was a costume from an extra on The Godfather.
18 Poorly Stitched Flourishes Are Difficult To Deal With
Angelibabe notes that even though it is tempting to buy your child clothes with plenty of adorable flourishes, you shouldn’t even think twice about purchasing it. Just put it back onto the rack and walk away, since it is not worth it and it’s a total waste of money in the long run.
Children, especially children in primary school, are fairly active and those flourishes are often poorly stitched. There is a good chance that the frilly lace around your daughter’s shirt or dress is going to be hanging by a thread (literally) by the time she gets home from school.
17 Please Don't Over Dress Your Child
Angelibabe recommends that when parents are purchasing clothes for school, a good rule of thumb to live by is that it is always better to have your child be underdressed rather than overdressed. After all, it’s better to find items that look nice and won’t be uncomfortable for your child to wear rather than to drive your kiddo up a wall with a ton of clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt with a cool looking jacket over it.
My parents loved to overdress me during picture day. One time, I had to wear a long-sleeved shirt with a velour dress over it plus heavy stockings and dress shoes. I was sweating so badly that I got sick of it and had to put my hair up in a pony tail.
16 Ill-Fitting Clothes Are A Huge No-No
Angelibabe points out that not only is it important for parents to make sure that their child’s school outfits are comfortable, but it is also important for them to make sure that the clothes fit them right too.
There is nothing worse for children than being stuck in school all day and having to wear a sweater, t-shirt or pants that don’t quite fit right.
Whether they are constantly having to pull their pants up because they are a little too loose around their waist or their shirt feels constricting because of the odd cut, children won’t be able to pay attention to their lessons as much as they should if they’re stuck wearing ill-fitting outfits to school.
15 Busy Prints Just Make Your Child Look Absurd
Babble recommends that parents stay far, far away from busy prints when they are shopping for back-to-school clothes for their child. Sure, it looks super cute on the mannequin in the store, but trust me, I know from experience that it is going to look really bad on your child.
My parents used to purchase leggings for me in all sorts of bright, bold colors and prints when I was a wee lass back in the ‘90s. Looking back, the outfits I wore make me want to round up all of the picture albums and run them through a shredder so no one will ever be able to see my lack of style.
14 Their Outfits Should Not Be Uncomfortable
Angelibabe adds that when shopping for clothes that they are planning on sending their child to school in, it is best to make sure that the outfits are comfortable and your little one won’t want to come home being tempted to toss their shirt or pants into the trash can.
I know when I was a little girl, my parents had the brilliant idea of making me wear a pink velvet jumper dress that was itchy all over. I was so uncomfortable that day that I could barely concentrate on what was going on in my classes because I wished I could rip that stupid dress apart and put on comfortable overalls or something.
13 Don't Bundle Your Child Up Too Tightly In The Winter
Kindercare points out that while it might be tempting for parents to purchase all sorts of winter gear for their child to wear to school so they don’t get cold or get sick, bundling up your child to the point that they can barely move is definitely not a good idea.
It’s best to add just one more layer than an adult would normally wear, but make sure the clothes are easy to remove so your child isn’t torn between freezing and sweating. Layering with too much outerwear can actually make your little one sweat even more, which soaks through their clothes and makes them feel even colder.
12 Please Don't Buy Items That Clash
Babble warns parents to make sure that their child’s school outfits don’t clash because that’s just asking for your little one to be side-eyed and teased for their lack of fashion sense.
Aside from that, your child is going to be so embarrassed when they look through the old pictures and see that they were forced to wear items that clashed. I should know; I have gathered up plenty of albums that depicted my childhood and hidden them away where my boyfriend will never be able to find them and laugh at how badly dressed I was as a kid.
11 Ditch The Elaborate Hairstyles
Babble writes that when it comes to hairstyles for school, it is much better to keep it simple rather than go for ridiculously elaborate cuts and styles. Sure, your daughter might look really adorable with some sort of wildly elaborate braid, but after a while, those braids are going to give her a headache and make her locks crimp in all sorts of weird ways.
Likewise for the complicated haircut you got for your son that requires a heck of a lot of styling gel before it even looks presentable enough for school. There will be plenty of time for your child to explore the wonderful world of fashionable haircuts when they’re older, but for now, simple is always going to be best.
And here are the 10 details parents often forget about...
10 Cut Tags If Your Child Has Sensory Issues
Friendship Circle adds that it is important for parents of a child with sensory issues that dislikes the feeling of things like tags on the back of their neck to remind themselves to cut off the offending item the minute they get home from the clothing store.
No one likes feeling uncomfortable, especially a child that has sensory issues and can’t stand the feeling of a tag on the back of their shirt or pants. When clothes shopping, you can set an alarm for when you get home so you don’t forget to cut all of the tags off for your child.
9 Say Goodbye To Cotton In The Winter
Kindercare writes that parents shouldn’t forget to thoroughly research clothing materials that will help keep their little ones warm in the winter, especially if they live in an area where they are prone to getting bad snowstorms.
Cotton pants need to be nixed in the winter due to the fact that they can easily absorb both rain and snow—ditto for jeans too. Cotton also absorbs sweat very easily, which will make your child feel even colder when they are playing in the snow during recess. Your best bet is to purchase sporty pants, ideally ones that are made of fleece to keep your little one feeling toasty warm during the winter.
8 Face Masks Are A Lifesaver
I have memories of my mother going out and buying at least five different sets of hats, gloves and scarves for me to wear as a kid when I was going to and from school. For the most part, that was enough to keep me warm but every so often, there would be those bitterly cold days when the usual items weren’t enough and my face would feel like I was walking around in Winterfell.
Kindercare reminds parents to purchase the usual winter necessities, but to not forget to get face masks and earmuffs so your child will have another layer of protection during the really cold days
7 Check The Dress Code For Rules On Graphic T-Shirts
Nowadays, cool graphic t-shirts are all the rage for children but depending on your little one’s school dress code, they might be banned or there are strict restrictions on the colors, images, etc.
Most parents tend to just breeze through the dress code handbook, but Babble points out that it’s important to take some time to read through it thoroughly before you go out shopping for your little one and purchase items for them to wear to school. After all, it would be incredibly annoying to have to find the time to return a graphic t-shirt because you overlooked certain aspects of your child’s school dress code.
6 Make Sure The Tie For Picture Day Is The Appropriate Length
I know many mothers are stressed out from trying to balance their work life and raising children, which means that if they’re really busy then they might just pick the first tie that they see for their son to wear for picture day.
Babble warns that it’s best to not make an impulse buy and overlook the fact that it might be a little too long for your son to wear to school. It can be hard at times to squeeze in time to go shopping for nice school clothes with your kiddo, but it’s best to get that out of the way so you can have him try things like ties and dress shirts on before you spend any money on them.
5 Buttons Are A Child's Nemesis
Angelibabe points out that many parents tend to get so excited about finding the coolest outfit for their child to wear to school (especially if they are in kindergarten or first grade) that they don’t always think about the practicalities.
For young children that have just mastered the fine art of potty training, a good rule of thumb when clothes shopping for school is to think to yourself before you buy “Is this outfit going to be a massive pain in the neck for my child to take on and off when they have to use the bathroom, or will they be able to easily manage this?”
If it’s the former, put it back on the shelf, but if it’s the latter, add it to the cart.
4 Check The Weather The Night Before
Kindercare points out that some parents are so busy with work, dropping their children off and picking them up from school, making dinner, etc. that they often don’t take into account how the weather will be the next day when they are helping their child plan their outfits to wear to school.
One way to make sure that your child isn’t ill-equipped for a sudden rainstorm or isn’t sweating when the Sun comes out in the afternoon, after a period of clouds, is to download a local weather app.
Check the app right before your child has to pick out an outfit for the next day and again when they are getting ready for school just to make sure that the forecast hasn’t changed overnight.
3 Measure To Be Sure That The Shorts Are The Right Length
While it may seem ridiculous to us, some schools are a major stickler for making sure that the length of a child’s shorts is appropriate. I never had to worry about it when I was in school because we wore uniforms, but I’ve heard plenty of stories when I was a kid about my friends being embarrassed in front of the entire class because they had to have their shorts publicly measured and were sent home to change if they were deemed “too short” for the dress code.
The Telegraph urges parents to double check what the school’s dress code states about shorts and the length they are supposed to be. If anything, bust out a tape measure and make sure that they’re a-okay for your child to wear to school and they won’t get busted by overzealous principals or teachers for wearing short shorts.
2 Use Non-Scented Detergent
Kindercare writes that while some folks really like the smell of scented laundry detergent, some children have very sensitive noses and that is why it is best to find one that has no scent whatsoever just to make sure that their skin doesn't get irritated or that they don't end up with a headache.
I remember when I was a kid, I was very sensitive to smells and I couldn’t bear to be around anyone that had just put on perfume. Don’t even get me started on the time my mother tried scented laundry detergent when I was a little girl—I got such a bad headache that I wished I could toss that detergent into a volcano.
1 Don't Forget To Let Your Kid Have Some Input
Café Mom notes that it is important for parents to remember that their child isn’t a doll that they can dress up to their liking and then ship them off to school. When purchasing outfits for your child to wear to school, it is best to double-check the dress code before you leave for the store and take your child with you.
That way, your little one will have some input as to what they want to wear to school but you can rest assured that it won’t be something that they’ll get reprimanded for because it violates the dress code.