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I also attended a private school where everyone (it seemed) had every little thing they wanted to buy - I, on the other hand, did not, as my family's income was tied up in tuition to said school. Luckily (or by necessity) I was a total tomboy, completely "un-cool" by the standards of my classmates, and spent my time kicking around a soccer ball in shorts and sneakers rather than shopping with a copy of Vogue in hand. Looking back now, I have no regrets and I value the excellent education I received; I won't lie and say it was fun not fitting in, but I don't miss the expensive jeans I never had and I still don't like heels.

I don't have a lot of advice, but I can say it sounds like you're doing a wonderful job. The "pretend" trip to Paris was a fantastic idea. To be able to say, "You know what? I'm sorry, but we really can't keep up with your friends," asks for a bit of maturity on your daughter's part; the trip is the payoff that lets her know that you really do understand and are willing to help as much as you can.


The wrenching desire to become a clothes horse can always be a tough one to overcome, but luckily there are good ways around it most of the time.

Where I grew up there was a thrift store that sold off-the-rack designer samples all the time... and considering how close you are to Boston, surely there must be something there that's similar. $20 Versace shirts are still Versace... and it's also even less likely that anyone else will turn up with the same thing!

And if you want to try and circumvent the not-making-her-own thing, you should have her read knit lit! ;)


It sounds like you came up with a great plan and were very sensitive to her needs/wants. And it's also neat that you ran into your fashionista friends -- give you some legitimacy that you weren't always in the surburbs diving a minivan (or SUV -- you know what I mean). That sai, oy!


She has two choices: set her sights on getting a kick-ass, high-paying job (one hopes in a legitimate professional field) to buy her own goodies, or marry money. I'd recommend the first choice.


It's good that Miss C is learning now that she can't have everything her friends have, and that there are levels of relative satisfaction in between have-it-all and woe-is-me. Otherwise, her $30K per year first job will lead to many large credit card bills. Case in point, my first post-college roommate. I wondered how she could afford to fly around the country to visit friends and eat at chi-chi restaurants when I, making the same salary, watched every penny. When our lease ended at year's end, I had saved several thousand dollars (I wanted to buy a car!) while she had accumulated nearly twice that in credit card debt. She's a great woman, and now financially solvent and far more responsible, but that lesson was a hard one for her!


I think you made a wonderful compromise. I think Miss C probably really enjoyed the experience of shopping in Boston and made her feel like she had her own wonderful experience. As others mentioned, she will always see others who have more than her and unfortunately, that's a fact of life. You handled it well and that type of compromise makes her feel that you understand the situation she faces and that you're working with her. It sounds like a fun time!


That's a brilliant idea... As she gets older, the coolness of the expensive stuff everyone has will give way to the coolness of expensive stuff on which she got a great deal (Kate Spade sample sales!), or inexpensive stuff that's one-of-a-kind, or inexpensive stuff bought in amazing locales (which will require big expenditures to get there, but travel is educational, right?).


(That Rodriguez website is really annoying.)

Miss C follows the footsteps of the X's and Y's, so it is fairly new territory. They want the materialistic goods without having to put in the training, schooling, time marching up the ladder. I read recently something that summarized it well: "Fine, but they have to realize that they are on a completely separate path with a completely different outcome." And that outcome isn't the income to buy all that stuff.

I admire your creativity.

Katie K

Bravo on your great expedition. I have a 15 year old daughter, too, who can also be called a fashion expert. Add to that that we live in the middle of Manhattan, so she and her friends are experts on all the stores which they frequent regularly after school. She buys things I don't want to get her with her babysitting money. Anyway, if you are ever on a NYC expedition, maybe we can hook them up.


Maybe go vintage if she really feels like she wants labels? I know some of the vintage stuff can cost nearly the same as new, but sometimes it can be fun tooling around vintage shops and recreating new spins on older items. Take this comment with a grain of salt though - I'm rarely found in anything but jeans and Birkenstocks, no matter how much I love to look at high heels. :D


It's really hard to not get swept up in all of the glamor and trying to "keep up with the Jone's". I think you did a great job keeping her grounded.

Mary K. IN Rockport

Luck. Cuz that sort of comparison and yearning doesn't go away in those so afflicted until age 23 or so when it's her own money she has to spend. We have one who really doesn't care what she has on as long as it's comfortable and one who feels really extremely deprived because her parents are not wealthy and indulgent. Sit down with Miss C on Monday nights at 8 and watch "Gossip Girl" together. It's a quick lesson on fabulous fashion for rich teens which does not make them happy.


On Gossip Girl, Jenny (the fashionista wannabe) sews her own clothes and befriends rich people like Blair Waldorf. So maybe that's something to try.


When our four kids were in middle school, we put them all on a weekly clothes budget of $20 a week. First we made sure they had a decent wardrobe to start with ie: good winter coat, boots, shoes and then we told them they could spend their weekly $ on clothes or anything they wanted. They had control over what they bought with their budget. We never interfered with their choices. They always had enough and it was interesting to watch how all of a sudden their "must have" items weren't so important anymore. I did stuff their Christmas stocking with underwear and socks, since thoese were usually neglected purchases as they didn't show. The youngest graduated from College this past spring. It was the best thing we ever did, (besides making them save 3/4 of any job income for college). It taught them to save, budget and look for deals.


Well done - Peer pressure is a terrible thing. My son had a scholarship to a private school and rubbed shoulders with millionaires kids who though nothing of £2000 mountain bikes for birthdays and Christmas holidays in the Bahamas. We just had to sit him down and explain that we just couldn't do those sorts of things, and bless him he understood :-)Money doesn't buy happiness they say -though having enough to get by helps ;-)


My advice? More of the same. She'll remember you indulging her with your TIME later on!

My dd#2 (16) remembers one vacation we took as her FAVORITE of all time...and the 3 hour stretch we spent singing various old songs (from Rise Up Singing....gotta have a copy for every couple of people in the car!) on the road was the best part!!!!! I feel like such a good mother when she talks about this!

And my other DD (18) lists her favorite toy as a set of play silks (I got the whole set when I was working at the school store), they were just squares of china silk, that did duty as costumes (tie them in creative ways around yourself, to make anything from a pirate to a fairy princess!), props, covers, houses, you name it....what lovely memories!!!!! Those were bit of a splurge but a versatile toy worth having....I even borrowed them on occasion to wear as scarves!


You are one smart woman. I'd hate to see her lose that spark of bohemian creativity, and forget how fun it is to find your own way.

Divine Bird Jenny

I was never a fashionista in even the loosest sense--I pretty much wore what was comfortable that I liked, and damn the trends. My little sister, on the other hand, was a clotheshorse from day one. I remember her at nine years old, stomping her feet because what our mom had picked out for her to wear didn't line up with her fashion sensibilities.

She learned early on that my parents would NOT just buy her what she wanted whenever she wanted it. She began to choose a smaller but higher-end Back-to-School wardrobe each year, educated herself on the joys of Marshall's and thrift stores. When she got a job, all of her spending money went toward the clothes she wanted. She now has a two-bedroom apartment that, for her, is a one-bedroom with a huge walk-in closet. The clothes are important to her, and she may have a lot of them, but she also delights in the idea that HER Ralph Lauren boots cost her $50 instead of $350, which leaves her with the extra money to buy the occasional brand-new Coach bag. Does she spend way more time and money on clothes than I ever would? Sure, but she also has complete control over her finances and her life. There ARE ways to keep up with the Tiffanies; Miss C just needs to figure out what's REALLY important to her that still lines up with her values.

Your 'pretend vacation' to Boston was a stroke of genius. There are so many designers to see, so many places 'to be seen', and plenty of ways to satisfy that jet-set craving. My only advice is to keep doing what you're doing: reinforce her personal style so she doesn't lose it, remind her that while you'd love to shower her with gifts, it's just not realistic, and take a few more of those 'vacations' with her.

Oh--if she's a little bohemian/artsy, head up to Bar Harbor, ME sometime for a weekend. You can show her the dozens of little unique shops that might have some awesome pieces in her style. I go JUST before or after the summer season, when things are open but the crowds aren't out. My husband and I always love the laid-back atmosphere and the feeling of discovering something unusual and beautiful. More accessible is a trip to Northampton...again, fun, arty, and LOTS of great food and music.

And of course, Webs, but you don't have to tell HER that's your reason for going. ;)

Dr. Judy

I think you are right on top of it. Things always change when it is their OWN money they are spending. Time takes care of that. In the meantime, you are doing a splendid--and very creative--job.


Kudos to you and your foray out to Boston with Miss C! A valuable lesson you are teaching her. Sometimes admiring and pawing over the expensive stuff lessens the itch a bit. Sounds like a good time was had by all. Had to crack up at:

"....... many of them wearing chunky little yarn schmattes themselves, all stopped to admire my stitches."


Poverty made me a spy. I grew up with the mantra, "we can't, we're poor," so I took the sewing skills my grandmother gave me and the knitting techniques Daddy taught me and went about Newbury Street in search of styles to steal into my own creations. It was so convenient in those days; walk down Newbury and Boylston, checking out the latest fashions, then heading over to Goodwill when it was in the South End to find base pieces to convert to a badge of honor.

It was the beauty of the DIY and punk era: I wore these pieces feeling so full of myself, away from the corduroy jeans and commercial fair-isle sweater rules of my South Shore high school days. I'm thinking in a year or two the Divine Miss C will appreciate the beauty of your creations and see the hollow glamor of Misters Jacobs and Louboutin. She will certainly see the love of your attempts to understand her "pain."

Beth S.

That sounds like an absolutely brilliant day! Plus you got lots of Cool Points for it, so everyone wins. :-)

If only she could be induced to view knitting as DIY haute couture. A Rowan mag, a few delicious skeins of high-quality yarn, calculations to achieve (or at least aim towards) the perfect fit...


I was never too interested in expensive clothes, but my sister was. My parents ended up giving her a clothing allowance. It changed her shopping habits overnight. My mother has always been a bargain shopper, but my sister didn't think that was cool enough. Once she got her clothing allowance, bargains were all of a sudden cool (she got to know the thrift stores really well), she had control of the money so she couldn't tell her friends "my mother won't get it for me" but instead had to say "it's not worth the money". And the fighting over buying clothes stopped instantly. It was a good lesson on budgeting and great practice for real life. Now that she's making her own money she has all of those bargain-hunting skills to fall back on.


Well, I can't blame her for wanting to go to Paris. At least you don't make her wear hand-me-downs from a friend's older daughter....

But, it sounds like she's going to be a savvy world traveler, have lots of adventures, and be well dressed while doing it.


Haunt the clearance racks at the pricey places. When she sees if she waits she can have the stuff for more than 1/2 off, if she waits, it will help. Teach her about getting the classic items that do not go in or out of style in the best quality affordable, and trendy stuff as cheap as possible. Have her look through her own clothing for the trendy stuff she HAD to have 2 years ago, and will she be caught dead in it now?

My daughters are label crazy, and have learned to share clothing, (two in nearly the same size does help the affordablity) to exand their wardrobe. A friend of a friend has a daughter who is slightly older/bigger, and my girls love it when she cleans her closet, as Daddy spends FAR too much on school clothes.

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