One of the most important aspects of being a teenage girl is the feeling that she fits in, dresses well, looks right and is part of her peer group. For lots of girls this can be a tricky time if they lack confidence and don’t yet feel comfortable in their own skin, as so many teenage girls don’t. Instead of focusing on themselves and where to make improvements girls look to the people around them for inspiration, acceptance and direction in how to dress.
Most high street fashion, particularly teenage fashion, is designed for ultra slim, waif like bodies. This can be great for the girl who is a size 6. She can happily copy her friends’ style and pull it off. But not every girl who is slender and willowy will feel confident with their body- some just want curves. And the girl whose shape and build is rather more curvy, doesn’t suit mini skirts, leggings worn with cropped tops or harem pants- but they don’t know what else to wear.
The following guide will help your daughter make the right style decisions so that she fits in, feels confident and stays on trend. This is about inspiring confidence in your teenager to help her discover her own sense of style by knowing which cuts, styles and colours suit her. From there she’ll know which trends to pick out and which to avoid.
Wardrobe Basics For A Confident Teenager
Every celebrity or style icon has a wardrobe of clothes that work for them and them alone. But it’s what’s in this wardrobe that really counts. The only way to begin is with the basics.
These cores pieces should be simple garments that are easy to layer and accessorize. This makes them ideal for dressing up and down to suit the occasion. And they will be easy to mix and match so avoid statement pieces until you the have the basics sorted.
An example of a basic wardrobe:
- Dressy jeans for going out
- Casual jeans for everyday
- Vest(s) for layering
- Plain tee shirt(s)
- Long sleeved shirt
- Jacket for summer or coat for winter
- Leggings or slim trousers
- Casual trainers
- Flats (pumps, man shoes or low heeled smarter shoes)
- Sandals or flip flops for summer or boots for winter
Two or three neutral colours and one or two accent colours that all work well together will help make these basics work well together, mix and match and be added to along the way.
From here some additions can be made:
- Tailored trousers for either day or night
- 2-3 tee shirts with prints or slogans
- Denim jacket
- Skirt or shorts
- Jewellery, headbands, hats
Dressing For Her Body Shape
When someone looks good in their clothes it’s because they enjoy wearing them and appear comfortable, relaxed and confident. It’s very important for teenage girls to feel comfortable in and to like their clothes so she needs to wear clothes that fit well and are the right cut for her body shape. The way to do this is to create a balanced silhouette.
First you ascertain her shape. There are one of two ways to do this: if your daughter is happy enough with her overall size, get her to look in the mirror either in her underwear or something very slim fitting that shows her shape and proportions. If she is extremely unhappy with her body it might be advisable to do this by being more discreet.
Have a look at her shoulders, bust, waist and hips.
Hourglass Shoulders in line with hips, curved bust, defined waist
Pear Hips wider than shoulders, small bust, defined waist
Inverted Triangle Shoulders wider than hips, small bust, no waist
Apple Shoulders in line with hips, full bust, full tummy, no waist
Lean Column Shoulders in line with hips, small bust, no waist
In order to create a balanced silhouette you should follow these simple principles:
- Create interest and add detail to smaller shoulders to balance wider hips
- Create interest and add detail to smaller hips to balance broader shoulders
- Don’t add bulk and layers to larger areas
- Don’t wear oversized clothes to hide problem areas
And here’s how to do it:
Hourglass Choose shaped and fitted lines that follow her body’s line
- Follow her body’s line – choose clothes that define her waist, enhance her bust and highlight her hips and bottom
- This is the classic feminine shape and is the most flexible when it comes to wearing different styles and shapes in clothing
- Any styles and shapes that hide your body shape. They will add extra volume to your waist
Inverted Triangle On her bottom half she should wear clothes that make her hips look broader
- Keep details or anything that adds volume to her lower half eg hip belts, hip pockets or full skirts
- Keep her top half clean and uncluttered
- Necklines that broaden her top top e.g. wide necks, halter necks, big collars
- Styles that extend or accentuate shoulders e.g. puff sleeves, shoulder pads
- Patterns on top, scarves around her neck or shoulders
- Narrowing hemlines e.g. pencil skirts or skinny jeans
Lean Column Create the illusion of curves around the hips, bust and of a waist
- Use layering to shorten her long top half
- Create fullness around her extremities e.g. bubble hems, sleeves, turn up legs, scarves at the neckline
- Wear high or low waisted styles – broad shoulders; unfitted jackets, which slope to the waist; highlight your hips and bottom using pockets and pleats
- Figure-hugging garments
- Long straight fitted lines in. dresses, trousers and sleeves
- Tops or dresses with square necklines
- Shapeless jackets; loose or droopy styles that hang from the shoulders
- Dropped waistlines
- Bulky, heavy textures
- Double breasted jackets
Apple Follow her bodyline – avoid details around bust, tummy and hips. Keep detail around shoulders
- Keep the clothing line straight to slightly fitted, but fabric soft so you avoid unnecessary bulk around the bosom, waist and tummy
- Keep details above the bust line and below the hip line – for everything in between keep it plain and simple
- The shoulders need attention so you should balance them from the front and side views
- Keep your silhouette fitted under bust and as well below your arms and along your waist
- Splits at waist works wonder
- Wearing belts whether big or small
- Sleeves which finish next to her bust
- Any details, fuss and volume near bust, tummy or hip area e.g. no lapels, double breasted coats or jackets, high-waisted trousers or waistbands
- Skirts above knee length
- Clothing that finishes at her fullest points e.g. cropped tops or jackets
- Excessive fabric in the mid section
- Gathered or tiered skirts, gathered trousers around the waist
Pear Balance her top half with her hips with clothes that make her shoulders look broader and bust bigger
- Jackets and tops need to finish either above or below the widest point of her hips and bottom
- Layering on her top half creates visual interest and draws the eye upwards
- Volume, clutter, pattern, colour should be worn on top, so hips and thighs will seem narrower
- Fitted styles around her waist and accentuation of her waistline is great e.g. empire line, wraps
- Make her shoulders look broader with shoulder pads, puff sleeves or cap sleeve tee
- Narrowing leg, pleats or creases in the leg line, turn-up trousers, wide or flared legs
- Details, patterns, pockets or belts on thigh or hip area
- Straight or pencil skirts
- Bags that sit on her hips
- Mini skirts or any other hemline that finishes on her hips, thighs or any other full area
- Sloping or narrow shoulder lines
Getting The Right Fit
The most important aspect of choosing clothes once you know her body shape is the fit. This doesn’t just mean whether a size is too big or small. It’s about knowing how something should sit on the body and frame it in a flattering and comfortable way.
Here are the key aspects that can mean the difference between something fitting well and fitting badly
- When clothes are too small or tight they will dig into the body, sit incorrectly, pucker, make her feel uncomfortable and look wrong
- When clothes are too big they will add inches to her silhouette. They won’t ‘hide’ problem areas, they will make her look generally larger than she is
- Jackets Armholes should not be too tight. A size bigger for outerwear is often needed especially if it’s a winter coat and will be worn with several layers underneath
- Sleeve length The sleeve hem should ‘sit’ where the thumb joins the hand. It’s surprising what a huge difference it makes when sleeves are too long.
- Trouser/ jean length Trousers and jeans are cut too long these days so it’s well worth paying £15 for an alteration if it means something being just right afterwards. A tip- make sure you wash jeans first as the shrinkage in denim can be quite high
- Waistbands on jeans, trousers and skirts shouldn’t gape when sitting down. A belt should not be needed to hold up trousers, jeans or a skirt, except as an accessory. If a belt is needed the waistband is too big.
- Bottoms and hips on fitted styles shouldn’t have masses of excess fabric over them. The fabric should rest gently on the hips and bottom allowing for a small amount of movement, even in skinny jeans. Anything more than this will look wrong.
Colour And Print
Getting your teenager to wear the right colours for her is another way to boost her confidence. Dressing well means looking as put together as possible. As well as choosing garments that work well together it’s important to get a colour palette that compliments both her and the rest of her wardrobe.
To see if a colour suits your daughter, hold it up to her face, in as natural or bright light as possible and see if it lifts her skin and makes her glow. When a colour works, the whites of the eyes will appear brighter. When it doesn’t, dark shadows appear under the eyes and the skin appears sallow. It’s worth comparing similar shades one after the other, as despite looking very similar, shades can be very different.
- A good wardrobe should be based around two or three neutrals and a few accent colours.
- Neutrals could be grey, navy, brown, khaki, beige, cream, white and of course black. Black is can be draining on many people though it is often a favourite. Try and introduce other neutrals into the palette
- Accents can be any brights, pastels or neons. They can take the form of print such as floral or stripes; slogans or images on tee shirts. Colour can also be added in vests, scarves, jewellery, belts, bags, shoes and hairpieces.
- Wearing colours together: three colours generally look good in an outfit. Any more can look messy. For example blue jeans, pale grey vest, dark grey cardigan, red scarf, mid grey bag.
- Small prints e.g. small florals, polka dots, thin stripes look best on petite bodies and smaller girls
- Large prints e.g. bold florals, big abstract prints, large geometric patterns look best on taller girls
- Pick prints with her accent colours
- Tall girls look best in smaller areas of print- wearing print head to toe can look too much
- Smaller girls can pull of wearing both large and small areas of print
Putting It All Together
When it comes to clothes, at the top of nearly every teenage girl’s list is her desire to dress like her friends. But if the cuts, styles and colours favoured by her peer group are wrong for her body shape, causing her lack of confidence to sky-rocket, what do you do?
When you have a better idea of the shapes that suit her, you’ll know what sorts of items to avoid. But don’t focus on what not to wear, concentrate instead on what it’s great for her to wear. Once you have her basics, turn the exercise around to something fun. A bit of styling. Get her involved. Make her feel as though she’s doing the choosing.
Accessories are a fantastic, cost effective way for her to keep in with her peer group and to experiment with the latest trends without being in too much danger of dressing head to toe in pieces totally unsuited to her shape.
- Jewellery Every girl loves some sort of jewellery. Some go for necklaces, pendants and chains, some love bracelets and bangles, some adore rings others go for earrings
- Hats flat caps, trilbies, berets, wide brimmed hats, beanies
- Hair wear headbands, bows, ribbons and clips
Layering is really a fancy word for putting outfits together. Any garment worn under or over another is layering. The key to layering well (once you’re aware of the right styles and colours to wear) is to be careful with the weight of each fabric. Basically, start with the lightest weight closest to skin such as a camisole and build from there. The more layers, the lighter weight they should be so avoid teaming a very chunky knit cardigan over more than one layer. Be careful with rounder, larger body shapes and make sure the under layers are closer fitting rather than flowing and drapey otherwise it will add inches. Experiment with longer camisoles or tops peeking out at the hems of outer layers. This is where flashes of colour and print can come into their own. Mixing fabric textures such as sheen with matt, woolly with shiny and leather with wool all add lovely touches to basic garments.
Shopping If there’s any way that she can be encouraged to shop with you rather with her friends, this is ideal though perhaps tough to impose.
Research If you can encourage your daughter to research looks, ideas and styles she likes herself. When left to our own devices we are often instinctively drawn to what we like because it’s right for us. Without the distraction of her peer group, she might just find things she loves rather than the things she thinks she should love.
One of the beauties of the high street is the huge range of price points available. Whatever your budget, there will be something for you but you do not need to spend a lot of money on a teenage girl’s wardrobe. In fact is perhaps wise not to.
- A young girl’s body shape, size and height can all change dramatically. While something fits her in May, she may have outgrown it by August.
- The majority of young girls care little for the details, fabric and workmanship that’s gone into a garment in the same way adults. It’s likely that she won’t look after her clothes in a way that prolongs their lifespan.
- Teenagers don’t mind about quality in the same way adults do so cheaper fabrics will probably not be an issue for her.
Brands are a different issue and her desire for a particular label may depend on her peer group. If she is set on premium high street or designer labels there are many places to source items for cheaper than the shop price such as ebay and Brand Alley