My kids’ wardrobes are driving me crazy

Your Life
Dr. Cathleen McGreal
March, 2015

Q: My kids are driving me crazy with their wardrobes. My son wants to wear baggy pants that fall off, and my daughter’s leggings look like they were painted on. How can I make them dress more modestly?

Your son’s desire to wear baggy pants is reminiscent of the “Oxford Bags” that were all the rage in the 1920s. Young men attending Britain’s Oxford University wanted to wear knickers to class but that was forbidden. Instead, they wore knickers under extremely baggy pants! When the style spread across the pond, President Coolidge is said to have remarked that he “wouldn’t be caught dead” wearing Oxford Bags! 

Youth culture. Since the 1920s, there have been aspects of clothing, personal adornment, gestures and vocabulary that youths adopt to differentiate themselves from older generations. Look back at family photos from your teen years and you will likely find that your style differed from that of your parents. Keep this in mind as you guide your teens in making more appropriate clothing choices.

Modest choices can still be stylish. Leggings aren’t interchangeable with a pair of slacks; regular blouses just don’t work with leggings when it comes to modesty. However, leggings can be appropriate with cute tunics or skirts. 

Choose clothing that respects the setting. Guide your children in selecting clothing that fits the activity or event. This is an important life skill for college, job interviews and other adult activities. The clothes chosen when their friends come to your home will differ from clothing that indicates respect and reverence when participating in Mass. 

See the March 2013 Parenting Journey for more discussion about clothing for Mass.