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Why I Let My Daughter Do Her Own Back-to-School Shopping

How I Finally Did My Daughter’s Sense of Style Justice

When it comes to parenting, nothing is more powerful than letting your child express her true self. We've teamed up with Justice to bring to light this notion of nurturing and embracing individuality by allowing one mother and daughter duo to shop Justice for all back-to-school looks.

I’ll admit that when I first had my daughter, I assumed her style would be, simply put, my style, which my own mother would claim I’ve been carefully honing since birth. Surely my child would favor the classic-with-an-edge clothing pieces, minimal accessories, and statement shoes and bags that I had been wearing for as long as I can remember. She wouldn’t shy from colors and patterns, but her wardrobe would also feature a healthy dose of black, white, and maritime stripes, and most importantly, she would let me approve every outfit she wore from head to toe.

My delusion lasted until she was about 3, started talking in full sentences, and proved that yes, she had a sense of style, but nope, it wasn’t mine even a little bit. For awhile, in fact, her “style” involved wearing the same ombre tutu every single day for almost a year. In the middle of that toddler fashion battle, I went ahead and conceded any future style war between us. I realized it didn’t matter if she dressed like me. It only mattered that she dressed like her, and my job was to help her figure out what that meant.

Now that she’s older, becoming a tween long before I’d like to admit, her sense of style has continued to develop, with varying degrees of success. There are days I can’t believe she’s chosen such a chic little outfit and days when I’d like to put a sign on her back disavowing myself from any responsibility for her look. But even on those mismatched, disheveled days, I have to admit that my girl is honing a fashion point of view, and even if it’s not always my own, I’m proud of her individuality. I want her to continue developing a fashion consciousness.

"My girl is honing a fashion point of view, and even if it’s not always my own, I’m proud of her individuality. I want her to continue developing a fashion consciousness."

Because she’s also a shopaholic who never met a clothing store she wasn’t ready to rummage through, it’s never difficult to convince her to go on a little shopping mission, and our latest was at Justice, a brand that drew her in with flip-sequin backpacks and initial notebooks — one of her signature birthday gifts for her girlfriends — and surprised both of us by what else we found by the end of our recent shopping trip: a better defined sense of her style.

Not surprisingly, she ran first for the accessories and toy sections, picking out a new squishy toy and a cozy blanket with a narwhal-headed hood before I reminded her that we were there on a back-to-school fashion assignment. Then she was off to the races, pulling dresses, tees, leggings, and jackets from the racks like a little shopping ninja.

As soon as both of our arms were full, I suggested we head to the dressing room, where she was surprisingly decisive about what worked for her and didn’t. “These are cute,” she said about a pair of flip-sequin pull-on jean leggings, “But you know I’m not much of a jean girl.” She isn’t. Instead, she fell for a pair of black leggings with a cute narwhal across the knees (she must have a thing for narwhals; who knew?), which she paired with a plaid button up and a pair of glitter-heeled booties that I had to admit even I would wear. “You know what would be cute with this?” she asked. “That moto jacket we saw when we first walked in.” She was totally right.

“You know what would be cute with this?” she asked. “That moto jacket we saw when we first walked in.” She was totally right.

She continued to surprise me, trying on a sweet crochet shift dress with a cool denim jacket with knit sleeves and a hood, then a flip-sequin NYC sweatshirt with a pair of patterned athletic pants I wished came in my size. Did they match? Not exactly. But somehow the contrast made the combo even cooler. We left the store with smiles on our faces and her back-to-school shopping handled. I didn’t have to veto a single thing, and I could tell she was already planning her first-day-of-school look in her head.

I was so proud that I threw in the squishy toy and a flip-sequin lunch bag for good measure. Style success deserves to be rewarded.