Back-To-School Shopping

As you know, my family spent July cramming summer into a month because our daughter recently had surgery. I’m happy to report everything went fine and she is recuperating well. As expected, her physical activities are limited for the next few months. There will be no swimming, no Slip-n-Slide, no biking, no scootering, and there shouldn’t be any running but that is very difficult to curtail in an active girl of ten. So far, we’ve only had one minor mishap– a scraped knee from slipping on the grass. 2014-07-29 11.44.53-1

There are still plenty of summer activities a group of girls can enjoy, including setting up a picnic area in the garage using every single clean towel in the house and for some reason, an umbrella (“It’s going to rain!”). The girls get to work making a set of different-colored potions using plastic bottles from our recyle bin (“This orange juice jug is perfect!”), water from the outside faucet and sidewalk chalk. The pink one is a love potion (“If you like a boy, make him drink this.”), purple is for anger (I’m not sure how that one works, or whether it causes anger or prevents it), and blue is a mystery. At any rate, I’m sure my husband will be thrilled to find the recycle bin empty when he gets ready to take the trash to the dump on Saturday, that is if he hasn’t already run over a potion or two on his way into the garage.

Another summer activity which is not at all hampered by these restrictions is Back-to-School shopping. Having a July birthday this year meant our lucky girl received some generous gifts in the form of Justice gift cards. And although it feels like summer just began, we are just in time for the big marketing push to get back from the beach and into the stores to get ready for school. Of course, aligning the wishes of a tween girl with my priorities requires some finesse. I thought we were going to Justice yesterday to buy a couple of cute outfits to wear to school. And school starts at the very end of August here– which is almost September, which is autumn. I know there may be a few warm weeks, but they will quickly turn to crisp fall days. This means pants and long sleeves are the sensible choice. Maybe a sweatshirt or jacket as well. She thinks back-to-school shopping means a funky pair of red plaid (yes, plaid) fake glasses, best friend necklaces for all her friends, and new pajamas.

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And while I’m on the topic of best friend necklaces– how many best friends can one girl have? And is it proper etiquette to hand them out like candy to all the girls you know? And finally, why does Justice promote this behavior by packaging them three-to-a-package and then pricing them “Buy 2, Get 2 Free?” That last question was rhetorical.

I did manage to persuade her that even with the Buy-2-Get-2 offer, the necklaces were going to use up almost $30 of her gift card money, so she put them back. She then had a blast trying on a variety of tops and bottoms. She knows exactly what she likes and has a good sense of what will look good on her so everything she picked was a keeper. And Justice clearly understands their target market. They know what tween girls want– girls who are still very much little girls in many ways– girls who play mermaids, or make love potions out of water and chalk, and love pink and purple and sparkly things. But these girls also entertain themselves with thoughts of romance and boys and chaste kisses (we hope). They are excited about the possibilities the future holds but scared and nervous about all the unknowns.

I love this age– where on the same day she can drink from her Olaf cup (her favorite Frozen character) and make a love potion and watch Titanic with me (covering her eyes during the portrait scene). But I also worry about her and lie awake at night wondering how I can best teach her the lessons she needs to be safe in the real world. The one where you can’t make a boy like you by giving him a pink potion and not every boy you like will save you from a watery death, or even be worthy of your affections.2014-08-07 15.24.30

But those are worries for another day. Right now, we have more shopping to do! We need underwear and camisoles to go under those Justice tops and bike shorts and leggings to round out the back-to-school wardrobe of a confident and cool 10-year-old girl in plaid glasses.

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Liz Smith has worked across the globe for many of the world’s major apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Justice, and Hanes. She has earned thousands of airline points and worn out several suitcases visiting factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising– so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products.

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