Parents and daughters have been at odds about what is considered appropriate dress for generations. Fans of Downton Abbey will recall the times in the period drama’s 1920’s England, when a flash of ankle would leave the Edwardian Countess Violet breathless and in shock!
Flash forward to today, where teens are constantly barraged with images that are provocative and sexy, telling them that this is how they should look. Fashions targeted at them often show a lot of skin and are much more grown up than what girls were wearing even ten years ago. To our teenagers, short lengths and low cut tops are incredibly normal to them, especially in Miami where I live. After all, it’s how everyone else looks. “What’s the big deal,” they ask?
I’ve had a few years to work with my 14-year old daughter on what is appropriate for her to wear to events, especially parties. If your daughter wants to wear something more form-fitting, it should be an appropriate length for dancing or most importantly, for sitting! Also, it shouldn’t be too short or low cut in front or back. Perhaps a reminder that they are going to a party, not a nightclub. Also, they will look more beautiful wearing a stunning dress with beautiful hair and makeup than simply showing skin. I’m so grateful that my daughter and I are often in agreement about dresses that are appropriate for her age, although there has been the occasional discussion about how teenage girls look while teetering around a party with wobbly ankles in too-high heels.
So now that it’s prom, formal, wedding and graduation season I have three recommendations for mothers and daughters who are embarking on their dress shopping adventure. These silhouettes are still on-trend with what young girls are wearing, and they are pretty and flattering without being too sexy.
FIT & FLARE: these dresses are universally flattering for women of all ages, not just teens. They are modern and very fashionable without being too sexy. What’s great about this style is the color and the floral prints! It’s simply the perfect silhouette to me, especially for girls 13-15.
MIDI LENGTH: midi length dresses are a beautiful princess-like length without looking like Cinderella. For some teenage girls who are used to wearing short dresses, this may be a bit of a departure for them, but these dresses are especially beautiful and appropriate for more formal occasions, such as Junior and Senior prom.
STRAPLESS: whether with a short or long hemline, strapless dresses can be a very cool yet sweet and innocent style for the younger set, especially in a floral or bold stripe in the dresses below. I love the simplicity and elegance of this style in a maxi dress. Spaghetti straps are also fine for all ages, but for girls 13-15 I especially like the fit & flare.
As far as color and pattern are concerned, I suggest that you go for it! Patterns this season are bold and the florals are fantastic. Whereas black is a bit more mature and formal, I wouldn’t rule it out completely. And ivory is flattering on lots of women and can be dressed up a bit with a colorful statement necklace or a pop of color in a shoe.
Revolve Clothing is a great resource for appropriate teen dresses. I would even suggest sitting down and reviewing some options with your daughter to give her a framework so you can agree what is appropriate for her. I’ve worked with many mother-daughter pairs on dressing for formal occasions, as it sometimes helps them to have a third party provide an opinion.
KEEPSAKE SUPERHUMAN DRESS $190.00
MINK PINK Poetic Justice Halter Dress $79
ALETA DRESS BB DAKOTA $83.00
INSTANT CRUSH DRESS MINTY MEETS MUNT $179.00
COPPELIA BALLET DRESS NEEDLE & THREAD $228.00
BCBG KELSIA DRESS $338
TAMARA MAXI DRESS $528