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Ali Shops Blog

How Young is Too Young?

June 19th, 2011
by Allison Kaplan

Tween/teen retailer Zelaz of Excelsior recently asked customers – parents and their daughters – what age is appropriate for girls to start wearing bikinis, short shorts, miniskirts and stilettos.

Girls thought 12 was appropriate for such potentially eyebrow-raising styles. Their moms felt more comfortable with 13. Dads said 15.

“No wonder there’s tension at home,” says Zelaz owner Janet Polach, who opened the store with her own teen daughter – who, lucky for Polach, prefers to wear cardigans over her tank tops).

Polach advises mothers and daughters to talk before they shop, and come to some compromises. Maybe daughter needs to find a longer skirt…and maybe mom needs to realize that showing bra straps isn’t suggestive, so much as common style for teens these days. Polach even suggests involving Dads – who rarely make appearances in the store – to avoid the “You’re not wearing that!” showdown the night of a school dance.

We talked about the issue on Shop Girls Saturday (June 18 podcast – hour 2) and heard from moms who’ve made the rules clear to their own daughters – like, leggings required beneath mini skirts and my favorite: No Bs allowed. That’s boobs, bellies or butts. “It’s definitely a family specific conversation,” says Polach, who walks that fine line of wanting to appeal to young girls, but still pass the mother test. “Set limits and hold the line,” she advises.

Need a mediator? Polach conducts fashion workshops for moms and daughters both in store and off site. Zelaz, 287 Water St., Excelsior, 952-920-1044,

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One Response to “How Young is Too Young?”

  1. Becky Sturm says:

    As a mother of only boys, I remember picking up my son from high school most days and wondering HOW boys concentrate in school with how most young women dress.

    I asked a male teacher at the same school (one I have a personal relationship with), about this same topic – and he said it was difficult to stay focused as well.

    Fascinating discussion.

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