The millennial parent’s guide to tween fashion

Marie Stambe
Marie Stambe
Marie is an emerging writer who loves all things content creation. From her Italian heritage to her deep-rooted passions (fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and fun), Marie harnesses the power of personal experiences to write stories that are #relatable and easy to digest. Because who has the time?
Created on Jun 04, 2024 · 8 mins read

Is it retro, on-trend, or just plain cringe? It’s getting harder and harder to tell - because apparently low-waisted jeans are back in while ankle socks are out. If your tween gives your outfits (which you thought were cute) some serious side-eye and you’re wondering why, we’ve got our resident Kiindred Gen Z to catch you up to speed. Here’s your guide to tween-approved fashion, from Marie.

With each generation, fashion gets more and more experimental – whilst also circling back to some trends you probably wish we’d left in the past (fair enough). Gen Z fashion likes to reinvent outfits from the nineties and naughties with a fresh twist that’s often the cause of mild panic among our millennial counterparts (oops!). 

And before we get into all the do’s and don’ts – because each generation likes to set up a sort of fashion code – as Alexander McQueen once said, “It’s a new era in fashion, there are no rules.” 

Your tween might pull their ‘Yikes’ face at the sight of your skinny jeans (yeah those are out) while waltzing around in their rolled-down trackies, but at the end of the day, Gen Z is all about doing what makes you you. Isn’t that the mantra of every new generation?

Bear that in mind as you get your head around this wrapup on tween-approved wardrobes.

Basics: Making a statement

You’re confidently strutting down the street, your socks pulled up high, a bold defiance against the traditional ankle-length cut-offs preferred by those who brought us into this world. Why hide those socks when they can be a canvas for self-expression – a nod to the unconventional, and a subtle defiance against the status quo? Okay, that might seem a bit much but that’s probably not far off what’s going on inside your tweens head. 

Skinny jeans are so yesterday. Wide-leg jeans are the new cool, the epitome of effortless style. They offer a breezy comfort and a playful swagger that skinny jeans can only dream of. Even if you have the legs of a Victoria Secret model, wide-leg jeans are the only acceptable choice. No need to squeeze into hard denim for the sake of it. 

While we’re here – it could be worth addressing the infamous ‘side-part’. The battle of the parting lines has shifted, and side parts are now relegated to the annals of fashion history. The middle part reigns supreme, a symbol of effortless coolness. If you want to subtly tap into the Gen Z fashion market, try flipping your hair over to a middle part. 

Oh, and Crocs. Yes, you heard that right. Those once-maligned footwear choices are now the ultimate flex. Comfortable, practical, and unapologetically quirky, Crocs are the epitome of Gen Z fashion ethos: wear what makes you happy, regardless of what the haters say. And nowadays, Crocs are funkier than ever. From Spider-Man to a packet of Twisties, you can customise your crocs to express your personality with the addition of jibbitz! In case I’ve lost you – jibbitz are shoe charms you can easily add to the front of your Crocs to accessorise and create a truly unique look.

Athleisure: Blending comfort and style

Welcome to the era of athleisure, where comfort meets style in a glorious union of sports bras, bike shorts, and zip-up long-sleeve jackets (with thumb holes of course!).  Athleisure isn’t restricted to the confines of the gym anymore, it’s more like casual, everyday wear now – even if you don’t even have a gym membership. 

Hot choccies with the girls? Leggings, sneakers, and an oversized jumper. Acai run after the latest Disney movie? Bike shorts, a tank top, and of course, your token Frank Green waterbottle. 

Athleisure is all the rage for blokes too. If you’re wondering why your son is constantly wearing the same trackies to go ‘out’  with friends (no matter your disapproval), it’s the new norm. 

Nobody wears gym wear just to go to the gym or to lounge at home anymore. Now, because of its comfortability, the youth of today are reaching for the tracks instead of the jeans when they are going out. 

Sneakers have also become the ultimate fashion accessory, the pièce de résistance of any athleisure ensemble. From chunky dad sneakers to sleek minimalist designs, sneakers are the perfect finishing touch to any look, adding a touch of streetwise swagger to even the most fancy of outfits.

Whether this news is good or bad for you – flare pants are way in. From TikTok influencers to reality TV celebrities, flares have become a staple in everyone’s wardrobe, and just about every athleisure brand is adding them to their collections as an alternative to regular leggings.

The thing about tweens is – whether they genuinely want an item or not – if it’s the latest hype amongst their friends (and social media), they’re going to want it!

Gender fluid: Breaking the binary

In the world of Gen Z fashion, gender is fluid, and style knows no bounds. Gone are the days of rigid gender norms and outdated fashion rules. We’re living in a time where self-expression is so ‘in’, where clothing is a form of empowerment, and where fashion doesn’t have gender (because let’s face it, it doesn’t). 

Gender-fluid fashion is all about breaking the binary, blurring the lines between masculine and feminine, advocating for inclusivity, and embracing a style that is uniquely yours. It’s about wearing what makes you feel confident and comfortable, whether that means rocking a suit and tie or a flowy dress and heels.

From androgynous streetwear to bold makeup looks, gender-fluid fashion is a celebration of diversity and inclusivity. Guys are rocking pearls and eyeliner, while girls are wearing oversized shirts and cargo shorts in what’s been labeled the “Adam Sandler” look. 

Y2K revival: Nostalgia with a modern twist

So your teenager just walked out of her room wearing low-rise dark blue jeans, a graphic singlet top, and the chunkiest, most bedazzled belt you’ve seen since the days of the Backstreet Boys and Destiny’s Child. 

You do a double take, but yep, it’s still that same Y2K-coded vibe. Well, hold onto your Von Dutch hats because Y2K is making a comeback. 

It was the era of frosted tips, cargo pants, and trucker hats, a time when fashion was all about making a statement, so I guess that’s why it’s such an appealing dress of choice for us Gen Z-ers. 

It’s an unexpected revival (to you), and not one to be judged. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bit of nostalgia? Plus, there’s no need to go on a shopping spree when your kids come begging for money to buy the latest piece of ‘trending’ fashion items  – you have the exact same thing in the back of your wardrobe (unless you’ve chucked it). 

I think it’s one of the more practical, more stylist trends that our generation has pursued, and surely it’s one that millennials are open to embracing. After all, you already lived through it once. 

Cottage core: Embracing nature and nostalgia

If you thought the revival of Y2K was a wild card, hold on to your ankle socks, because cottage core is another nostalgic trend that has been resuscitated by Gen Z. 

In this world, the dress code reads ‘Bridgerton-esque’ with inspiration from the Secret Garden, Little Women, and maybe something Pride and Prejudice coded. 

Cottage core fashion is all about embracing nature, simplicity, and romanticism. Think flowy dresses adorned with floral prints, cosy knit sweaters, and vintage-inspired accessories like straw hats and woven baskets. It’s a style that feels timeless, yet fresh, rooted in tradition, yet open to interpretation. It’s the perfect blend of rustic charm and modern elegance, where every outfit feels like a nod to simpler times and a celebration of the beauty that can be found in nature. 

But cottage core is more than just a fashion trend; it’s a lifestyle. It’s about slowing down, reconnecting with nature, and finding beauty in the little things. So whether you’re strolling through a sun-dappled forest or sipping tea in your backyard garden, embrace the cottage core aesthetic, and maybe you can take a page out of Gen Z’s book and start romanticising your life. 

A pretty wholesome style, right?

Wrapping it up

The next time your tween struts out of their room in a daring ensemble that leaves you scrunching your nose, take a moment to appreciate their creativity, individuality, and most importantly, their confidence. 

Whether it’s pulling up socks with pride, confidently rocking wide-leg jeans, or embracing the nostalgia of Y2K and cottage core, let’s celebrate the diversity of style and the freedom to express ourselves without constraints.

And to all the millennial parents out there, remember: fashion is fleeting, but self-expression is timeless. So embrace the journey, one ‘cringe’ outfit at a time.

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