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From the Homefront: Tweaking the back-to-school wardrobe ritual

If it hasn’t happened yet, it will soon. An adult will offer some version of the following to the children in the household:

“We’re not going to buy anything new for school until you try on what’s already in your closet.”

This may elicit a whine or a groan, although the youngest fashionistas may actually jump at the idea.

Some may ask older children to sort through their clothes themselves. Others will oversee the project – a fashion show, if you will – taking a more methodical approach by dividing clothes into separate piles. Donate. Keep. Launder. Pass down. Repair.

I can remember my mother sitting on her bed, pen and writing pad in hand, waiting for me to walk into the room wearing clothes I hadn’t had on since the previous school year. I doubt I had the patience to do this after the age of 11, but I can’t recall when this ritual actually ended.

She was big on the additional category of finding a new item to wear with something I already owned. To match, so to speak.

What was the sense of letting a cute shirt hang in my closet just because I had nothing to wear with it? Or a nice-fitting skirt that could become a favorite once we bought the proper opaque tights to wear with it? This was all about adding or replacing – rather than duplicating – to help keep within a reasonable budget.

Oh, and the surprises!, my friends with young children remind me now. A son who apparently grew 3 inches over the summer, as observed by the length of the pants he hasn’t worn since May. A daughter who screeches from her bedroom after she digs out something she forgot about – or thought she lost.

Now that my daughter is 17, we don’t do try-on sessions anymore. Haven’t in years.

It’s not so much that she would consider this a ridiculous idea (although I’m sure she would). Or that she has pretty much stopped growing (she has). Or that she is perfectly capable of editing her own wardrobe and buying some of her own clothes (she is). Or that she is already very familiar with her wardrobe, probably because she changes clothes several times a day and knows what fits and what needs to be passed along – even if it takes some time for her to actually remove the item from her room.

It’s also because so many of today’s clothes are practically seasonless. Jeans. Layering T-shirts. Sweatshirts. Even many skirts and dresses can go from summer to fall with the addition of a cardigan or denim jacket.

So we’ll be skipping this August ritual again this year. We’ve already picked up a few new things on a recent trip, including a skirt that might make the final cut for what to wear the first day.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll take a look at my own fall wardrobe. Maybe I’ll find a few surprises. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll even make a list.

email: smartin@buffnews.com

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