Here’s Why Back to School Shopping can be so Challenging

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This may be the most wonderful time of the year for some moms, but shopping for it can be a nightmare! Creating the back to school wardrobe for a nervous or indecisive student can be especially difficult when the girl’s approach to style differs from her mom’s and they do not understand each other. Trust me, you are not the only mother/daughter bicker happening at TJMaxx this week.

I remember school shopping with my mom when I was going into sixth grade. I had just moved to Maine and I knew no one. I had no idea how the “girls in the sticks” would dress or what would be expected of me as the new girl in town. Looking back, I think my mom was nervous for me, too, because it wasn’t like her to be so free with the finances. I felt funny, guilty almost, that she was willing to spend so much money on my clothes when in the past most of my wardrobe was hand-me-downs. So I did as every good pre-teen would and tested the situation. I pulled out these crazy high fashion (for that time anyway) slacks off the shopping rack and proclaimed, “I want these.” I thought for sure my mom’s true conservative nature would show itself and protest, but instead she said “sure” and put them in her cart.

My high-fashion choice didn’t scare her at all; instead I scared myself! I tried to convince her I was just joking but she pointed out the fair price and insisted I get what I really wanted. I was too embarrassed to be honest with her that they were way out of my comfort zone.

Out of respect for the money Mom spent, I overcame my fear and wore those statement slacks to school. What I experienced that day is a huge part of why I am now an image consultant. It was as if I “found myself.”  Before that I always choose comfortable, casual, low-profile styles like my mom looked so good in, but wearing the more fashionable attire made me feel alive and confident.  The funny thing was, I don’t remember any other kids wearing statement pieces that year but instead of feeling like I was the odd one, I felt authentic. (I guess that makes me authentically odd, but that’s a blog for another day.)

Peer pressure may be about trying to fit in or follow fashion, but the bigger challenge is more about being authentic and not a mimic of others. 

No wonder clothes shopping can be so difficult. It is not only when we are preparing for school, but what we really want is unique uniformity–talk about oxymoron–is this even possible? Peer pressure makes shopping hard enough, but the struggle isn’t only about our friends’ opinions. In fact, depending on a girl’s style, the internal conflict could be stronger than any peer pressure.

  • The Classic’s main concern is that her outfit is coordinated and she has a hard time letting go of old outfits.
  • The Natural’s greatest need is to be comfortable and she has a hard time putting outfits together.
  • Dramatics feel most confident when they are fashionable but they battle with the rejection they get for being so overpowering.
  • The Ingénue’s come alive when they keep their look soft, sweet and youthful but her strong nature may rival her delicate appearance leaving her unsure of how to be true to herself.
  • Romantics glow when they are true to their femininity and focus on a glamorous look but their self-less nature may keep them from taking care of their own needs.
  • Gamines tend to know exactly what they want, but they also tend to dress according to their mood, and all too often their entire wardrobe is black, which conflicts with their colorful nature.

This internal battle of conflicting desires is why it is so important to Know Who You Are–or who you are shopping with. 

My mom is a Natural Beauty but she was raised by a Dramatic. Of course she didn’t know about the six various styles (Img.IDs) back in the ‘70s and neither did I, but I think she understood what was going on inside of my heart far better than I did as an eleven year old. When she put those slacks in that shopping cart that day she knew they were “me.” Sometimes we just need help figuring out our own desires–especially when the one we admire feels differently than we do. I guess that’s why I love image coaching so much. I struggle understanding myself but the more I do, the more liberated I am and I want to share the power of that freedom with others so that they, too, can BE and LET BE.

If you are stressing over the back to school shopping or feeling a bit anxious about returning to school, I encourage you to put the effort in to understanding yourself so that you can find the balance between following fashion and staying true to yourself. This is the key to becoming a girl of Confident Beauty, which doesn’t alter with peer pressure.

To learn more about your Img.ID, visit my website at www.CatrinaWelch.com or contact me to learn about my September Special on Supreme MakeOvers.

About Catrina

Catrina Welch has been helping others with their image for more than 30 years. As a licensed cosmologist, certified image consultant and Biblical life-coach, she is well aware that image issues are far more difficult for some styles than they are for others. After her first husband left her while pregnant, she learned first hand that the greatest antidote to Confidence Conflicts is to know who you are, including your personal image identity. She developed a systematic way of doing image assessments for large groups, which she calls a “Supreme MakeOver.” Catrina is the author of five books, including “Confident Beauty: Reflecting the One Who Made You, with the Images in your Mirror and in your Soul.” She is the mother of four children. Catrina and Ron, her husband of twenty-five years, live on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. For more information about Supreme MakeOvers or having Catrina speak at your next event, email her at catrina@catrinawelch.com

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