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The Importance of Proper Clothing

Finding Clothes That Help Your Child Be A Child

Alarming clothing styles have been introduced in recent years by pop culture icons – resulting in baggy, saggy pants for little boys and thongs and hip huggers for girls as young as 6. With such fashions come adult attitudes and, experts warn, adult behaviors.

Healthtex®, a leading designer and manufacturer of children's clothing, is working to take back childhood. The company's new "grow slow" campaign provides parents with shopping tips, clothing trends and activity ideas that will help families explore and encourage childhood play.

"Childhood is fleeting," says David Scott Grubbs, Healthtex brand manager. "Fashion doesn't mean bare shoulders and visible underwear. Clothes can be hip and stylish, and still cover."

Nowhere is inappropriate fashion more evident than in schools – which is why nearly 20 percent of the nation's elementary schools have opted for uniforms, according to a National Association of Elementary School Principals survey. Many other school districts have adopted dress codes. It's a way of combating students' tendency to look like "mini-adults," says Sandra Grimmett, a teacher at Lansdowne Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C.

"Parents think they are dressing their children to look cute," Grimmett says. "We see elementary students that look like starlets, complete with jewelry, makeup and cell phones."

Raleigh, N.C., resident Tina Mancini doesn't let her 9-year-old son watch MTV at home, but he still sees revealing outfits – on his fourth-grade classmates. "I know he's going to be a big boy one day and I'm getting prepared for that," she says. "But for now I want him to live, play and dress like a child."

Parents can celebrate their children's individuality without compromising their sense of style, say National PTA officials. "Parents play a key role in helping to develop a child's positive self-image," says National PTA President Anna Weselak. "We can try and understand our children's point of view while helping guide them to fashions that make them feel confident and comfortable – and are appropriate for the classroom."

The Healthtex clothing line is available in sizes up to 14 for girls, and through 7X for boys. The clothes are suited for everyday childhood occasions; playgrounds, recitals, camps and especially in schools, where children's performance – not their clothes – should be measured.

Parents Want Better Clothing Choices

Healthtex, a leading children's clothing designer, and Ipsos North America, a marketing research company, polled 500 parents of children ages 4 to 10 to find out their thoughts on children's clothing.

Here are the highlights:

  • Eighty-two percent of parents said children are dressing inappropriately or too provocatively for their age.
  • Eighty-seven percent said the age- and school-appropriateness of clothing was very important when shopping for children's clothing.
  • Nearly a third of respondents said they have a difficult time finding stylish and fashionable, yet appropriate, children's clothing.
  • Eighty-one percent of parents let their children pick out their clothes.
  • Eighty-nine percent said they would seek out a specific brand if it provided age- and school-appropriate clothing.

Dress for Success

You Are What You Wear

Children face great pressure when it comes to fitting in, expressing themselves and "dressing cool" for school. Unfortunately, many dressing cues come from pop culture and television like MTV. Children can miss the message that school is not the venue for over-the-top styles. Show them they can look good and still wear "in" styles. Clothing affects children's self-esteem, so approach the subject delicately and offer style suggestions rather than negative feedback.

School Is Serious Business

Research shows a link between a student's appearance and teachers' expectations, as well as a correlation between how students dress and their behavior. Too many school administrators are forced to spend time as "fashion police," when school is for learning. School is serious business, and students must dress for "the job."

Skin Is Out, Overexposure Is Over

"Ivy League Chic" features comfortable classics. The Britney Spears effect is passé. The move toward modesty and instilling confidence and pride in young people requires a classy, proud reflection of style on the outside.

Dress Codes Can Be Cool

Extreme clothing and dressing styles must not disrupt a learning environment. Dress codes help schools provide an atmosphere where students can concentrate on the task at hand rather than the trend another student is wearing.

Talk Shop

Avoid closet casualties that affect children's classroom performance by shopping smart. Here are some tips from Healthtex and the National PTA:

  • Share the rules. Establish clear rules regarding what your child can and cannot wear.
  • Know the code. Know your child's school dress code policy and explain it thoroughly to your child.
  • Provide positive reinforcement. Point out choices that are acceptable for school.
  • Let loose. Fashion is fun and includes lots of choices. Show your child there is more than one look. Allow your child to be creative without overstepping boundaries.
  • Lobby for hobbies. Art, music, sports, academic achievement and personality are other ways for children to express creativity besides clothing. Support your child's hobbies and interests so they understand looks are just an outer layer for a person's true "cool factor," found on the inside.
  • Browse online, not in store. Consider shopping online. It's a great way to put together outfits while avoiding the skin-trend stores.

Back-to-School Fashion Outlook

Tasteful dress doesn't mean trading fashion for frump. In fact, fall introduces a bounty of possibilities that are classroom-appropriate, but still cutting-edge. Cecily McCann and Jenifer Gilbertson, designers for Healthtex, a leading children's clothing company, talk about this season's fashion trends for kids.

Color: "Nature-inspired hues will be especially popular this fall – from foliage greens to sky blue and rich, earthy browns," McCann says. Color is a creative way for boys and girls to express themselves through clothing.

Texture: This fall, corduroy will be the new denim. "It's dressy, yet casual and perfect for both school and fun," Gilbertson says.

Patterns: Gilbertson also says the 2005 back-to-school season will be a showcase for plaids. Shoppers should see trends in both girls' and boys' clothing that mix large and small patterns, and incorporate fun stripes.

Form: Wide-leg pants are becoming increasingly popular for boys and girls. The design is perfect for children and comfortable for the classroom. Boys can choose relaxed-fit cuts. "For girls, feminine style makes a comeback with pleats and girlie flounces," McCann says.

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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