Originally created 08/20/00

Swap shop

In a perfect world, parents and their children would agree on what to wear.

The reality is they don't, and every year there are disagreements when it's time to shop for back-to-school clothes.

Too short! Too tight! Too baggy! says Mom.

That's sooooo ugly, Mom. There's no way I'm wearing that.

The Augusta Chronicle decided to bring the two sides together for a fashion exchange program. We sent two moms to local stores to select outfits for their teens, and the teens got to dress their moms for the day.

Participating in the experiment were Henrietta Mason and her daughter Brittney, 14, and Jill Gunn and her son Peyton, 15.

The task was pretty easy for the mother-daughter pair, who went to Stein Mart on Washington Road.

They usually shop for immediate back-to-school needs at the beginning of August, then return to stores later for winter clothes. On average, they'll spend $200 on about five items in the fall.

As an assistant principal at Laney High School, Ms. Mason kept the dress code policy in Richmond County public schools foremost in her mind.

"I'm there every day trying to enforce the dress code," she said. "The length of the clothing bothers me most of all. If it's already short, once they sit down it's up too far."

Finding shorts that are the appropriate length is especially challenging for Brittney, who's tall, with long legs.

Ms. Mason has made it very clear to her children how she feels about what they wear to school.

"I told them I do not want anybody from administration calling me to come pick up my child from school for the dress code!" she said.

Brittney is looking forward to shedding the khaki, white and navy clothing she was required to wear as a Richmond County middle schooler. She's entering her first year of high school at the Academy of Richmond County and is ready for clothing that reflects her personality.

"I don't think they should have to wear uniforms (in high school). I think you should be able to wear what you want. You shouldn't have to be like everyone else," Brittney said.

Although they differed on some things, for the most part mother and daughter know each other's style.

For her mother, Brittney chose an olive shirt and skirt ensemble with a purple-and-beige print accenting the shoulders. A pair of leather slides completed the outfit. For her daughter, Ms. Mason selected a hot-pink V-neck T-shirt, black stretch twill pants and a pair of mules.

Both said they'd most likely return to purchase their respective outfits.

OUR MOTHER AND SON went to Dillard's at Augusta Mall.

Peyton can be hard to shop for because he's between sizes, Mrs. Gunn said. He has a trim waist, which makes buying pants difficult. And many men's shirts don't even come in size small - they start at medium, a store employee confirmed.

After Peyton tried on a pair of shorts and several sets of shirts and pants, Mrs. Gunn chose a classic print shirt for him and a pair of jeans - both by Polo.

Peyton is actually selecting his own wardrobe this year. Mrs. Gunn and her husband haven't allotted any money for Peyton's clothes or supplies. Rather, he's expected to buy what he needs with money from his monthly allowance and from his lawn job.

"We're trying to teach him to budget, but he hasn't learned real well," she said.

So far, Peyton has bought five shirts and a pair of Oakley sunglasses (which he stressed aren't a part of his back-to-school wardrobe). His priorities are more focused on saving money for a car, but he said he'll spend about $150 on clothes for school.

As for his mother's style, Peyton said "she wears the same stuff a lot, but she's not totally old school."

After browsing the women's department, he selected animal print pants and a black shirt from a display. He also picked out a pair of platform slides by Tommy Hilfiger, which were his second choice after a pair of Stuart Weitzman slides weren't available in his mom's size.

"I think she looked pretty good," Peyton said of the results.

Although considerably more tame than some offerings currently in stores, the leopard-skin pants were a little much for Mrs. Gunn.

"I liked it, but I wouldn't buy the pants for myself. And I'd break my neck if I wore the shoes," Mrs. Gunn said. However, she did like the shirt and shell.

From the ensemble his mom picked for him, Peyton liked the Polo jeans best, which he said he may return to buy. He said the shirt was something he wouldn't buy for himself and that the shoes (which he described as something his father would wear) he'd reserve for dressier occasions and church.

Reach Margaret Weston at (706) 823-3340 or mweston@augustachronicle.com.


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