Last Updated on March 20, 2018

I sort of dread shopping with my two teenage daughters. We inevitably end up fighting those fashion battles that are so familiar to every mom of a teenage daughter.

Me: “No, you can’t buy those denim underwear. I don’t care if you call them shorts. They’re underwear!”

My girls: “I’m never wearing a skirt that goes to my knees for as long as I live after I’m out of the house!”

My girls don’t seem to find it very impressive that their mother makes a living writing books about modesty and invented the Truth Or Bare Modesty Fashion Tests. (They don’t realize that my very existence—not the books—is the reason that they have to pursue modesty!) The Gresh girls can get into a rumble given a mall and a few dollars to spend.

Now, I’m blowing us a bit out of proportion here. My girls are actually rather modest in their presentation compared to most, but I’m not comparing them to most girls.  I’m comparing them to the Word of God. That’s when it gets complicated.

This year, knowing how much I dislike being the modesty police, my husband got involved and wrote some shopping rules. They helped. A lot. (I was only accused of being Amish one time.) Thought you might like them, too! (Warning: the second set of rules were for me … and they pricked my heart a bit.)

To use these, you’ll need a man to present them with a little humor. That could be your husband. (Mine simply read them to us before we left the house.)  If your daughter’s dad isn’t in the picture, get Grandpa to have breakfast with you the morning of your back-to-school shopping spree.

14 rules for a great daughter-mother school shopping day (for daughters)

1. Shop hard. Shop often.

2. Enjoy your temporary wealth for at least one minute before blowing it on redundant clothing, which will be packed into dark plastic trash bags and taken to Goodwill next year at this time.

3. Prepare to follow Secret Keeper fashion tests.* Remind yourself that all money in your hand came from publishing success of “said” fashion tests. (Okay, that one won’t work for you, but it was funny so I kept it in here for your reading pleasure.)

4. Buy modest clothes.

5. Have mom look at them.

6. Listen to mom.

7. If mom displays a happy face followed by the face in her baby picture and exclaims, “That’s adorable!”—you’re in good shape. (There is a baby picture that my girls make fun of. My mom loves it.)

8. If she gives a frowny face, say, “You’re right, Mom!” (Use similar face as in aforementioned baby pic.)

9. If you get the urge to pout or give “teenage-angst” look, see rule #6.

10.  If you don’t follow rule #6, Mom will call Dad.

11.  If Dad is called, it means that rules 1-9 were not followed.

12. Dad will not be happy and will immediately reverse rule #1.

13. If Dad enacts emergency measures of rule #12, tonight and the rest of the week will not be as pleasant as you would like.

14. Remember your daddy loves you.

*Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty (Copyright: Moody Publishers)
Note: If these printed rules don’t fit easily into your pocket, see rule #4.

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  1. I am so very grateful that I have a boy and that he has to wear uniforms to school. I HATE shopping!!!

  2. Trish Preston says:

    Ha! I love that.

    We just recently found your Secret Keeper book and have been devouring it. Not just my 13 year old, but myself as well. I don't come from a very Christian (or moral in any sense of the word) upbringing, and my parents never really instructed me in dressing modestly or behaving in a Christian manner, so I'm kind of starting from scratch here. Thank you for writing them!

  3. Dannah, Great post. I posted this on The M.O.M. Initiative FB page and one of our readers asked where the list was from your husband. Do you have it?? Are you going to do a post for that?
    Kris Whitman

  4. Funny!!

    I took my then pre-teen daughter to a SKG fashion show put on by our church a few years ago… Ok well maybe it was more than a *few* years, seeing how she’s now 16! Where did the time go?! We still use the SKG rules and I sometimes cite them when telling her she needs to put on a top with that dress (thank GOODNESS for the ideas about layering a tee under a spagetti-strap dress!) or warning her that she might be in danger of growing so tall that her skirt is becoming an “airplane skirt” (my ex husband’s term for a skirt that’s so short that when a gal bends over “you can see the whole runway”).

    The influence from that night has carried forward, and these days she’s a very fashionable, and quite modest, young lady. Even at 16, she’d rather look classy in a really great outfit than bend to the belly-baring, too-tight fashion trends followed by some of her friends. I couldn’t be prouder. Thank you, so much, for helping set specific guidelines that helped my little girl grow up into a true lady.

  5. Natasha Millard says:

    Even though there are many good things about your article, I did feel the need respond to when you said “We inevitably end up fighting those fashion battles that are so familiar to every mom of a teenage daughter.” I am the mom of 4, two of which are girls aged 15 and 12, and I have never had a fashion battle with either of my girls. There never has been any fight about modesty, in fact my oldest is more modesty conscious than I am. Maybe homeschooling has something to do with it, since they don’t really care about the latest fashion trends, but either way, I just wanted to let you know that not every mom of teenaged girls has these kinds of issues. We definitely have issues and life is not perfect in our household, but this isn’t one of them.

  6. {Melinda} Oh, I love this, Dannah. I have a very beautiful, fashion-savvy teen daughter. She, as you said, is modest compared to many, but I tell her over and over, that’s not the standard. We also have had a much better time shopping since I’ve made clear some rules. We still battle at times, but it really does make a difference to have some boundaries from the get go.