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Teen Boy Style Guide for Moms

There comes a time in your son's life when shorts and a T-shirt won't cut the mustard anymore, not to mention the old pair of sneakers that have seen more time around the block than the mail man. They're too old for you to dress them and want the freedom to express themselves, yet still need a bit of guidance.

My son has now entered his teen years, and everything from his sense of humor and interests, to acne, growth spurts, and voice changes are playing their role in day-to-day life. He's also become suddently interested in his appearance and looks in the mirror way more than he did when was 7 and 8 years old. Shopping for him is no longer a quick trip to the department store to grab a few matching outfits. It now revolves around his personal taste, which is inspired by the music he listens to, friends at school and the men he admires in his family.

Compromising with your son is important at this stage because it's so tempting to want to polish them up. Try to find a happy medium between what you think is practical—and socially presentable—and what they feel is cool (which could be looking "anti-cool"). Every boy is different, and it changes all the time. I've learned a few shopping lessons along the way to share with moms dealing with the transition from little boy to little man.

Teens have the pressures of puberty and peers. The real world is now perching itself on their shoulders every day. You can help nurture and boost your teen boy's self-confidence by supporting his interests, encouraging communication and developing his self-image. Most importantly, pick your battles and guide them without imposing your own taste too much. Men like to look and feel good too, but often don't know where to begin. It starts at home with little things like a nice shaving kit, a first cologne, a good watch and a few tips about tailoring.


If you really want to get your son out of his jeans and into something a bit dressier, make sure you don't make him go the extreme, wearing an outfit that screams "mom made me do it." It's important to validate what they like too, and meet them in the middle.

Color is one way to remedy the situation. Levi's offer a solution to that dilemma with a large selection of pants in different colors and cuts to fit the most discriminating taste. They can still have a blue jean feel but look a bit dressier if jeans won't cut it. Pick your battles. As long as they look bathed and cared for, let the rest go.


What young boy doesn't like printed tees? It seems to be a staple from adolescence well into their twenties (...and sometimes, beyond). Introducing a new option, such as a button-down shirt, might be a tricky situation. But if you disagree on what a shirt says or represents, you may just need to steer your son clear of certain kinds of tees. Remember, boys like tees because they're light, breathe well and don't take much thought to find one that goes with any particular mood. My son has a few printed tees I could do without. But as long as he's not offending anyone, I smile and send him off to school.


Shoes are a vital part of any ensemble and teens tend to shy away from oxfords and penny loafers. Luckily there are so many casual options in this department. We've found stylish sneakers that can pass as shoes or sporty shoes that can double as sneakers. Either way, stores like Clae have the answer to tie together your teenage son's look if you need to attend an event and gym shoes aren't acceptable attire.


My son started developing acne recently and expressed his unhappiness about it. I started him on the Neutrogena Acne Stress Control line and explained the difference between the scrub, the toner, the regular wash and night cream, and helped him develop a routine (with a lot of reminders). Acne ads tend to market these products to teenage girls. Boys get acne too, and they don't like it either, yet sometimes feel like they have a lack of options when they see everything being marketed to girl. The Neutrogena packaging is gender-neutral in design, which helped in getting him to use it without thinking it's "girly."


My son is the product of two artist parents, which of course means he wants to do the opposite and look conservative! The less fuss I make about his hair, the more he wants to look groomed. How about that for reverse psychology? I went through a Manic Panic phase in the '90s, so who am I to talk about what hairstyle to choose? You have to go through many bad looks before you find what works for you. Same goes for boys. Let them—even if they can't see what's in front of them. It will pass.

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