Back To School: Pre-Teen Clothing

August 3, 2021

I’m Tanya.
I’ve learned that a little bit of intentionality goes a long way in accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves. This blog is meant to equip you with just that - simple tips, tricks, advice, and encouragement that help you live an intentional life. 
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Starting last year, it’s been a challenge to find clothes that are appropriate for a not yet teen but not young girl. Clothing sizes tend to span sizes 6-14 in the exact same style, which can look inappropriate if you fall at either end of the spectrum. In general, shorts are short and shirts are now short, and I can’t quite jump on the crop top trend, at least not for my 12-year-old daughter. So where in the world do you shop for this age? I rounded up some of my favorites from the past year and I hope it’s helpful for you!

In general, Avery mostly wears athletic clothing 90% of the time – joggers or athletic tights and sweatshirts or t-shirts, as do her friends. But there are occasions where we need to have a pair of jeans with a nice shirt or even a dress that will work for an event or church, and so I’m sharing a few of our favorite things:

Old Navy:

  1. Tiered Jersey Fit & Flare Dress –  We got this exact dress last spring and she loved it. It’s super comfortable, modest length, and worked well with a jean jacket and sneakers when it’s a little cooler out or with sandals in the summer. You could even do a cardigan with leggings and booties in the winter if you wanted to make it a year-round dress.
  2. Twill Drawstring Shorts – I also love these shorts from Old Navy. Avery doesn’t have this particular version, but we did get a pair last year from Old Navy that was ivory and black stripes and then a chambray pair. They aren’t super short and again are comfortable enough that I knew she wouldn’t complain if she needed to wear them instead of athletic shorts. 🙂 


  1. Gen Good T-Shirt – This would be a cute tee from Gap. I’ve had some luck at Gap, Old Navy, and J.Crew for basic tees without graphics and at a regular length. Struggling to find any right now that aren’t partially sold out b/c of the change in seasons, but I thought this was cute and LOVE the mission behind it!
  2. Distressed Denim Midi Shorts – These shorts from GAP look pretty cute. Our school rule is that the hem has to come down to your fingertips when your arms are hanging straight. I think this one would work.
  3. Jeggings – Avery has always hated jeans, but I’ve gotten her to wear Gap jeggings once and a while.


  1. Pocket Denim Pinafore Dress – I got this for Avery in the spring as well. She wore it with a long-sleeved white shirt but would work well with short sleeves too. I haven’t ordered a lot yet from Mango, but they were easy to do returns with, and I see a lot of cute items on their website (especially some dressier styles if that’s what you’re looking for) that would work well for a pre-teen.
  2. Rosie Smocked Dress – This is not a fall style, but I wanted to share this dress that I got Avery for our family pictures. Maisonette is a fun brand that encompasses many brands, and they can vary GREATLY in pricing. The Maison Me brand is fairly reasonable, especially when it’s on sale. I got this dress at 25% off and we both loved it. They are a site that is worth checking out if you are looking for something a little different but keep in mind that some of it is very spendy and also note where your item is getting shipped from and what the return policy is for that specific brand/country.


  1. Tie-Waist T-Shirt Dress – I keep showing you dresses but that’s probably b/c I’ve wrestled most with finding dresses that were modest and appropriate for her age! I thought this one from J.Crew was so cute for fall and she did too. Unfortunately, we got it and it’s too big, so I think I’ll try ordering in a different size. My advice with J.Crew: wait for a sale. There is always a sale coming, so do not pay full price unless it’s an item that’s typically excluded from the sale.
  2. Baseball T-Shirt – I love this for a basic top. I know she’d wear this with jeans to school on occasion.
  3. Rounded-Hem Long-Sleeve Shirt – And this one as well!

Avery is very much a no-frills girl, so anything with a ruffle or an eyelet trim is out of the question. 🙂 I’ve learned by now that I always need to check with her first b/c she needs to like it in order to wear it. I hope this little round-up of clothing ideas helps give you some direction of where to shop for your daughter as well!

I’d love to hear from you: where’s our go-to place to shop for your pre-teen for non-athletic clothes?

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