In each generation, there’s a fashion killer that no teenager would be caught dead in.
In the 1980s, kids went for the preppy look and eschewed the bell-bottoms of the decade before.
In the 1990s, clothing styles had really gone laid back, and they’d much rather wear jeans and a flannel shirt – that and a couple of pastel layered Izod shirts.
And so forth.
Now, though, the fashion killer is something near and dear to most of us, at least at this time of year: the coat.
Who wouldn’t want to bundle up against the cold? As adults, for those of us whose job isn’t outdoors, we’re sure to button up tight in a wool or a puffy down coat just to run between vehicle and building. If we had to wait outside for a bus like kids do, we’d definitely be wearing layers of long johns under our clothes as well as a coat.
But a teenager? Nothing could be more mortifying than being appropriately dressed for the weather.
It’s just a hoodie or perhaps a flannel shirt unbuttoned, flapping jauntily in the breeze, over a T-shirt.
No matter the weather.
Getting my daughter to wear a coat was a daily morning argument until I set a rule and stood by it steadfastly: If the thermometer reads 50 or below, she must wear a heavy coat.
Yes, I know; the guideline should be 60 or 65 degrees, but it’s the number I threw out in the heat of passion, and we’ve stuck with it.
Oh but she’s just going to be outside for 30 seconds as she runs from vehicle to building!, she pleads.
Oh but there are those minutes she’s waiting for the bus, and also, she must be prepared to be warm in case the bus breaks down and they have to wait in the cold for a new bus to arrive, I reply.
But now I just reply with “It’s 50,” and she just replies with an eye roll.
She might unzip it when she’s out of my eyesight, but she darn well zips it up when I’m around.
She claimed it’s to save her from carrying her coat around all day, because since the pandemic, schools stopped issuing lockers to students.
Feeling like a Mom of Action, I brought the matter up in a PTO meeting.
I learned from the other parents and the school staff there that, in fact, no kids wear coats. They all just wear hoodies. They could have lockers if they want them, but they don’t bother using them.
My daughter confirmed that she could get a locker if she wanted, but it wouldn’t be worth the walking distance to get to it.
And so kids go on out in the freezing cold without their coats, or those with really mean moms, with coats and frowns and complaints.
There will be a brief spell in spring when the hoodie is all they need, and parents and grandparents will breathe signs of relief.
Then summer will come, and we’ll look at them in wonder as they suffer through our stifling hot Virginia days – wearing hoodies under the hot pounding sun.