Teenage sons: important that they are well dressed?

(50 Posts)
mrsEOR Sat 16-Mar-13 09:55:19

First time post here so I thought I'd test the water a little with a small query - not exactly a big problem though!

Ours sons are now 14, 15, 17 and the eldest is 22 and at university. In many ways we've been fairly liberal parents, we have always encouraged our DSs to dress smartly and neatly. We think it's important for teenagers particularly as so much of society's bad reception of young men is down to how they dress and behave.

To that end we've always encouraged them to dress smartly when the occasion calls for it. And this means collared shirts, with a tie, and smart jacket and polished shoes. No jeans.

The boys don't mind at all, and actually quite enjoy looking smart when needed. We give them a budget and let them buy all their own clothes. It has obviously rubbed off well on our eldest, who is always immaculately turned out, and is constantly being complemented on his appearance.

However, I'm conscious that this is a bit of an old fashioned attitude, and hardly any other families both with any kind of dress rules etc.

What do others think? Anyone else encourage their sons to dress smartly?

I think people should dress for the occasion, yes, but I don't think they need to be smart all the time. I'm not smart all the time! I guess it depends how restrictive you're being tbh. If you're stopping them wearing what they're comfortable in then I'd have an issue with you being overly controlling, but by the sounds of it you're just nudging in a certain direction and they're happy with it, so I can't see any problems smile

FWIW, I do it to a certain extent. I can't stand jogging bottoms as 'outdoor clothing' (unless you're jogging, or doing sports or whatever) but am happy for them being slob-about-the-house clothes. DSs are happy to change into jeans when they go out, so everyone's fine. I wouldn't nag much or disown them if they decided to permanently live in them, but it would make me twitchy grin

heronsfly Sat 16-Mar-13 10:08:34

Ive got 3 ds, all young adults now, they would always dress up for an occasion,but jeans, decent (expensive) T.shirts and jumpers were the normal casual wear.They always looked ok so it never concerned me, although I would have drawn the line at jeans hanging down below pants grin

mrsEOR Sat 16-Mar-13 10:27:45

Thanks for your responses.

My query was more about smart clothing.

Do you insist on jackets, ties etc on occasion?

badguider Sat 16-Mar-13 10:30:45

depends what the occasion is - weddings, funerals, job interviews are the only non-school functions i can think of where a jacket and tie is expected.

my husband rarely wears a suit outside of work except for weddings and funerals so i wouldn't expect a teenager to.

mrsEOR Sat 16-Mar-13 10:45:52

Well, my husband is actually a very formal dresser. He is more comfortable in a suit and tie than anything else.

We therefore make our sons wear jackets and ties to church on Sunday, for Sunday lunch if we have visitors, and for dinner out at smart restaurants, the theatre etc.

Is this too much??

badguider Sat 16-Mar-13 10:49:42

I guess it depends on what others are wearing. If the 'norm' at your church is to dress formally then fair enough but if it's just your husband's preference then it's not really fair to extend that to your boys who are old enough to decide themselves.
At the church I used to attend the dress was more 'smart casual' so no hoodies or trackies but jeans and a shirt or pullover would be normal.
Same for sunday lunch. My DH would wear jeans, a shirt and a pullover.

flow4 Sat 16-Mar-13 11:48:39

I think it is entirely down to their peers.

My eldest has quite a 'street' group of friends, and wears pretty much exactly the clothes you'd imagine for teenagers with 'bad reputations': trousers hanging down below his pants, always trainers (specifically Adidas) and hoodies, more often than not. You are quite right that it does lead to people making negative judgements about him... But for him, this is less important than 'fitting in' with his peers. Not a single boy among his friends would ever wear a tie, except for school or if they required to for work. They all wear track suit bottoms or jeans (jeans for dressing up). Chinos and other 'smart' trousers are absolutely unacceptable and considered 'nerdy' and 'sh*t' in his social group. (I know, because I like and prefer them, and have tried to get him to wear them).

My youngest, in contrast, always wears a shirt. He would never wear sportswear or anything that's visibly branded. He irons everything he wears. He likes his school tie, and although they recently introduced a regulation clip-on version, he has stuck to the 'proper' one he ties himself. He always parts and gels-down his hair to keep it neat. He is a 'nerd' though - but happy to be one!

They're both a bit of a mystery to me: I'm not at all fashion-conscious, dislike branded clothing, am a bit of a hippy sometimes... I assume each son has found his own way of rebelling! grin

higgle Sat 16-Mar-13 12:29:13

DS2 would wear a Superdry cotton jacket and coloured trousers for restaurant trip - I find more and more I feel overdressed on these sort of outings.As long as it is not slobby looking jeans and a holey t shirt I'm happy.

exexpat Sat 16-Mar-13 12:33:52

DS is 14 and does not possess a jacket, tie or shirt with a collar other than his school uniform. Out of school he lives in jeans/Topman chinos, t-shirts, hoodies etc. But then I don't do formal clothes either (can't remember the last time I wore a skirt or tights), and we don't go to church or anywhere else that would require any formal sort of clothing. We do go to restaurants, including fairly expensive ones sometimes, but nowhere that has a dress code. If we had to go to a wedding I would need to buy something specially.

exexpat Sat 16-Mar-13 12:36:25

And to answer your question, yes, it does sound to me like you are very a little old-fashioned, but there is nothing wrong with that - however the older your sons get, the more unreasonable it will become to force them to be out-of-step with their own inclinations and the norms of their peers.

TheBuskersDog Sat 16-Mar-13 13:15:49

A jacket and tie to eat Sunday lunch? Who on earth do you have as guests - the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Bonsoir Sat 16-Mar-13 13:18:33

DSS1 (17) and DSS2 (15) very occasionally need to wear a jacket and tie (Bar Mitzvahs, weddings). But, tbh, I think they look terrible dressed like that - not smart, just old-fashioned and frumpy.

Bonsoir Sat 16-Mar-13 13:20:22

"We therefore make our sons wear jackets and ties to church on Sunday, for Sunday lunch if we have visitors, and for dinner out at smart restaurants, the theatre etc.

Is this too much??"

Yes it is too much and, in my opinion, totally out of date. Wearing a jacket and tie at home when having visitors or out to a restaurant is reactionary, not smart.

rubyrubyruby Sat 16-Mar-13 13:23:51

I actually think that sort of smart dress is for weddings and funerals only.

I certainly wouldn't expect them to wear a shirt and tie to church or if we had guests or went out for lunch. If smarter dress was required then dark/black jeans would do and non jazzy or white trainers would be fine with either a shirt/Tshirt with jumper over.

Bonsoir Sat 16-Mar-13 13:30:53

"and hardly any other families both with any kind of dress rules etc"

You are wrong if you think that the absence of a shirt and tie means that parents don't have rules or dress codes they impose upon their DC! They do - just more modern ones!

Trills Sat 16-Mar-13 13:35:35

jackets and ties to church on Sunday - depends on the church

for Sunday lunch if we have visitors - over the top

and for dinner out at smart restaurants - most restaurants are not that smart

the theatre etc - most theatres encourage casual dress now in order to be seen as more accessible

There is a middle ground between hoodie-and-ripped-jeans and jacket-and-tie

ajandjjmum Sat 16-Mar-13 13:39:44

DS is 21 and actually quite likes wearing a suit and tie, when the occasion is appropriate. Sometimes (more and more rarely these days) this is for going out to eat for an occasion, and often paying respect to what others in the party might like - eg. elderly relatives, grandparents. At other times he looks like a bag of rags! The important thing is that he is comfortable in smart clothes, and wears them easily. He has always had a 'smart' outfit (apart from school uniform) since he was 11/12, and has worn a dinner suit for school balls etc. since around 14/15.

lljkk Sat 16-Mar-13 13:40:22

We don't ever go to occasions where DC would need to be dressed smartly. So can't comment.

Suits and ties for sunday lunches? Really? Weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs.. fine.. anything else sounds very old fashioned and OTT to be honest, unless they actually like dressing that way! Our church is very casual and I think people would wonder if they saw DS2 in a suit!
(mind you if they saw DS1 there at all they would probably faint lol)

Personally I think casual smart.. chinos and a shirt or nice polo looks far more pleasing and less 'rigid' and is certainly more the norm!

Lancelottie Sat 16-Mar-13 23:33:29

Both my DSs are bizarrely addicted to blazers, possibly in revolt against their schools' casual sweatshirt uniform.

out2lunch Sat 16-Mar-13 23:34:35

are you in the uk op? it sounds v old fashioned to me.
my teenage ds wears what he wants to - t shirts hoodies chinos or jeans.
he has a few shirts but casual/fashion type styles rather than formal.
he is attending a familyfuneral this week and will be wearing a shirt and dark trousers which i think is fine.they are teenagers not mini adults.

BackforGood Sat 16-Mar-13 23:41:30

My ds is 16. He would wear a tie to a wedding, a funeral, posibly an interview (depending on what the interview was for), his prom, and that's about it.
For Church he would wear whatever he feels comfortable in - indeed, it's his choice what he wears for most of his life. He's not 4 anymore!
I think it's important they understand that there are occasions they need to dress up for, but I don't agree with your list of what those occasions are.

nooka Sun 17-Mar-13 05:11:25

My ds generally dresses in pretty much a 'bag of rags' (like the way you put that ajandjjmum smile). He likes lots of layers and gets very attached to certain clothes and wears them all the time. I really don't care very much. We live in a pretty laid back town and he goes to a school with no uniform or dress code.

However he was also very keen on getting a suit, and when my father recently died we bought him one for the funeral. I'm not sure when he will ever wear it again to be honest. My mother (who is keen on smartness) said he looked like he was wearing a zoot suit hmm

OP, sounds like you are quite old fashioned, and I don't think that the level of smartness you expect for church, meals etc is very mainstream, but so long as your boys don't mind, it's not really an issue is it?

2fedup Sun 17-Mar-13 08:33:02

Are you sure they don't really mind? What would happen if they decided they wanted a different style?

FrauMoose Sun 17-Mar-13 08:38:37

I think children have their clothing dictated for them when they're at school, and it is not 'liberal' to dictate what they should wear when they're at home. If there are formal occasions such as weddings and funerals where there is some kind of dress code, that is another matter and everyone - parents and children - does have to make some kind of concession. Otherwise being vaguely clean and not offending public decency is quite enough! (I wondered if this post was a wind-up, as it sounds so 1950s.)

nagynolonger Sun 17-Mar-13 09:44:52

My teenage DS are 19, 17 and 16. It would be rare for mine to wear suits or ties or even a smart jacket (they don't have one of those!).

The 16 yearold only wears a tie as part of his school uniform. He has counted the number of weeks until the end of his GCSEs because it means no more uniform. He will be smart casual post 16.

The 17 yearold would only wear a tie at a wedding or similar.

The 19 yearold does occasionally wear a tie when he goes out or when he helps out behind the bar at various function. The extra cash is always useful. I suspect that the 17 yearold will also don a tie as soon as he turns 18 if he needs to for £s!

They all had suits for their eldest brothers wedding. They were used again for a funeral.

All have smart trousers, shirts and jumpers but they don't do coats and jackets. They willingly make the effort if we go out for a meal etc. Most of the time they wear jeans, T shirts/polo, and a hoody. They hate joggers but wear shorts or tracksuit when travelling to matches and at home.

exexpat Sun 17-Mar-13 10:54:51

I just wonder whether you inform your Sunday lunch guests about the dress code - or are all your friends formal types too?

I would feel very awkward if I turned up to lunch at a friend's house and found the entire family in suits & ties/formal dresses, as I would probably be in jeans unless I was forewarned.

Trills Sun 17-Mar-13 11:41:10

I agree with exexpat - I hope your guests know that jackets and ties are expected!


ISingSoprano Sun 17-Mar-13 20:11:36

I encourage my nearly 18year old ds to dress for the occasion. He does not own a jacket. He has never been to a wedding. The last funeral he (we) went to was on a hot, sunny day and he wore chinos, shirt and tie. For church he wears jeans or chinos and a shirt and sweater. Sunday lunch, with or without guests is very informal in our family and I wouldn't dream of expecting anyone to wear a jacket and tie.

PlasticLentilWeaver Sun 17-Mar-13 20:15:48


PlasticLentilWeaver Sun 17-Mar-13 20:16:29

hmm even!

mrsEOR Sun 17-Mar-13 22:53:50

No they don't mind, and you're getting me wrong, it's not that we MAKE them wear such clothes against their will. We encourage it, personally I love to see them looking sharp and well dressed in their suits. Much better than slobbing around in tshirts and ripped jeans and hoodies.

Eldest DS is always very smartly turned out, completely out of choice, he is 22 after all, and lives away from home at uni. His girlfriend absolutely loves it, she introduced him to her parents the other day and he was immaculately turned out in a smart blue blazer, well shined shoes and a snugly knotted tie! They were totally blown away :-)

I know it might sound old fashioned and fuddy duddy, but the boys always get so many positive comments and attention when they're dressed, and I just feel on balance it's a good thing. Just because hardly anyone else does it these days is not reason to stop doing it.

My 16 year old DS has to wear and suit and tie every day at school now he is in the 6th form and I bought him some really lovely well made designer suits 2nd-hand from eBay rather than see him slouching around in something badly-fitting and polyester. He is very tall and slim and finds it difficult to buy suits off the peg. He has worn a suit for weddings, funerals, work experience etc since he was about 13.

But wearing a suit is simply not conventional or expected behaviour anymore for Sunday lunch at home with guests, or even a smart restaurant or the theatre, and hasn't been for at least 20 years! unless you are Jacob Rees Mogg of course....

BackforGood Sun 17-Mar-13 23:32:35

I have to say, if my dd brought home a lad wearing "a smart blue blazer, well shined shoes and a snugly knotted tie!" when just coming round for lunch or even popping over for the afternoon, I'd be a bit hmm, and wonder if his ways of thinking / expectations were from the same decade as his clothes, tbh. I know, I know, MN dictates we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, nor young man by his clothes, and I certainly wouldn't say anything negative to him, but I'd wonder why he was so out of kilter with his peers.

mrsEOR Mon 18-Mar-13 00:22:11

BackforGood - To be fair he wasn't just "popping round for the afternoon", I think they were having some sort of a drinks thing, and many of the male guests were dressed similarly, and I just think they appreciated that he made the effort.

mumblechum1 Mon 18-Mar-13 13:00:04

Sounds a bit Utah to me grin

Bunbaker Mon 18-Mar-13 13:12:50

That's what I was thinking mumble. Do you mind me asking what religion you are mrsEOR?

We are C of E and the only men who wear really smart clothes in church tend to be over 70. We have to look presentable at work and have a dress code to look smart, but hardly any of the men wear ties. The last time my husband wore a suit was three years ago at his auntie's funeral.

FrauMoose Mon 18-Mar-13 13:13:38

I thought it sounded rather camp...

mumble I thought it was a wind up hence my biscuit

CheerfulYank Mon 18-Mar-13 13:27:04

I think it's cool. I know men who dress up more casually for work or whatever (like this) and I always think it looks nice.

I don't have DS (5) wear t-shirts or ripped jeans to church either...usually he wears polos or button down shirts with chinos, but occasionally jeans. DH does the same.

MuchBrighterNow Tue 19-Mar-13 07:59:27

snuggly knotted tie ! grin

I'm either living in an alternative reality or this is a wind up.

nagynolonger Tue 19-Mar-13 08:46:47

It must be wind up. One teenager in a family might conform but not four.

TBH I'd be happy if they didn't show their pants, put a razor within about 6 inches of their faces, had a clean top on but most importantly didn't bring an attitude and joined in with the occasion

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 19-Mar-13 08:58:33

No, to me manners and attitude are far more important.
DB went to a posh public school and works in a high-powered job. I have met many of his 'working in the city' friends. Very smartly turned out, suits and ties.
But my God, their morals!

My DS is clean and decently dressed. That is what I expect.

Mine, when they were at school, went to more than one funeral in their school uniform which is smart trousers, shirt, tie, blazer and black shoes.

I really don't think anyone gave a shit that they weren't in a suit that would have cost a clean fortune (adult sizes) and they would have only worn once or twice before it was outgrown.

dadofnone Tue 19-Mar-13 09:05:40

Ds1 is16 and he has a couple of suits and he got these last year. He has worn them for his prom, interviews,two weddings,a funeral and a couple of meals out.

Ds2 is 13 and he just has a suit jacket from M and S ( last minute wedding and we couldn't get trousers to match so he wore his school ones)

When we go to church and meals out we expect the boys to look smart - they don't need to be told,they just get ready. They don't wear a suit for these occasions as they would stick out like a sore thumb and look odd!

timidviper Tue 19-Mar-13 09:08:52

If it works for you and, more importantly, for your sons then it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

dadofnone Tue 19-Mar-13 09:13:38

I am agreeing with the manner being more important than a snugly knotted tie!

We have, for years stresses the importance of good manners, of course we have had a few hiccups on the way. However it's good to see the boys can adapt and talk to all sorts of people, whether its my friends who pop round, our priest, my colleagues, chit chat with strangers who are being friendly.
I think it is important that they speak clearly, don't mumble, look at people, be able to use social pleasantries and be charming. This is more important than going round looking like a Mormon looking for new recruits.

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