How to Dress Like a Tween

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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When I was a tween, I spent my afternoons after school at Limited Too, Delia’s, Hollister, and Claire’s, begging my mom to let me buy tattoo-choker necklaces or yet another acrylic bobble ring, and had my first “styling” experience at Club Libby Lu. But as I got older I noticed that this list of retailers had dwindled due to bankruptcies or acquisitions. We recently went shopping with 25 New York City tweens to find out what stores like like and what they like to buy. Here are the 5 specific ways to dress like a tween.

Start with a white tank.

What tweens are buying: Ashlyn cropped tee; Skylar floral lace tank; Agatha denim miniskirt; Keira pajama set.

“They love anything that comes as a set,” said Kennedy Harrington, an employee at Brandy Melville. “Like matching sweatpants and sweatshirts. Those go really fast.” She also told me that tween shoppers are into midriff-length tanks that show only a hint of skin. “We haven’t gotten cropped tops in in a really long time,” Kara Knox, another employee, explained. Then, almost in unison, they squealed: “Miniskirts!” This tiny jean skirt sold out in two days when it first launched.

Then add cutouts and bedazzles.

What tweens are buying: Wynter oversize knit hoodie; Carpenter wide-leg low-rise jeans; Denise knitted hoodie cardigan.

When I visited the Edikted store in Soho — the brand’s only brick-and-mortar location in the country — there was a long line of shoppers waiting to be let in. The label is “inspired by streetwear” and often includes cutouts, shredding, and bedazzles.

“I got a sweater, hoodie, and this pink sweatshirt,” one young shopper told me. “They’re really known for their tops and skirts.” The store’s assistant manager, Athena Valencia, added: “The knitwear and two-piece crop-top sets are the most popular among customers.”

Top it off with some dewy skin.

What tweens are buying: Youth to the People’s Superfood cleanser; Drunk Elephant’s bronzing drops; Glow Recipe’s Niacinamide hue drops.

On a recent weekend, it was nearly impossible to get from one end of the Soho Sephora to the other, since groups of girls huddled in clusters, especially around the Youth to the People products. Most of them were picking up the brand’s kale and green tea cleanser.

And a clean, affordable beauty option.

What tweens are buying: CeraVe cleanser; Thayer’s With Hazel toner; CeraVe moisturizer.

Many of the tweens I spoke with said they steered clear of buzzy beauty names due to complicated ingredients and high prices, opting for wallet-friendly products at Ulta instead. “The simple things work best for my skin as long as I eat right and stay hydrated,” one told me, adding that she’s not particularly interested in trying many new beauty brands. “I don’t really use that much skin care, but I use CeraVe cleanser every day.”

Lastly, accessorize with secondhand and vintage.

What they’re buying: soccer Jerseys; sneakers from brands like Adidas and Nike; graphic tees.

The Howard Street location of 2nd Street chain stores in Soho is riddled with tween shoppers looking to sell their pieces and buy something new (to them). 2nd street is known for their selection of sneakers, which tend to be in great condition. One shopper there told me they rely on thrifting to build out a wardrobe that can be described as “mainly streetwear.”

How to Dress Like a Tween