spring fashion


What the 13-and-under set is shopping for.

Liberty, 10, filming herself applying NYX lip gloss on an iPad at the home of her friend Naniya, also 10, in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Sara Messinger
Liberty, 10, filming herself applying NYX lip gloss on an iPad at the home of her friend Naniya, also 10, in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Sara Messinger
Liberty, 10, filming herself applying NYX lip gloss on an iPad at the home of her friend Naniya, also 10, in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Sara Messinger

In recent months, videos of 10-year-olds swarming Sephora, fighting over Stanley tumblers at Target, and dressing in head-to-toe Lululemon have dominated our feeds. If you believe the internet, tweens had suddenly acquired the taste of grown women who love yoga and staying hydrated and have money to spend. But were they really buying all this adult stuff they found on TikTok?

We wanted to know where New York City tweens — ages 10 to 13 — actually like to shop. So we tagged along with 25 of them as they browsed at their favorite stores, hung out together, and played around with makeup. They talked to us about their personal style, the products they covet, and which trendy items they would never wear.

What we found surprised us. Yes, almost all of them have a skin-care routine and they love Brandy Melville, Zara, and thrift shops. But most of them don’t use TikTok — and they think Lululemon is overrated.

Aspiring Beauty YouTubers

Liberty and Naniya, both 10, at Claire’s.

Clothes: Anything Y2K, goth, or from Target. T-shirts and hoodies with pictures of axolotls — the underwater salamanders — on them.

Beauty: Wet n Wild, NYX, and whatever’s in their mothers’ bathrooms (“She has ruined a lot of my stuff, to be honest,” Naniya’s mom says).

Accessories: Air Up water bottles, Supreme handbags, Kuromi backpacks, bucket hats with food appliqués — Popsicles, watermelons, cherries.

Jewelry: Bracelet-making kits from Five Below. Naniya swears the Pandora bracelet she bought on a Royal Caribbean cruise last summer is “in here somewhere.”

Thrifty Kids

Frances, 10, at Beacon’s Closet and L Train Vintage with her friend Joni, 11.

“No one really wears coats at recess. Even if it’s freezing outside, no coats, no scarves, no gloves, no hats — just pants and a sweatshirt. I’m over coats and the drama of zipping them up.” —Joni, 11

Clothes: Sweatpants, flared leggings, Zara jeans, secondhand finds. “There was a trend at school where people were wearing pants with shorts on top,” says Joni, from Prospect Park South. “That’s a no, because it’s just, Whoa.

Shoes: Air Force 1’s.

Bags: Lululemon fanny packs. “I have a white one, and I also have a pink fuzzy one,” Frances, who lives in Park Slope, says. “I lost it on the bus, but I used to have this cute little black mini-purse thing.”

Beauty: Glow Recipe moisturizer and Dr.Pawpaw’s lip balm. “My friends at recess say, ‘Oh my gosh, what skin care do you want? This cleanser is really cool,’” says Joni. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but all you need to do is wash your face every night.’”

Now 12, Forever 21

Harper, June, and Lorelei, all 12, at the Forever 21 in Soho.

Lorelei bought a long-sleeved T-shirt that says ‘California,’ a green-and-white hooded cropped sweater jacket that says ‘Los Angeles,’ and a golden necklace.

Clothes: Oversize zip-up hoodies and cargo pants from H&M and Forever 21. “I like to wear baggy clothes,” says Lorelei’s friend Harper, who lives on the Lower East Side and bought a ‘Def Leppard’ T-shirt that day.

Shoes: Nikes. Currently coveting Air Force 1’s and Jordan 1’s.

Beauty: Kiehl’s facial cleanser, Dior lip oil, Anastasia Beverly Hills lip stain. The Maybelline Sky High mascara. “I don’t usually wear a full face of makeup,” Harper says, “but sometimes if I have dark circles, I’ll wear some concealer to cover them.”

Accessories:  Birthstone earrings, press-on nails, phone cases from Amazon.

Harper, Lorelei, and June.

The Brandy Bunch

Stella, 12, using the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial mask and wearing matching Brandy Melville pajamas with her friends Sienna, 12, Raya, 13, and Belle, 12, at her home in Boerum Hill.

At Stella’s home in Boerum Hill.

“In sixth grade, everybody walks in with their Lululemon and their Stanleys and then once you get into seventh grade, you are done with that.” —Stella, 12

Clothes: Zip polos from Brandy Melville, shirts from Edikted, and low-waisted boot-cut American Eagle jeans from Depop. “I would never wear high-waisted jeans, especially the ones that go all the way up,” Sienna says.

Beauty: Glossier cleanser, Glossier Balm Dotcom, and Glow Recipe face masks. Summer Fridays lip balm. Charlotte Tilbury and Ilia blush.

Shoes: Nike Ultraman sneakers, Adidas Sambas, New Balance 550s.

Bags: Fjällräven Kånken backpack.

Jewelry: “I love my Tiffany necklace. I have the silver heart one,” says Sienna.

At Brandy Melville.

Sanrio Stans

Madeleine and Momo, 11, and Luna and Quinn, 10, Ubered from Quinn’s house on the Upper West Side to shop at the Hot Topic in the American Dream mall in New Jersey. Quinn bought a Peppa Pig backpack and long fake nails. They also swung by Build-a-Bear, where Madeleine made a Sanrio stuffie.

Clothes: Oversize T-shirts, leggings, and concert merch. “I’ve been to only one concert: Doja Cat,” says Luna, pictured in a ‘New York’ sweatshirt. “I got an Ice Spice sweater and a Doja Cat shirt.”

Shoes: Mary janes, Dr. Martens, and Converse.

Beauty: Fresh Soy cleanser, Glow Recipe Pink Juice Moisturizer. “I would like to do makeup on somebody else,” Quinn says. “I just don’t like putting that much on my face.”

Afterward, at Quinn’s home, Momo tried on the nails.

Sephora Samplers

Daphne and Astrid, 12, and Lucia, 11, trying out makeup at Daphne’s home on the Upper West Side.

“If you were going to a business meeting, that’s my style. When I went to Daphne’s birthday party, I wore a blazer and a tight dress with ­Converse.” —Astrid, 12

Clothes: Tops from Brandy Melville and pants from Zara. Leggings, but from Aerie or Athleta, not Lululemon. “The pure, basic, preppy style, I do not like,” says Daphne. “Sometimes if I see somebody and they’re head to toe in Lululemon and Nikes, I get disgusted.”

Beauty: Laneige, Benefit Benetint lip tint, and the CoverGirl Yummy lip gloss. Anything Rare Beauty. Florence by Mills, Millie Bobby Brown’s brand, and hyaluronic acid from the Ordinary. “If you’re buying a serum that says, ‘Use right before moisturizer,’ use it right before moisturizer or else,” Lucia says. “Or it might start peeling off your face during lunch, which is really embarrassing.”

Fragrance: Sol de Janeiro, the 68 and the 40.

Jewelry: Taylor Swift friendship bracelets and round glass or stone beads. “They’re clean and simple,” Daphne says.

Goth in the Bronx

Milan, Rhys, and Brianna, 13, at MyUnique Thrift in Riverdale.

“I don’t really do makeup, but I do have a Beetlejuice eye-shadow palette. I’m very influenced by Tim Burton. I started to watch him at a very young age.” —Rhys, 13

Clothes: Cardigans, baggy jeans, graphic tees — including secondhand ones. And a lot of black.

Shoes: Combat boots and high-top Converse. “I have a silly pair I haven’t worn yet with a houndstooth pattern,” says Rhys, who lives in Morris Heights (and took a ride in a shopping basket). “I really want Coraline Converse. And black combat boots with silver straps. They are a staple in the goth community.”

Beauty: Salicylic acid from the Ordinary and a hyaluronic-acid serum from Inkey List. Classmates  wear Starface pimple patches even when they don’t have a zit.

Accessories: Lacy necklaces. Star Wars lunch boxes (and Funko Pops).

Downtown Girls

Ito, Isla, and Layla, all 11, outside their school at Tompkins Square Park before going shopping nearby at Buffalo Exchange and Urban Outfitters, where Layla bought hair bows.

“I like Crocs, but my parents won’t let me get them. My mom says they’re hideous.” —Isla, 11

Clothes: Pink sweaters, white leg warmers to wear with a skirt, and baggy mom jeans from Zara and H&M. “I like them navy blue, kind of wide leg,” Layla, from the East Village, says. “Not skinny jeans.”

Shoes: Converse high-tops, mini platform UGGs, Nike Blazers.

Accessories: Hair bows. Stanley tumblers. “It’s really nice,” says Ito, who lives in Williamsburg, “but it also leaks.”

Beauty: Tatcha moisturizer. Glow Recipe Dew Drops. Lower East Sider Isla prefers a clear lip gloss from Pat McGrath Labs: “My mom got it at an airport.”

Photographs by Sara Messinger

More From the spring 2024 fashion issue

See All
Where New York City Tweens Actually Like to Shop