There’s a rare time in every woman’s life where she sits on the cusp between girl and woman — beyond the pigtails and smocking, but before the minis and heels. Fashion becomes a battle. But increasingly local stores are working to find a common ground for mothers and daughters in the great quest for the perfect wardrobe.

 Photo by Robin May
 A handful of girls facing the in between years wearing fall's best pieces from local boutiques take a minute to enjoy sweet treats at Borden's. From left, Emma Muffoletto, Camille Coriel in Melodi's, Ryan Ketteringham in Melodi's, Gabby Becker in Paperdoll Studio and Mackenzie Breaux in Paperdoll Studio.

“The challenge comes with not only each girl’s and mother’s preferences, but the fact that tween sizes are 7 to 16, which means that I could be dressing a first grader or a girl who is about to enter high school,” says Erica Cunningham of Melodi’s Belles and Beaus. “This age group of girls is already struggling with the task of finding out who they are and trying to feel comfortable and confident about themselves.”

Tweens are, by definition, the ages of 10 to 12. But the difficulties of dressing in ways that keep both mom and daughter happy while age appropriate can happen long before 10 and last long after the age of 12.

We gathered a handful of girls in that great in between to show us just how it’s done. Each headed to local boutiques with their mothers to find looks they both agreed upon. For some, it was easier than others.

Girls like 12-year-old Emma Muffoletto find time and again it’s tough to look your age.

“It’s really hard — making sure she doesn’t look too old,” says her mom, Audrey. “She’s a 12-year-old and she doesn’t look 12.”
And then there are the Mackenzie Breauxes of this world. With a petite frame, she finds it difficult to find clothes that look on par with her 10 years — rather than too cute dresses cut for far younger girls.

“And it’s hard to find stuff without all that tacky sparkle,” her mom, Amy, cringes.
So while there are a few major stores that cater to the age, the sentiment is often that there is little both moms and daughters can agree on.

The growing market for tweens is something boutiques like Paperdoll Studio and Melodi’s Belles and Beaus know about. Melodi’s carries an increasing number of tween items in hopes of catering to an age that is hard-pressed to find looks that are grown up enough without the often overt sex appeal many brands offer.

“When it comes to helping tween girls dress, I look for trendy, modern styles that girls will want to wear,” Cunningham says of her efforts at market to find the best for tween girls. “Things they will be excited to put on and outfits that make them feel like the best version of themselves. I also ensure that the apparel is age appropriate and is something parents feel good about letting their girls wear.”

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