How These 13-Year-Old Girls Will Change the Way You Get Dressed

Jenny Williams
Jenny Williams

When it comes to looking back on our tween years, most grown women have a hard time just flipping through those old yearbook photos, never mind gleaning fashion advice from their awkward alter egos. But bad haircuts and braces aside, there's something to be said about the creative spirit of a 12- or 13-year-old girl, who hasn't yet boxed herself into the sartorial stereotypes expected of her as she approaches adulthood.

That's what blogger and illustrator Jenny Williams noticed when she began drawing the inspired, whimsical fashion choices of girls in the fleeting years between childhood and young adulthood. By observing her daughter and her daughter's friends, Williams committed to capturing the unique moment in a girl's life when self-expression trumps trends.

"As a grown woman with three children and a full plate of responsibilities, I often find myself dressing for the day with the only criteria being that the clothes are clean," she told us. "However, I've noticed that some of their practices have influenced my own for the better." Now, she's set to release a book, What My Daughter Wore (on shelves Dec. 9), that showcases the individuality in every girl and every ensemble.

We tasked Williams — who admits she will likely never attempt her daughter's "current favorite look of giant Minnie Mouse-style hair bows" — with giving us a sneak peek of her new collection of illustrations and revealing the six tween-approved secrets that have changed the way grown women get dressed.

01
Ignore Trends
Jenny Williams

Ignore Trends

"In any given posse of middle-school-age children, among the sea of skinny-jeans-clad girls there are usually one or two outliers who march to their own drummer and just don't care what everyone else is wearing. The girl wearing an oversize Boy Scout shirt as a dress or the one sporting slouchy vintage military trousers are the girls that everyone else wishes they had the courage to be. Even adults can experience peer pressure, and it can be liberating and empowering to dress entirely for yourself."

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Jenny Williams

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Jenny Williams

04
Shake It Up
Jenny Williams

Shake It Up

"You would be surprised what combinations look great together, and you never know until you try. I recommend doing what most kids do, which is to just disregard the assumption that you could ever go wrong doing this."

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Jenny Williams

06
Swap It Out
Jenny Williams

Swap It Out

"My daughter and her friends are constantly raiding each other's closets, thereby expanding their wardrobe options exponentially. Adults with similar tastes, too, can bring what they are tired of, throw them all on a table, commence swapping over wine, and leave happily with new clothes."

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Jenny Williams

09
Borrow From the Boys
Jenny Williams

Borrow From the Boys

"Probably one-third of my daughter's wardrobe is comprised of clothing that once belonged to her brothers. She wears a wool boy's suit jacket — that her middle brother wore to his trumpet recitals — to very chic effect over dresses. I highly recommend that a woman take advantage of her husband, boyfriend, or brother by borrowing liberally from his closet."

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Jenny Williams

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Jenny Williams

12
Overaccessorize
Jenny Williams

Overaccessorize

"Kids bring a sense of fun and abandon to dressing that most adults lack, and accessories are a big part of it. And, as one young girl I know commented as she walked out the door in a top hat with an attached feather: 'I can always take it off later if I feel like a total dork in this.'"

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Jenny Williams

15
Take Silly Risks
Jenny Williams

Take Silly Risks

"Children often use what they choose to wear as a means of self-expression and an outlet for their creative impulses. Putting this into practice as an adult doesn't have to be a literal exercise complete with glitter and construction-paper crown, but it certainly could. Sometimes dressing to completely embarrass your kids, if you have them, is its own reward!"

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Jenny Williams

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Jenny Williams

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Jenny Williams

Jenny Williams's book, What My Daughter Wore, is an original collection of illustrations and goes on sale Dec. 9.