Dressing a Preteen Boy for a Wedding

by Erica Loop

If taking your T-shirt-wearing tween to your cousin's uber-fancy wedding -- or even your old college roommate's business-casual occasion -- seems like a total fashion fiasco, don't stress about your preteen dressing to impress. Dressing a preteen boy for a wedding certainly has its challenges, but it isn't an impossibility. After a pointed discussion, some coaxing and a trip -- or two -- to the young men's department, your son will look far from his typical pizza-stained self.

1. Pre-Wedding Discussion

Before picking out your tween son's event attire, discussing why he must wear these dashing duds is a must. If you have what the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website terms an "easy child," it's likely that he will readily adapt to a change from his usual tees and shorts to a formal suit. On the other hand, a more challenging child may resist this change, act defiant or put his foot down. If this is the case, explain that different activities require different types of clothing, and give a practical example such as saying, "Wearing a suit to a wedding is like having to wear a uniform to play football."

2. Consider His Changing Body

Tweens are literally between childhood and the young-adult period. With the onset -- or impending onset -- of puberty, your preteen son may feel awkward or self-conscious about his changing body. When you buy an outfit ahead of time for a wedding, make sure that his clothes will fit his growing frame by the time of the event. For example, if you find what you think is the perfect suit but it barely reaches his wrists and ankles, prepare yourself to find a new one by the time of the wedding or take a visit to your local tailor.

3. Comfort

Although you can't let your kid go to a wedding wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, you don't want to suit him up in itchy or uncomfortable fabrics. Tight collars, restricting ties, stiff suits and scratchy button-downs will only make your tween miserable for the entire event. Though your preteen can tolerate a less-than-comfortable look better than your toddler, why make the joyous event unhappy for everyone around him when you can opt for choices such as soft cotton shirts or more relaxed-fitting khakis?

4. Formal Vs. Casual

Not every wedding calls for black-tie attire. The way that you dress your preteen largely depends on whether the event requires formal or more casual types of attire. For example, if the event is clearly a dressy wedding at a fancy hotel, choose a plain suit -- with a tie and blazer -- for your tween. A more casual wedding, such as a beach bash, allows your child to go with a relaxed look such as a linen button-down and a plain khaki pant. Don't forget to match your child's shoes to his outfit. Get rid of the worn-out sneakers and try a simple pair of leather slip-ons for a more formal wedding and leather sandals for a causal outdoor fete.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.