Shopping for back-to-school with teens is her specialty
Sydney Carey, founder of SOS – Shopping, Organizing, Service - is not dismayed at the notion of back-to-school shopping with teens.
“Going shopping with your teenager is not fun,” Carey of Hingham, Mass., said. “It’s too easy to get into disagreements over styles and prices, and you can schlep around the mall all day and come home with a couple of things that don’t go with anything else in your teen’s wardrobe.”
This mother of three said she founded SOS several years ago to help women organize their closets, their wardrobes and their lives. When a client asked her to help out with her teenage daughter, Carey found herself busy with girls who wanted to shop for back-to-school clothes.
She approaches a teen client just as she would any other client.
“I usually come to the client’s home and check out her closet,” she said. “I see what styles she likes, what looks good on her, and what clothes need to go so we can make room for new looks.”
With teen clients, the initial visit usually includes a consultation with a parent to establish budget and style guidelines.
“Most parents say they don’t want low-cut tops or belly-baring styles,” Carey said. “Some are OK with expensive designer jeans or fancy labels, others don’t want their daughters wearing $150 jeans.”
Carey charges an hourly fee for her consultation and says she can stay within any shopping budget.
Janice Parys-Cocomazzi of Norwell, Mass., worked with Carey and loved the results.
“Sydney has a way of combining things I already own with new pieces in ways I never would have thought of,” she said.
A busy mother of six in her blended family, Janice recently treated her teenage daughter Natalie Parys to a back-to-school shopping trip with Carey.
Natalie, who will be a junior at Norwell High School this year, describes her style as mostly classic – J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch – with a little bit of a twist. Born in Texas, Natalie cherishes the authentic cowboy boots her mom bought her in Fort Worth, and wears them with almost everything. She says she loved the clothes Carey picked out for her mom and was ready to try something new.
“Most girls want to look like their friends, but they also want a look that’s a bit unique,” Carey said.
After helping Natalie eliminate some clothes from her wardrobe – stretched-out T-shirts and seldom-worn skirts were targeted – Sydney and Natalie headed for the mall.
They started at Forever 21, where Carey immediately picked out a plaid mini dress with ruffled sleeves.
“I never would have picked that dress out,” Natalie said, “but Sydney convinced me to at least try it on. It turned out to be my favorite thing.”
“Because I’m a professional and not their mom, I can usually get the girls to try new things,” Carey said. “Natalie can wear the dress belted or loose with cowboy boots when the weather is still warm, then layer it with a lightweight jersey top or a turtleneck later in the fall.”
Natalie was happy with the dress alone, but Carey also picked out a lightweight jersey top, a short-sleeved blouse and a ruffled tank that could all go together in different combinations.
“Most women and girls will buy just the dress, then get it home and find out they don’t have anything to go with it,” Carey said. “That’s how things end up at the back of the closet and never get worn. I like to buy the outfit, the accessories, and have several different looks before we leave the store.”
Because Carey had already scoped out Natalie’s closet, she knew that her brown leather belt would work with the dress, and with the jeans they picked up at Macy’s.
Natalie said she didn’t want to blow the budget on expensive jeans; she opted to save the money for a red and white blazer, a pair of pinstriped shorts, and another top.
Back at home, Natalie’s mom and younger sisters were treated to a fashion show. Carey was there to help with suggestions on accessories. She pulled a top from Natalie’s closet. “Try this with the new vest,” she suggested.
“I’m amazed at how much Sydney and Natalie were able to get,” Janice said. The day’s haul included jeans, shorts, two dresses, two vests, a short-sleeved blazer, a couple of layering pieces, and several tops.
“Ten pieces in all, and we spent less than $150,” Carey said.
She said that Natalie might want to add shoes and a couple of warmer sweaters to wear in the fall.
“You don’t have to rush out to the mall and spend spend spend in August,” she said. “I usually advise my girls to get a couple of outfits to start, then see what the other girls are wearing, and wait for the stores to start their sales in September.”
For more info, visit www.SydneyCarey.com.
The Patriot Ledger