You guys started early! I am stunned. I'm also impressed at all of you who were making your clothes in (or before!) high school.

Now I'm wondering how you see this as a parent, if you have kids. How old are they, and do they buy their own clothes with their own money? What do you do if you, like Joy's mom, think something they got is somehow inappropriate?

I assume as a matter of course that I will pay for my 16-year old son's clothes for a few more years. Even when he and his girlfriend went to buy a pair of jeans for him last fall, it was with money I gave him.

I starting earning my own money at 10 and I was a real cheapskate. I remember haunting the local Mervyns every day when I was 10 or 11, waiting for a pair of jeans to go on clearance, and by the time they did, they were sold out! The funny thing is, I had the money to pay the full price, but wanted the fun of getting a lower price.

Later in my teen years I discovered thrift shops and factory outlet malls and pretty much haunted those for another decade. I can't remember the first item I ever bought, but do remember preferring blazers, tees, flared jeans, and all kinds of structured and heeled shoes.

Buying my own clothes with my own money helped me form my fashion (and image) choices from an early age. I bought all my own clothes from the time I was 12 or 13 and so developed my own style. It also helped me develop shopping and planning skills. You think twice and sometimes thrice when you're spending your own money!

I seem to recall a godawful strawberry flavored pink sweater with hearts and teddy bears pattern. What I was thinking is beyond me.

That's hilarious, Cindy!!

I can remember when my Son in 1997 was 12 (now 35) wanted a 300:00$ skateboard , a pr. of skater shoes for 150:00$ and very expensive rollerblades .
I told him ...” you know I DO have to buy you shoes ..
but not THOSE shoes , what you need for your very expensive wish list is a job !”
He came home that afternoon with a local paper route ...NO kidding !
And he has worked ever since !
He bought himself so many fun toys with that paper route !

Taylor, I turned twelve in 1998, and the first thing I bought with my saved-up money (I had several cushy dog-sitting gigs) was a mountain bike. Not super high-end, probably about the same $$$ as your sons' skateboarding set-up. And the real perk was that I could transport myself to and from my dog-sitting gigs more easily.

Shortly after my big bike investment, I remember making a couple of "fashion" purchases on my own: a pink Yak Pak messenger bag (not big enough for school books, so my parents refused to buy it for me), and a pair of lime green tights, to go with a black velveteen mini-skirt from the thrift store. My wardrobe was almost entirely secondhand, so I'm sure there were some things I bought with my money and some things my mom bought, but I can't recall which ones were which. Since they were new, the tights probably cost about 10x as much as the skirt did, and thus seemed like a much bigger deal!

But my very earliest memory of buying something for myself was when I was nine and wanted to try nail polish. My mom had (still has) absolutely no interest in make-up and told me straight up that I could waste my own money on it, not hers, so I had to break out my birthday cash and go back to the drug store on my own. My colour of choice? Navy blue. I've very rarely worn nail polish since then, but when I do it's always unconventional colours, usually dark neutrals, never pink or red. Nail polish for tomboys?

La Ped, you must have been incredibly proud when you picked out and purchased that mountain bike! And what a smart choice to help you get from one dog sitting gig to another . Your parents must have been so proud of you !
My son did a similar thing by purchasing a go-ped ( sort of a moterized scooter) to actually do his paper route with ! Kids are so capable

My mom made most of my clothes until I learned to sew. Lots of hand-me-downs from sister and aunts. As a teenager my mom would buy us one store-bought item for a birthday. I do remember when I was in 7th grade Pendleton pleated plaid skirts were the rage. I didn't get the Pendleton, but my mom bought me a nice pleated reversible wool skirt that I wore from 7th grade through my junior year in college. Could have worn it longer but I think my sister got it.

The skirt was no longer reversible because I caught a pleat on a nail climbing over a fence--8th grade? don't ask--but I could still wear it with the other side out.

My mom always told us to wait until school started before we decided what we wanted: "Wait and see what the other girls are wearing."

Regarding my children (2 boys) - I sewed for them or bought bright colours from LE, because boys clothes in stores was so boring and sad. Their first interest in carving a fashion identity was between grade 9 and 10 when they wanted to go from short on the side long on top hair cuts to long hair. I brought them to a stylist instead of the barber. After their first salon shampoos, they were hooked! Both boys went through swimming programs to become lifeguards and swim instructors. They were recruited directly from those programs for work when they turned 16. I'm pretty sure their first independent clothing purchases were sports gear (cycling uniform and Jiu-jitsu gi to be exact) though DS#2 bought a green t-shirt with Link on it with gift money from Gma when he was 12.

Both boys enjoy having a personal style, but don't look at shopping as recreation like I do. They have their own/different passions. I kitted them out with big capsules at the start of college/uni after which the Bank of Mom and Dad closed! They do like clothes enough that a shopping trip for clothes around their birthdays is welcomed, as are socks and underwear at Christmas. They DO spend on grooming - hair, beards, even the occaisionally mani/pedi.

DH is a forlorn hope...

FUN THREAD. Thanks, RunCarla.

Taylor, your 50 cents an hour babysitting job takes the cake.

I worked at Woolworths as a Saturday girl . One of my first purchases with my money was a cream furry jacket much like the teddy jackets of today It had brown suede on the front and on the back in a keyhole shape. It was from Chelsea Girl in Portsmouth . I thought I was the bees knees in that jacket!

You're all so much cooler than me!

I had plenty of pocket money - I had a paper route starting when I was 11 (about $25/week) and then a job in the hardware store when I turned 16. I didn't shop much, mostly saved it. The closest mall was 40 minutes away. I remember picking out a few trendy things for back to school that I was very fond of. The first I remember - the Gap made these hooded long-sleeve tees, lighter than a hoodie sweatshirt, that we all had, with matching scrunch socks. Mine was a sort of cornflower blue. That was middle school.

By high school I had a bit more of my own style. It was the height of grunge and that fit perfectly with my existing look. I had an amazing green crushed velvet top with a low scoop neck, a few brocade vests, and several pairs of surplus cargo pants from the army/navy store. For my 18th birthday, while I was off at college, my mother got me my wish: steel toed Dr Martens, bought at Nordstrom (clearly a sign that grunge was mainstream!). My favorite place to shop was either the army/navy store (tie dyes! combat boots!) or the quirky stores in Northampton, MA.

Then in college I was more on the goth side, and mostly wore utilitarian black clothes (jeans, tee, Docs, big leather biker jacket).

I didn't get into the fashion world per se until I was 30. There were a few years in the late 2000s/early 2010s when rocker looks were everywhere. Think Kate Lanphear. J Crew (of all places) was putting punk studs on everything, and since it resonated so much with me, I started following fashion blogs. McQueen was a huge inspiration. The first really "fashion" thing I bought was these motorcycle jacket heels from Belle Sigerson Morrison. Still have them. They were inspired by McQueen shoes that were a bit too much look for me (find #2). I actually came across the McQueen shoes at a consignment store a few weeks ago and took a picture of myself wearing them, for the nostalgia.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has posted to this thread. As Suz so aptly noted, there is foreshadowing of future style preferences in those early purchases. Especially appreciated is the joy and self confidence that you have shared in these stories of early adventures articulating self expression through fashion and style. Let's all try to keep the 'joie de vie' of these early forays into fashion in all our future adventures in style!

The first money I spent was on fabric.

My grandmother taught me to make patterns out of newspaper, using an item of clothing I already had as a template. I was probably around 12 or 13. I don't remember the first thing I made, but it was most likely a simple skirt. I learned to sew on her old Singer pedal machine. We still have it! And it probably still works. I'm a lousy seamstress, because I'm impatient, but I have always loved working with fabric and patterns. It's just the sewing part I disliked! Once I discovered store bought patterns—WOW, that was awesome. Though it didn't make me like the actual sewing part any better.

A couple of my favorite pieces were a bright yellow tunic made out of toweling to throw on after swimming. It had bell-shaped sleeves that came to a point over the palm. Sounds weird, but it was quite cool. It had a deep V-neck and was trimmed with braid. I loved that thing. The other item I was proud of and wore was a straight midi dress with long set-in sleeves, the first I had ever done. (The toweling tunic did not have set-in sleeves.) The dress was black with a cabbage rose print. My mother thought it was hideous, which made me love it even more. What can I say? I was 15.

Two major shoe purchase:
1. Franco Sarto heeled loafers bought when I lived in downtown NYC and had my first real job (early 90s).
2. Arche sandals bought in Paris when I went to visit a friend who was staying there (late 90s).
Both of these were major splurges at around $100 each and both were worn to the ground. The Arche sandals in particular wore like iron.

My mom bought all my clothes for me until I got my first job age 24. They were all nice clothes but not something I would select for myself. I didn’t want to sound ungrateful, so tried nicely to ask her to give me money instead but to no avail. She just loved to shop for me too much. We finally had a huge argument when I got pregnant with my son, hormones and all, and she bought me the complete maternity wardrobe in some specialized boutique that was so not me, very frumpy and tent like, but also very expensive. I cried, she cried, I said some things that I regretted later and that was the last time she bought clothes for me.
I do remember saving some birthday money and buying black terry hoody when I was about 14, that I wore all the time. And I bought Levis 501 jeans with my first salary.

The first thing I bought for myself was a pair of blue and gold sneakers at a garage sale for 25 cents! I was eight years old. The shoes had belonged to an older girl I admired so they were doubly special. I think they were Adidas, but I wasn't at all aware of brands at that age, so I'm not sure. My mother hated them (mainly the idea that they were used, I think) and a few months later bought me a new pair at the local department store (Gayfers). She put my garage sale sneakers in the garbage can right there in the store!

I must add, I am amazed by all your early earnings and job opportunities. Where I grow up kids working were unheard of. Babysitting was done by grandmothers, pets were kept in yards, and you had to go buy newspapers in shops. And working in stores or cafes before finishing school and having all required paperwork - impossible.

I saved up lunch money and money from my first job to buy a fringed leather moto jacket in my headbanger days! I wore that thing all the time.
For all I know my mom still has it stored somewhere.
It doesn't reflect my style now-though in future who knows. I'm always evolving

Another one that spent her first earnings on fabrics and patterns. I adored sewing. It was something my Mother and I did together on weekends. I have extremely fond memories of those times. I'm glad we had that time together because my Mother passed away when I was in college. A loss that took me decades to get over.

Anchie, that's interesting about the jobs for kids. We could start working at age 16, with some paperwork. In cities a lot of those jobs go to adults who really need the work. In my rural town it was just seen as a good way to teach kids some responsibility. Working in the hardware store was really fun though! I got to solve a lot of problems.

I don't think upper-middle-class kids like me are nearly as likely to have jobs these days. There's so much emphasis on doing all the right activities to get into a good college. Better to spend your summer as an unpaid volunteer in a research lab than working at the ice cream shop... Sigh.

Two crew neck T-shirts ( one yellow and one green ) and a marle grey knit turtleneck wayyyy back when.

Such a fun thread! My first official (Social Security number required) job, other than babysitting and paper route, was motel maid at age 14; I lived in a beach resort town. I don't actually remember how I spent that hard earned cash (not a glamorous job) - probably mostly records. The first fashion purchase I remember pre-dated that so I probably cajoled my very practical parents into the Dittos saddleback jeans I coveted in middle school. "Mom - I'm the only girl in the world who doesn't have ..." actually still kind of worked when DD hit us up for a cell phone in 9th grade.

What a great question!!!

My very first "real" job post college, I had the very best boss (who has on occasion lurked here, she may be lurking now, hi Rebecca!!). On our lunch breaks we would go to the mall together and shop for clothes. Rebecca is petite like me, though we have different body shapes. She is also a very talented seamstress. She knew so much about fabric and fit and quality, and mentored me so much on fashion when I was in my 20s. We are still friends to this day and still enjoy shopping together when we're in the same town. She is the cutest thing and everything looks great on her and she has fabulous taste. Our last shopping trip together a year or so ago, she borrowed my white leather bomber jacket and it looked so much better on her than me. Everything she puts on just looks fabulous on her. She was the one who introduced me to J Crew for the first time, and a lot of other brands.

I remember way back when shopping with her over lunch time in the designer petite sections for suits. This was in the late 80s. I vividly remember complaining to her that a certain skirt wrinkled a lot, and her telling me that "wrinkles are a sign of quality" -- she was right.

Rebecca taught me all about fit, first and foremost, which is very important if you are only 5'0 tall. Back in the 80s there were very few brands offering petites. She also taught me about tailoring, as that's what you needed to do if you were only 5'0" tall, what could be done and what could not be done. She also taught me about quality and how to evaluate quality.

She taught me so much more as well... life lessons and business lessons... but I do credit her for being the first to get me to realize that I can be fashionable, as fashionable as she is... as long as the fit is right. And if I look dumpy and not quite right, it's not me, it's the clothes!!