So you're flummoxed by what Santa should bring your daughter? Can't keep up with what's hot and what's not for that little girl whose secret desires have always been a mystery to you. (And besides, they change every two monthsanyway.) Should it be pink and feminine or tough and in-your-face? Is she too young for gold or too old for glitter?
We here at The Globe and Mail were just as daunted by the byzantine world of teen-girl fashion. So we decided to check with some very reliable sources -- our own daughters. And one thing's certain, these girls know what they want. From flannel pajamas to designer handbags, as usual they had all the answers. Herewith, a few words on what to buy your daughter this year.
AGES 9 to 12: "Why do I want the Password Journal 2?" nine-year-old Mary, daughter of columnist John Barber, asks in a tone of voice that plainly indicates the reason ought to be obvious. "Because my diary is all shredded, there are no papers left in it, and this one is cool."
The PJ2, a diary encased in a boxy plastic purple cover, locks automatically and opens only to the sound of a password you record. It's from GirlTech -- the "i" in their logo is dotted with a flower -- and it has a light for "night privacy."
"It's very secret, very safe," Mary assures me. "So my brother can't go into it."
Other must-haves for under-12 girls include a sleek desk lamp, to replace the nursery-themed one that's undoubtedly still sitting there; an updated version of the plastic bead curtain, like the cascading chain of psychedelic circles in shades of blue from S.W.A.K. in Toronto; and an extra-long, striped scarf from the Gap, whose commercials, featuring gorgeous young women wrapped in variegated wool, boogie-ing to the soul tune Love Train,air on TV around the clock.
"My daughter loves that commercial," I say to the clerk. "Yeah, I loved the song too, until I heard it 50,000 times on the store soundtrack," she says. Ho ho ho.
AGES 13 to 15: According to Sophie, 13-year-old daughter of style columnist Karen von Hahn, there is really only one thing any self-respecting girl her age should want. "Okay, first of all, you have to have your own cellphone, with text messaging, because it's just so sad if you don't," she says. "Everyone calls each other. You need it."
On second thought, maybe you need something else. "And a CD burner," she adds, "because no one buys CDs any more." Oh, and it helps if you're wearing the right music-burning, phone-answering outfit: sneakers, sweatpants, "and one of those really small tops with Abercrombie and Fitch on it. An A&F sweatshirt is good too." As well, her friends are passing around Louise Rennison's novels about Georgia Nicholson, the Bridget Jones of high school. (Titles include Angus, Thongs,and Full-Frontal Snogging,and Oh My God, I'm the Girlfriend of a Sex God.)
With that, Sophie hangs up -- off to make other, better calls, no doubt. Soon, though, she phones back. "I forgot something really important," she says. "A Guess handbag. Not too big. Denim, with a leather strap, and guess guess guess written all over it. The shoulder bag is preferable." She gives a little sigh of satisfaction, thanks me sweetly, and hangs up again. I want to be Sophie.
AGES 16 to 18: Alison, newly 17, and her doe-eyed, long-legged posse mill around the office at their ballet school, stuffing names into a cup for a Secret Santa exchange. "No glitter. Glitter and I are not friends," says Alison, whose dad is Colin MacKenzie, the ROB's executive editor.
The others agree vociferously. "We like cash, but not for Christmas," one says. "Gift certificates are okay, but only from people you don't trust to buy you stuff," says another. Everyone nods. They are in complete agreement about everything.
A denim jacket is a must. ("Club Monaco or Jacob if you're trendy, but I like the basic one from the Gap," Alison says.) Ditto, graphic T-shirts from American Eagle. "Each one has a different saying and picture on it, you can see them on their Web site. Here, look." Alison points to the sweatshirt on her nearest friend. Sure enough, it is white with the letters A, E, and a picture of an eagle in blue. Under it she wears another American Eagle T-shirt, which reads Runners, and has a picture of a roadrunner. Under that, she wears one that reads Kansas Softball. "I was cold," she says shrugging.
Briefly, they fall silent. Then, "Body Shop!" they chorus explosively, extolling the gift packages that feature everything -- candles, foot scrub, soap, body lotion -- in one scent, such as vanilla.
Anything else? "Earrings!" they cry. Not gold, silver. And not hoops or danglies, but cute little studs shaped like something -- feet, spoons, dragonflies. "Mine are a pair of hands," Alison says. "They have to be small, though. Like, you won't get it until you really look."
AGE 18 AND UP: The co-eds are nesting. "We don't go to bars," says Elizabeth, reporter John Allemang's 18-year-old. "We don't even go downstairs to watch TV. We like to put on pajamas" -- roomy flannel jobs from Nick and Nora, or ones featuring the grinning monkey by Paul Frank -- "pop some popcorn, and watch a couple of DVDs on our computers." The hot DVDs this year aren't films, but rather compilations of TV shows, especially Friends, The Simpsons,and Sex and the City. " Sex and the City is the biggest," agrees Allison, deputy editor Sylvia Stead's 19-year-old daughter. She also likes the cotton lounge pants with drawstring waists (a more elegant take on sweatpants) from R.W. and Co., and Sony's new Discman/MP3 combo. And Rebecca, 20, the older MacKenzie daughter, wants better speakers for her computer, and maybe a leather belt that ties at the side, with fringe. "A lot of girly things are coming back around," Elizabeth says. "I rejected them for a while, but now I accept it. For instance, I'm now a makeup addict. I think the new palettes from Stila and Bobbi Brown are adorable, and practical, too." They're available in multiple shades for eyes, lips and cheeks, at Holt Renfrew. "They cost a little more, but they're worth it," Elizabeth says. "We're past the drugstore lip gloss stage." This girl is a woman now.