Back to school means it’s time to go over your child’s wardrobe. What fits, what doesn’t, what’s stained, what’s plain worn out?

Even if there’s still a good selection of clothes you’ll probably still do some back to school shopping. What child doesn’t like having a new outfit for the first day of school?

This can also start the annual debate… what kind of clothes are you willing to buy for your child?

I’m lucky. My daughter is 6 and still doesn’t care about brand names, although if you put a princess on it she’ll want it. I don’t expect that situation to last forever. Not for the brand names, and please oh please not the princesses!

But problems can be more than just the brand names. You may not approve of current fashions. Too short skirts for girls, questionable sayings and sometimes just plain ugly (to your eyes anyhow) clothes. Shopping’s a pain if you don’t agree on the basic styles to buy.

Fortunately when you’re the parent, you can decide what you will spend your money on for your child’s wardrobe. You earned it after all. If he or she doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.

And if they’re old enough to buy their own, you’re still the parent and you can set rules for the kinds of clothes that can be worn.

I don’t recommend being an utter tyrant about it, of course. Appropriate compromise can make life much more pleasant for both of you.

At my daughter’s age, we start out with appropriate clothes, but she gets to decide how she combines them. As she has absolutely no sense of what goes with what, her clothing combinations can look ridiculous, but she’s happy. I’m content so long as it’s appropriate to the weather.

In contrast, I see many of her classmates already in carefully coordinated outfits. I don’t know whether it’s the child making that choice or the parents, but that makes little difference to me. My daughter is happy and in clothes that she is not feeling self conscious about.

I gather it can be somewhat different for boys, as many are reputed to care less about what they wear, or have a single favorite item that must be worn repeatedly. My son right now has a few favorites, but at age 3 it’s out of sight out of mind.

But just as with girls it comes down to which battles are worth fighting. So long as the clothes are kept reasonably presentable, is it a disaster if he chooses to wear the same shirt frequently?

That said, there are some fashions I really hope aren’t popular when my son gets older. Just for the sheer sloppiness of it.

Whatever your family rules are, start out by shopping accordingly and don’t overdo it. It’s very easy to buy more outfits than a child needs, which wastes money and increases the mess in their bedrooms. Remember that you can always add more if what you start out with at the beginning of the school year turns out to be insufficient.

Or that growth spurt comes along just after you’ve spent a fortune!