Thursday, August 17, 2000

Cool looks in back-to-school clothes

Girls like layers and flared jeans; boys are into everything baggy

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Some of the popular looks for back-to-school include baggy shorts, Hawaiian-motif camp shirts, carpenter pants, capri pants, embroidered T-shirts and zip-up fleece vests.
(Kmart photo)
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        The end of August signals back-to-school time, which usually means back to the battle of the bottom line at department store checkout lines.

        It's your pocket's monetary panic vs. your child's pressure not to look like a on the first day of school.

        Some students already have completed their school-year look.

        “We went to the Gap and Limited Too, Abercrombie and Fitch and Old Navy,” says Sara Steinbeck, 12, an Anderson Township seventh-grader at Nagel Middle School.

        “I bought some black Adidas shorts and short-sleeve shirts from Abercrombie. I also bought some white Adidas shoes. I got some khaki pants. I already have plenty of shirts, so I got more shorts and pants like dark denim and stained jeans and a pair of green pants and I ordered a winter coat from Lands' End.”

        Says 9-year-old Judy Bauer, a Dulles Elementary School fourth-grader from Bridgetown: “I like jeans with panels or the dark denims, lots of tie-dye T-shirts, and I just got some white tennis shoes and navy ones. I like to mix and match. I like to wear hair pins, too. My favorite Powerpuff Girl is Bubbles, but I couldn't find anything with her on it.”

        In the interest of keeping a peaceful house without ending up in the poorhouse, here are some guidelines for parents trying to satisfy this year's clothing trends for children and teens. The challenge is to look for these trendy styles in your favorite store or online and create the look to fit your budget.

The schoolyard crew
               They're loud and shy, inquisitive and insecure and they want the world now. Elementary and junior high students strive to find a handle on who they are and let everybody know when they do. They want to dress like their older siblings without being told what to do by them. Here are some emerging and continuing trends for the younger set:

  Accessories that are fun and functional are a big hit this year. Here are some of the hottest items to watch:
  • Stylish neon-colored alarm clocks to get kids up on time for school. Bed Bath and Beyond's Mouse Alarm Clock looks just like a computer mouse, $7.99.
  • Hot school supplies include zipper binders, metallic and milky gel multicolor pens, pencil pouches and school supply lines from Lisa Frank, Pokemon and Nike, $3.49-$12.99.
  • Backpacks and duffels in bold colors or crystal clear. Still hot is a backpack on wheels. Prices range up to $69.50 for Lands' End wheeled backpack.
  • Hard- and soft-sided insulated lunch boxes with bottles. Popular designs include Scooby Doo and the Powerpuff Girls. Arctic Zone offers six types of softsiders, $3.99-$12.99.
  • Fun additions to the lunch box include sweet treats from Cap Candy, including Candy Bubbles Pop and the Jelly Belly Kaleidoscope, $1-6.99.
        • Girls still want to have fun, especially when it comes to looking good. Layering is still in, as are flared jeans, “talking” T-shirts, down and fleece vests and pullovers and those ultra-long skirts.

        • New trends include animal prints, “pleather” (faux leather), capris and convertible pants and skirts that go from long to short in a zip.

        • Red is the big color this fall, although plaids, pastels and earth tones still carry the fashion day.

        • Must-have accessories include berets, animal-print shoulder bags, eye-catching watches and appliques everywhere.

        • Boys in this age group opt for a combination of cool and comfort. Baggy pants still rule, some with the added zipper-convertible feature to go from pants to shorts. Also returning are chinos, classic jeans, cargo pants (the more pockets, the better), wind pants, anything khaki or camouflage.

        Fleece, football shirts and layering are back. Outerwear includes real or “pleather” motorcycle jackets, fleece and down vests or jackets in bright, strong colors.

The teen scene

               No other demographic is more pressured by the paradox of looking like everyone else while being “your own person” than a teen. Observing this year's trends and then adapting them to fit personality and personal comfort should help maintain individual style. Keep a fashion eye out for these:

        • Teen girls like wide bottom, hip-hugger and “floods” jeans, along with chinos and pants with appliques, embroidery and unique panels. Also making a return are screened T-shirts (adorned with favorites such as TV's Powerpuff Girls), paisley prints and colorful sweaters with extra-long sleeves. Platform shoes and boots continue to be in vogue.

        • New for fall are wild animal prints — warm and cold-blooded species — on shirts to shoes.

        • Look for a satin-like, shiny fabric called glider to show up on tops and bottoms for an electric wardrobe addition. Motorcycle jackets in real or faux leather and jean jackets are both stylish and functional.

        • Like their younger brothers, teen guys go for the relaxed look with baggy everything and details like Velcro, drawstrings and toggles. Logo wear continues to be in as well, along with five-pocket jeans and pants that zip around the thigh to convert into shorts for those still-warm first weeks of school.

The code of dress
               Of course, the real trick is to pick outfits that look good, fit well and pass for acceptable dress at school. School districts across the country are taking a closer look at the question of whether clothes really do make the schoolboy or girl.

        “My school might be going to uniforms this year so I don't know what I'll wear to school,” says 9-year-old Mark Brown of Silverton, who will be starting his first year at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.

        “I'd like to be able to wear clothes that are nice but casual,” he says. “I like to mostly wear blue jeans, pants, nice shirts. My favorite labels are Nike, the Michael Jordan line, Tommy, FUBU, stuff like that.”

        In Northern Kentucky, the Campbell County School District uses this guideline to decide what passes as acceptable student dress in high school:

        “School authorities may limit or prohibit any extreme type or style of student dress, personal appearance or use of wearing apparel that is deemed to create a disruption of school discipline and routine.”

        A list of non-acceptable items is included in the handout but the paragraph above is generally used by most school systems.

        “We've had no problems with conformity,” says Chris Gramke, the district's public relations officer. “The rules are kid-friendly, but we just make sure word gets out about what's acceptable.”

        Campbell County went a step further this summer by adopting dress code standards for teachers that are similar to those for students.

Creative conformity
               The whole issue of deciding dress codes is a non-issue for students in private and parochial schools with standards already in place.

        Nevertheless, more public schools in the Tristate are switching to more defined dress codes or uniforms.

        “It was just a committee decision,” says Dee Fricker, a parent member of the school decision-Making committee for McKinley Elementary School in the East End.Students there will be required to wear uniforms starting next fall.

        “It takes away peer pressure and eliminates competition,” Ms. Fricker says. “It makes cut-and-dried rules on what they can wear. When students comply, it (wearing uniforms) institutes an air of organization and discipline. It gives schools their own identity and instills school pride.”

        “There is a parental convenience as well,” she says. “It takes the worry out of dressing the kids each morning ... It's less expensive, too, more cost-effective, than having to buy another pair of Guess? jeans every month because they've outgrown them. Recycling uniforms is more economical, too.”

        Not to be shut out of this lucrative buyers' market, retailers such as Lands' End, Kmart, Parisian and the Children's Place combine style with conformity to offer creative school uniforms in their stores, catalogs and online.


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