Back-to-School: Preppy with a Twist and Bolder Colors are in

August 10, 2012
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By Karyn D. Collins

If it’s August then that means it’s time for back-to-school shopping.

For many kids, especially tweens and teens who get to choose their own clothes, back-to- school shopping is almost as good as Christmas. Well, except for the fact that they’re preparing to go back to school instead of taking a vacation. Then again, for some junior fashion fanatics, school is the ultimate fashion show.

So while parents may be looking at the bills, fashion-loving kids look at this time as a prime opportunity to update a wardrobe that probably hasn’t been updated, since oh, maybe last month.

But snatching up the latest trends and finding ways to make that all-important personal statement is what kids do, even the ones who aren’t fashion fanatics.

For him: Striped tee ($6), belted camo cargo pants ($18.99), hybrid boat shoes ($22.99, all from Target.
For her: Lace cami ($6.99), artist tee ($9.99), knit blazer ($16.99), skinny jeans ($14.99), Converse One Star stretch lace oxfords ($27.99), all from Target.

“It’s all about personal style. For the older teens especially, they’re much more into their individual style. They don’t want to look like everyone else,” said Kimberly Savage, a style consultant whose company 90degreez produces fashion shows and events at malls in New Jersey and Philadelphia. “What we’ve seen is that it’s the younger kids who tend to want to get what everybody else has.”

But even for the individualists, some overall trends seem to be emerging for the season. Key trends for this year’s back-to-school season include:

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• A return to the ‘80s preppy look with a twist
• Bold, jewel tones
• Color blocking
• Leather Members Only-type jackets
• Leather-trimmed sweaters and jeans
• Varsity jackets and jacket-styled sweaters with contrast sleeves
• Argyle
• A resurgence of plaids and other patterns
• Floral leggings and jeans
• Skinny jeans, in dark washes and seasonal jewel tones

“There’s really a big preppy thing happening. People are doing a lot of classics – the basic, button-down collared shirts, the blazers, the plaids and everyone is doing a crazy amount of prints,” said Megan Mosera, owner of Posch Boutique in Rumson.

And remember the ‘80s love affair with stripes on everything from button-down and rugby shirts to sweaters? Well, they’re baaaaack.

“For the teenagers, basically everything we have is stripes. It’s very collegiate with the blazers and the slim pants. People are really going for those trends,” said Corinne Smith, one of the Gap’s brand managers at the store located at The Grove in Shrewsbury. “In mens’, the look is very classic there, too –
classic oxfords, slim pants.

“And in the kids’ department it’s the same trends – the darker colors, like jewel tones, the stripes, and kid versions of the grown-up silhouettes like the blazer with the skinny jeans.”

Of course, for parents, back-to-school shopping means bills, bills, bills. According to the National Retail Federation, the average amount spent on back-to-school shopping for kids in grades K-12 will rise 14 percent to $688.62.

White Purple Maxxter Slick Peace Icon backpack ($29.99)
by Trans by Jansport, from Target.

“Backpacks rip, pencils break and children grow, there’s no way around it,” said National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay.

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The NRF report said clothing, accessories and electronics will make up the bulk of back-to-school shop­­ping costs. Average spending on clothes and accessories will increase by 9.4 percent, to an average of $258.91, according to the federation.

While most kids today have been groom­ed by their cost-conscious parents to be savvier and price-conscious shoppers, back-to-school shopping is still, first and foremost, all about “the look.”

But before parents go digging through their closets thinking their kids will want to wear their old clothes, think again.

“There’s definitely a new twist with the clothes now. The colors are bolder and the kids tend to put more colors together,” said Leemu A. Jackson of 90degreez. “The kids layer a lot now and they really love the patterns, even combining patterns.”

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Another sign of the times can be seen in the accessories where everything is big and bold colored – headphones, watches, statement rings featuring everything from butterflies to metal bows to baubles. And where would a fashionable millennial be without his or her electronics? Here, the big and bold colored and patterned trend can be seen on computer flash drives and even on the interchangeable iPod and iPad cases that kids tend to switch between, sometimes on a daily basis.

“Some things about today may seem similar to what was in back in the ‘80s, but there are a lot of differences,” said Mosera. It’s definitely not the same back-to-school look that parents grew up with.”

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