Before the first No. 2 pencil of the season is sharpened, kids are daydreaming about their perfect back-to-school outfit. Style expert Jenn Falik shares the top trends and fashionable finds to make the grade at every age.
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Pre-school trend: Mix not match
At this age, kids can make even the most daunting fashion “don’t” into an adorable style “do“- which includes wearing an outfit that may look like it was assembled in the dark. Let them experiment mixing colors and patterns that may not match, but somehow all together evoke a well thought-out, eclectic look. This trend is a perfect excuse to let little ones discover and express their developing personal style.
For example, a cardigan with mismatched buttons (Mini Boden, $50.40 at www.bodenusa.com) paired with striped tights (Kicky Pants, $18 at www.innovative-baby.com), tucked into a cheerfully bright rain boot (Crocs Jaunt Rain boot, $34.99 at www.crocs.com) incorporates a rainbow of colors that are all just connected enough to look pulled together.
Boys can take classic camouflage cargos ($16.94 at www.oldnavy.com) and top it off with striped tee ($12.95 at H&M stores). A solid vest helps to break up the pattern play ($26.94 at www.oldnavy.com) and anchor the look, adding both fashion (layering is always a trend this time of year) and function (the cold weather will creep up on us before we know it.) Classic boat shoes are also on trend for Fall, but for the smaller set, it is fun to incorporate unexpected colors (Sperry Top-Siders, $30.00 at www.striderite.com).
Grade school trend: Color denim
Jeans have always been top of the back-to-school must-have list, and this season, they are anything but basic. Taking a cue from the rainbow of slacks seen on the runways, color denim is not only practical — durability is key! — but also a simple update that plays well with wardrobe staples kids already own, love and have worn a million times.
For girls with a penchant for pastels, a pair of pink skinny jeans ($49 at www.joesjeans.com) complements a lime green cardigan ($19.95 at H&M stores). Cuff them up to reveal retro-inspired high top sneakers (Crocs Hover Hi-Top, $49.99 at www.crocs.com).
If she is big on brights, rich purple jeans (Mini Boden, $36 at www.bodenusa.com) work with a polka-dot tee. (Jumping Bean, $18.00 at www.kohls.com). Glitter sneakers are a fun final touch ($10 at www.oldnavy.com).
And accessorize the statement pants with a sparkly backpack (Total Girl, $34.99 at www.jcp.com)
Middle school trend: Cozy knits
Ski-lodge chic meets Fair Isle fashion in this season’s plush, cozy sweaters that keep kids well insulated in style. Balance a chunky knit with slim-fit pants and boots so as not to overwhelm a small frame. What student wouldn’t want to curl up in the library wrapped up in one of these?
A neutral hue like ivory is a great choice for girls ($24.95 at H&M stores), round out the look with olive denim leggings ($49 at www.joesjeans.com) and moccasin-like boots (Mudd Boots, $54.99 at www.kohls.com) Instead of a backpack try a messenger bag (Mudd Bag, $40 at www.kohls.com).
For boys, we see a strong heritage inspiration. A Navajo or Fair Isle motif knit into an extra-thick wool sweater that looks ready for a long camping excursion is the perfect investment piece (Navajo Zip Up, $250 at www.Superdry.com). Slim fit pants in army green always tend to work here (Urban Pipeline Pants, $42 at www.kohls.com) and chunky hiking boots fit nicely with the theme (Alpine Boots, $59.50 at www.landsend.com).
High school trend: Bold with basic
Rich jewel tones add a powerful fashion punch when anchored with neutral basics. This is a perfect trend for this age group, easy to achieve making use of items already in their closets. Since they may not be growing at warp speeds anymore, it is important to get maximum mileage out of everything they own.
For girls, bright blouses left un-tucked ($39.95 at H&M stores) have an on-trend 70’s vibe, especially with high waist jeans ($29.95 at H&M stores). A khaki loafer-inspired wedge offers height and comfort, (Tommy Hilfiger Wedges, $85 at www.amazon.com), as does a neutral tote, although to keep it from being boring, look for one with a texture — like a faux snakeskin or woven (Woven Tote, $62.93 at www.thelimited.com).
Classic button downs have taken a colorful turn for boys (Ditch Plains, $40 at www..jcp.com), perfect layered under a bold hued sweater in a traditional half-zip style ($39.50 at www.landsend.com). Slim fit chinos ($78 at www.bodenusa.com) add polish, while rugged boots keep it youthful ($49.95 at H&M stores). An extra element of “pop” can come in the form of a bold laptop case (Tommy Hilfiger Laptop Case, $30 at www.tommy.com).