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updated 8/1/2006 11:40:47 AM ET 2006-08-01T15:40:47

If you want to shop smart for back-to-school clothes but dread the mall crowds, help is here.  Now you can scoop up the latest trends without leaving your comfy couch.  Sally Lee, editor-in-chief of "Parents" magazine, visited "Today" with some A-plus outfits, all of which were purchased online.

What are the fashion trends for the younger set this year?
We're seeing a lot of preppy and plaid this season — dresses, pants and skirts in corduroy, dark denim, argyle vests and kilts. T-shirts with attitude are also popular.  Boys are adopting the "extreme sports" skater or snowboarder look, with baggy pants and jeans and skater shoes.  Girls are wearing a tomboy look with a girly edge — cargo pants with a pink bow belt.  Boys and girls are wearing lots of fall colors, like burgundy, burnt orange and brown, and stripes are really big. 

What about accessories? What will be popular? 
We're seeing a lot of color in accessories this season. Popcorn scarves with pockets on the sides so kids won't lose their gloves are very popular. For girls, ponchos and tights in every print from Pucci to argyle are a must-have. And Converse All-Star sneakers are making a comeback in more colors than we've ever seen. We'll also see a lot of custom-made backpacks and ones with wheels for easy toting this season.

Why shop the Internet for back-to-school styles?
More and more busy moms and dads are shopping the Internet with their kids for back-to-school clothes.  Web sites offer round-the-clock ordering so people can enjoy the convenience of shopping on their own schedules. As a matter of fact, last year 10 percent of online shoppers searched the Internet for back-to-school savings and we expect that number to grow this year. 

Where do you start?
Shop only from companies you know or from sites recommended by trusted sources.  Check the delivery schedule and shipping options before ordering. Most Web sites promise delivery within three to five days. Refer to size charts on the customer service sections of their Web sites.  Just like shopping at the mall, make sure you keep your receipts, product packaging and literature until you're sure you are satisfied with your purchase.  And never give out your bank account number, Social Security or other personal information.  Your credit-card number and expiration date are all a merchant should need. 

What are good places to look for the basics?
There are lots of choices for picking up the basics and fun outfits at reasonable prices:  OldNavy.com is a great place for basics. Converse.com and Zappos.com are great for shoes, and L.L. Bean and Lands' End are good places to shop for uniform basics.  Also check out Totshop.com or HannahAnderson.com for high-quality turtlenecks and T-shirts — clothes that stand up well as hand-me-downs.

How much should parents expect to spend per child?
Anywhere from $100 to $500, or more. You can definitely outfit your child for somewhere in the range of $250 or less.   

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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