Classic looks in style for back-to-school
Every school season has its trends and fads, but preppy clothing designs and trusty denim looks are prevailing this year.
“We’re calling it ‘prep academy chic,’” says Eugene Ramirez, media relations director for Macy’s. “It’s a classic look with a lot of school touches like horizontal stripes, athletic-looking tops with numbers, varsity jackets and lightweight sweaters.”
Tween and teen girls, who have been wearing skinny jeans in the past couple of seasons, are liking the novelty of flared legs again, Ramirez says. And for guys, slim straight styles are hot.
At Town Center in Aurora, the back-to- school shopping started early this year, around mid-July, according to marketing director Warren Green. “Boys are liking darker denim, while teen boys are going for lighter washes. For girls, we are still seeing leggings, as well as loose-fitting tops worn off the shoulder and layered.” Among the hottest items are graphic T-shirts with bold designs and bright colors, he says.
Both parents and students are shopping carefully, with an eye toward the economy. Spending for K-12 grades and college will total $68.8 billion in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation. While parents on average are shelling out only a bit less than they did last year, they’re purchasing more store-brand or generic items, comparison shopping online and looking for sales. Families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $603.63 on clothing, shoes, school supplies and electronics, according to a survey the NRF commissioned from BIG- research. (Last year’s average was about $3 more.)
Caroline McMorrow has a 5-year- old daughter heading to kindergarten and 4-year-old twin girls entering preschool next week. They’re all similar sizes, which makes passing clothes from one child to another nearly impossible, so she looks for other ways to stretch their wardrobes. “We’ll take their dresses in darker colors and throw a sweater and belt over them, or wear leggings or jeans under (a dress) when it gets cooler. You can also put a summer dress over a turtleneck,” McMorrow says. The key to making it work is to stick to a color palette that mixes and matches rather than clashes.
She likes to pair dresses from Target with nicer sweaters from labels like Papo d’Anjo that she finds in specialty boutiques such as Nest in Cherry Creek.
In the summer, the Denver mom will buy flip-flops for her daughters at Old Navy, but come fall, she’ll spend $60-$80 for a pair of leather shoes from a store such as Nordstrom or Little Feet. “They are growing, and I think it’s important to have a really nice, solid pair of shoes for the school year,” she says.
Heather Young, an Arvada mother of boys ages 9 and 11, says her shoe- loving sons spring for part of their purchases if the price gets too high. “My children want the nicest of the nice shoes, so I make them pay the difference between what I think they should spend and the $65 or $100 the shoes cost,” Young says.
As for clothing, she says she tries to find just a few things for her children as the school year gets underway. Shorts and T-shirts are on her list, with warmer clothing to come later in the fall.
“It’s an expensive time of the year,” Young says, noting that she spent more than $100 each on school supplies for her sons.
Buddy Saper, owner of Little Feet children’s shoe store in Cherry Creek North, says customers took advantage of a 20-percent-off
Girl power: JC Penney has reinvigorated its merchandise mix with designs by such labels as Olsenboye, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s juniors brand. Some fall looks include, from left, Arizona lace tank, $6.99; Olsenboye challis print shorts, $29.99; ruffled camisole, striped cardigan, $19.99; Decree jeggings, $9.99; and Olsenboye dress, $29.99. In stores and at jcpenney.com (Provided by JC Penney)
sale he recently offered on new merchandise. “They were even buying Uggs and things they won’t wear for a while,” he said.
Parents who used to purchase multiple pairs of shoes at a time are buying just one at a time, he says. “They’ll get a sneaker now, maybe a dress shoe for the holidays later and a snow boot when the weather gets cold.”
-Suzanne S. Brown
What’s making the grade
Here are some hot items for back to school from Warren Green, marketing director, Town Center at Aurora, and trend expert Eugene Ramirez from Macy’s:
Jean-eology: Denim shades run the gamut from light washes to dark, and for the trendy, bright shades like red and blue. Silhouettes range from skinny to flared.
Shoe savvy: Patterned fabrics, cartoon and comic-book characters are decorating lace-up and slip-on sneakers. Converse sneakers continue to be a classic for girls and boys alike. Ballet flats are a universal favorite with girls because they’re both comfortable and a little dressy.
Top billing: Retro-inspired T-shirts are big with teen boys, particularly those with graphic prints and vintage motifs like Atari and Star Wars.
Prep school: Classic American designs such as varsity jackets, collegiate sweat shirts, woven shirts and flippy skirts are making a comeback. For boys, varsity- and pep-squad-inspired T-shirts, striped collegiate tops and plaid polos are strong.