Camden Harlan’s four children get a spending limit when it comes to buying back-to-school clothing.
Although most of them love name brands and up-to-date styles, they know if they pick outfits that are too expensive and exceed the amount their mom gives them, they have to use their own money from their jobs.
“They all have learned to be thrifty, just like me,” the Wonder Lake mother says. “This gets their $100 limit to go quite a bit further. I think they all do a great job of choosing their clothing. We don’t have issues with anything being too revealing or short.”
Each child does have his or her own style, however.
“I like buying Vans shoes and Aeropostle shirts and hoodies,” says Harlan’s oldest, Andrew Rousonelos, 17, a senior at Woodstock North High School. All of his choices are typically purchased from clearance racks and outlet stores.
His 16-year-old sister, Catherina “Cici” Rousonelos, is pickier when it comes to brand names. She looks for jeans, cute shirts with lots of bright or neon colors, and flower patterns.
“She wears a lot of dresses and skirts, mostly floral or stripes,” Harlan says. “She likes what I would call a California look – fun, classy and beachy.”
Zakker Harlan, 14, an eighth grader at Northwood Middle School in Woodstock, is very active and wears his clothes out in a few months.
“Nearly 100 percent of his clothes are bought from thrift stores,” Harlan says. “He does like a lot of sporty clothes like Adidas and Nike.”
The youngest of the family, Skylar Harlan, 9, is much like Cici in her choices, but her clothes come from stores such as Justice and the Gap that have her size and styles, including sporty and dressy.
What kids might think they need could be some of the hottest trends in fashion for this fall.
According to Karen Tweedie, senior vice president for art, trend and design for Kohl’s Department Stores, more muted shades are taking the place of last season’s bright colors. Mustards, emeralds, purples and reds are less bold, but they are being accented with basic blacks and whites and shimmery metallics, she says.
“With these shades dominating runways, incorporating color is a simple and affordable way to update wardrobes for the new school year,” Tweedie says.
For female students, this year’s trends are all about the curves, plus adding in a mixture of menswear-inspired looks.
Selections of form-fitting dresses, cotton miniskirts and ponte pants are being mixed with masculine pieces in a variety of styles and prints such as houndstooth, herringbone and plaids.
“Pair structured blazers with printed skinny denim or try a motorcycle jacket with a pleated skirt and tailored loafers,” Tweedie says. “This season, it is a more structured menswear-inspired style, whereas last year, it was an urban style that paid homage to the grunge look of the ’90s.”
Tweedie says that it’s not just about one trend this season. Some of the most up-to-date looks this fall will be bold denim, the classic shirt, lace, neon, the ankle boot and more.
“It’s is the way you pair or mix these pieces together that make up your own unique style,” she says.
Boots will return to fall wardrobes as the weather cools and will continue to be a staple piece throughout the year. Ankle boots — which are versatile and come in an assortment of styles from western to wedge heels to motorcycle-reminiscent — can be paired with anything including skirts, shorts, skinny jeans and dresses.
And if jeans are on the buying list, people might be surprised at all the bold pattern and color choices available.
Shopping as a family
Identical twins Anna and Kelly Walsh will be seniors at Cary-Grove High School this fall. Although they look alike, their back-to-school fashion choices are not always the same.
“I want bandeau tops, high-waisted shorts, neon shorts from [the Victoria Secret] Pink [brand], gladiator sandals, Ugg boots and big huge earrings,” Kelly Walsh says.
Her sister would rather have floral print sundresses with big belts to go with them.
“I also want tank tops and shirts, and I’m looking for Capri-style white jeans,” Anna Walsh says.
Their 13-year-old brother, Collin, just wants sports shirts, Nike clothes and Nike shoes.
“All he wants to wear are college T-shirts,” says his mother, Nancy Jo Walsh of Cary. “I can’t get him to wear button-down shirts. I limit it to around $150 per child. That has to cover it all, so they do shop around for sales and discounts. I like their taste in clothes. But they are asking for jeans in white or faded denim with holes in them.”
Walsh enjoys shopping with all of her kids.
“It’s a fun time, and we usually go out to lunch or dinner, too,” she says. “It’s a great way to get my kids all to myself. I think my kids are more influenced by their friends’ clothing styles than magazine ads.”