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Fall fashion updates styles of yesterday
By Laura Whelan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As children and teens head back to school this fall, they can feel comfortable sporting their own personal style.
"Fashion emphasizes a really mixed look right now. The rules of fashion are not as hard and fast as they used to be," said Wanda Cheek, assistant professor of apparel, textiles and merchandising in Mississippi State University's School of Human Sciences.
One of the most popular styles available for girls this fall is the updated Bohemian look, which includes pieces that are laced, embroidered and made of vintage colors. Cheek said this look is reminiscent of the hippie style that was popular in the 1960s and '70s.
A new addition to the Bohemian look is updated versions of vintage wash, or antique wash, denim, which uses dyeing techniques to create a specialized worn look on a darker shade of denim. Another addition are faux-layered tops that give the appearance of two layered shirts but are actually made of one shirt with pieces sewn into the collar and sleeves.
"Denim of every shape, form and fashion will be popular," Cheek said. "Jeans made a great statement among young people last fall because they were updated. That trend will continue with new cuts, different washes, patches and inserts on the lower leg seams."
Boys can depend on many of last fall's denim jeans styles and clothing related to extreme sports to remain fashionable. Urban brands will continue to be popular with many groups, while others will opt for a retro look or the classic preppy style of khaki pants and polo shirts.
Cheek said boys will still be wearing comfortably stylish cargo pants, convertible pants, which unzip at the knee to make shorts, and carpenter jeans this fall. Cotton-mesh material, a cloth that is cool and functional, will also be popular for boys.
Another growing fashion trend is not initiated by designers but by local school boards.
"In Mississippi there is an increasing emphasis on uniforms in public schools," Cheek said, "so before doing back-to-school shopping, parents should check on the guidelines of their district."
Cheek said most large department stores are expanding their uniform selections, offering the standard uniforms for many local schools: navy or khaki shorts, skirts and pants, and collared shirts.
Even if there are no uniform requirements in their local schools, parents should still inquire about dress code policies, Cheek said.
"Schools have guidelines in place to make certain that clothing does not interfere with the educational process," she said.
Cheek said parents shopping for children ages 4 to 6 may see fashions they think are more appropriate for older children. This is a current trend in the fashion industry called take-down branding and involves designers using popular teen designs for younger age groups. Children's clothes also will be influenced by the celebrity styles that teens and older children often imitate.
Accessories are always a major component of fashion, and this year will be no exception, Cheek said. Sash and scarf belts will complement the popular Bohemian look, and boots with accents like embroidery and fur will be in fashion as the weather turns colder.
Cheek said few clothing items or accessories are considered outdated because fashion is so flexible this season.
"Fad items are usually in and out in record time, but there aren't many fads right now," she said.
"Brands and labels are important to students today. At very young ages, children make distinctions about which brands are considered cool and which are not cool. As the hot brands change, kids change with them," Cheek said.
Cheek advised parents to be sensitive to what kids like without breaking the budget.
"Fashion is really the style accepted by the majority of a group at a given time, so fashion is really defined by the students who are wearing the clothes," Cheek said. "Parents will want to make sure they are buying clothes their children will actually wear so that their money is not wasted."