By Sharon Mosley Wednesday, July 30 2008, 03:59 AM EDT
Sharpen those pencils and get ready to take some notes. The lazy, hazy days of summer are almost over, and it's time think about going back to school. And we all know what that means — it's time to hit the fashion look books and the mall. Every kid from kindergarten to college wants the latest styles, and parents want the best prices, right?
Take a few notes on these trendy must-haves; you can find them for all ages in a wide range of prices.
Here's the top list for fall 2008:
— Denim, of course. If there's only one item kids will want to update their wardrobe this fall, it has to be a new pair of jeans. The skinny ones are still around, but new wider-legs with high-waists for girls and distressed looks for boys are also making the jean scene. Darker washes are always popular for the cooler months. And check out the "rocker" inspired jackets.
— Graphic Tees. Got to have those jeans and their favorite "go-with" item: the T-shirt. Graphic designs are always a back-to-school favorite that allows kids to show off their individual style; however, this fall there are many "message" tees out there with plenty of attitude.
One of my favorites: "Green is the new Black" from Altitude, Inc., an eco-friendly company that donates their proceeds to charity (www.cafepress.com/altitude_shop).
— Leggings. Girls of all ages will want several pairs of these. As a hip alternative to jeans, leggings offer great layering possibilities when worn under long tops or dresses. Black is a basic, but bright colorful leggings can make any back-to-school wardrobe pop.
— Vintage vests. The '80s-inspired vests are topping off everything from button-down shirts for the guys to high-waisted jeans for the girls. In solids and prints, vests are the ultimate layering piece for all kids. Try wearing your tees long and lean, cinched with a low-slung belt and a fun vest to go over it all.
— Hoodies. Another favorite way to warm up those school clothes. Layer over edgy tees, preppy polos or button-down shirts. In sleeveless styles, hoodie jackets can function as a vest with many mix-and-match styles when paired with shorts and jeans.
— Long tunics. The Bohemian look is still a big trend for girls of all ages. The flowing, tunic-style tops in colorful floral patterns or solid skimmer knits are best when paired with skinny jeans or leggings. Cropped jackets and vests are great teammates for these tops.
— Plaid anything. Kids are mad for this classic back-to-school pattern. Whether it's in longer, relaxed shorts, perky skorts, comfortable shirts or newsboy caps, plaids can be perfectly preppy or made into a fresh, funky look. Girls, check out the grunge plaid Converse All-Star sneaker.
— Cropped tops and jackets. Kids just want to hang out this fall; they want their tees and tops to go long, topping them off with shorter vests and jackets. Whether it's a short dark-wash denim vest or a knit cardigan shrug, it's all part of the new laying that gives kids a chance to put their individual stamp on their fashion choices and create one-of-a-kind looks.
— Old school shoes. From tall rain boots to embellished Mary Jane flats to chunky lace-up booties for the girls and classic-style zip-top sneakers, boots with harness details or bowling-inspired suede shoes for guys, the shoes this fall are making top grades in the subject of fashion. Beware mom and dad. It will be hard to pick just one pair of school shoes.
— Fun items. You're checking off the shopping list — you've got the jeans, loads of tops, a few jackets and a couple of pairs of shoes. Now, if you've got a few more dollars to spend, don't forget to add some fun stuff. Stop by the Disney Store. You could find a trendy purse or duffel bag featuring the Disney Channel's "Camp Rock" characters Shane and Mitchie, a "High School Musical" denim messenger bag or a "Hannah Montana" backpack that features a built-in speaker for plugging in MP3 players.
It's time to rock 'n' roll back to school.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.