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School fashion dials down as temperatures drop

In this stylish town, no one is too young for fashion. From toddlers to teens, kids go to school in high style, although their parents might wonder how high style can be so casual.

You may be relieved to know that this year's back-to-school fashions are somewhat conservative. Skirts are getting a little bit longer. (If they had gotten any shorter, they would have been belts.) Classic styles like pleated skirts and argyle vests are coming back in updated colors such as lime green and hot pink.

Don't get your hopes too high for conservative-looking children. There is a trend toward going to school in "lazy day" clothes. When students are feeling lazy, they might go to school in an outfit similar to one they sleep in - sweat pants or unstructured shorts.

"Girls on lazy days wear something comfortable," said Egan Junior High School student Kendra Cavaney. "When you want to dress up, you wear a skirt or jeans. For many guys, whatever they find in their drawer, they wear."

Egan student Haley Sugimoto added, "If girls want to look good, they might wear jewelry to make their clothes stand out or makeup to make their face stand out. People are unique in their own clothing style."

Estimates predict that back-to-school spending across the country will exceed the $13 billion mark, with a little less than half of that spent on clothing and accessories for kids.

"Transitioning from summer vacation to back-to-school mode can be challenging for both parents and children," said Pamela Wallack, executive vice president of GapKids and a mother of three. "By mixing back-to-school basics with new trends in denim and active wear, kids can affordably use fashion as a positive way to express their creativity and individuality."

Trends this year include:

• Darker, narrower jeans with embroidery.

• Longer, narrower Bermuda shorts that hit the knee.

• Slightly longer skirts.

• Graphic designs and patterns on T-shirts.

• Pockets designed specifically for cell phones and other electronics.

• Skirts and nice slacks for dressy days.

Layering is an enduring trend. "The layered look now might mean wearing two tank tops and a hoodie," said Lauren Pye, sales associate at Kids Only in downtown Los Altos. "Also, we are seeing more of the retro look, like hoop earrings, bright colors and prints from the '60s, and polka dots. Paul Frank prints are big this year."

Los Altos is fortunate to have three fine children's clothing stores, all located on Main Street between Second and Third streets. Kids Only, Young Villagers and Marion Jackstons serve infants through preteens.

"People are moving away from primary colors, toward bold colors like lime green or orange, or even black," said Linda Cecil, owner of Young Villagers. "These colors have been popular in Europe for a long time, but Americans are just now accepting them in children's clothes. We are seeing new color combinations like brown with pink or sky blue.

"Our customers, in the high-end market, want their kids to be unique - trendy, but classy, not flashy."

Beth Miller, owner of Marion Jackstons since 1990, said, "For 7-16 girls, styles are tending to lean back to the classics - fewer spaghetti straps, more age-appropriate dressing.

"Plaid skirts are now big for girls, too. The Roxy brand is very popular. It's wearable, trendy.

"Kids want to be fashionable, but they still want to be comfortable, with Lycra in pants or knit."

StatePoint Media contributed to this article.

For more information, visit or call Kids Only, 248 Main St., 947-0699; Marion Jackstons, 222 Main St., 948-0948; Young Villagers, 205 Main St., 948-2856.

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