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Subdued colors for start of school: Do the mat Stylish clothing still figures in first-impression eq


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Preeti Piplani, Laurel Lathrop, Ellen Lathrop and Talya Yefet, clockwise from left, show off the latest styles for back to school. Right, Yefet models a fitted corduroy blazer.

The first day of high school is a game of impressions. How to act, what to say and whom to say it to leave lasting impressions with peers.

Clothing also plays an important role in this equation.

So what do students wear to school these days?

For young women, the right top can be an essential item in shaping the right look.

"The big trend that has continued is layering, like a T-shirt with a tank top over it," said Richard Samuelson, vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus at Stanford Shopping Center. "Tank tops continue to be strong, especially cotton (tank tops), because they're lighter in weight."

In terms of color, pink is still the go-to favorite, while other muted tones, such as peach, are also acceptable.

"There's a lot more color this season that isn't as bright," said Preeti Piplani, a 2004 graduate of Los Altos High School. "It's not screaming colors; it's much softer."

Another popular look in tops is a camisole, especially in summer, coupled with a fitted blazer.

"Fitted (blazers), which come in different types of fabric, are also popular," Samuelson said. "It could be cotton ... but denim continues to be popular as well."

Piplani said a variety in fabrics is a great way to mix and match tops and blazers, while adding a functional element as well.

"I think corduroy and different types of fabrics are really fun because you can wear a camisole and still be cool," Piplani said. "But when it gets colder in the evenings, especially in the Bay Area, you can dress a little bit warmer and still look a little dressed up with a blazer."

During the summer, teenage girls have favored miniskirts.

"Denim is popular (in miniskirts)," Samuelson said, "but I've seen some tweed skirts as well."

For colder climates or for those who don't particularly favor miniskirts, low-rise jeans with straight legs are ideal for rounding out an outfit.

"I have a lot of friends who wear (low-rise jeans) and they are very fun and young and hip," Piplani said.

For guys, the look this year is casual, mixing a bit of what Samuelson calls the preppy look with a bit of surfer.

Samuelson said polo shirts, striped button-down shirts and other tops are common among young men.

"Logo T-shirts seem to be very popular," he said. "Novelty T-shirts are also popular. ... Mainly, boys and men still like casual."

In terms of T-shirts, Samuelson said some young men opt for fitted T-shirts, while others choose looser ones.

"You'll find a bit of both," he said. "There's still the shirt for guys (who aren't comfortable wearing fitted T-shirts). Fitted (T-shirts) work for high school guys."

In warmer climates, shorts are prevalent among young men.

"The longer shorts are what guys like to wear," Samuelson said. "Not over the knee, but to the knee. ... Cargo shorts are popular because they're comfortable."

For those not into the preppy look, surfer styles are gaining popularity among young men. Board shorts are favored for casual dressing.

Girls and boys share some common threads or shoes. Athletic shoes, such as those from Puma, are both stylish and casual and come in a variety of colors.

Flip-flops are widespread too. While boys prefer their flip-flops plain, a new trend among girls has flip-flops adorned with decorations such as sequins.

"They're getting very creative with seashells and all sorts of different materials, like flowers," Piplani said.

For fall and winter, Ugg boots - in pink and other colors - are pricey but in demand among girls.

"I think (Ugg boots are popular) because of comfort," Samuelson said. "It's just another fashion trend."

As for accessories, trucker hats, such as Von Dutch, are in-style among young men, while young women use sashes and other items to serve as a belt.

"A lot of girls are using theirs dad's old ties as belts, which I think is really fun, because they're kind of recycling trends," Piplani said. "They're thinking of new ways to use things they already have in their closet."

High school can be a difficult transition for young men and women trying make a positive impression. However, the right clothes can help make that transition easier.

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