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Grade-School Fashions Mirror Teen Styles

Back-to-school outfits for pre-teens and grade-schoolers draw heavily on the influences of the teen market, said Barbara Widder-Lowry, vice president of product development for Osh Kosh.

Trends from the juniors’ and young men’s clothing departments are translated into age-appropriate silhouettes for the younger set.

Fashion-savvy girls will be wearing carpenter-style denim separates like skirts, vests and jean jackets. Shown in both solid and ticking stripe denim, these pieces look great paired with turtlenecks or zip-top shirts.

The focus is on clean lines, like empire waist jumpers and A-line dresses. Sears has a great selection of Union Bay, Jealous?, and Cherry Stix pieces that will mix and match to keep your youngest fashion plate looking her best.

The workwear look is in style for boys, too. Specifically, rugged detailing like oversize pockets, baggy silhouettes, heavy-duty denim, and sturdy corduroy.

For a practical yet retro look, top off a pair of painter pants ($20) with a Maui Sand Sons soccer-influenced zippered shirt ($20) at Sears.

The biggest difference between what the older kids will be wearing and what the younger set will want is in the size of the pant legs. Styles for grade-schoolers should feature the wide-leg look without getting in the way. Keep it under 19 inches to be safe. Look for zonz and PACO at JC Penney for a less expensive version of the older boys’ Jnco styles.

Still popular with this age group are athletic brands. Nike, Reebok, and Adidas all play a big part in what these boys consider fashionable.

The littlest scholars will look adorable in licensed apparel tops and bottoms. Cartoon and storybook characters will be popular with the kindergartners as they make their first trip through the schoolhouse doors.

Skorts are great for rough-and-tumble little girls. Lamonts, Mervyn’s California, and Target all carry a variety of styles starting at $14. Top these with a Winnie the Pooh turtleneck and a zippered cardigan for a look that’s sure to get an A-plus.

He may not be as strong as Hercules yet. But your little guy will send a powerful message when he starts school this fall in a Disney T-shirt.

Add a pair of Wrangler jeans ($14 at ShopKo), and your little hero will be ready to take on the world.

For classic kid apparel, check out Gapkids at NorthTown Mall. Its denim shirts with a navy pullover sweater and khaki pants offer a dressy yet casual look loved by parents and children alike.

What’s the latest in kids’ shoes? Spin-Trix from Keds.

Each shoe sports a clear pocket that showcases the special surprise - a magical holographic disc. They can pop the disc out and spin it on any flat surface to create mesmerizing optical illusions. When they’re done, they just slip the disc back in their shoes.

Available in high and low top styles for boys and girls from sizes 11-4 starting at about $40.

Sensible fashion shoes are also available. Several companies continue to make unisex hikers in leather or a suede/nylon combination. Stride Rite and New Balance each offer a version starting at about $30.

For a totally new look, check out the Airwalk or Osh Kosh woven leather sandal shoes for boys and girls. Prices for the rugged lug-sole shoes start at $40.

And don’t forget to top off the new outfits with a trapper hat. These “Fargo”-inspired caps not only look cutting edge, but they actually keep ears warm, too.

Style and function come together in back-to-school looks for all ages that are both hip and intelligent - what a concept!