Customized, cut and crumpled

August 05, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

This year's back-to-school fashion vocabulary includes: cut jeans, corduroy pants, cropped blazers, chic skirts, camisoles and crumpled shirts.

Oh, and cheap, makes the list too.

The shopping has begun for Tri-State teens going back to school in a few short weeks.

Washington County students say preppy and clean-cut styles are still their favorite for everyday school wear. In most high schools and middle schools, both boys and girls stick to polo shirts with jeans, say Bobby Flook and Amanda Boyer, seniors at Smithsburg High School.

But, there are plenty of variations.

Lindsay Steiner, a senior at South Hagerstown High School, is a big fan of chunky accessories to spice up school wardrobes.


"I like big jewelry," she says showing her dangly, beaded earrings with enough orange tint to match her striped polo shirt. One of her "must-haves" is the sparkly or sequined belts that are adorning most girls' waists this fall.

At the Prime Outlets Guess? store in Hagerstown, Lindsay is quick to flip through the belt selection. Ribbon-style belts and styles with sequins are popular, she says.

Kelli Hill, a senior at Smithsburg High School, says accessories are an easy - and cheap - way to add fashion-forward elements to a wardrobe.

"You can always accessorize," Hill says. "It's a lot cheaper to accessorize than buy a lot of fancy clothes."

Both Kelli and Amanda say they pick out fairly basic and classic clothes, like jeans, single-color T-shirts and sweaters. Then they find inexpensive accessories like flashy earrings, a pendant necklace or a stylish belt. Kelli also likes bags to match her outfit.

Bags aren't just a fashion accessory, they also double as a bookbag for girls since students are not allowed to carry backpacks around during class, Kelli says.

Nick Lanehart, an eighth-grader at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, says most guys try to keep their school wardrobes simple and basic. He likes to wear basketball jerseys and polo shirts with jeans and sneakers.

Most students say price is an important factor when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Parents often set limits on how much their child can buy or they offer budgets based on what they are willing to shell out.

"Usually it's around $200 to $300," says Harry Lanehart, Nick's father. "That's everything, clothes, shoes and supplies. It can add up very quick before you know it," he adds.

Nick picks out what he likes, but the Laneharts pay attention to his purchases. "We just make sure that he's staying in the budget. And a lot of the fashions today I don't deem appropriate," he says, not wanting jeans too baggy or waistlines too low.

Amanda says she gets a budget of about $200 to $300 for her back-to-school necessities. "My parents set a limit on how much they'll spend on back-to-school clothes and then everything else is on me," she says. Amanda teaches dance classes throughout the school year to help with her clothing fund.

Bobby has an agreement worked out with his parents. Since he likes brand-name clothing that tends to be more expensive, he agrees to pay half of what he buys. That makes him more ticket-price conscious, too, he says.

"I never do back-to-school shopping," says Bobby. "I wear my summer clothes for another month and then when it gets colder all the fall clothes are on sale."

Amanda agrees, delayed back-to-school purchases are a better deal. "Otherwise you get all your fall clothes and they just sit in your closet," she says.

Lindsay avoids buying all her clothes at once, preferring to spread her back-to-school shopping out over the summer.

She shops when she goes on vacations or has a chance to go to stores outside the area.

Kelli considers herself a "clearance rack" shopper. She likes J.C. Penney's junior section at Valley Mall in Halfway, finding the selection good and the prices reasonable.

Among the store's fall selections is a grass-green cable knit sweater that comes down over Kelli's hips.

"It looks better and it looks more modest" than the cropped tops that show more skin, she says, studying her reflection.

Students are finding more longer-torso shirts and sweaters in stores this season, several teens say. The "bare-your-belly" look is out, Lindsay adds.

J.C. Penney's knit sweater is $29.99, but Kelli says she'll pass for now. "I'll wait till it gets on sale," she says. "You know eventually they're going to be on sale."

Money-saving tips for back-to-school-shopping

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