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Fashion Talk: Colorful jeans will light up the schoolroom

By Tommie Roberts
Lawrence Pierce
Peyton Leach shows off the signature back-to-school trend: denim in a rainbow of colors.
Lawrence Pierce
From high school to grade school, the fall look for males is a button-down shirt worn open and with sleeves worn up over a T-shirt. Cody Burdette (left) and Jacob Withrow sport the look in the Charleston Town Center Mall style show.
Lawrence Pierce
Floor-grazing maxi dresses, as modeled by Amanda Lane, is a fall look as are lightweight sweaters.
Lawrence Pierce
Peyton Collias' knotted denim shirt toughens up a lacy dress. Note the jeans worn by Olivia Boughton (background). Distressed is still an in look for back-to-school attire.
Lawrence Pierce
George Washington High School's Amelia Edmondson gives a lesson in what's in for fall.
Lawrence Pierce
Several fall trends are seen in outfits modeled by Sarah Majestro (left) and Sierra Fryson. Shorts that aren't too short, ditsy prints, denim and neon colors.
Lawrence Pierce
Details from the '80s are back, such as color blocking and pleats, as seen in this dress worn by Amanda Lane.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- From the runways to the street, denim is the No. 1 single most important trend for the back-to-school fashion season.Denim, in 50 shades of color, instead of trusty blue skinnies, is the bang-on trend for fall. The pencil leg is newest. The fit is slim and trim -- but definitely not tight. Denim jeggings and cropped above-the-ankle bottoms show up in a kaleidoscope of colors for the season.Distressed denim, in blues and black, return to the fashion front for fall 2012. Torn, frayed and blotchy bleached denim will be popular for teenagers who missed this look the last time around. And remember Levi's jeans? Well, they're back. For girls and boys.Right up there with denim in color is punky, patterned denim -- ditsy prints, large cabbage-rose designs, patchwork, stripes and checks -- sure to attract the attention of that cute guy in English class.Neons will be cool -- but you'll have to love it, or forget it; there's no in-between here. A single pop of bright neon is the easiest way to wear this trend. You can go small (as in accessories or shoes) or you can go screamin' (as in pants, shirt or blazer). But let's face it; neon is a "look at me and look at me now," entrance-making, upbeat trend.Electrifying, highlighter shades of hot pink, tangerine, ocean blue, raspberry red, citrus yellow, chartreuse green and purple passion are back in the school hallways. This trend finds its customers all the way down to the grade-school set and runs the gamut from ready-to-wear through accessories and shoes. Neon colors have style edge for girls -- and boys. They are a great way to express personal style and a sense of humor.Daughters and sons of disco divas will be wearing pieces usually reserved for uniforms -- white button-down oxford shirts and khaki shorts -- but with enthusiasm for individual style. Boys don knee-length cargo shorts with lots of pockets, while girls' shorts will be a little shorter, but not so short as to stumble into trashy. Add suspenders to the shorts or pants for some fashion attitude, and sport Chucks in the brightest color you can find. Girls add sparkly hair accessories for a dash of flash and a show of defiant independence.All those looks were spotted earlier this month when Charleston Town Center Mall staged its annual back-to-school fashion show.Teen board models were bangin' on the key trends of denim in color and print, small ditsy florals, structured satchels and clutch handbags, messenger and cross-body bags, knit beanies, Chucks and ballerina flats in color -- and lots of flip-flops.Amelia Edmondson, winner of the 2011 Project Style, had the lesson plan for an A+ regarding mixing patterns and textures. She said the trick is to have one item be a larger print than the other pattern being worn. She's exactly right.
Boys sported rugged, casual, comfortable looks in denim Levi's or khaki cargo shorts and button-down shirts in colorful washed solids, or in pattern, plaid or stripe, worn open over graphic T's or buttoned up.Those who want to carry an attitude should roll up the sleeves. Pants and shorts get worn at the waist now for boys -- but still in a relaxed, easy fit. Levi's denim or khaki cargo shorts and button-down shirts are the dynamic duo for boys' fall fashion.A guy in knee-length khaki cargo shorts, loose and relaxed but not sagging, a pink T-shirt with a button-down shirt worn opened and the sleeves rolled up, a pair of light-colored Sperrys and sunglasses looked right on the fashion bull's-eye.Floor-grazing maxi skirts and dresses rock the fall season for teens. A denim shirt, tied at the waist toughens up a lacy frock. Blouses and shirts tied at the waist work well with skirts, pants and shorts. The look is not one of skin showing. If the shirt is tied so tight as to show a hint of belly skin, well, you're just not getting it. Loosen the knot and cover thy belly.
Androgyny lives on in "borrowed from the boys" blazers and boyfriend jeans, which fit looser and are more relaxed than skinnies. But ruffles, frills and fringe, sugar and spice, and everything nice from signature '80s looks -- puffed sleeves and shoulders, oversize "Miami Vice"-look blazers, color blocking and retro-feel pleats -- are right on trend for fall.Lightweight and chunky sweaters, leather bombers, military buttons and vests are some of the season's most-wanted items. The hall jungle will see a zoo of bright backpacks, and animal prints on any item a body can wear or carry.Find color in fancy footwear for fall too. Flirty ballerina flats and neon sneakers will be the most popular teenage shoes for fall. Chucks and Toms, in color and patterns, are what the well-heeled high-school fashionista will want to wear. Put a little pep in your step in boots made for walkin' in all leg lengths -- over the knee, to the knee, ankle boots and booties -- whether wedged, heeled or flat.Chunky flower rings, multilayered necklaces, flowered headbands, scarves and knitted beanies for boys and girls (the kind your grandmother hand-knitted for you) are back-to-school finds. Girls should soften the beanie look by letting their hairstyle show through the edges of the cap. The beanie trend is not meant to be a cover-up for bad hair days.There are a few looks that will not make the fall must-have list: capes -- you are neither Superman nor a British nanny; shorts with tights; toning sneakers; midriff skin; baggy-saggy bottoms; and platform stilettos (Chicago Tribune readers voted these shoes the top stupid style of the year).My teenager couldn't wait to shop the denim rainbow and brighten up those hallways in the hottest styles for the back-to-school season. She's added bling, glitter, crackle and extra glam in top- to-toe colors to suit her mood of the day. She's going to need a bigger closet!
Tommie Sue Roberts writes on fashion for the Sunday Gazette-Mail. Email her at
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