August 17, 2004 > Back to School Fashions
Back to School Fashions
by Mekala Raman, Karthik Raman, Ceri Hitchcock-Hodgson, Susanna Nuñez
As September approaches, students become resigned to the fact that summer is behind them and it is once again time to prepare for school. However, many kids enjoy the last few weeks when they are occupied with buying dozens of pencils, markers, felt tip pens, and reams of binder paper. They are busy deciding on "back-to-school" clothing. Between June and August kids grow, and fashion trends change along with them. By the end of August, new styles have erupted and children feel it is their duty to come up with the correct "fall look" to start off the school year.
Worried parents constantly complain that girls' pants are sinking lower and the shirts are getting shorter; and they are right. However, layered shirts are starting to creep in and will diminish parental discomfort. In fact, they may be pleased to know that girls are starting to go for a preppy-retro look; they are dressing up or "accessorizing" the old fashions from the eighties; to make a new style and are using pink as a main color. Mini-skirts are unfortunately still thriving, but according to a recent survey administered by CNN, they have become popular with handkerchief-hems and crocheted ponchos.
Boys fashion has left behind hanging pants below their boxers, however pants are still worn loosely and of course are baggy around the legs. T-shirts with logos or polo shirts prevail topped by a sporty jacket and sneakers. Guys have also started to embrace the layered look from the eighties and as always, they want to look sporty. Boys try to get shirts that represent their favorite sports team or, if they can afford it, an authentic jersey.
Though many styles look really hot to students, some are not allowed and are not be worn at school. For example, many girls and boys lightly perch a hat over their hair to either cover or accentuate the style and to add a cute touch, but as many know, hats are not allowed in class, so this particular accessory should be left for the weekends. Also, miniskirts and shirts that reveal the midriff are forbidden even though they are often featured in magazines and window displays. This can be a problem as students will want to buy these even though they can only wear them in the weekend and parents end up buying sets of clothes for school and sets of clothes for the weekend.
Students are expected to spend about seven percent more on school clothes this year than last year. A recent survey commissioned by Sears, states that nearly 60 percent of mothers will spend at least $200 per child on back-to-school clothes, and 20 percent will shell out more than $350 per kid. Customers are expected to dole out a total of $14.8 billion for back-to-school supplies and clothing.
It is surprising how many parents don't know or don't adhere to the dress code provided by the school districts. Even the most common ones like no hats and no bare midriff are violated daily with parental knowledge. The Fremont Unified School District's policy states that tank tops, off-the-shoulder, and belly-showing shirts are not allowed as well as fishnets, halter tops, muscle shirts, tube tops, and spaghetti straps. Short shorts and skirts that are higher than mid thigh are prohibited and undergarments should not be visible. Shoes without heel straps may not be worn to any physical education class, but may be worn otherwise and no gang-affiliated clothing may be adorned at any time. Similarly, no student may wear anything that symbolizes the use of drugs, racial discrimination, or any illegal activity and no hats or sunglasses may be worn in class.
The Newark Unified School District includes the Fremont restrictions, but also insists upon tougher restrictions. Pants may not be baggy or saggy nor, or the other hand, may they be too tight. All jackets and coats must be navy blue, white, or khaki and pants must be these colors or black. Blue, black, and white jeans and corduroy pants are allowed as well as blue or white sweatpants made of nylon or acrylic. Cotton sweatpants are only allowed in P.E. Tennis shoes may not have any red on it and bandannas of any color are not allowed. Furthermore, red and maroon clothing anything with writing, pictures, advertisements, or names and logos of sports teams may not be worn.
The Union City District's Dress Code states similar boundaries, but goes further to suggest a uniform for students grades K-5th grade. They request a uniform of navy blue bottoms for K-3rd grade and khaki bottoms for 4th-5th grade; shirts can be any of a solid white, light blue, navy blue, and burgundy and shirts with a New Haven logo are also acceptable. Heely's and blue jeans are prohibited, but hats are allowed if worn appropriately. If the parents choose, their child does not have to adhere to the uniform, but any child in inappropriate attire will be sent home.
We asked some people from the Tri-City area what they were planning to wear for this year. It seems that in elementary school rolling backpacks are in, but not in junior high or high school. "I really like the rolling backpacks, but I am using a regular backpack [this year] to get ready for junior high," says sixth grader Emily Sutedja of Mission San Jose Elementary School.
Most students seem to be wearing jeans and t-shirts as the regular everyday outfit. In elementary school, children seem to like jeans. Boys plan to wear long jeans or sports pants, t-shirts with logos, and usually white sneakers. Boys show a tendency to worry about how their hair looks and either comb it or gel it before going to school. Girls like to wear flare jeans or capris, t-shirts with logos, sneakers, and jean jackets or sweatshirts. A popular hairstyle is a simple ponytail. The kids like to use Booksox to conveniently wrap their textbooks with colorful materials. According to sixth grader Sara Jacoby, "I really like Booksox because they are useful and they are better than paper." Emily Sutedja adds, "You can even put binder paper in them."
In junior high and high school, boys seem to be going for a sporty look wearing jeans, sports t-shirts, white sneakers, and sweatshirts. Girls also wear flare or boot-cut jeans, and in addition denim and other material skirts are definitely in. T-shirts and v-necks with or without logos are also worn along with sweatshirts or denim or corduroy jackets, sneakers, sandals, or flip-flops and hair worn loose or in a ponytail. The girls are following the "layered look" trend and are awaiting the arrival of the trendy ponchos and possibly leg warmers. "I think leg warmers and ponchos are going to be in this year," says Frances Tang from Mission San Jose High School.
Though last year featured a trend of fishnets, most believe that won't carry through to this year because it looks too trashy to match the "preppy-retro mixed with contemporary" look that is making its debut. So what exactly is a trend? "I think a trend is something that one person starts and everyone starts catching on. Eventually that style becomes a new trend," says Manali Deshpande of American High School.
Most teens consider their personal style to be "comfortable". Usually people dress up in whatever makes them feel comfortable, matches, and is in style. Also, the way a person dresses can reflect their feelings. For example, a person in dark sweats may want to feel small, inferior, and blend in with the crowd. However, if someone wears something really wacky and is covered in bright yellow, they might feel hyper and want to stick out. Last year's seniors that are making their way to freshman year of college are gleefully looking forward to school without a dress code to wear whatever they desire.
So although your child may not consider the beginning of the school year to be the most wonderful occasion, you can expect that many store owners are rejoicing about the imminent back-to-school bonanza that never fails to occur every fall.