Back to School


 Sybella, age 7 and a 2nd grader at EPIC Alternative Elementary, rocks DL 1961 Chloe skinny jeans ($59), American Jewel jelly backpack ($54), Bella Bliss liberty floral top ($42), and American Widgeon faux fur vest ($59) from The Lili Pad. Her wear-with-everything neutral Vince Camuto Girls Campina booties ($60) are from Little Soles.

Sybella, age 7 and a 2nd grader at EPIC Alternative Elementary, rocks DL 1961 Chloe skinny jeans ($59), American Jewel jelly backpack ($54), Bella Bliss liberty floral top ($42), and American Widgeon faux fur vest ($59) from The Lili Pad. Her wear-with-everything neutral Vince Camuto Girls Campina booties ($60) are from Little Soles.

A+ outfits to start the year off right.

Written and styled by Tracy James

Photography by Chuck St. John

Shot on location at Shades Cahaba Elementary School.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” jingles the holiday tune while a dad clad in late summer attire dances through store aisles tossing dull-edged scissors and Trapper Keepers  into a shopping cart, teasing his in-tow moping children with chomping staplers and spinning pencil sharpeners. “They’re going baaack!” exclaims the announcer in this 1996 Staples ad. If you don’t share at least a wee bit of this parent’s glee, I salute you. Whether gleeful or not, preparing your kiddos to start a new school year is no small task, and usually includes shopping for not just supplies but also clothing. Most magazine fashion editorials for the younger set focus on juniors style, which is not super helpful to parents since, by the time teenagedom sets in, many kids have their own ideas about personal style and certainly want little to no input from the parentals.

Elementary-age children, however, are just beginning to find their style, usually favoring comfort above all else and hopefully not yet introduced to peer pressure to look like everyone else. My motto for the fashion camp for kids that I created and conducted for eight years was “Confidence never goes out of style.” I found that kids do want to have a say in what they wear, but often need guidance as to how to articulate style preferences. Ask questions such as, “Do you have certain colors you like to wear?” “What kind of patterns do you like and dislike—stripes, plaids, florals?” “Are there certain fabrics you like or dislike against your skin?”

Now for the fun part. The good news is that, more and more, kids’ clothing designers are offering a plethora of style options, from preppy to bohemian. In fact many adult trends find their way into the youth world. For example, this fall, look for:

– embroidered/brocade detailing

– pleated skirts

– the colors red and army green

– bomber jackets

– suede and fur (faux for children, of course!)

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that trends should be interpreted in a kid-appropriate way. After all, they will have plenty of time to be adults. What is a better time than adolescence to encourage experimentation when it comes to finding personal style, embracing the idea that individuality is always chic. 

 William, age 6 and a 1st grader at Vestavia East Elementary knows layering is the way to go - he wears a Southern Marsh youth Juban Check shirt ($52), Luigi long-sleeve tee ($30), and E-land khakis ($39), all from The Lili Pad, along with Florsheim Curb chukka boots ($60) from Little Soles. Claire, age 8 and a 3rd grader at Vestavia East wears a Mimi & Maggie Tessa peasant top ($56), Egg by Susan Lazar Dakota camel faux suede pleated skirt ($69), and mixed bracelets ($12 each), from The Lili Pad. Her Volatile Kids Barkley booties ($58), Chirp Ladybug backpack ($28), and Wee Ones burlap clip bow ($10) are from Little Soles.

William, age 6 and a 1st grader at Vestavia East Elementary knows layering is the way to go – he wears a Southern Marsh youth Juban Check shirt ($52), Luigi long-sleeve tee ($30), and E-land khakis ($39), all from The Lili Pad, along with Florsheim Curb chukka boots ($60) from Little Soles. Claire, age 8 and a 3rd grader at Vestavia East wears a Mimi & Maggie Tessa peasant top ($56), Egg by Susan Lazar Dakota camel faux suede pleated skirt ($69), and mixed bracelets ($12 each), from The Lili Pad. Her Volatile Kids Barkley booties ($58), Chirp Ladybug backpack ($28), and Wee Ones burlap clip bow ($10) are from Little Soles.

 

The reverse side of Ashley Mae’s fun Chooze backpack in Revive is black and white, which she can custom color herself or leave as is for those days she might not be feeling quite as colorful. ($48, Little Soles)

The reverse side of Ashley Mae’s fun Chooze backpack in Revive is black and white, which she can custom color herself or leave as is for those days she might not be feeling quite as colorful. ($48, Little Soles)

 

 Ashley Mae, age 10 and a 5th grader at Central Middle School, wears a Peoples Project LA bomber jacket ($65), Three Friends tunic top ($33), Malibu Sugar distressed legging ($56), and mixed necklaces ($21 & $24) from The Lili Pad. Volatile Kids Haley booties $60 and a Wee Ones burlap headband ($15) from Little Coles complete the look.

Ashley Mae, age 10 and a 5th grader at Central Middle School, wears a Peoples Project LA bomber jacket ($65), Three Friends tunic top ($33), Malibu Sugar distressed legging ($56), and mixed necklaces ($21 & $24) from The Lili Pad. Volatile Kids Haley booties $60 and a Wee Ones burlap headband ($15) from Little Coles complete the look.

 

William has room for plenty of books in his Chooze 2-sided backpack in Chomp ($48) from Little Soles.

William has room for plenty of books in his Chooze 2-sided backpack in Chomp ($48) from Little Soles.

 

 This quilted, hooded coat with a soft (striped!) jersey lining by American Widgeon is the perfect weight to suffice for Fall as well as early Spring (The Lili Pad, $65). Chooze 2-sided backpack in Samari (Little Soles, $44)

This quilted, hooded coat with a soft (striped!) jersey lining by American Widgeon is the perfect weight to suffice for Fall as well as early Spring (The Lili Pad, $65). Chooze 2-sided backpack in Samari (Little Soles, $44)

 

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