Two men stand outside the teen-clothing store Hollister in the Bangor Mall. They stare at the doorway. They don’t seem to know each other, but they’re stuck in the same situation. Techno music blares from the dimly lit store. One of the men slings an American Eagle shopping bag over his shoulder, glances at the other man and returns his gaze to the store doorway. Their children are in there. It’s back-to-school shopping season.
A lot of parents are good sports this time of year. They drive their teens from store to store, offering up a certain amount of cash for the latest fashions. For girls, it’s often a shopping trip they look forward to. Boys don’t normally have quite as much fun with it.
Young ladies headed to college might be using their own money, but many still indulge in a back-to-school wardrobe. They just might be more concerned about the price tags.
Students, while walking through the retail shops of Maine, take note of new and repeat trends for fall 2010:
Jeggings, a hybrid of last year’s hot pants
Ultra-skinny jeans weren’t enough. The trend of wearing skin-tight denim has reached a whole new level. Jeggings, denim leggings, are now at the top of girls’ back-to-school clothing lists.
Jeggings boast the three S’s: skinny, soft and stretchy.
It makes sense.
Skinny jeans are hard to fit and can be tough to wrestle into because of the narrow calves and ankles.
And leggings are a few thread counts away from being tights, so you have to wear a skirt, dress or long shirt for coverage.
Jeggings fit people of different shapes more easily than skinny jeans, and jeggings can be worn with shorter shirts.
In the halls of the Bangor Mall, American Eagle Outfitters has posted a sign that tells you to “Live in Jeggings.”
Gap calls them legging jeans. They carry them in seven washes, from black to faded medium wash. (Multiple reviews on the Gap website, have suggested customers should buy a size up.)
Jeggings are denim with an elastic material added, such as elastane, or spandex. For example, Gap’s faded medium wash are 98 percent cotton and 2 percent spandex. Abercrombie & Fitch’s are 94 percent cotton and 6 percent spandex for a tad more stretch.
The pockets are small — if they aren’t fake or nonexistent. The same thing goes for the front zipper.
“The straight and the skinny jeans are still really popular,” said Heather van Frankenhuyzen, owner of Bella Luna in Bangor. “But I’m seeing the boot-cut less and less.”
Skinny jeans and leggings, separately, are still fashionable and being sold in several new colors and styles. Nevertheless, it’s jeggings that are pegged as the staple of any girl’s fall wardrobe this year.
Gap: jean leggings, $69.95, get the second pair for $20.
Macy’s: Lucky Brand jeggings, $79.30.
Charlotte Russe: jeggings, $24.50.
Sears: Bongo pull-on jeggings, $14.50.
Floral and lace — a dash of pretty
Dressing in floral from head to toe can be tricky, but one floral item can dress up an otherwise casual outfit. It’s also great to mix floral, which is delicate and ordered, with an army jacket or destroyed jeans, which are rough and carefree.
If you’re petite, try wearing a more intricate floral pattern. Big flowers might make you appear smaller. If you’re tall or have a fuller figure, bold floral patterns look best, according to stylelist.com.
Lace is another intricate material that has graced many clothing stores this season. Full-lace tops are popular, inexpensive and can dress up a plain tank top or go under a simple button-up.
American Eagle Outfitters: Floral tank top, $24.50.
Charlotte Russe: Floral and sequin short-sleeve top, $20.
Bella Luna: Angie short floral skirt, $33.
Leather, studs and zippers add edge
What better to offset pretty lace and flowers than leather, metal studs and zippers?
All three add spunk to an outfit.
“Anything with the ruffles and the zippers are really popular,” said van Frankenhuyzen as she held up a black, short-sleeve top with a zipper running up the side.
You can easily get all three trends in one jacket. The trick is to pick something that looks edgy without looking scary or tacky. Soft leather (even faux leather) has “a cool factor without contest,” according to InStyle.com.
A floral tank top or T-shirt sporting a zippered back is a fun contrast.
Abercrombie & Fitch: Haven 100 percent leather jacket with hood, $350.
Macy’s: Alfani crinkled faux leather jacket, $99.
Sears: Te Amo faux leather racer jacket, $34.99.
Plaid, the trend that won’t die
Paul Bunyan would be proud. The popularity of plaid shirts and skirts isn’t waning, and why should it?
The pattern is flattering and can make a button-up shirt look casual. Because of the busy pattern, it doesn’t blatantly show wrinkles as readily as solid or striped shirts, which means less ironing.
Plaid has branched out from the standard red and black to all colors. It’s extremely versatile. Lumberjacks wear it, schoolgirls wear it — and face it, most of us already have some in our closets.
Gap: Button-up, boyfriend fit plaid shirt, $60
Bella Luna: Plaid, button-up, short-sleeve top by Angie, $34.
Wal-Mart: Op plaid snap shirt in several colors, $10.
Animal print works on any item
Ever heard of the statement, “That’s so tacky, it’s cool”? Animal print can definitely seem tacky, but it’s also cool, somehow, and it’s everywhere: handbags, shirts, pants, shoes, headbands and jewelry.
Leopards are no longer yellow and black, they’re green, blue, pink and purple. Snakes, zebras and tigers also are changing color.
Leopard and zebra print are polka dots and stripes with flair.
Grasshopper Shop: Green zebra print purse by Danny K, $34.
Bella Luna: Turquoise leopard print long tank top by Martin, $28.
American Eagle Outfitters: Leopard print flats, on sale for $19.95.
Accent belts and scarves complete an outfit
An outfit can revolve around one accessory, such as your favorite belt buckle or scarf.
“It’s amazing how these scarves keep selling,” said Tracy Monaghan Darcy, owner of Metropolitan Soul in Bangor. “It might be part of what we will be wearing all the time. You wear your earrings, necklace, bracelet — and scarf. And where it’s cold around here, it kind of helps to wear a scarf.”
Belts and scarves can be useful. For example, a big belt can cinch a long shirt that would otherwise look droopy. A bright, patterned scarf can save a color-deprived outfit or keep you warm on a blustery fall day.
Charlotte Russe: Wide belts in several colors, $9.95.
Metropolitan Soul: Long, Indian print scarves of various colors, $18.
Abercrombie & Fitch: Embellished leather belt, $38.
Old and bold jewelry makes a statement
“Bold has been pretty good it seems — beaded, bolder — so that one bracelet can carry your jewelry,” said Darcy.
A few pieces of jewelry that are bold enough to wear solo: a large pendant; a chunky necklace; a thick metal cuff; oversized chandelier earrings; bangles.
Stylists at Glamour magazine label this look the gypsy-hippie feel, and give it a thumbs up.
Bangles are big enough to slide over your hand and usually are meant to be worn in groups of three or more. Whether metal, wood or plastic, wearing several bangles on one arm makes a bold statement.
Vintage jewelry also is in. Big rings, pearl necklaces, odd pendants, tainted metals — everything you can find at pawnshops and antique stores, of which there are many in Maine.
Metropolitan Soul: Colorful Indian bangles, three for $1.50.
Grasshopper Shop: Silver, etched cuff, $19, peacock feather plastic bangle, $13.95.
American Eagle Outfitters: Blue ribbon statement necklace, $22.50.
Ankle boots and flats for cold campuses
While walking to class on a high school or college campus, comfortable feet are important. That’s why you’ll continue to see a lot of flats and moccasins this season. Clogs also are being featured in stores.
Teen Vogue lists loafers, ballet flats, ankle boots and sneakers as this fall’s trendiest shoes.
Leather boots have always been popular and practical in Maine. They keep out the moisture of autumn rain and winter snow. The short boot, or ankle boot, looks great over skinny jeans or jeggings.
Sometimes taller boots are too hot, but short boots allow more air to reach your foot. They’re perfect for fall weather.
American Eagle Outfitters: Slide-on clogs and flats are on sale for $19.95.
J.C. Penny: Decree “Kiley” short boot, $48.99.
Old Navy: Hidden-heel Mary Jane flats, $24.50.
Gap: Rhinestone leather ballet flats, $49.50.
Debs: rosette plaid flats, $18.99.
Whether heading to high school or college, you should test out these fashionable items while restocking your wardrobes. Just remind your dad that he can visit the food court while you visit the jungles of Hollister.
All shops mentioned are located in the Bangor area. All clothing worn by model Bekah Clark is from shops in the Bangor area or available online.