Youngsters seeking a little style inspiration while putting together their back-to-school wardrobe may want to leave it to Bieber.
Pop sensation Justin Bieber may be best known for his mop-topped ’do, but the hoodies and dark-hued denim regularly donned by the star who hails from Stratford, Ont., have also become central, recognizable pieces incorporated into his signature look.
With their casual ease and versatility, these apparel items seem to be among the go-to style staples for the kid, tween and teen set, and are among the must-haves for fall.
But while jeans remain a perennial favourite, the upcoming season sees the wardrobe mainstay getting an update.
Nancy Dennis, brand and trend director for children’s wear at Sears Canada, said the look began gaining traction last year with pop trio The Jonas Brothers who are known for wearing skinny jeans.
This season, Winners spokeswoman Shannon Johnson says the slimmer silhouette is being seen across the board for girls and guys alike.
“Where you would have seen in past years that sort of hip-hop jean that used to be big and slouchy and practically falling off, that’s really gone by the wayside and denim’s slimming down for the boy as well as the teen boy,” said Johnson.
“That really transcends up as well in terms of T-shirts, hoodies,” she added. “Everything’s sort of a skinnier silhouette and a little more body-conscious.”
For those concerned about being able to pull off the slim-fitting look, Johnson said the good news is there are alternatives to appeal to everyone.
“There are other options, whether it’s a boot cut for girls or a little bit fuller for guys as well, and it won’t feel wrong,” she said.
“It just seems like the big buzz is the skinny, but there’s certainly others that are definitely doable and will look great as well.”
As for the hoodies, the popular zip-front sweats are boasting a wide range of graphics for both genders. For girls, Dennis said Sears Canada opted in some of its designs for all-over print — such as stars, hearts and digitized prints.
“The graphic hoodies, they’re in your face. They’ve very bold, they’re very colourful,” she said.
Girls are also tapping into the sartorial influence of another teen star, Miley Cyrus, with faux leather jackets, Johnson said.
“It’s definitely more of a rocker feeling with the leather, but she’s matching it and mixing it with some softer pieces like little knit dresses, little Wellies,” Johnson said. “Again, still keeping it very cute and age-appropriate, but there’s some sort of slickness in the silhouettes in the jackets.”
From cargo-style pockets to epaulettes on sweaters and jackets, military style influences are very much “holding strong” this coming season, Johnson said.
For those looking for one standout piece, a cargo or army jacket works for girls and guys in every age group, as does another style staple, the plaid shirt, said Johnson.
For boys, Dennis said the influences are still being drawn from the three S’s: sports, skate and superheroes, the latter being “huge” with little boys, she noted.
“The boys business is really a business of key items, and it’s all graphic,” she said.
In addition to graphic tees and hoodies, Dennis said the fooler top — a one-piece shirt that looks like a tee worn on top of a long-sleeved shirt — rounds out the trio comprising the boy’s “uniform.”
Susannah Kellett, director of product development for Please Mum, said the fooler is definitely a “go-to,” a classic that returns with new fabrics and updated graphics.
“The comfort and ease of wearing one shirt that looks like two (the tee and long sleeves are attached) is a no-brainer that boys keep going back to season after season,” she said by email.
Kellett said for young girls, the colour focus is on the “classics” like pink and purple with bright blues being another key colour for fall.
“Even more important than colours in girls’ fashion this season is the trend towards special fabrics, beautiful embellishments and unique styling,” she said by email.
For boys, colours are darker with a focus on navy blue, particularly in denim, and deep reds, she added.
For older guys and girls, the colour palette is definitely more neutral, with greys, blacks and olive green, Johnson said.
“It’s definitely not a really colourful palette this season,” she said. “A lot of navy blues as well, but it’s dark.” What’s nice about it is it allows the versatility when they’re layering, she noted.
“You will see nice bright pops of colour in the teen boys when it comes to the T-shirts, whether it’s the rocker shirt or the comic book prints.” Cost-conscious parents will be happy to know this season’s hot styles won’t necessarily require a full-scale overhaul from last year.
Layering a variety of apparel items remains in fashion, along with some of the core pieces integral to such ensembles.
Johnson said leggings have become a wardrobe standby for girls. But heading into fall/winter, they’ll be seen in more chunky, woven fabrics. In addition to black, Dennis said stripes and a lot of patterns are emerging on leggings, a perfect complement to the mixing and matching seen in the ensembles themselves.
“We call it sort of mixed media where you take a graphic and then you might overlay it with some glitter and maybe even a plaid, so tons of different patterns,” she said. Jeggings, the jeans-leggings hybrid, are popular with both girls and women, said Kellett.
“They look amazing with tunic-style tops and can be worn with boots, flats or sandals. They’re the comfortable, versatile, ‘must-have’ fashion piece for fall,” said Kellett.
Nordic-style prints in knits contribute a more athletic feel as well as a sense of Canadiana and the great outdoors, Johnson said.
“It’s very, very teen friendly,” she said of the look, saying that it’s being worn layered either with a tee or buttoned-down shirt.
For individuals looking to spruce up their look with accessories, the upscale prep-school style showcased on TV’s Gossip Girl continues to remain popular off-screen, with Blair Waldorf continuing to drive the headband business, Dennis said.
Johnson suggests a sneaker update for boys, either in a classic Converse style or a more urban leather look.
When it comes to carrying notebooks in style, the messenger bag is an option, while the backpack is back in ladies wear, Johnson said.
Meanwhile, some younger kids may opt to tote their load along the pavement rather than on their shoulders. Johnson said many backpacks have wheels and handles, allowing them to roll like luggage.
In headwear, berets in wools or soft knits are also on trend for the cooler months. And the animal print continues to be in vogue, for instance in accessories like a little hat, glove or purse, Johnson said. A scarf is another way to add the touch, but she cautions to use the stylish print sparingly.
“Don’t do it head to toe.”