TORONTO – The ‘90s pop culture revival shows no signs of slowing and the decade’s fashions are reflected in this year’s back-to-school trends for teens.
“You’re going to see those pieces that are the hallmarks from that ‘90s era, but they’ve been given an update this season,” said Winners style expert Ingrie Williams.
Williams said one key piece – and a grunge staple – is the plaid shirt, but featured in softer tones and a more draped fit. It can be worn on its own, layered with other shirts, or tied around the waist. It also teams well with a skirt or trousers.
“You might also want to look for plaid pieces in a skirt or a dress that you can wear with leggings – just as long as you have that hit of plaid throughout your outfit.”
In addition to grunge signatures like ripped jeans and graphic rocker-inspired tees, Williams said there are also revamped takes on footwear and outerwear.
Combat boots go beyond basic black while moto jackets are slightly more oversized and fashioned from materials other than leather.
“Look for something like… neoprene-type fabric, cotton, denim, elements such as fringe or an unexpected colour.”
Here are some other notable trends in back-to-school styles:
“The 70s-inspired boho trend was huge on fall-inspired runways and it’s a look that tween girls can really have some fun with,” said Williams.
“The idea here is to balance romantic elements with cool, casual basics.”
She suggested teaming a ruffled prairie skirt with a fun graphic-printed T-shirt and topping it with an army-green utility jacket for a bit of edge.
“The utility jacket is really versatile. It looks amazing over a dress or skirt, but equally amazing with jeans or leggings.”
Williams said fringe elements remain a top trend, with the ornamental strips of fabric adorning knitwear, scarves and even sneakers. Wide-brimmed hats and flared jeans are also boho staples.
For younger girls, a faux fur vest offers additional warmth and a fun add-on layer.
“(It’s) something that you can throw on in those early fall days overtop of a light knit.”
Williams said the skinny jogging pant is an updated take on denim that fuses fashion with comfort. The casual piece pairs well with T-shirts and can easily be dressed up with “sophisticated layers” like a nylon blazer.
The layered look
“Don’t be afraid to have fun with a graphic print tee and then maybe a checkered shirt that you leave open,” said Williams.
She suggested boys can wear their shirts under a denim jacket, which can be paired with classic chinos or cords as an alternative to denim.
In mixing prints that seemingly clash, Williams said the key is to balance patterns by pairing a slightly smaller print with an oversized one in the same colour palette.
Bolder prints and vibrant colours are proving to be popular among students seeking to make a splash with a school-time staple: the backpack.
“I find that the person that wants to go for a print is going more crazy than they did before,” said Marie-Douce Marcil, buyer for Bentley, billed as Canada’s largest retailer of luggage and travel accessories.
Marcil said a doughnut-patterned backpack and another adorned with cats and dogs flying in space are among their top sellers. Floral-printed backpacks are also popular.
Pastel hues may be associated with spring, but Marcil said mint and coral are among the standout shades incorporated in prints for fall bags.
Another ‘90s mainstay has made a comeback: the backpack with zippable straps, which can be work slung across one or both shoulders.
“I think it’s something that will get stronger and stronger,” Marcil said of the style.