The Brightest and Boldest Go Back to School

Bold patterns and hues in jeans and tops. Bright neon in everything from shirts to shoelaces. This year’s back-to-school fashions seem designed to wake up summer sleepyheads and get them excited about returning to the classroom.

Colored jeans are this season’s must-have item, along with high-low tops (shorter in the front, longer in the back), blazers, skirts of all lengths, skater-style sneakers and ankle boots. Daring ensembles include bold stripes and plaids, studded boots and belts, and lacy leggings.

“Mix masculine pieces in a variety of styles and prints, including houndstooth, herringbone and plaids, with feminine dressing to create menswear-inspired looks – one of the hottest trends this back-to-school season,” said Karen Tweedie, senior vice president for art, trend and design for Kohl’s Department Stores. “Pair structured blazers with printed skinny denim; or try a motorcycle jacket with a pleated skirt and tailored loafers.”

The Aeropostale fall look book features the designs of actress Chloe Grace Moretz, “resident fashionista.” One ensemble features lace leggings paired with a bright orange mohair sweater underscored by a fitted T that provides a flash of yellow around the hips. A leopard print cowl and orange “chain-link” necklace complete the look.

At Deb Shops, glitz and glam take center stage, and blazers are the star of the show. Sequin-encrusted backbacks, heels, belts, tops and skirts all are available for the glitterati set. Blazers are a huge fall back-to-school trend at Deb, said Candi Noble-Greathouse, marketing director at Ohio Valley Mall.

JCPenney is touting its new format of “shops” within its stores nationwide, including the Levi’s Denim Bar, featuring “the largest assortment of Levi’s denim ever offered at JCPenney with 11 fits and 88 washes,” according to a back-to-school press release. Its Arizona Shop features its signature Original Arizona Jean Co. brand of jeans and tops. “The entire Arizona line has been completely reinvented with better quality fabrics, including updated prints, washes and stitching details.”

For the younger set, Sears kicks it up a notch with denim by Bongo, Skechers shoes and the Spoiled brand. Kohl’s offers classic rugby shirts in bold stripes for boys and pretty floral tops and animal prints for girls. At JCPenney, Graphic Ts and hoodies are the rage, and little ones can step out in high-top sneakers or ballet flats.