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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Glitter T's, hip-huggers in back-to-school fashion

 •  Parents up in arms over teen-sexpot look

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Although teens fashion preferences change almost daily, there is one thing you can count on for back to school: The bare-to-there pop star look. But fashion-savvy teens also are borrowing liberally from the preppy and punk movements of the late '70s and early '80s.

Glitter T-shirts, hip-huggers and denim are popular with Hawai'i teens and pre-teens as they begin the new school year.

Associated Press

They're watching TV, cruising the Internet and paging through magazines, checking out what teen icons like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson are wearing. They're peeking into Carrie's closet on "Sex and the City." And Madonna, on the road again, is once more a trend-setter with her plaid skirts and punkish accessories, black jeans and glittery tops.

The hottest back-to-school item in Honolulu, said Christina Dao, senior department manager for women's apparel at JC Penney Pearlridge, is the novelty T-shirt. "It's form-fitting, screened with little graphics or sayings, and sprinkled with glitter. The most popular one has ties and ruching up both of the sides."

Dao said teens are pairing these with denim hip-huggers, "the lower, the better."There are still a lot of flared legs in jeans, as well as stretch, but the new thing is glitter infused into the denim. The most popular jeans at Penney's? "Without doubt, the 'Belly Button Jeans' by Levi's," Dao said.

Denim is very big in the lives of Jenna Gillen, who is entering Windward Community College as a freshman, and Ashley McKalvia, a seventh-grader at Academy of the Pacific.

Gillen is sporting the preppy look, but adding her own edge to it, wearing "really dark" denim hip-huggers with a tiny red striped tank top. She had great shopping success last week at Guess, where she found two pairs of denim jeans with which she'll sport a black leather belt with lots of silver grommets.

For her first day of school last week, McKalvia wore a denim skirt with a ruffled hem that just grazed her knees. She paired it with a black capped-sleeve T-shirt with a handkerchief hem that showed a peek of midriff at the sides. She said her school wardrobe this year consists of lots of drawstring pants and skirts.

Dao sees a continued interest in camouflage this year, especially skirts and pants in green and khaki camouflage worn with a wide belt that rests on the hips.

While plaid is being touted in Mainland media, it's not a happening look here, perhaps because in Hawai'i, plaids are associated with cool weather. "For us plaids are not a main focus," said Liberty House fashion director Lavina Wong. "We've got the more surfer-type overview, and in a lot of collections there's a little plaid, but it's certainly not the driving force."

What is? "Graffiti and punk-inspired prints are bigger for us."

The look of Madonna's concert tour outfits is being mimicked in styles being sold to fashion-conscious teens.

Associated Press

Plaids have just started turning up on the racks at Wet Seal. Their Burberry knock-offs come in beige and brown plaid low-riding pants and mini skirts with skinny belts slung low on the hip.

One place plaid is big is at Punahou this year, where everyone at Book Day a couple of weeks ago seemed to be wearing denim or plaid in skirts and pants.

Jamie Cook, who will be a Punahou sophomore this year, shopped at Neiman Marcus and bought lots of denim to pair with bright T-shirts. Her favorite skirt is a dark denim pleated skirt that's knee-length. She likes T-shirts in bright colors with lots of print. Her favorite is a Custo Barcelona tank.

Sears spokeswoman Marie Alexander said the conservative pieces look different in young trend-savvy hands. It's all in the way young people put it together. "They might try a red plaid skirt with a black T-shirt with a hot pink print on it. We were told not to mix pink and red, but that's no longer a rule. They're touting their own individuality. They give it all newness. It's a little punk," she said.

Debbie Dean, store manager at Forever 21 in Pearlridge, said denim, for both tops and bottoms, is their biggest ongoing trend. Hip-huggers are still hot, but now they're being paired with cowboy shirts sporting glitter, a look inspired by Madonna.

A new silhouette for fall is the long sweater coat. Dean was surprised to see this trend take off in Hawai'i, but she said Forever 21's versions, in knits and rayons, are not as warm as the wool coats popular on the Mainland. She said some girls are belting the coats, while others leave them open.

Speaking of silhouettes, Bevin Karl, who works in the merchandising department at Seventeen magazine, said, "Everything is a little more sophisticated, streamlined, clean and neat. They are not into baggy things hanging off them."

For girls, Karl describes the look as "sophisticated tomboy." She predicts that rugby tops, suspenders, vests and even neckties will be popular looks for school. She said denim will be huge across the nation, with acid-washed, faded and dark denim leading the way. She also predicts denim adornments including safety pins, studs, patches, rips and slashes will be popular with "girls who like to make or embellish their own clothes."

Said Jacqueline Azria-Palombo of Cosmo Girl magazine, "These young girls are looking at making ... (an outfit) pretty with cute little pins. They might go to a thrift store and put a vintage blazer over a lace blouse, which certainly has a girlie feel to it. But it's also very individual. It shows who you are. Girls are very into that."

Advertiser fashion writer Paula Rath and Elizabeth Kennedy of the Associated Press contributed to this report.