Looking for the latest styles? Here are tips for back-to-school shopping
Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the date of Ross' annual back-to-school kids fashion show at Mall St. Matthew.
We all know you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And for thousands of parents and students, it's never more relevant than the first day of a new school year.
That's the reason we turned to Shelly Breier, a clothing expert for tweens (sizes 7-16), for advice before the first day.
As the co-owner of Fresh Boutique 4 Girls, 1201 Herr Lane in Westport Village, Breier has seen plenty of hits and misses when it comes to back-to-school shopping.
And by misses, we don't mean your child shows up in mismatched polka-dots and stripes. We're talking about wasting cash on clothing your kid will never wear again after the first day in class.
"I would say one of the biggest mistakes I see year after year is parents who bring their child into the store and insist they buy clothes that their child really doesn't like," Breier said. "It's what the parent wants to see their kid dressed in not what the child wants to wear."
Sure, this takes some letting go of the idea that "parents know best." And it's not easy. But you will be rewarded for relinquishing some of that control.
Within reason, of course.
"I encourage parents to take a step back from their own style preferences and let their child be who they want to be," Breier said. "When you do that, your daughter is going to walk into school on that first day feeling more confident knowing that she was given the freedom to pick out the outfit that makes her feel good."
Allow me to share a bit of personal experience on this one.
There was a period of time in pre-school when my daughter loved Spiderman and only wanted to wear T-shirts, shorts and socks with "Spidey's" logo, as she called him.
After too many morning battles spent wrestling her into the "adorable" – in my opinion – matching skorts and tops or dresses, I finally relented and allowed her to express her own fashion preference.
After that, my daughter would arrive at school in her superhero ensembles with a huge smile on her tiny face, and I stopped throwing away money on dresses she'd grow out of in a few months anyway.
She grew out of the Spiderman phase, and as she leaves for college this fall, her suitcase is full of boho dresses and skirts and she's a confident dresser with a great sense of her own personal style.
And by the way, Breier's advice is just as important for parents shopping with their sons as it is for daughters.
So here's some tips and tricks to help your back-to-school planning go as smoothly as possible.
Do your homework
Whether your student wears a uniform to school or can dress in their own clothing, you shouldn't head for the stores before you understand your school's dress code.
How many inches above the knee is too short for a skirt or dress? Are logo T-shirts a no-no? Can your daughter wear sleeved tops and is jewelry permitted?
Before you shop, spend 15 minutes with your child taking inventory of what is in their closet and drawers. It's easy to forget that your son has five navy blue T-shirts or your daughter owns three denim skirts. You don't need more unless they've grown out of every single one.
It's OK to wear the same winter coat a few years in a row if it still fits, but shoes that are too tight or tattered need to be replaced.
If there is extra money in your budget, that's what you can spend on a few of this year's top trends.
What's this year's back-to-school fashion trends?
When sifting through your kid's closet, there are a few trends to keep an eye out for that are strong holdovers from last year, Breier said.
These trends include bell-sleeved tops, jumpers, rompers and skirts, as well as iridescent and metallic backpacks and purses. Distressed denim jackets, jeans and skirts are good to go again this school season.
Pants with a flared ruffle by the ankle and split side pants are trending, but you better check the school dress code for this one. Ribbons that lace up the side of tops and pants are also popular.
"A lot of the tween designers are starting to knock-off Gucci's racing stripe and imitating Gucci prints and patterns, making a resurgence with the younger kids," Breier said.
But don't worry, parents, you won't be paying designer prices for the trend. Just be prepared for lot more Gucci inspiration on the playground.
As for this year's color, Breier has some advice.
"This years hottest back to school color is a deep teal color that is gorgeous and looks great on all skin tones and hair colors," Breier said. "And the color blush is still in."
More popular fall colors will include olive and burgundy. For boys, cranberry is this year's newest color in clothing.
Jo Ross, a Louisville fashion consultant and director of the Fashion Council, a modeling and interpersonal skills program for local youth, says the pop of deep reddish pink is a great way to add some variety to the typical navy and khaki pants and shorts that dominate most boys wardrobes.
"I am also seeing a lot of graphic T-shirts again this year and a great deal of high tech wicking fabrics, which pull the sweat away from the skin," Ross said.
Ross produces an annual back-to-school kids fashion show at Mall St. Matthews, 5000 Shelbyville Road. This year the shows are held at noon and 2 p.m. Aug. 4.
The show highlights the top trending fashions for the upcoming school year and the models are all local kids who are members of the Fashion Council of Louisville.
A few more trendsetting tips for parents who want to be ready for their child's shopping requests: Prepare yourself for fake fur worn as a removable collar on a denim jacket or as a vest. Smaller accents like a raw edge on hems and fringe will help update last year's wardrobe.
Don't shop too soon
Let's be realistic, we live in Kentucky and Southern Indiana where fall fashions really aren't going to be worn until several weeks after the school year has started.
While we're still enduring 95-degree temperatures and humidity, let your child go back to school in something clean and comfortable. That's probably an outfit from last spring.
Breier doesn't expect the majority of back-to-school shoppers to begin showing at her boutique until a few weeks after the school year has started.
If you are looking for deals, warm-weather clothing is often discounted at area stores later in August and September. Fall apparel is better purchased in October, especially during Columbus Day when prices are deepened by extra discounts.
As your family sets out to navigate the back-to-school shopping experience, you'll spend your money wisely if you remember to be realistic about what your child actually needs versus wants.
"For me, owning the boutique is a neat experience, I get to be a part of helping girls feel good about themselves," Breier said. "Because at the end of the day we all want to dress in a way that fills us with confidence and helps us feel our best."
And that's a great way to set a great first impression on the first day of school.
Fashion Council of Louisville looking for models
The Fashion Council of Louisville is currently taking applications for the 2018/2019 school year. Council members are required to attend one meeting a month to learn the art of modeling as well as other interpersonal skills.
Skills are used in seasonal fashion shows, freeze modeling programs and television appearances.
The Fashion Council is made up of 30 children ages 6-12, and 35 teens ages 13-20.
Applications are available for pick up in the Mall St. Matthews, 5000 Shelbyville Road, and Oxmoor Center Management Offices, 7900 Shelbyville Road.
To be considered, complete the application and return with one close-up headshot (no larger than 5-by-7 inches) to either management office no later than 4 p.m. Sept. 10.
In-person auditions are held at Oxmoor Center, on Sept. 15. Models ages 6 to 12 will be in group one at 1 p.m.; the second group, ages 13 to 20, will be at 2 p.m.
Applicants will be asked to walk on a runway and speak about themselves during the audition. For questions regarding the Fashion Council, please send inquiries to Jo@fashioncouncillouisviile.com.