Left: "America Idol" stylist Art Conn picked his favorite items from Marshalls based on the hottest teen idols and TV shows, such as "Gossip Girl," The Jonas Brothers and Edward and Bella from "Twilight."
Photo courtesy of Marshalls.
Shopping for back-to-school clothes can suck the cash right out of the family budget. But even if teens want to dress like their favorite movie-star vampires, they can still find bargains that won't drain their wallets, according to wardrobe stylist Art Conn, who has worked his fashion magic on TV's popular "American Idol" series.
When teens head back to school this fall, you can bet that they will be dressing similar to their favorite Gossip Girl or Jonas Brother or maybe even Edward and Bella from "Twilight." Kids are sure to make their own kind of fashion music, no matter whom they choose as their favorite idol or vampire. It's all about star style, says Conn, who collaborated on the back-to-school ad campaign for TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
"The music world is all about collaboration and mixing two genres (rap and pop for example) to create a new sound," notes Conn. "It's no different with fashion. Mixing grunge plaid and '80s inspired leggings then makes perfect sense."
"People like to shop as if at a buffet," he adds, "a little of this, a little of that. The lines of what is country or what defines alternative have blurred and so have the looks they inspire. It's really all about a melting pot of style."
The trick is to mix it all up. "It's so easy to incorporate a few things from all the hot trends and put them into one hot look," he says. "Grab some torn jeans and layer them over some neon leggings. Throw on a shrunken blazer over a buffalo plaid blouse to create a unique and uptown look. Wear a leather jacket over a great graphic tee and distressed jeans to look hip and cool."
His best advice? Do your own thing. "There are few rules really about color combinations or textures. Be creative and think outside the box."
So, what items will the hottest teen "idols" be wearing this fall? Take it from the top acts in show business. "'Gossip Girl' is known as much for its fashion as it is for its mature soap-opera-like storyline," says Conn. "Acting like adults is one thing, dressing like them is another."
The "Gossip Girl" characters keep their young and fresh approach to fashion by blending trends and creating new ones. Plaid is a big influence on the fashionable show and makes style news in blouses, short skirts and handbags. The trendsetting girls pair their plaids with shrunken blazers and tight jeans to be creative with proportions and silhouettes. Hair accessories like metallic leather headbands and small bright flowers bring in a bit of the boho, yet uptown, feel.
The Jonas Brothers have single-handedly brought the skinny jean to every boy in America, according to Conn. They pair their denim — in indigo and in a wide array of hues — with graphic tees and jackets to push the rocker trend, which is a strong influence this back-to-school season. They also like the plaid shirts that they can pair with a leather jacket to give the feel of hip yet casual. Putting a vest over a graphic tee makes a great fashion statement whether on stage or in the classroom. Throw on a pair of Converse sneakers — in just about any color — to make your outfit cool and fun, just like the Jonas Brothers themselves.
The Pacific Northwestern setting for "Twilight," the popular vampire movie and book series, really dictates the characters' style and fashion sense. Again, plaid plays a role in making the clothes look "touchable and moody," says Conn. Plaid shirts or graphic tees worn under a hoody with some cotton dress pants and Converse sneakers really "vamps" up anyone's look. Think leather jackets, vests and hoodies for school must-haves.
"Oh and don't forget that messy hair," adds the "American Idol" fashion adviser. "Skinny jeans are still in heavy rotation and can be paired with any trend — bohemian, uptown, rocker — to make you look like a star."
Button-down shirts taken directly from the dryer and thrown on over a graphic tee will give that casual and cool vibe in which any modern vampire can really sink his teeth.
Back-to-school fashion trends:
— Buffalo plaid is back! Shirts, shorts and scarves ... it's great to add some dimension and texture to an outfit. Mix it up with other plaid choices to create a unique look. Or choose a simple denim jean or skirt.
— Bold print tees are never out of style. Grab the ones that have grommets or studs and layer them under a cardigan or button-down shirt to make the look contemporary and personalized. Peace sign images (rhinestoned, sequined or not) also make a great statement on a tee.
— Think '60s redux. Celebrate peace and love with takeoffs on fashion favorites from 40 years ago: peacoats, mini skirts, shifts and fringe, fringe, fringe!
— Get out your shears and go to work on the must-have item: jeans. The "deconstructed" look is hot with holes and tears. Get a slim or skinny cut with a dark wash.
— The hottest fall trends for tweens are "Preppy Collegiate" and "Boho Chic." The preppy clothing from Disney Channel's new series "JONAS," which features the Jonas Brothers, inspires Disney's new sportswear line. The apparel collection features plaid skirts and socks, striped neckties, argyle sweater vests and fun scarves.
Another collection, based on the popular show "Wizards of Waverly Place," features bohemian styles, including peasant and tunic tops and coordinating jean skirts and pants with floral detailing and stitching.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.