Back to school and stress don't have to be synonymous, especially when it comes to style.
We've done the research on new trends and the latest twists on old favorites to help you ace the first-day fashion quiz.
From eye-pleasing apparel to ways to keep electronics stylish and safe, there's no shortage of ways to quickly -- and affordably -- makeover any student's look for another year of learning.
Here are some style essentials to study up on before heading back to class:
Freshen up with a new brand
Kids love new clothes. Parents love a bargain. Find a brand that offers both, and you've got an A+ situation. One example is the Joe Fresh kids collection, new to the U.S. and available at nearly 700 J.C. Penney stores and at www.jcp.com. Stock up on graphic tees, moto jackets, sparkly sweaters, camo pants, leggings, hats and more for boys and girls for prices that span from $8 for tees to $39 for a trench coat.
Keep electronics safe in style
It's a digital world. So help students live in it with backpacks with slots designed with their electronics in mind. Several luggage and backpack brands, including Heys USA ($219.99 at www.kohls.com), offer bags with lined compartments large enough for laptops and iPads so they won't get scratched on the go.
Liven up lecture notes
Who says the answers are always black and white? Thanks to Crayola, they can be blue, pink, purple, yellow and a rainbow of other shades. With its Wild Notes line of notebooks and pens at www.crayola.com, notes and doodles change colors on each page, making learning anything but predictable.
Find function with a versatile lunch bag
Preserve precious locker space with a bag that can serve many purposes. Lunch bags by Sachi (messenger style $24.99 at www.sachi-bags.com) are insulated and roomy, with pockets and zipped compartments for storing pens, pencils, small electronics or water bottles. Bags come in an assortment of styles, such as totes, messenger bags and handbags, and colors and patterns for girls and guys.
Add color to your kicks
Help kids put their best foot forward with shoes that show off their personality. For ladies, Kate Spade has partnered with Keds for a line that gives the All-American lace-ups a dose of girly-girl whimsy ($75 at Keds.com, KateSpade.com and Kate Spade New York stores). For guys, Keds' Champion collection comes in cool prints, such as camo, or boys can go back to the basics with colorful Converse sneakers or athletic footwear by brands such as Nike, Skechers or Adidas.
Incorporate some classics
Trends and brands by celebrities keep store racks perpetually peppered with something new. But don't forget the proven names, including Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Guess, Levi's and Calvin Klein. All cater to younger crowds with apparel staples such as polo shirts, solid and graphic tees, button-ups and more. Mix and match them to keep kids and teens looking clean cut -- and cutting edge.
Accessorize with tech accessories
Earbuds, headphones and tablet cases have become as much a part of school as calculators and colored pencils. Turn these necessities into fashion accessories by opting for ones in fun colors and designs, such as headphones with plaid ($89.99 at www.target.com) or floral patterns or phone protectors in bold hues with stylish chains for clasping them onto backpacks or purses.
Don't forget the denim
From backpacks to jackets and jeans, denim has long been a back-to-school must. But unlike years past, there are growing options for places to turn to find the perfect fit. J.C. Penney, Sears (pictured), Old Navy and Macy's are some mainstream department stores well stocked with selections. For the denim die-hard, Levi's 501 style jeans turn 140 years old this year. The brand has released an anniversary line of the original fit jeans, well suited for teens or college students looking to invest in a pair of pants that will fit well and last long.
Give gadgets a battery -- and style -- jolt
School can be draining -- and not just for students. Keep electronics fueled for long days of studying with portable power chargers. Ones by HALO ($59.97 at www.qvc.com) give cell phones, iPods and more a battery boost in a matter of minutes and are available in funky and feminine shades, including animal prints.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraB_PG. First Published August 6, 2013 4:00 AM