School Style: Shopping for class a chance to slip in lessons on money management, responsibility
August 4, 2014 12:00 AM
There's no need to bend your budget on clothes for class. Opt for colorful basics that can be mixed and matched to create several ensembles. On its website, www.bodenusa.com, and in its catalog, Boden carries affordable separates for girls and guys that can be carried from fall into winter.
Make time-telling sweet with confectionery-inspired watches from Swatch, such as the Caramellissima faux-candy watch ($60 at store.swatch.com). The brand also offers timepieces for younger kids so they can start perfecting their time-telling skills.
Along with reading, writing and arithmetic, plaid is a staple for back to school. Keep it fresh with fun colors, including orange, blue, gray and signature red, for shirts and even shirt dresses. Find a wide selection of both at Old Navy.
Help students put their best -- and most stylish -- foot forward with colorful patterned kicks. Converse sneakers has teamed with Missoni, the pinnacle maker of prints, for a collection of high-top and low-top shoe styles available exclusively at Nordstrom (shop.nordstrom.com). Prices average in the $80-$100 range. Men and women sizes offered.
Graphic tees are the go-to way to show off personal style this school year. From whimsical illustrations to jersey-style sports numbers, there's something for almost every kid and tee. Pair the tee with slender jeans and a moto jacket or a black coated denim jacket, such as this look from American Eagle, and students' fashion sense will rank at the top of their class.
Tote books around in style with backpacks and messenger bags in a rainbow of hues and prints that can coordinate with almost any apparel, such as Kipling's Seoul print backpack with built-in laptop protection (on sale for $79.99 at www.kipling-usa.com).
Fashions influenced by '80s and '90s grunge styles are among the trends turning heads for fall. Seventeen magazine infused it with some romantic flair with its juniors clothing line for Sears (www.sears.com) that includes flirty frocks, preppy skirts and blazers, dark floral prints, shoes and accessories with prices less than $50.
Give school supplies a makeover with fashion-forward designs, such as the floral pouch pencil carrier from Teen Vogue ($6.99 at Staples, www.staples.com). The magazine partnered with the store for refreshingly fashionable group of folders, binders, pencils and more.
By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ready or not, Labor Day is a mere few weeks away, which means so is another school year.
This time around, turn shopping for clothes, colored pencils and such for class into a chance to offer children and teens some tips about money management, bargain hunting and personal style.
Below are some conversation starters to try as you head to the mall with the budding academics in your life:
1. Get kids involved early on
Sure, surfing the Web for apparel and supplies once the kids are snuggled in bed sounds like a more serene approach to back-to-school shopping, but it’s a missed opportunity to teach young ones about savvy shopping. Have a school supply list? Task children with seeing how many of the items they can find at home and what things they’ll need to buy.
“That’s a nice way to get them to think about reusing,” says Deborah Gilboa, a doctor at the Squirrel Hill Health Center and a clinical associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh medical school. She also is the author of a new book, “Get the Behavior You Want ... Without Being the Parent You Hate!,” which is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.
Have them survey their closets to see what fits, what doesn’t, what still looks good and what can be downgraded to play clothes or donated. Once clothes are categorized into these piles, talk with kids about their choices.
2. Establish a budget
Parents/guardians: Set a budget from the start -- and let kids know it exists.
“Your savings needs should determine your spending,” says Gene Natali Jr., co-author of “The Missing Semester,” a financial guide geared toward inspiring young adult readers to take control of their financial futures. “We’re surrounded by constant temptation, but you want to have a budget and you want that amount to be determined by your savings needs.”
But don’t feel pressured to share spending limits with children, Dr. Gilboa says, especially if it varies from one child to another. (Maybe one kid had a growth spurt and needs more clothes than another, for instance, or perhaps an older sibling needs a netbook for typing term papers.)
Adults “don’t have to justify that,” she says.
3. Distinguish wants from needs
What commercials call “school essentials” oftentimes aren’t must-haves. Map out before stepping foot in the store what are needs and what would be nice to have only if money is left over. If below budget, consider keeping the money instead of splurging on something extra and talk to children and teens about strategies for saving money.
“Age is opportunity,” Mr. Natali says, meaning that the sooner people start to save the more opportunities they’ll have to provide for the future.
4. Set parameters for personal style -- and stick with them
It’s common for kids and adults to disagree about clothes.
“They are expressing individuality by pushing against their family and moving toward their peers,” Dr. Gilboa says, especially for middle school and early high school-aged students. This is normal, she adds.
But rather than viewing this as rebellion, give them the chance to explore their style sense and tap into some trends with a few boundaries. For example, let them know they’re free to pick out whatever looks they want, as long as they don’t sport vulgar messages or images, are below a certain price and don’t show too much skin. But let anything else that follows such guidelines be fair game — even if it's an outfit Mom or Dad doesn't understand
5. Share bargain-hunting skills
Teach the thrill of finding fashions for reduced prices to any age. Younger kids can help clip coupons and give adults a stack to sort through. On the receipt, show them how much money was saved because of the coupons they found, Dr. Gilboa says. Similarly, ask adolescents to browse the Internet for potential deals.
6. Reference shopping apps for assistance
Further tap into children’s investigating skills by having them help search for mobile apps that can lend a hand with shopping. A few apps to consider: Amazon Student (scan book barcodes from school lists to find bargain books), RetailMeNot (discover discounts for a range of items), Mint.com’s money management feature (organize and track budgets and spending), Key Ring (create and share shopping lists among multiple mobile devices), and Kidizen (buy and sell gently used children’s clothes).
7. Think about shopping as a bonding experience
Grabbing what is needed and getting back home quickly often is the goal for most families. But instead of trying to wrap things up at record speeds, treat the outing as a bonding experience. As children — particularly adolescents -- pick out and try on clothes, use it as a chance to learn about their interests, trend tastes, and concerns about their body image and fitting into their school’s social circles.
Back-to-school shopping is “not just looking for school clothes but mining for a little bit more information about our kids,” Dr. Gilboa says.
Sara Bauknecht: email@example.com or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.
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