Teens shopping for back-to-school clothes are looking for styles that will separate them from the pack rather than echo what everyone else is wearing.
"People who are really into fashion don't want as many basic styles. They want items that are unique," says Lindsay Welsh, juniors fashion buyer for Macy's West.
Printed fabrics, oversized tops, wide-leg jeans and layered silhouettes are among the top trends for fall, she says.
"Patterns speak to people and let them create their own look," Welsh says, noting that young trendsetters started wearing prints this summer and will continue in the fall, with vintage motifs, rock 'n' roll inspiration and even classics like plaids working their way into wardrobes.
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The big top is another popular summer item that will find its way into fall outfits, the fashion buyer says.
"Juniors grabbed up the volume top — trapezes, baby dolls, bubbles," Welsh says.
Tops worn as minidresses over shorts for summer can pair with leggings or jeans and boots when the weather turns cool. Welsh says big tops in sweater knits and darker fabrics will replace the jerseyand T-shirt-weight ones that were popular for summer.
Jeans are getting fresh treatment for fall, too. Denim in bright colors, and gray or dark washes are the newest treatments. In silhouettes, skinny shapes are still around, but teens might find the wide-leg styles more figure-friendly, Welsh says.
"Bootlegs are always the best sellers, but we have a lot of wide-leg pants on the floor for fall," Welsh says.
Which brings up the other major trend: layering. The ultimate way to personalize an outfit is to mix and match a top, vest and jeans with a swingy jacket or roomy "boyfriend" cardigan.
"Outerwear used to be your basic coverup in black or gray," Welsh says, "But now it's a great way to express your fashion sense, in a short volume jacket, a double-breasted style or one in a plaid or print."
Guys are also getting into the layering trend, doubling up graphic T-shirts and teaming them with straight-legged jeans and hoodies.
Here are a few additional back-to-school fashion ideas, from Macy's and Kohl's:
Take a shine: For teen girls, satiny tops and jewel or sequin-encrusted details are designed to be worn for casual occasions.
Neo-grunge: For guys, the Seattle music scene of the 1990s has inspired a remix that includes plaid flannel shirts and jeans.
Urban prep: For boys, layered-look polos, rugby-striped sweaters, varsity-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts, argyle vests, corduroy pants.