Health & Family

Back to school: Shop, grow, repeat!

Clothing remains the top budget item for back-to-school shopping according to surveys, even though parents are expected to spend less in 2015 than last year.

Families can ask kids to use last year’s electronics, but growth spurts can’t be ignored.

One minute you’re hoisting a kid up to reach the sink and the next he’s patting you on the head. It’s even more disconcerting as parents shift from the children’s department to the adult section for sprouting pre-teens and teens.

The National Retail Federation predicts parents with K-12 kids will spend an average of $630 on electronics, apparel and other school needs. That’s down $40 from the previous year.

Of that, the majority is expected to go to apparel ($218) and shoes ($118).

Another survey by Brand Keys speculated similar overall spending figures ($650), but the clothing budget was estimated at a robust $270 and shoes $120.

Parents are justifiably cautious in spending too much at once, but back-to-school sales beckon.

Clothes need a little of that “room to grow” but as time marches on, kids become even more conscious of fit and style and showcasing their personality, so appearance matters. Luckily, many latch on to a few signature items that can be worn to fit many moods rather than demanding a full wardrobe of options.

You want to pick or compromise on items that are youthful but wink at the transition to adulthood like perhaps a daytime sequin bolero or sweatshirt paying homage to classic American literature they’ve yet to read – we picked shirts printed with the covers of F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Orwell novels.

Nico wears “The Great Gatsby” sweatshirt ($42) at, a super soft fleece with the image of the iconic first edition cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald novel; a polo shirt with a printed fabric collar ($19.99) at T.J. Maxx and his own pants.

Luckily, a lot of adult styles are now borrowed from youth if you’re straddling departments. There’s the re-emergence of slim fit overalls, the ubiquitousness of the hoodie and playful printed tribal styles that can be mixed and matched with a variety of coordinating patterns ranging from preppy to bohemian.

We combined the worn-in and the new to show that style isn’t all about the latest and greatest. When something works, like a broken-in sweatshirt or relaxed fit jean, you want to savor it as long as you’re able. Just like the adults.