Originally created 08/05/99

Fashion forward



Utility, utility, utility.

Cargo pants with tons of pockets, zippers and Velcro; hooded fleece sweat shirts and track pants with racing stripes are almost as important in this year's back-to-school shopping as notebooks and No. 2 pencils.

Though many Augusta-area students will spend the next nine months in navy and white, those who still have freedom of choice will likely be wearing sport-influenced styles and utility chic, fashion experts say.

"It's very much about form meeting function," said Amy Maniatis, a spokeswoman for Gap Inc. "Back to school has a very utilitarian look. Vests are very important, across the board -- with details like reflective piping, mesh lined pockets and hidden vents in the back."

In addition to cargo pants and workwear-inspired looks, girls will be wearing cardigan twin sets again this year, and lots of knit tops with 3/4-length sleeves. Shrugs -- the little sweaters that cover only your arms and shoulder blades -- are back, and black pants are a wardrobe necessity, said Cami Alexander, spokeswoman for J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

Sporty looks include stretchy dresses accented by racing stripes and varsity jackets. T-shirts with athletic logos are comfortable and stylish, and nylon track pants are no longer just for running.

"Especially for boys, back to school is very athletic. Action-inspired is the overall theme," Ms. Maniatis said.

"With so many activities in the average kid's life, it's important to find clothing that's comfortable, durable and fashionable," said Joseph Denofrio, senior vice president and fashion director for Macy's East. "This year's fleeces and drawstring looks play right into those needs."

Textured fabrics, including waffle weave, nubby fleece, corduroy and velour, are a big part of this year's look, and they come in a rainbow of colors. In addition to traditional autumn-leaf colors, the season's hottest hues will include grays, greens, baby blue, lilac, pink and red, Ms. Alexander said.

Classic denim is a back-to-school necessity again, and it has lots of different looks. Dark denim, stretch denim, distressed denim and hippie-inspired denim embellished with embroidery and ribbons are all in style this year.

And accessories complete the look. Bucket hats, skull caps, wallet chains and military-inspired bags are hot, as are sporty totes and clear backpacks.

Emily Sollie can be reached at (706) 823-3340 or esollie@augustachronicle.com.