Fall flashback: The ’80s and ’90s influence teen fashion

CorrespondentAugust 14, 2013 

The ’80s and ’90s are putting a spin on fashion for back to school.

“Flashdance”-style athletic gear, slouchy, sporty tops and body-conscious sweatpants are highlights of Gap’s online lookbook for fall, while Aeropostale is making faded skinny jeans the star, showing a variety of washes and embellishments.

“Clueless”-inspired feminine looks, like A-line minis and knee socks, also are influences this season, according to Teen Vogue and Seventeen magazine.

Here’s what else is hot for teens this fall.

Real and faux leather → 

“A must-have this season is anything leather, especially an LBD (little black dress) in leather,” said Jessica Paster, style expert for shopping site JustFab.

←  Men’s standbys

Vans, Converse, Chuck Taylors, athletic kicks (like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James styles from Nike). “Guys’ shoes never change,” Morris said. Retailers are appealing to guys by sticking with skater chic, which has become a permanent fashion fixture: relaxed shorts, flat-bill caps, plaids, stripes and graphic tees.

High-waisted pants

“This summer, the high-waisted shorts were in. Now for fall they are coming in for longer pants,” said Avery Morris, 21, assistant manager of Plato’s Closet in Charlotte. “Sheer blouses have also been worn tucked into high-waisted pants.”

Athletic wear

“I am seeing athletic wear being worn in schools because it is so versatile,” Paster said. “Hoodies and workout leggings are the coolest this season, as well as baggy workout pants or harem pants with high top sneakers: such a comfortable and cool look.”


Leggings have taken firm hold, worn with crop tops, tunics and dresses. “What’s in style right now is basically a lot of oversize sweaters and leggings,” Morris said. The chain of Platos stores buys and sells teen clothing, and Morris said locations in the Triangle and Charlotte are seeing demand for both.

Short boots

Perfect for pairing with skinny pants, dresses and denim, boots are back in a big way. Belk showed motocross-inspired ankle boots, some with nail head trim, buckles, embossed finishes and faux leathers. Uggs will return, but sleeker styles are taking center stage.

Distressed denim

Faded washes and roughed-up finishes are everywhere for fall. Denim-on-denim is fighting off its “hillbilly tuxedo” reputation, gaining teenage fans. Hollister styled a mid-blue denim button-front shirt with darker skinny jeans.

Sky shoes

Platforms and wedge sneakers are adding height to casual looks, especially when they come in funky patterns. “The wedge sneakers are a continuing trend from last year,” Paster said. “A-line minis with wedges are also a great new trend.”

Sheon Wilson (@SheonWilson) is a writer and personal stylist in Durham.

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