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Back-to-school fashions for Western New York’s creative crowd

A cargo jacket over a floral dress. Denim jeggings with wedge sneakers. Leopard-print pants with a plaid shirt.

This fall, the back-to-school crowd may give new meaning to the phrase mix and match.

“Galactic leggings with a bunny sweater? Uh, yeah. Normal is boring. Embrace your inner weird!” suggests dELiA’s, the retailer that dresses young teen girls, on its website.

Oh, yes, it’s back-to-school shopping time. While some kids like to keep clothes low-key, others will go for creative combinations.

These days, the look they put together may just start with what they wear on their feet.

“It’s rather backward,” said Maggie Schwartz, owner of Pumpkins, a children’s fine clothing boutique at 5520 Main St., Williamsville.

“I feel like the influx of boots almost determines the outfit. All the kids are wearing leggings, skinny jeans, dresses and skirts with boots,” she said.

Girls are pairing their boots – or flats – with fun printed leggings and tunic tops that are asymmetrical, ruffled or lace. Or they might pair plain suede boots with a sequinned dress.

“There’s shine all over the place, lots of sparkle,” said Schwartz, noting some trends of the season. “Stripes and polka dots are big, and graphic artwork is on some of the trendier things.”

For boys, GapKids and other retailers show plenty of cargo pants, striped tops, varsity looks and graphic tees.

Fashion inspiration is everywhere this time of year. Macy’s, for one, has created an online Style Mixer in which guys and girls can put together outfits from head to toe, share looks with friends and get inspired by the latest trends. This fall, the retailer highlights Sporty Leisure, Urban Utility, Double Denim and Black and White as back-to-school trends.

And, of course, the fall fashion magazines are out, including Teen Vogue, which promises 465 best looks “From Punk to Pretty.”

But as one 14-year-old put it: “What you see in magazines is not always what people wear. But it gives you ideas for different types of clothes.”

A few key looks in clothing and accessories:

• Tiny floral prints. These are all over juniors’ dresses and skirts – from American Rag, Jessica Simpson and other brands. You see them topped with denim or biker-style jackets, but this year these girly dresses often are shown under plaid shirts, sleeveless denim vests or cargo jackets.

• Patterned bottoms: Solid colored jeans and leggings have some company this fall for girls. Florals, animal prints, camo prints and wild patterns on jeans, leggings and jeggings can be found both in kids’ and juniors’ sizes.

• Talking tees: Words and phrases in big letters are big news on graphic T-shirts. “Create Your Own Reality,” “Keep Calm and Dance,” “Come as You Are” and “Ooh la la!” are just a few spotted in stores and on websites. Also popular on tees, possibly even more than last fall: Animal likenesses, from cute owls to stylized cheetahs.

• Bright sneakers: Still popular this fall. Nike, Reebok and other popular brands come in vibrant hues. For those more interested in wearing sneakers to class than on the running track, there’s the Taylor Swift for Keds Collection in pretty prints and colors.

• Wristlets: Must be big enough to hold a cellphone and money.

• Belts: For those who prefer their shirts tucked in, belts are a must-have accessory.

• Rings. Definitely making a comeback.

• Beanies and caps: These, too, may have a phrase printed on them, a logo or a graphic.

• Small scarves. Oversized scarves have been popular for several seasons, but smaller versions are showing up in fashion magazines.

“Twirled around your neck or knotted on your purse or ponytail, these chic accents are a surefire way to add a dash of ladylike charm to your look,” writes Teen Vogue.