Want to look classy for classes? Think laid back loose, mismatched patterns or really retro for fall fashions.

Translation — jogger pants, moisture-wicking tees, florals with plaids and, yes, even maxi skirts are ready on the racks.

“For a huge comeback, we’re selling a lot of the maxi skirts this year,” said Robert Hodges, store manager at the Palais Royal in Galveston. “The youngsters don’t remember when they were in style, so they think they’re new.”

This will be Hodges’ 31st back-to-school season in retail, with the last 17 years in Galveston. So he factors in Texas heat to the fall fashion skinny.

“I don’t see a lot of layering in our area because it’s hot,” he said.

“They do layer the camis, and the strapless bandeau,” he said, as staff around him shouted out suggestions.

Jaimie Nunn, sales associate at Tangerine Boutique in Galveston, describes a mellow, loose look for fall, with a bit of Bohemian edge.

“We’re seeing lots of rompers, cutoffs, graphic tees, things like that — very laid back,” she said.

“The kind of style that we have is light, flowing fabrics, rompers and maxi dresses.”

The shop is known for its Bohemian clothing, thick cuffs and bangles — “kind of world traveler look,” Nunn said.

Nunn has been in retail seven years now and wonders at the lack of suffering in the current fall fashion.

“It’s kind of surprising that people are wanting to look more laid back and comfortable, and I think that’s really great,” she said.


Back-to-school trends

Laid back and loose athletic wear is a trend across all age groups, said Sarah Holland, JC Penney manager of media relations and corporate affairs.

The JC Penney stores in League City and Friendswood will stock hoodies, yoga pants and moisture-wicking tees, along with sneakers and slip-ons.

“For teens, one of the hottest back-to-school items is the jogger pant,” Holland said.

Pattern mixing has a rock-and-roll edge this year, said Sofia Wacksman, vice president of trend for Kohl’s Department Stores.

“Mix dark grounded florals with not-so-traditional plaids or pair lace with leather or reworked denim,” Wacksman said. “We love the look of a girlie vintage-inspired floral dress worn with an oversized cardigan and leather moto boots.”

She advised mixing different textures and experimenting with global-inspired prints.

“Take a nod from the runway this school year and pair your denim with saturated brights in tribal geos, mystical graphics and sheer tops with printed overlays.”

Graphic design tees are still high fashion and low-priced.

Add color and fun with accessories.

“Accessorize with bright colored bracelets; layer silly socks that don’t quite match; sport a quirky printed backpack; add some patches — all are an easy and affordable way to update your look without breaking the bank,” Wacksman said.

“Mix it up and make your own fashion story.”

By the numbers

  • $669.28 is the amount the average family with children in kindergarten through 12th grade will spend on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5% from last year.
  • $682.99 is the amount the average family shopping for high school students will spend. Spending on middle school/junior high school students comes in a close second at $682.13. Parents with elementary school students will spend an average of $580.94.
  • 37% is the amount of shoppers who will research school items on their smartphones, the highest seen since the National Retail Federation started asking in 2011. These families also will commit to purchasing via their phones. 22% will purchase items, up from 18% last year.

SOURCE: National Retail Federation’s 2014 Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics)

At a glance

This year’s Sales Tax Holiday is Saturday through Aug. 10. As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.

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