School Wear an Extension of Summer : Kindergarten to 12th Grade, It’s Loose Shorts for Boys, Trendy Baggy Tops for Girls

<i> Seipp is a Los Angeles free-lance writer</i>

Back-to-school traditionally means new fall styles to go with fall weather, but you’d never know it from what kids were wearing to Valley schools Tuesday.

Perhaps it’s because the extra heat and smog sometimes make it seem like an endless summer here. Or maybe no one wants to admit that the holidays are really over.

In any case, the most pervasive outfit on the first day of school this year--popular with boys from kindergarten to 12th grade--was a baggy pair of cotton surf shorts worn with an equally baggy T-shirt.

This look was, at least in the chilly morning hours, accessorized with goose bumps. No one wanted to be caught in anything so nerdily bundled-up as a sweater. Besides, when you’re a kid, there’s no such thing as being too cool.


Tight Leggings, Skinny Pants for Girls

Whereas loose shorts were the hot item for boys Tuesday, tight leggings or other skinny pants worn with a baggy top was the most trendy outfit for girls. High school girls also wore a lot of straight, above-the-knee skirts, generally with thick sneakers and socks or bare legs with cowboy boots or simple leather flats. High heels were for teachers.

There were some nonconformists. At Birmingham, 10th-grader Greg Stewart looked semi-punk in a Mohawk hair style he cut himself and thick black boots. Senior Derrick Cunningham was resplendent in a zoot-suitish get-up he found on Melrose Avenue.

“It’s just the way I dress,” he said with a shrug, as a group of his friends reunited after the summer with joyful shouts of, “You’re still ugly!”


Noah Silverman, a Birmingham 12th-grader, was one of the few students dressed for fall in baggy khaki pants and a black leather jacket. He says he bought a lot of back-to-school clothes, driving over the hill for them into West Hollywood. “Yeah, it’s intense,” Noah remarked. “It’s that time of year.” But he added that most students still dress for summer. “Look around--figure it out,” he said.

Akasha Morrison, a Dixie Canyon first-grader, was the height of fashion in a Gibson Girl hair style, a puffy lavender jacket, pink and white saddle shoes and an ankle-length skirt so narrow she could hardly walk.

“My mom picked it out,” she said, carefully taking her jacket off and putting it on a bench. “I have to sit on my jacket,” she explained, “because I can’t get my skirt dirty.” Akasha’s favorite new garment is a black shirt with shoulder pads. “I’ll wear it tomorrow, I think,” she said.

Chooses Own Clothes


Michael Klesic, a sixth-grader at Dixie Canyon Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, was dressed in one of the longest, baggiest pair of shorts seen Tuesday and a T & C Surf Design T-shirt. “It’s all cotton. It feels good,” said Michael. He likes shopping for clothes and picked out both items himself.

“My mom lets me,” he said. “She puts a limit, though, because all-cotton is expensive.”

Apparently, you don’t really need a lot of money for an au courant back-to-school outfit. Robert Camango, a 10th-grader at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, got his “Kangol” Australian-look shorts and top at an indoor swap meet. Amy DiMella, also in the 10th grade at Birmingham, bought her fake fur leopard hat at a thrift shop and found her new earrings at a Sav-On drugstore.

Heather Austin, in the 11th grade at Cleveland High School in Reseda, likes those trendy silver hoop earrings. “They don’t have to be real silver, though,” she noted. “Just cheap stuff that looks like silver.”


The one-earring fad for boys seems to be fading a bit this year. Heather’s brothers, 12-year-old twins Chris and Alex, used to want to get their ears pierced.

‘They Have to Wait’

“They have to wait until they’re 13,” Heather said. “Then they can think about it.” Alex, an eighth-grader at Sutter Junior High School in Canoga Park, says he has already thought about it enough. “I used to want to,” he said scornfully. “Not anymore.”

The Austin twins like simple T-shirts, camp shirts and short haircuts. Like many ‘80s kids, their look is a throwback to the ‘50s.


Valley kids spent more time talking about teachers than clothes Tuesday.

“I saw you at Mervyn’s a couple of days ago,” ventured one Birmingham high schooler to her friend, who quickly changed the subject.

“Have you seen Mrs. Wonderful yet?” the friend asked. “She’s even uglier than last year. She hates my guts so much!”

And then the tardy bell rang.


Teachers started yelling things like, “Where are your bus passes?” and “Get to your room now!” And, despite all their summer shorts and skirts and T-shirts, everyone knew summer was definitely over.