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Styles that rock: Folk, grunge, punk and activewear among fall fashions for kids

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TORONTO - Parents should prepare for a little deja vu in fall fashion offerings for tweens and teens.

The fashion world's renewed love affair with athleticwear — a mainstay of '80s fashion — is translating to the casual yet refined modern looks students will be sporting come September.

Gap Inc. spokeswoman Heather Hopkins said youngsters can mix and match activewear items like track pants with rolled-up cuffs in darker hues paired with tailored separates like a pale blue chambray shirt.

"It really is that laidback take on effortless cool and street style that's quite fun," said Hopkins.

Track pant styles can also be elevated when teamed with an oxford shirt, high tops or a distressed jean jacket with a popped collar, she noted.

Winners fashion expert Sarah Smithers said leggings continue to endure as a style staple for tween girls, with the latest incarnation featuring lettering and bold prints — not unlike the graphic tees that remain popular fashion options for both genders.

"They're the perfect layering piece to pair with really fun and whimsical skirts," said Smithers.

Smithers said the sneaker trend remains huge heading into fall, with classic kicks in luxurious finishes, from leather runners to fun, flatform high-tops in ultra-bright hues.

While outdoor music festival season may soon be winding down, the free-flowing, folk-inspired styles which surfaced during the summer will continue to strike a chord in the months ahead.

Smithers said teen girls will be taking their September style to the next frontier with fringe details and aztec prints, as well as garments like ponchos and knit vests reflective of the trend popularized by red-carpet regulars like current Vogue cover girl Blake Lively and reality stars Kylie and Kendall Jenner.

"Accessories are always a really easy way to enter into any trend. For frontier, it's as easy as layering in an oversized bag with some fringe detail," said Smithers. Girls can also consider a pair of western-inspired kicks like booties with buckle details, she noted.

Hopkins described "collegial folk" as a fun trend for fall, one which fuses elements of country and classic campus styles and also showcases pretty floral pieces and prints — much like the ensembles favoured by country-pop hitmaker Taylor Swift.

"You have those big grungy plaids, you have the stripes, even the branded fleece or heavier sweatshirts and cable-knit sweaters. There's a lot of chenille and cable knit felting as well," she said. "In many ways, it's a mix of fabrics, and allowing the fabrics to mix well together as well."

Dresses in a variety of styles can also be layered with a cute cardigan, denim jacket and teamed with biker boots or sneakers for a more grunge-inspired look, she noted.

Keeping in line with some of the fall's edgier offerings, Smithers said wearing soft pants in a plaid print along with combat style-boots is another key trend. "Those two paired together instantly gives you that punk look."

Smithers said accessories with edgy embellishments are also making the grade, with backpacks adorned with studs and oversized hardware give the schooltime essential a "fashion-forward finish."

With the resurgence of grunge styles in recent years, plaid remains a favourite — particularly for teen boys. But for those on the hunt for a new graphic pattern, look to the stars. Smithers said space motifs featuring galactic prints, spaceships and the like are ready for launch. "This is a trend that we saw on the runways, but it's really going to be catching on in the schoolyards this September for teen boys as well."

Even as schooltime style trends continue to evolve, count on denim to remain a perennial style fixture. Expect to see dark denim in black, grey and camo prints for boys for fall which can team well with varsity-style, moto or denim jackets, said Hopkins.

For older girls, Hopkins suggested the option of a slimmer-style jean which can be worn with a long cable knit sweater or cardigan.

"It just seems like this generation is pairing those simple classics like the plaid and the graphic tees and the skinny denim with the sneakers in a really stylish, effortlessly cool way."

Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.

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