After a summer of neon-bright shorts and T-shirts festooned with cartoon characters, the freshest looks in children's fall fashion hark back to--an unexpected surprise--traditional styles. But not everything is regimentally striped and boringly home-grown. There's a definite international influence--pants made of Guatemalan fabrics and shirts printed with designs from Italy--but the comfortable fabrics, traditional patterns and classic shapes turning up in this fall's kids' clothes can only be called all-American.
Like all-American kids themselves, these new looks break some very old fashion rules. Traditional patterns--plaids, patchwork, nature prints, stars and stripes--may be back, but adults should forget trying to combine them like old-school, mix-and-match outfits. Free expression reigns these days--all manner of prints go together playfully. A classroom-ready palette of crayon reds, golds, greens, browns and blues replaces flashy neons and beachy brights. And denim is again a staple, from light blue chambray shirts to deep indigo jeans, jackets and overalls. Cotton, wool and blended knits appear in ribbed, twilled and quilted textures. To top it all off: Cozy sweaters bring out the child in everyone.