POINTERS FOR PARENTS: Keeping Kids in Fashion on a Back-to-School Budget
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Back-to-school shopping can be a big-ticket item. And with the price of gasoline and other expenses going ever higher, how do parents help their children start the school year on a positive note without draining the family budget?

"Transitioning from summer vacation to back-to-school mode can be challenging for both parents and children," says Pamela Wallack, executive vice president of GapKids and a mother of three. "By mixing back-to-school basics with new trends in denim and active wear, kids can affordably use fashion as a positive way to express their creativity and individuality."

When headed out to the stores in the next several weeks to load up on must-haves for school, here are some ideas to help keep the kids in clothes they like and that will last through the school year:

-- Updated Basics: Jeans, hoodies and t-shirts are a mainstay in every back-to-school wardrobe. This year, look for fun updates to the classics, including bold graphic tees, embroidered hoodies and jeans in rich, shadowy hues, including deep blue, dark gray, brown and black.

-- The Layered Look: Hot or cold, day or night, by layering, kids can shed or add layers to stay comfortable while sporting the latest trends. Try leggings under a skirt for girls or a long-sleeve shirt under a cool graphic tee for boys.

-- High-Tech Fashion: Today's kids are fully wired, so let them pack their gadgets and gear with style and functionality. Many jackets, bags and pants now offer pockets designed specifically for cell phones and other electronics.

-- Do Durability: Choose clothing that matches the active lifestyles of your kids and can go the distance for the entire school year. Look for fabrics that are long-lasting -- GapKids and Old Navy offer stain resistant fabrics in tops and bottoms for girls and boys.

-- Add Flair to Fashion: The latest styles feature embroidery, graphic designs and patterns that spice up basics like denim, with minimal impact on the budget.

-- Fall Style is in the Bag: Pick a backpack that makes a statement and helps kids stay organized. GapKids and Old Navy offer stylish lunch bags and book bags that can make lugging school books easier. Try a rolling backpack to keep the weight off your kids' back and shoulders.

Families with school-aged children spent nearly $500 per child on back-to-school items last year, according to the 2005 NRF Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey predictions, conducted by BIGresearch. With back-to-school spending estimated to exceed the $13 billion mark, and just under half of that spent on clothing and accessories for kids according to the NRF, parents need help identifying smart choices.

Whether it's the first day of kindergarten or middle school, GapKids and Old Navy have new lines for back-to-school that deliver the latest styles while appealing to parents on a budget.

"It's become more challenging for families to find fashionable clothes that won't break the bank during the annual back-to-school shopping spree," said Sheryl Clark, executive vice president of merchandising for Old Navy. "So, we've worked hard to offer versatile and affordable back-to-school clothes and accessories that kids