Chapin and Spence students have been wearing plaid for years, but this fall, even those who don't have to wear uniforms are wrapping themselves in the schoolgirl staple. Rather than consulting The Official Preppy Handbook, however, they're taking a page out of the Britney Spears primer, with pleated minis (U's is $58 at Urban Outfitters) and candy-colored tartan coats barely long enough to cover them (Sara Berman's is $418 at Henri Bendel). Just the sort of outfit to persuade heads of school to bring back real uniforms.
Kate Spade's reign as the satchel supplier to the city's trendiest teens may be over: Head Porter, a line previously available only in its native Japan, has opened its first U.S. outpost, in SoHo (140 Wooster Street; 212-995-8108). Bags like the Three Way ($298; pictured), which can convert from a backpack to a messenger bag to a briefcase, are made from specially reinforced industrial-strength nylon, and each sporty sack comes with a lifetime guarantee. That should provide some small comfort to worried parents watching their kids stagger beneath a 45-pound heap of French and biology texts: The bag, at least, won't split its seams.
Inside the Beltway
Nicky Hilton may wear hers as the micro-est mini of all, but other New York City teenagers are strapping this season's allowance-allotted accessory -- a copy of the three-inch-wide glittery Dolce & Gabbana belt popularized by Gisele; pictured -- over their Diesel dirty denims and Katayone Adeli work pants. Best-selling belts have beads and sequins ($17 at H&M), fringe (Inca's is $150 at Scoop), or rhinestones (Cathy Waronker's, pictured, is $440 at Fragments). Why such a fancy look for the classroom? Well, if you're Nicky, you get to show off at the collections. But the average high-schooler goes to a different fashion show -- the one in the cafeteria.
British kids, the first to go nuts for Harry Potter's 500-page tales, were also the first to turn Harry's glasses into a myopic must-have. Now eyewear emporiums on this side of the Atlantic are doing a brisk business with middle-schoolers clamoring for the signature round dark frames. Selima Optique (59 Wooster Street; 212-343-9490) noticed an uptick in sales of its circular frame ($225) as soon as Potter popped up on the best-seller list. In the past few weeks alone, Zeitlin Optik (40 East 52nd Street; 212-319-5166) has sold almost a dozen of its $140 frames to four-eyed tykes. And last week, Morgenthal-Frederics (399 West Broadway; 212-966-0099) introduced a very Harry-ish frame in mahogany or ebony ($335). If only the glasses came with a wizard card.