For those without driver's licenses, the question "Am I too old for a mini?" just doesn't apply. Stylish pre-teens have deemed the mini-miniskirt trend the most important of the season; thigh-high skirts are the one thing every girl plans to go back to school wearing. Those cursed with uniforms are hiking up their bottoms, and everyone else is shooting for looks that range from Marc Jacobs-style fringed denim to Madonna's Westwood-plaid concert kilt ($50-$200 at Infinity). Any fabric will do, really, as long as it's accessorized with super-straight blown-dry hair and a Juicy Couture T-shirt. At least in the back-to-school age group, nobody can complain about having worn this trend the last time it was around.
An Honor to Be Nominated
Do-it-yourself jewelry has always been a hallmark of the too-young-to-vote set. Friendship bracelets, charm bracelets . . . basically anything that can bear your name. This year, the Nomination bracelet is the most fashionable way to flaunt your tastes. The bracelets are somewhere between a Slinky and a watchband -- stretchy, stainless-steel links, embellished with gold and enamel. But the design is individual: You pick your own links, which spell out names, wish a happy bat mitzvah, declare best-friend-forever-hood, and list activities (there's a cell-phone charm, for example). And because they are easy to take apart and reassemble, there's plenty of room to change your mind, too. ($40-$120 at Marsha D.D.)
Those tiny Polaroid cameras that make postage-stamp-size stickers are so last year. But (as any tween will tell you) the need to constantly capture friends making goofy faces has not abated. These days, the camera to have is a four-lens Lomo SuperSampler. The cameras are originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, but some Austrians vacationing in Prague loved them so much that they redesigned them to snap four frames in two seconds and packaged them in brightly colored, drop-proof plastics ($49.95 at Bloomingdale's and www.lomo.com). The effect is a cross between a flip-book and those strips of shots you get in a boardwalk photo booth, which makes them excellent for documenting cartwheels -- and crushes.
And for the Parents . . .
Most parents don't get much insight on what happens once they've delivered their children to their various activities: Answers tend to be monosyllabic, and parental involvement is just so . . . puh-leeze. But for the past two years, photographer Barbara Pollack has chronicled the social life of her 13-year-old son, Max, and his preteen friends during dances at New York City Laboratory School, a public middle school in Chelsea. The result is "Dance Party," a series of Pollack's signature blurry portraits that shows not only the confident kids on the dance floor but also the lonely, longing wallflowers. Perhaps most remarkably, Pollack has managed to become part of the action, transforming herself from dance chaperone to unofficial member of the class. "The kids came to consider me their private paparazzo," she says. Max, who's entering the eighth grade, isn't even embarrassed. He thinks his mom has improved his social life. And that's truly a first. (Esso Gallery, 211 West 28th Street, from September 12 to October 20.)
N. C. MAISAK