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Fresh, no-fuss clothes with a touch of fun

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Teachers accustomed to a sea of faded-blue denim in classrooms are sure to blink when students come trooping back to school this fall in a glorious blaze of color. Purple, coral, turquoise, burgundy, fuchsia, rose-red - all are in sharp contrast to color choices available in recent years.

How did children's-wear designers manage this turnaround? How did they coax kids out of the blue-jean mold, even temporarily? By giving them fresh, no-fuss clothes with a touch of fun. By letting them experiment with a whole new range of colors and discover untapped beauty.

Purple is the big surprise. Never considered a young color (maybe royal happenings in England played a part here), an electric purple seems to have captured young imaginations. It's turning up in action wear (fleece sweatshirts and pants), corduroy jumpsuits and overalls, fiber-filled nylon jackets, velvet skirts, and plaid blouses, all for girls sizes 7-14.

One style for girls already proven magnetic is the 1982 version of the miniskirt, designed to be worn with tights. Most resemble skating costumes. Some are attached to tops, others have matching pullovers. Red-striped jersey looks newest, but the skirts are also featured in denim.

Prairie denim skirts with below-knee ruffled hems continue to be popular. Those by Gloria Vanderbilt for Murjani are cut with fitted-waist yokes, front and back. Instructions say to wash them inside out to avoid streaking.

Plaid and printed blouses from this line make a point of high ruffled necks, puffed shoulders, asymmetric closings, and side-buttoned bibs. Very pretty, they are suitable for school or dress, and often have ribbon bows at the neck. Size range is 7-14.

For preteens, loose-fitting jersey tops with ruffled peplums are eye-catching , but dolman tops in acrylic knits for teens have a distinct high-fashion look. Here again, colors are showoffs. Bands of burgundy, green, navy, and purple emphasize deep armholes and sleeve widths. Fronts and backs are in solids.

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