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COMFORT, STYLE SPRING TO FORE IN KIDS' CLOTHES FOR SPRING

Bright colors and cool fabrics are some of the many fashion ideas on tap for children this spring.

And with warm weather just around the corner, children will want clothes that offer comfort, fashion and fun to complete the school year."Utah kids are much more fashion forward than the rest of the nation," said Ron Bussanmas, boys buyer for Nordstrom at Crossroads Plaza in Salt Lake City.

And this year there are a lot of fashions to look forward to.

Boys' fashions are turning from a structured look to a more relaxed and casual look. For instance, in style will be a twill pant and cardigan sweater rather than a suit. Or, in place of cardigan sweaters, boys wear cable-knit sweaters and navy blazers.

Ties will complete the look; and there are several styles from which to choose. Conversation print, seersucker and floral-print ties will all be popular this spring.

Complementing the casual look will be logo-oriented activewear. Nike is releasing a line of activewear this season featuring the company's logo. The line will include everything from socks and shoes to shirts and caps.

In addition, every fashion package includes the reliable and familiar.

Denim is a standard in boys' and girls' fashions, and "is still very popular," said Cindy Richards, media relations representative for Nordstrom. Yet even denim is taking on new looks.

This spring, Girbaud is introducing a new line of colors and stripes into its denim wear, including more natural colors.

Denim shorts and shortalls will also be in style this spring, both for boys and girls.

Guess, Bongom, Steel and OshKosh are popular denim name brands for girls, according to Debbie Carey, girls buyer for Nordstrom at Crossroads Plaza. Carey points out that Guess jeans have lowered their prices this year to an average of $34 each.

And as suggested by the popularity of those jeans, casual fashions for girls this spring are a necessity.

In response to the need, B.U.M. Equipment has introduced new sizes for children 4-6X. Furthermore, the company has introduced new colors in its line, including sherbet, or "whited-brites."

According to Carey, B.U.M. Equipment is one of the season's most popular sellers.

Also in demand this season are gingham checks, though with an updated, newer look. In addition, dots and strips are in style for spring but will be replaced with stars and stripes in the summer.

And nautical looks continue to be a favorite among girls for spring. Esprit and Adrienne Vittadini are featuring bright new colors in their lines of swimwear, and sales are soaring already.

Another favorite among girls and boys are chambray shirts. The shirts are versatile and can be worn with twill pants and a tie, denim jeans or shorts.

Speaking of popular shirts, Polo re-introduced its pique net with the signature logo. The shirt will be added to other classic collections, including Polo's rugby shirts.

No spring fashion collection would be complete without brightly printed floral dresses for girls. This year, dresses with a polished cotton chintz look will be popular.

Furthermore, floral dresses will include a variety of laced treatments. Accessories such as chiffon scarves, charm bracelets and silver jewelry will be important to complete the look.

Dresses come in a range of different prices, running from $35 to $45 for some, and $85 and up for the Anne Savoy collection.

"Our most expensive dresses are some of our best sellers," said Richards. However, dresses with lower price tags remain very popular among Utah shoppers.

Fashions are changing in other respects, too.

Richards said some of today's children are mixing name-brand clothing with generic pieces. For instance, a child might pair a Polo pique net shirt with generic twill pants. Usually, this is in an effort to save money but keep the name brand on the article of clothing the child feels is important to fashion.

The other trend surfacing in fashion is the popularity of unisex clothes, especially for girls.

Girls want clothes that are more structured, woven and rugged than traditional girls' wear. To get them, they often buy jeans, T's, and twill shirts in the boys' department.