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One of my fondest childhood memories is getting back-to-school clothes with my mom every fall. I remember how excited I’d get to model outfits and trends for her in the mall and then show off everything I’d gotten to my friends. 

Today, things are a bit different—but the kids still love to shop! Gone are the days of teens thumbing through clothing racks and trying on whatever draws them in like I did in the nineties and early aughts. With the rise of social media, back-to-school shopping is more about scrolling through TikTok. And as a result, far more calculated. 

Jillian Gardner, 16, of Lewes, Delaware, told SheKnows that TikTok trends have a big influence on what clothes and accessories she purchases. “I definitely get inspired by the trends and outfits I see on TikTok. I tend to buy similar things online and in the boutiques around my town with my mom.” This fall, in particular, Gardner says she’s “really excited to wear flare leggings and all types of wider pants paired with baby tees and gold hoop earrings.”

If, like Gardner, your teen is trend-driven, it can be helpful to get on the same page as them ahead of your back-to-school shopping trip (digital or otherwise). As a parent, you’re likely thinking about things like dress codes and budgets, while your kid is probably solely focused on the looks they want to buy. We’re here to help bridge that gap. 

With the help of Gardner and her fellow fashion-loving classmate Anna Bender, we’ve broken down all the hottest TikTok-viral fashion trends for girls and guys. Read on to learn how to get your teen the looks they want—without spending a fortune or stocking up on one-hit wonders. (Spoiler: Nordstrom is one of our biggest back-to-school secret weapons. They have so many on-trend and affordable clothing options under $50!)

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Nordstrom is a SheKnows sponsor, however, all products in this article were independently selected by our editors. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

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Basic Baby Tees

The last time we saw these form-fitting, short T-shirts everywhere, the Spice Girls were at the height of their fame, and everyone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Rachel from Friends was rocking the trend.

Today, girls on TikTok don the look with everything from cargo pants to workout shorts (more on both of those later) and generally stick to more neutral-colored tees in an attempt to stay within “The Vanilla Girl Aesthetic,” Bender and Gardner tell us. Also called a “clean girl aesthetic,” this fashion trend is all about simple basics and neutral, lighter-colored clothing that’s either heather grey, cream, or white, Gardner explains. 

While logo versions of baby tees are popular, we suggest avoiding tees with words and designs to ensure your teen gets more longevity and versatility from their wardrobe. 

Teens are all about Free People these days, and this basic top from the TikTok-famous brand pairs perfectly with jeans, skirts, or any other type of bottom. We like that it’s not too cropped, which ensures it’s still dress-code-friendly for school days.

This thermal textured baby tee is perfect for layering. It comes in both grey and ivory, which are both perfect for nailing the neutral aesthetic that’s all over TikTok. “Heather grey is such a good color that’s on-trend,” Gardner tells SheKnows.

As we transition to fall, this long-sleeve spin on the baby tee will be a welcome addition to your teen’s wardrobe rotation. 

Oversized Graphic Tees & Sweatshirts

From tiny tees to huge, oversized tops, back-to-school clothes for teens are nothing if not eclectic. “Oversized graphic shirts are so cute and trendy, and I love the look of a basic tank under a big zip-up in a neutral color,” Gardner told SheKnows. 

We’re not surprised she loves these styles. Comfy, oversized tops have been seen on celebs like Hailey Bieber and are all over TikTok thanks to their popularity among the platform’s biggest personalities, including Charli D’Amelio and Alix Earle. 

When you’re shopping, look for basic sweatshirts that can go from school to practice to sleepovers with ease to help them get the most longevity. If you opt for a logo or print, aim for something timeless so the garment can stand the test of time, even if the “in” fit ends up skewing tighter.

Comfort is key when it comes to back-to-school outfits for teens, and this neutral zip-up is a great addition to any wardrobe for girls and guys alike. Guys can pair it with a tee or polo, and girls can pop it over a tank or dress. The layering options are endless.

This cotton tee has a loose fit and an adorable ’70s-inspired graphic.

Is there anything more trendy in the world of sports right now than pickleball? This supersoft, slightly faded tee is perfect for everyday wear and has that lived-in feel teens love so much. Size up for an extra roomy fit.

Oversized crewneck sweatshirts are super popular right now and we love that this cozy fleece one has a simple travel-inspired logo with bouclé letters.

Throw-Back Footwear & Unisex Styles

Everything you loved as a kid and everything your parents loved as a kid is back in style. Uggs, Converse, and other classic kicks are all part of the most lusted-after back-to-school outfits for teens on TikTok.

“Uggs—especially Ultra Mini and the mini platform ones—are very popular on TikTok. People love posting about what colors they get,” says Gardner. If your kiddo wants a pair of either fur-lined style, you better act fast because they keep selling out. In fact, TikTokers have even resorted to cutting taller Uggs to get the cropped boot look when they can’t find them in stock.

Gardner and Bender say this 1970s canvas Converse style is super popular, especially in classic colors like black and white. Pro-tip for teen girls: Go down a 1/2 size for the best fit.

New Balance 550s first popped onto the scene in the late 80s as a basketball sneaker. They’ve recently made their way back into the spotlight as a popular off-court option for both men and women.

Lug-sole loafers are perfect for teens that prefer a more elevated look. Hailey Bieber is a huge fan of this style, and you can see TikToker emulating her look by pairing them with everything from wide-leg jeans to skirts. While some pairs can run you close to $1,000, this pair comes in just under $100, making it one of the more budget-friendly options.

TikTok content about this classic suede and canvas shoe has been viewed over 116 million times! Thanks to their versatility, affordability, and sleek design, these have become a staple for many in the skate, surf, music, and fashion scenes, and teens have taken notice. This is definitely a shoe that tons of kids want to get their hands on ahead of back-to-school. It’s perfect for daily wear but also holds up well if your teen is more active and enjoys things like skating, dancing, or taking long walks with friends.

Cargo Pants & Wide Leg Jeans

Just when you thought teen trends couldn’t get any more Y2K, cargo pants and wide-leg jeans entered the chat. The kids are wearing them loose and lower-slung, just like their favorite celebs, including Dua Lipa and Justin Bieber.

Wide-leg jeans are also hot on TikTok, Gardner notes. “I don’t wear them, but a lot of teen girls my age love wide-leg jeans and bootcut styles—especially from brands like Levi’s and Wrangler.”

Not everyone is ready to forgo their higher-rise pants, and these military chic pants are ideal for anyone that falls in that camp. They’re 100% cotton and come in three colors: ivory, green, and a dark blue-ish grey.

These elastic-waist tapered cargo pants have a tie-front, which basically makes them fancy sweatpants. What teenager wouldn’t be into the idea of that?

These ’90s-inspired dad jeans will give her the baggy look shes wants without overwhelming her frame. They also come with rips if an extra laid-back look is more the vibe your teen wants. And bonus, they’re on sale for $82!

Justin Bieber loves a light-wash baggy jean, and guys all over TikTok are following suit. This wider straight-leg jean with paneled knee detailing is right on trend and fairly wallet-friendly, too.

Nineties Throwback Accessories 

If your teen can’t get enough of Friends-inspired fashion, they’ll want to complete their back-to-school outfits with some key accessories. Narrow sunglasses are trending, as are claw clips, bucket hats, and choker necklaces. Our tip: Focus your haul on school-friendly items they’ll reach for again and again, like these go-with-everything simple classics.

There is a very good chance your kid has watched more TikTok claw clip tutorials than they’d like to admit. Get her this four-pack of colorful clips so she can practice nailing her look and have options to go with all her different outfits.

The list of things TikTok has convinced your teen they need to buy is probably a long one. But a pair of classic gold hoop earrings may just be one of the most timeless. “Chunky gold hoops are very, very trendy, and I don’t go anywhere without them,” Gardner says. This pair, made of hypoallergenic titanium, isn’t too big, so they can be worn daily to dress up any outfit. And, honesty, they have tons of staying power—this is something that can be worn for years to come.

Athleisure & Surfwear 

Whether they’re filming a dance for TikTok, hanging with friends, or actually working out, teens basically live in athleisure. But this is the one trend for back to school that isn’t totally ’00s-inspired. Yes, teens love flared leggings which were huge in the early aughts, but everything else is far more retro than that. Think: short shorts for guys and loose track shorts for girls à la the 70s. An interesting micro-trend within this category is surf-inspired activewear, which Gardner says is having a moment, especially for guys.

FP Movement, Free People’s activewear line, is one of the hottest brands on TikTok right now. These shorts are super lightweight and sweat-wicking, so they’re great with a big t-shirt for gym class, especially early in the school year when it’s still super hot outside. Alternatively, since the rise is ultra-high, your teen can pair them with a slightly cropped top for a less conservative weekend look.

Flair leggings are one of the hottest trends right now, and this Adidas pair, made with a blend of viscose, cotton, and elastane, is ultra-soft and stretchy. Hailey Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski rock this style regularly and have worn them with everything from sweaters and baseball hats to leather jackets and sterling sandals. This is one laid-back wardrobe staple we don’t see going anywhere anytime soon.

Short shorts are back, baby! This super affordable pair from Nike comes in 11 fun colors, so he can get a pair for gym class and still have another to wear on the weekend with friends. They’re made from a stretchy, sweat-wicking fabric and have lots of hidden pockets for keys, a phone, and all his other daily must-haves.

When it comes to back-to-school clothes for teens, graphic tees are must-buys. This one by surf brand O’Neill is perfect to wear on its own but will also look great layered over a long sleeve in the winter.

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