What do ‘novel’ teens wear?

Every weekday I drive my teen son to the other side of our neighborhood to his bus stop.  Weird, I know, but it’s our time in the morning.  I have my cup of coffee, he drinks his juice and/or eats his breakfast (he’s a jump-out-of-bed-and-go kind of guy), and most of the time we talk, listen to music, laugh.  It’s become a routine since I lost my job in 2010 and trust me, I’m not going to balk when my teen wants to spend time with me.  (It’s also my way to protect these kids from kidnapping, bullying or sexual attacks).

Some days, like today, he had a headache and didn’t feel all that well, so he kicked the seat back and rested his eyelids until the bus came.  During that time, the writer in me kicked in and I became an observer once more.  Have you ever really looked at what teens wear to school these days?

There is one kid.  He’s average height and skinny as a rail, and I swear he doesn’t own one pair of jeans or pants.  Every day he arrives at the bus stop in knit shorts to his knees, black crew socks and a t-shirt – even when it’s 30 degrees outside.

Another bigger, bulkier guy wears either black socks or one black, one white sock with sandals every day.

There is this little petite brunette that wears the shortest shorts I’ve ever seen every day.  And on cold days, she throws on a pair of tights underneath and maybe some leggings.

Then there is the girl who wears tights for pants and they leave nothing to the imagination, including the fact that she either doesn’t wear underwear, or maybe there’s a thong in there somewhere.  Over that she wears a hip-length tunic or shirt, some really cute jewelry and her hair and makeup are always perfect.  I tell you, she must get up at 5:00 to get the look just right.

There’s another kid who smokes and another who smacks gum constantly. Oh, and did I mention they all have cell phones, and they are all texting and chatting at 6:20 in the morning with other peeps not at the bus stop?  And, they stand in cliques.  Every now and then, the cliques will talk to each other, but they still keep their respectable distance.

It dawned on me this morning how predictable these kids are and how much fun it would be to incorporate their ‘quirks’ into characters.  We all know the cliché characters who wear all black to meld into the background, or how certain colors show the personality of a character.  But what story could you write around any of the students like the ones above?

What kind of story would you write about a mom who takes her 17-year old son to the bus stop?  Without knowing the true story, we can all make up scenarios for what we see.  We can all draw conclusions.  We can all judge…

And it’s all acceptable to do when you’re a writer.  How else are we to develop our next teen characters in our novel?  It’s part of the process.  Observe.  Wonder.  Write.

What do your ‘novel’ teens wear?  Where do you find the inspiration for your teen characters?