TIGARD, OR—In preparation for the upcoming school year, local mother Karen Dougherty, 43, has been working on some fresh and exciting new clothing options for her 10-year-old son, Michael, the excited mom told reporters Wednesday.

"Michael is at an age now where it's important that he not look just like all the other boys in school," said Dougherty, who made a personal vow this summer to "really push the envelope" in 2009. "That's why this year I've made a number of fashionable but unique clothing choices for him that are sure to make the other fourth-graders take notice and say, 'Ooh, that looks smart.'"

"It's time to think outside the box," she added. "Pastels, anyone?"

Dougherty, who is already well known among parents for the manner in which she dresses her son, believes that now is the perfect time to really turn heads by bringing out some of the more eye-catching color and fabric combinations Michael has previously been resistant to.

"Well, you know how boys are," said Dougherty, as she carefully hemmed the cuffs on a pair of baby-blue corduroys. "If Michael had his way, he'd probably run out the door every day in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. He doesn't understand that he'd make a much stronger impression on his classmates and teachers if he tried an outfit with more flair, like a nice mock turtleneck with a peach vest."

"Oh, and I was thinking of getting him a little peacoat for the winter, too," Dougherty continued. "He'll look just like Ryan O'Neal in Love Story."

Over the past month, Dougherty has made her son accompany her on more than a dozen extended trips to local department stores and shopping malls, in search of colorful ensembles for schooltime and playtime that will "reflect how special [Michael] is" and accentuate his "handsome, round" face.

"Fourth grade is a great year for dressing boys because you can really do anything with them," Dougherty told reporters waiting outside a Nordstrom dressing room as her son tried on the first of several prospective outfits. "You can go Southwestern, nautical, even safari. I mean, why not? There are no rules, really, and I think Michael's look this year is going to reflect that."

Prodding her son toward a three-way mirror near the store's entrance, Dougherty checked the fit of a pair of single-pleat chinos the boy was wearing, frowning as she tugged at the waist and inseam of the pants.

Dougherty said that, while her son still had "a little baby fat" around the torso and thighs, she could work around the problem by dressing him in loose-fitting, blousy button-downs and adventurous-yet-flattering striped shorts.

"At this age, it's fine for him to run a size bigger, especially if he's wearing gingham, which is slimming," remarked Dougherty, who noted that the plain-woven checked fabric is, according to Redbook, "really chic right now." "Michael may be a little husky at the moment, but eventually he'll be tall and thin like his father, and then I can shop for them both at the same time."

Added Dougherty, "Easy!"

When reached for comment at his home Wednesday evening, Michael Dougherty told reporters he would like to be alone for a while and closed his bedroom door.