For many of us, back to school means finally getting back into a comfortable routine, not spending hours binge watching Netflix or worrying about making plans every single day so that the fear you’ll waste your summer can subside. For others, back to school means mountains of homework, trying to fit in as much time for binge watching Netflix as possible, procrastinating because of the mountains of homework that you have, and trying to fill your weekend with as many fun activities as possible before you return to the land of Satan on Monday morning. But there’s always one part of back to school that isn’t as dreaded as the rest: Back to school shopping.
Let’s face it – adding new clothes to your wardrobe is pretty exciting when you’ve been prancing around in the same Nike Frees and black puffer vest since last fall. Therefore, I’ve devised a guide to help you get the most out of your back to school shopping without breaking the bank.
Look for the Basics
Perhaps the most important take-away from this guide is this: Look for the basics. Yes, these are not the most exciting part of your wardrobe, but they’re the most practical. The majority of the school year, you’re going to be rushing around, running late and going from this to that. Having the basics of your wardrobe down will make all of that so much easier. Throwing on a white T-shirt and jeans will leave you ample time to accessorize. Add layers of necklaces, some bracelets, a chunky wristwatch, dangly earrings or a hat (if your school permits). Don’t allow yourself to feel bored by the basic pieces in your closet, as there’s always something you can do to add a little flair to them.
This black top is simple in the front, but the back has a series of ties which adds a little to the shirt. It can be dressed up or down or worn underneath a kimono or bomber jacket. It’s extremely versatile, which is something you want to look for in your basics.
Shirt: Francesca’s, $28.00 USD (not on sale)
Jeans: Bluenotes, under $50.00 USD (not on sale)
Belt: Forever 21, below $20.00 USD (not on sale)
Shoes: Ralph Lauren slip-ons, Macy’s, $49.99 USD (on sale)
Find Clothes That Make You Feel Good
Step number two is to wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself. Going along with that, wear clothes that flatter your body. I’m not about to body shame people for the way they dress or the size they are, but wearing clothes that flatter your body really does make a difference, not only in how you look, but in your level of comfort as well. If you wear clothes that fit you right, it’s going to make you more comfortable and feel good about what’s on your body. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a desk all day in a skirt that’s a little too short, panicking that you just flashed another person in your class. When you’re out buying clothes, it should be pieces that make you feel confident about who you are. You don’t want to be paranoid about how you look, what other people think, etc. etc. Comfort and confidence is key when it comes to executing style in school.
This grey dress is one of the pieces in my wardrobe that I know will make me look good, because it’s something that I bought with confidence and that makes me feel good about my body. However, in school, I don’t like to show off my body as much, so throwing a chunky, jean vest over-top and dressing it down with some slip-ons and a baseball cap make it more comfortable throughout the day.
Dress: Streetwear Society, $12.00 USD (on sale)
Vest: Forever 21 Men, below $30.00 USD (not on sale)
Hat: DSW, $12.50 USD (not on sale)
Shoes: Ralph Lauren slip-ons USD (on sale)
Get It On Sale
When it comes to back to school shopping, your best friends will be stores with low prices. While there are some items you might want to invest in, you can also find many great pieces without having to spend a ton of money. Don’t be embarrassed about combing through the sale section, because if you take the time to actually do so, you can find the jackpot. Don’t turn up your nose at the clearance section, either, because there’s some pretty original stuff you can find in there too, and many clearance sections often have a sale going on. So, not only do you start with a lower price, but it can also be deducted when you get to the cash register.
The pieces in this look aren’t dirt cheap, but they’re pieces I was willing to make the investment in. Plaid shirts are extremely versatile and can be worn multiple times, while still looking different every time you wear it. Tucking one side of the shirt into my shorts adds a more feminine look to something that doesn’t have a lot of shape to begin with. I also dropped some money on the jean shorts due to the fact that they’re an immediate necessity in my closet, and are something I can wear time and time again.
Plaid: Garage, $40.00 USD (buy 1, get 1 free sale)
Shorts: Zara, $39.00 USD (not on sale)
Necklace: Forever 21, $15.00 or less USD (not on sale)
Sandals: Macy’s, $49.99 USD (on sale)
Spend Money Where It Counts
The last lesson in this guide is: Spend the money where it counts. Not in the way where you’re thinking, “oh my god, these high heels are two hundred dollars, they make my calves look so good, I need them.” In the way that you’re thinking, “I’m down to one good pair of jeans in my closet.” There are plenty of other expenses in your life that you can put two hundred dollars towards, instead of a pair of heels that you might wear five times in the next two years. Not to shame on treating yourself to some expensive shoes, but back to school shopping is not one of these times. If you’re going to spend the big bucks, spend it on something you’re going to wear over and over again.
This outfit isn’t your typical back-to-school look, but it’s probably something you’ll be wearing eighty percent of the time once September and the first impressions pass. The Nike shoes in this look are the most expensive part. Not only do I wear them for track practice, but also during school. And since Nike shoes are what work best for my feet and I love having cool runners, I went with these as the colours are not something that clashes with a lot of my clothes. The leggings are also an expensive part of this look because I spend three to five days of my week in them; whether that be at practice, school or work. These expensive pieces are what I dropped money on because I knew I needed them and that I’d be wearing them a lot.
Shirt: Zara, $9.99 USD (on sale)
Leggings: UnderArmour, $70.00 USD (not on sale)
Shoes: Nike, under $100.00 USD (not on sale)
From the Fall 2016 issue. Get it for FREE here.