The first day of school is just around the corner, so it's time to start shopping for clothes that fall into the happy medium area between dress codes, the newest trends, and your family's budget. Clothes that are comfortable, on trend, and versatile are the way to go.
Back to School Outfits for Elementary Students
Because dress codes limit options a bit and the younger kids often want to dress like their older siblings, there can be some crossover between what the different age groups wear.
Elementary School Girls
Stock up on cute shorts, tights, or leggings to go with a collection of dresses (and skirts) for modesty on the playground. You can usually find inexpensive cotton shorts that feel comfortable and go unnoticed under a dress at stores like Old Navy (less than $10.00).
A cute A-line, knee-length (or longer) dress like the Lilt Short-Sleeve Plaid Marsha Sequin Butterfly Dress (around $50.00 at JCPenney) is always another winning option for elementary school girls. The Floral Bell Sleeve Dress from Justice (under $30.00) is another cute option and has 3/4 length sleeves.
Tunic With Leggings
Pair up a striped tunic and leggings with or without a vest or scarf. You can even find whole outfits sold together in department stores that will take the guesswork out of shopping for you.
For a top and scarf combination, try the Knit Works 3-piece 3/4-Sleeve Leggings, Tunic, and Scarf Set from JCPenney (around $40.00) or consider the Asymmetrical Top and Dye Effect Printed Leggings from Justice (under $30.00 and under $20.00, respectively) and then pick up a Crochet Eternity Scarf separately (also Justice, under $15.00). Finish the outfit with short boots, sandals, or sneakers, depending on the dress code
Elementary School Boys
Plaid or brightly colored shorts and a t-shirt are a quick and easy outfit solution for boys. Plaid is huge for fall, and this is one way to bridge the gap between long, hot summer days and the welcoming in of a new school year, while bright colors are still fun when it's hot out. A t-shirt with a favorite character on it in a complementary shade (or just white) will keep him comfortable and cool all day.
Pair Plaid With Graphic or Colorful Top
Try the Poplin Flat Front Shorts for Boys (less than $20.00) and a t-shirt like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Face Boys' Graphic Tee (under $10.00 at Target). You could also go the cool, comfortable, and classic route by pairing up a t-shirt with some blue jeans and sneakers. You can't go wrong with that! Try the Hudson Parker Straight Leg Kids Jeans from Nordstrom with a graphic tee.
Cargos With Button-Ups
The combination of neutral-toned cargo shorts or jeans and a button-up (or t-shirt) can incorporate that plaid trend if you'd like, but it doesn't have to. Once you have the shorts or jeans picked out, find a button-up with short sleeves in his favorite colors. You can either have him wear it buttoned down the front or open with a t-shirt underneath.
Try out the Boys' Levi's Cargo Shorts (around $30.00, Kohl's) in their Monumental Plaid color option, or go for a solid light or dark khaki shade. For the plaid shirt option, there's the J.Crew Factory Boys' Summer Plaid Washed Shirt (less than $40.00), available in aqua tile or rose tile. If you want to go the t-shirt route with or without the plaid, what kid wouldn't like a shirt with an astronaut shark playing guitar on the moon (GAP, less than $20.00)?
Middle School Student Outfits
Helping your child pick out an age-appropriate outfit while staying on-trend is key for this age group.
Middle School Girls
Your girl may have already been a little fashionista in elementary school, but these are the days she'll probably really start paying attention to fashion and considering what her friends are wearing, as well as what everyone thinks of what she's wearing.
Slim Jeans With Plaid Shirt
Help your daughter navigate the dress code and social expectations with shorts, skinny/slim jeans, or an A-line skirt, paired up with a fitted tee/cami, plaid flannel, and sandals or low-top sneakers.
Take a look at the Embroidered Back Plaid Shirt (Justice, around $20.00), available in four color choices. Paired up with some jeggings like the Knit Waist Jean Leggings (also from Justice and around $20.00) and Lacey Cami (Justice, under $10.00), this will make for a winning, casual combo you can pick up at one store for right around $50.00.
Loose T-Shirt With Jacket and Jeans
Another option is a pair of skinny jeans, loose-fitting ultra-soft t-shirt, wedge booties, and a cute hair accessory. Optional: a tunic-length cardigan or light jacket in her favorite color, in case the classrooms are chilly.
- Try the Ten Sixty Sherman Cold Shoulder Tee (Nordstrom, under $40.00), which is loose and flowy and has cutouts at the shoulders to keep it from being just any old boring t-shirt. Or, else, consider the very similar BP. Cutout High/Low Tee.
- Put that with the STS Blue Cargo Pocket Skinny Pants (Nordstrom, under $50.00), skinny pants in black or dark olive that offer the convenience and visual interest of cargo pockets.
- Top it off with the Billabong Stripes Over You Cardigan (Nordstrom, under $70.00), a long, striped cardigan available in blue or maroon, or the Billabong No Boundaries Jacket (Nordstrom, less than $100.00), which is a neutral-toned, go-with-anything midweight jacket with a hood.
Middle School Boys
Classic combos get an update as boys transition from elementary to middle school.
Shorts With Button-Ups
Cargo shorts, jean shorts, or joggers (like the Levi's Boys Ripstop Camo Jogger Pants, under $50.00 at Macy's) and a t-shirt will work great for middle school boys, with an optional short-sleeved button-up on top.
Sneakers or sandals pair perfectly with either option. The Tucker + Tate Hoodie and Jogger Pants set from Nordstrom (each piece under $40.00) will look great in cooler months.
Preppy Polo Look
Jeans and a polo (check out the Old Navy Uniform Pique Polo for Boys, less than $10.00) or raglan t-shirt (take a look at the Vans Off the Wall Pix Raglan T-shirt, less than $30.00 at Walmart) will also work.
Have him pick his favorite style of jeans. Some boys like wearing the more relaxed, straight-leg style with a polo, while others like the more fitted jeans with t-shirts. A pair of Vans (or similar shoes) will work with either jeans combo.
High School Attire Suggestions
Jeans still reign supreme when it comes to outfitting your high school student for the first day of school.
High School Girls
Look for casual chic style. Skinny jeans or leggings, flowy hi-low tops or flannel (maybe even with crocheted back detail), and low-top sneakers, sandals, combat boots, or booties (lace-up boots even work with the leggings!) work well for the first day back. Skinny jeans, a more fitted t-shirt, and a lightweight infinity scarf will also look nice and should also adhere to the dress code.
Skinny Jeans With Plaid
The American Rag Crochet-Back Plaid Shirt Jacket ($50.00 or less, depending on color) could be paired with the Forever 21 High-Rise Skinny Jeans (less than $30.00) and Just Do You Bodysuit (under $20.00, Forever 21) or any basic tee.
A chambray button-up (like Forever 21's version, available for around $20.00) paired with white shorts or jeans (like Wet Seal's High-Rise Ankle Zip option for under $40.00) will be the perfect crossover combination between summer and fall. For shoes, wedge or flat booties in tan or black will work with jeans, while leather (or faux leather) sandals will go with the shorts.
Mismatched denim is another take on this look. Try a lighter tone on top and a dark wash on the bottom. For example, you could pair the Arizona Long-Sleeve Denim Shirt (around $40.00 at JCPenney) with the dark denim blue slim-fit pants from H&M (about $20.00).
High School Boys
High school boys often look for comfortable styles.
Stylish Polo Outfit
Straight leg blue jeans (like American Eagle's Extreme Flex Slim Straight Jean, around $50.00) or tan shorts (try PacSun's RVCA Week-End Shorts, under $50.00) paired with a polo is an option that never goes out of style. It's a safe bet that is more dressed up than your standard tee and jogger pants combo. Doc Martens or sneakers work well with these items
Hoodie With Jeans
A light hoodie is optional, depending on where you live, the start date for the schools in your area, and whether the classrooms are typically kept cold. The ASOS Oversized Hoodie (just over $30.00) is a good option.
Blue jeans (especially with a taper toward the ankle, like the PacSun Stacked Skinny Ripped Acid Wash Jeans, just over $50.00), t-shirt (like the When It Rains, It Poes tee for around $25.00 from Hot Topic), optional plaid button-up (also Hot Topic, around $40.00), and sneakers (Converse or Vans) give off the cool guy vibe. Another pants option with a similar cut is the jogger, like the AEO Extreme Flex Jogger (under $50.00). Pair them up with a t-shirt (Hot Topic has quite a variety for guys) or polo, low-top sneakers or high-tops.
Shopping for School Clothes
When it's time to shop for those first day of school outfits (and more), things can get a bit stressful. Try to take some pressure off by shopping around online and looking for coupon codes to stack with sales. Venture out to the stores and brave the crowds only for a few things, if you have to (unless you love the thrill of that type of shopping experience, of course). Back to school shopping isn't for the faint-hearted, but if you're armed with a list of styles to try and a list of stores to visit, it can be easier than ever.