Back to School Finds

When most people hear the term “back to school shopping”, their mind usually starts to fixate on a trip to Target that might include new glue, paper, pencils, crayons, and markers. This shopping excursion might also include a new pair of jeans because last year’s high waters just won’t suffice after their daughter’s summer growth spurt or a new pair of the latest sneakers for their son to kick the year off in style.

Because I work in education as do many of my family and friends, “back to school shopping” often carries a very different meaning. For those of us preparing for a new school year in the classroom, we’re thinking about new wardrobe staples that are functional but also fun to encourage us out the door each morning. Like a cat with nine lives, I’ve also had many lives at least professionally. My first job after graduating from college was buying, managing, and merchandising a contemporary clothing boutique called Raspberry Crush. Later I found myself on the other side of retail working for a showroom in Dallas. Again capitalizing on the perks of wholesale shopping and also always being one season ahead of the trend. Being privy to new trends at wholesale prices made a career in retail incredibly gratifying. While I don’t have the luxury of wholesale shopping anymore, I still love finding stylish pieces that don’t break the bank.

When you work with students in grades Pre-K3 through 8th grade, you have to be ready for anything. You might have to chase a kindergartener down the hallway in heels or sit on the floor with a group of 4th graders for a guidance lesson. This means that in your quest for great fashion staples you also have to be realistic about what your job description might entail. My fashion mantra has always been, “it’s not about how much you spend on clothes, but how you wear them.”

Here are some of the fresh finds to start my school year off in style. My merchandising eye kicked in to high gear as I was preparing for this post, so forgive me if my photos look like something out of a Target or Old Navy ad. What can I say, old habits die-hard!

When the school year kicks off in August in Texas, it’s still hotter than hot. Skirts, dresses, and sandals offer a little reprieve from the soaring temperatures but still allow for kneeling at eye level with the little ones or walking up stairs past middle school students.

Yesterday, on the eve of going back to work, I stopped in to see my friend, Leslie, at Salon Cypress for a quick trim. If only I had her hair styling abilities to pull this look off all the time. We all have our gifts, but alas working miracles with a curling iron is not one of mine!

As an educator, clothes can be a great talking point with students. I found this fun dinosaur Oxford shirt by Cat & Jack at Target. I’m sure one of my future paleontologists will have some words of wisdom about dinosaurs to share with me the next time I wear it. All of my shoe finds this summer were steals at DSW. Their sale racks in the back of the store offer a treasure trove of high-end brands at amazing prices. I scored these Betsy Johnson heels for $25.

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Target is my happy place for just about everything, and their clothing never disappoints. These fun pleated skirts offer so much versatility. I can dress them up with a blouse and heels or sport a more casual look with a tee-shirt and flats. Incidentally the white, teal, and coral tees were on special, two for $10. Score!

Every back to school shopping spree should include a denim shirt. Tucked in, tied at the waist, or layered over a dress provides countless opportunities to get your money’s worth with this item.

My career in retail taught me an important lesson about jewelry. All jewelry whether it’s costume or fine has the highest markup in the industry. The typical markup ranges from three to five times the wholesale price. With that being said, I make all of my fashion jewelry purchases at retailers like Charming Charlie’s because they offer kitschy finds at an affordable price.

Today marks my first day back at work although the kiddos won’t walk through the school doors until August 14th. I know many of you have started your year off already or will soon be back in your classroom teaching your heart out. Every day we have the power to change the world one mind at a time. Make it your best year yet!


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