We’ve been traveling so much this summer that I knew we weren’t going to have time to do any of our back-to-school shopping when we returned. So this year I did it all online. I have a serious problem where I can’t spend money on something unless I think it’s the best. “The best” means lots of things to me. But I usually buy something because it’s cute, it’s affordable, and it’s good quality. If I drew a venn diagram then all the things I try to buy would be right where those three things intersect. You might be thinking “what’s the serious problem?” It only becomes a problem when I won’t just buy whatever socks are on the shelf at Target. Sometimes I’ll spend three hours searching stores for the best socks and still come home empty handed. As a result I usually do a ton of research. I’ll get stuck on a random thing like researching “the best looking shoes without laces” (there are a few years there where they don’t know how to tie their shoes yet and there aren’t a ton of good options.)
I thought I would share it here in case anybody is still doing their back to school shopping. In some ways I think it is more difficult to find good options for boys than it is for girls because there is less of a selection. I try to buy lots of basics in a neutral palate so the kids can get dressed themselves and it still looks good. I do little pops of color but for the most part I buy greys, navy, and nuetrals. I still try to dress the kids a little bit European-ish if you can call it that. Blame it on the time we spent living in France but I love me some monochromatic grey kids clothes. The boys still don’t have strong opinions in choosing their clothes so besides a few Star Wars t-shirts I usually pick out most things and they don’t care as long as it’s comfortable. I should mention that we live in San Francisco so our climate is very moderate year-round (we don’t do shorts or heavy winter gear)…
Sweater – I randomly bought this sweater from the Gap last year when Mos was attending a school with uniforms. I was shocked when I saw at the end of the year how well it held up. It’s thick but not too heavy, perfect on it’s own or for layering. This year I picked up a couple for each of the boys (they come in a few colors.)
Collarless Shirt – When we lived in Paris this style of shirt was common. I like that it feels European and because it’s slightly “fancier” than a regular shirt but isn’t a full blown button down. H&M carries this style a lot.
Pants – I like to throw in a little pattern like camo (or stripes) that feels like a neutral.
Fjallraven – These waterproof bags from Sweden are a classic in Scandinavia. They come in the best colors and you can get them on Amazon or in a ton of hipster-ish stores.
Bensimon High Tops – These are great looking shoes. This is a French brand that you can find on Amazon. We get compliments on these where ever we go. They are durable yet comfortable and come in the best colors. The boys usually wear these if they are dressing up a little or we bring these along when we travel. Bensimon also makes a slip on but I don’t think they are as good looking as these laced high tops.
Sweater – In San Francisco we layer a lot so I stock up on these types of thin sweaters and sweatshirts. Most days my kids don’t leave the house without one. I usually pick up one or two every time I go to H&M.
Henley – This is another basic that has details that make it feel slightly nicer than your average t-shirt but casual enough you can wear to playtime at school.
Pants – I’ve been buying lots of these soft pants lately. The cut has a dropcrotch which make them feel stylish but they are so comfortable to wear. The kids love them and have been choosing them over their jeans.
Lunch Bag – I’m not impressed with the lunchbag selections out there. I looked everywhere and there was slim pickings. Moses chose this monster one from JCrew (it’s so great!). We’ve been using these metal LunchBots for a few years and we love them. It’s a little bit of an investment to buy them but ours are going on strong after two years. I like them because they are a bento-ish but they only have one lid so it’s easy for a kid to access. I learned early on I had to make lunch really simple or my kids would get distracted and choose recess instead of eating lunch.
New Balance – Every year I buy one pair of New Balance or Sauconys. They are really good looking and have a lot of support for day to day playtime. They come in lots of great colors but I gotta say JCrew always has the best selection though you can find a few other more simple options online. The velcro in the classic style can be harder to find. These are the main day-to-day shoes for my kids.
Tshirt – Whenever we see cute t-shirts at craft fairs or stores we pick them up. This Golden Gate Park bison tshirt is from Park Life. We also have lots of basic t-shirts around for layering. In the winter they never take off their sweaters so I try not to spend a lot of money since no one ever sees them! (I usually just source the basics from H&M or American Apparel.)
Skinny Jeans – I usually buy jeans in grey just because it goes with the whole neutral palate we have going on. H&M has good stuff in nice cuts.
Uniqlo Jacket – Uniqlo makes thin puffy jackets which are warm but not too bulky. This is a great winter layer over a sweater since it never gets super cold in the Bay Area.
New Balance – The velcro styles can be harder to find. They give lots of support and last a long time (I can usually get 5-7 months of hard play out of them.)
Hat – Cute accessories are the best part of dressing little kids!
Herschel – I really like Herschel backpacks. They have a classic look, they come in great colors and they are modern (they usually have soft pockets for laptops.)
Cardigans – I always buy a ton of cardigans. Mostly because they LOOK SO CUTE. H&M and Zara always have good options. If I want one with a pop of color Crewcuts always has great colors. I usually pick one up if they are having a sale.
Superga – Like I mentioned a lot of the velcro shoes aren’t very good looking but I think the Superga’s are really nice. This is an Italian brand that you can get on Amazon. It’s a nice basic tennis shoe that comes in good colors and the quality is great.
Mabo Basics – I got a bunch of these Mabo basics last year and my kids have worn them out and they still look great. They are organic and really high quality. I always put my kids in these when we travel or have a long flight because they are soft and comfortable.
Pants – Just more of these soft pants (I bought a bunch.) They’re sweatpants parading as regular clothes.
Bensimon High Tops – These aren’t everyday shoes for my kids but since they don’t look as used they can totally pass for “nice” shoes for a party or church.
Personalized pencils – I love buying school supplies! This year I’m surprising them with personalized pencils.
Fjallraven – Another Fjallraven (see above.)
Socks! – Here is my secret for socks. Every year I choose one style of sock for each child and buy 15 pairs. That way if one ever gets lost they always have a mate. Also, think of how much time a year I save sorting socks! It’s kind of boring but it totally works for us. Gap is my favorite for socks. I’ve tried lots of brands and they last the longest.
Star Wars Sweatshirts – I try to keep their clothes free of brands but they always end up with a few Minecraft or Starwars things. (My kids don’t care, I know some children are super opinionated about this.)
Corduroy pants – I always buy a lot of cords because they are soft but durable.
Vans – I love Vans because they look so classic and are easy to put on. These are also another great day-to-day shoe. They come in great colors (I still love the classic black and white check.) And the kids can run around in them easily.
Herschel – Another Herschel (see above.)