How to choose your first day of school outfit

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Choosing an outfit for the first day of school is a big deal, for both kids and Parents. The pressure is on, especially if your child hasn’t seen friends and classmates all summer or is preparing for new faces. Everyone wants to dress to impress, but you also want to make sure their school items will hold up all year round, from quality backpacks to durable lunch boxes.

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The same goes for clothes. It’s best to invest in year-round wardrobe basics that they can always wear, like comfy sweaters, cotton t-shirts, and chunky jackets. Material, size, and fun prints are also all factors to consider. Whether your child is athletic, artistic, or puts comfort first, here are the 13 best places to shop for the perfect back-to-school look.

1. Boden: For clothes that last

Boden manufactures high quality clothing.

Boden is a British company that has become popular in the United States in recent years. Her kidswear line, dubbed “Mini Boden,” features cheerful prints and stellar seasonal collaborations. Mini Boden’s size is generous, so my kids often get two years of wear from the pieces we buy, and since most items are 100% cotton, they wash well and can take a good beating.

Boden shop

2. French Toast: For kids who wear uniforms

French Toast is the place to go for uniforms.

If your child is heading to a school that requires uniforms, you’ll definitely want to browse French Toast’s selection. Search for the specific school to see pants, skirts and shirts, then stock up on the styles your child likes best.

Buy French Toast

3. Primary: For non-gendered bases

Primary offers organic cotton basics in bright colours.

Primary was founded by two mothers frustrated with the lack of affordable basic clothing for children. The company specializes in neutral and colored garments in 100% cotton jersey. Simplify your child’s morning routine by filling their wardrobe with clothes that can be easily mixed and matched. Primary’s leggings are a favorite of the 900 women in my local mom’s band, and there’s a good reason: the durable, high-quality fabric and unisex designs mean they can be passed down from brother to brother.

Primary shop

4. Target: For everything your child needs

Target offers affordable and stylish basics.

If you prefer one-stop shopping, it’s hard to beat Target for back-to-school fashion and school supply selection. One of the things we love most about Target is that they have a great selection of branded merchandise, like superheroes and princesses, as well as non-character lines like Cat & Jack.

Shop Target

5. Splendid: For the softest clothes

Splendid clothes are soft enough for the most demanding children.

My kids are obsessed with wearing only soft clothes, so I did a lot of research to find clothing brands that they won’t call “ouchie” or “itchy”. Splendid is an LA-based brand that makes buttery-soft cotton-rayon pieces that my kids have yet to find fault with. Price-wise, the brand’s clothes are top-of-the-line, but I’m willing to pay a little more if it means fewer complaints from my children. Sign up for Splendid emails to be notified of sales. The brand usually offers a 30% to 50% discount at the end of the season.

Splendid Shop

6. Kohl’s: For fashion on a budget

Kohl's Jumping Beans brand is inexpensive and fashionable.
If you’re on a budget or your child tends to come home with paint and dirt on their clothes, you need stylish staples that won’t hurt your wallet. Kohl’s “Jumping Beans” line offers a huge selection of dresses, pants and shirts under $20.

Buy kohls

7. Hanna Andersson: For nightwear and school clothes

Hanna Andersson clothes are as tough as their pajamas.
Hanna Andersson may be famous for her organic cotton pajama sets, but her regular clothes are also garnering rave reviews from parents. The durable and cute clothes hold up well to the roughest kids, making them worthy of bringing home. Browse pretty colorful patterns that will add a bright touch to your child’s neutrals.

Hanna Andersson Store

8. Tea Collection: For clothes that have a cause

Tea Collection clothing features unique designs.
For fashion with globally inspired prints, there’s nothing better than Tea Collection. The San Francisco-based company finds inspiration for its designs around the world and donates 10% of its profits to the Global Fund for Children. We particularly like that the brand’s clothes are made from heavyweight cotton that won’t fade or tear easily, and feature gender-neutral prints.

Shop the Tea Collection

9. Maisonette: For the fashionista

Fashionable kids will love Maisonette.

If your little one has a taste for stylish designer pieces or you need something special for the first school dance, look no further than Maisonette. The beautifully curated site features high-end children’s fashion, as well as home decor and toys. Esoteric European brands are well represented on Maisonette, but there are also plenty of options from well-known designers. If there’s a fancy party or holiday event in your child’s future (or you just want them to look absolutely fabulous on their first day), Maisonette won’t disappoint.

Boutique Maisonette

10. Mabo: For ultra-comfortable basics

Mabo children's clothing is made in the USA from organic cotton.

If you’re a parent, you may have seen ads on Instagram for Mabo’s organic cotton clothing. The Salt Lake City-based company designs and manufactures all of its parts in the United States; its basics in cotton, linen and wool are incredibly soft and cozy. Mabo’s organic cotton leggings are my house favorite, both because they’re comfortable and because they’re durable enough to be worn by multiple kids.

Mabo shop

11. Nordstrom: For the right pair of kicks

Nordstrom has a great selection of children's shoes.

The right pair of shoes can complete an outfit perfectly and take it from good to great; Luckily, Nordstrom started out as a shoe store, which may explain why they still have a great selection of kids’ shoes. Whether your child prefers running shoes or moccasins, there are plenty of options to choose from online and in physical stores. Plus, Nordstrom’s customer service is unbeatable: they offer price adjustments if an item you’ve purchased goes on sale, and kids’ shoe departments usually send little customers home with a balloon. We all know that everything is better with balloons!

Nordstrom Shop

12. Zulily: For colorful graphic tees and bold accessories

Zulily's bold and bright offerings allow your child to express themselves.

If your child is a maximalist, they’ll love what Zulily has to offer: from graphic tees and dresses with bright designs you can see even in a crowd, to bold and vibrant backpacks and unicorn-shaped duffel bags, Zulily is your one stop shop for your child to express themselves with all the colors they desire.

Zulily shop

13. Polarn O. Pyret: For children in cold climates

Polarn O. Pyret has the best cold weather bases.

Although temperatures could still soar into the triple digits, it’s only a matter of weeks before the first cold snap of the season. If your kids brave snow, sleet and freezing temperatures to get to school, Polarn O. Pyret is here to save them. The Swedish company has been making adorable (and practical) children’s clothes since 1976, and their sweaters and thermal underwear are second to none.

Polarn O. Pyret Store

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