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Hey Fashion Friend: What Should I Wear for Back-to-School?

Animation: The Cut

I may have graduated from college six years ago and high school [redacted], but I still have the occasional nightmare where I forget my homework and I’m wearing something completely inappropriate to give a Powerpoint presentation. You would think I had a terrible academic experience, but it’s quite the contrary.

I went to the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras (Jerezanas, ahí!), where we had humid and tropical weather all year long with the occasional rainstorm, but the classrooms’ AC would make you feel like you were in the middle of Alaska. That’s why my wardrobe consisted of pieces that would help me adapt. My Clarks Desert Boots, pair of high-top Converse, and black boots where my go-tos.

You would never catch me wearing flip-flops or Crocs (sorry, not sorry). As for clothing, I counted on oversize chinos, boyfriend jeans, summer dresses, and button-down shirts that would make me look put-together and were still comfortable.

Mia Uzzel, a senior at Florida A&M University, shared with me that attending an HBCU means dressing to the nines at every moment. Her go-to outfit is any iteration of a blazer — cropped or oversize — paired with jumpsuits or dresses. She adds a strappy heel or Doctor Martens boot, depending on how dressed up she wants to be.

We had one thing in common: no pleather. Why? It’s too sweaty. We’ve rounded up some options for you no matter where you go to school.

Tip 1: Wear Shoes You Can Run to Class In

Ditch the heels and opt for shoes that will go great with any outfit. It will be one thing less to think about when you snoozed on your alarm again and you’re running late to your first class.

Tip 2: Layers, Layers, Layers (the Library AC is Apparently Always On)

Pair a graphic tee under your sundress to transition seamlessly to fall. Drape a sweater over your shoulders to complete the look. And always carry a backup sweatshirt or hoodie for those days you know you’ll lock yourself in the school’s library to study for tests.

Tip 3: Dresses Are Your Friend

When in doubt, dresses are a great one-and-done outfit. They work well in warmer climates and are also great for layering. Pair them with the options, above, or in colder months, opt for knee-high boots.

Tip 4: When in Doubt, Do Denim on Denim

Sure, jeans are “hard pants,” but you can avoid tight-fitting ones and elect roomy options. You can never go wrong with a Canadian tux moment when you’re tired of coming up with outfit recipes.

Tip 5: Invest in Outerwear

Whether it’s a trench, trusty puffer, or classic wool coat, sometimes it’s less about your outfit and more about which outerwear option will save the day (and your limbs from freezing).

Tip 6: Buy a Tote, Sunglasses, and Umbrella

You need a good tote (that fits your laptop,) some sunglasses, and a sturdy umbrella. Here are some of our favorites.

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Hey Fashion Friend: What Should I Wear for Back-to-School?