9 Must-Have Styles For The Perfect Back-To-School Look

The start of each new school year is like a blank slate. You get to refresh your style, take part in fun fashion trends, and put your unique spin on each look.

By Tess DiNapoli3 min read
9 Must-Have Styles For The Perfect Back-To-School Look instagram

This season’s trending styles are all about comfortable, chill vibes and funky, unexpected elements. The ‘80s and ‘90s are making a comeback with slip dresses, platform shoes, lots of denim, and preppy plaid and sweater vests. You can create a sweet, feminine ensemble with a floral dress, experiment with bright tie-dye, or rock your latest presentation in a cool blazer. And thankfully, athleisure is here to stay. 

These must-haves will ensure you’re starting the year on-trend and in comfort.

Dressed-Down Blazer

Strut into the school year with confidence in a blazer that shows who’s boss. The idea here is to pair a traditionally professional piece with more casual clothes and accessories, creating an unexpected outfit.

Style the Look

You’re in control of how formal or casual you make this trend. To start, layer a blazer over a tee and denim jeans. Choose an oversized blazer for a more chill look, or a structured blazer for a sleeker finish. Now go out and seize the school day.

Studious Sweater Vests


Sweater vests are a great transitional piece to move from fall to winter. There are endless layering options and ways to dress them up and down. Just like plaid pants and skirts, sweater vests evoke a preppy style with studious vibes.

Style the Look

For fall, wear a simple tee under the sweater vest and pair it with a pencil skirt or other form-fitting skirt. As the weather turns, you can wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath and add jeans and boots.

Chill and Effortless Athleisure Wear

You’re busy with class, extracurriculars, and maybe even a job or two. Luckily, athleisure is hot for back-to-school this season, so you can tackle your to-do list in style. Bike shorts, bralettes, leggings, and light jackets are all a part of this trend. But you don’t have to look like a slouch – a few key accessories and styling will make your workout wear look sleek.

Style the Look

Dress things up by wearing a matching loungewear set and accessorizing it with jewelry that elevates the ensemble. Or embrace the comfort in a dad hat, an oversized tee, colorful bike shorts, and white sneakers. By carefully coordinating your outfit, you’ll look put-together and cute. In any case, you won’t have to wear pants, and that’s a win.

Hats for Bad Hair Days

Whatever you do, it’s inevitable: you’re going to have a bad hair day. With all the studying, rushing to class, and trying to squeeze in time with friends, you’ll probably have some late nights and less-than-smooth mornings. For all the times you just can’t deal with your hair, keep a cute trucker hat or wide-brimmed fedora on hand to save the day. 

Style the Look

If your hair cooperates, tie it into two braids or a low, messy bun. Toss on your hat, and finish it off with a graphic tee, a flannel shirt, and jeans for the quintessential laid-back outfit.

Tie-Dye Everything

Make a bold statement with retro tie-dye. The funky swirls and patterns are popping up on hats, loungewear, scrunchies, tees, and shoes. 

Style the Look

Choose a single tie-dye item to build your outfit around and highlight your psychedelic style, or go full-throttle with a head-to-toe tie-dye ensemble. Most importantly, this trend is all about having fun, so embrace the bright colors.

Platform Shoes

Crossing campus in uncomfortable shoes can be a real pain. Maybe that’s why so many people are adding platform shoes to their capsule wardrobe. The chunky platforms are easy to walk on and add a ton of personality to any outfit. 

Style the Look

Choose platform sneakers for a playful look or platform sandals for a relaxed vibe. These shoes pair well with wide-legged trousers or pants, rompers, and dresses. Accessorize yours with colorful or textured socks to add even more interest. 

Preppy Plaid Bottoms

Plaid is definitely having a moment. Everyone on campus will be rocking wide-legged plaid trousers or pleated miniskirts with cute blouses for a vintage, preppy aesthetic. Plaid is the perfect back-to-school print because it’s also a fall favorite. 

Style the Look

Think dark academia. Depending on your mood, choose comfortable, loose-fitting pants or a skirt that highlights your curves. Finish off the outfit with a chunky cardigan and black boots for an effortless I-just-got-back-from-the-library appearance.

Sweet and Feminine Dresses

Feminine dresses are trending this season, especially with the rise of the cottagecore aesthetic. Elements like frills, puffs, and tiered layers will be popular, along with sweet floral patterns.

Style the Look

Complete this ensemble with a hair scarf, denim jacket, and sneakers, and you’ll be feeling super cute. Or choose edgy boots for a twist on the expected style. Either way, a sweet dress will make you feel feminine and confident all day.

Closing Thoughts

This year’s trends are full of fun and unexpected elements. From chunky platform shoes and preppy sweater vests to tie-dye and slip dresses, you’ll find a style that expresses your unique personality. And of course, the beauty of these trends is you can always alter them to put your own stamp on an outfit. Have fun experimenting and exploring and start this school year with confidence.

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