Ashley MacInnis: The Frenzied Fashionista


Easy Fashion Tips For Your Back-To-School Shopping Needs

Sartorial Smarts And Social Studies

I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but it’s almost back-to-school time.

As the mom of a preschooler, summer has been exactly no different than the other three seasons as my son continued to attend his preschool every day, but as the school supplies hit the shelves and  students are touring campus, I’m reminded of the “trips to town” for backpacks, pencils and new indoor shoes.

Here are some tips on surviving the back-to-school fashion.

(Remind me I wrote this next year, would you?)

DO determine your budget and stick to it. When I worked for charity, we found that the average cost for a backpack filled with necessary school supplies, plus a new pair of shoes was around $100. For parents with more than one child, that can get out of hand pretty quickly. Now make a list and determine what item(s) you need to splurge on, what items to buy cheap and what items to leave on the shelf.

DON’T rush out and buy all new clothes for the year (especially since the fall clothing will be on sale in October). Chances are pretty good that the weather will be warm enough for shorts (dress-code approved, of course!) and tees for at least the first few weeks. Save your money until the sales start, and — if your kids are still growing like weeds — buy a size (or two) up.

DO salvage and scrounge what you can from last year. Is the backpack in good condition? Does the snowsuit still fit? What about those gym shoes? DON'T spend money where you don't need to. University ain't cheap, yo.

DON’T forget to let your child inject his or her personality into their style. Like it or lump it, how we present ourselves is a big part of our nonverbal communication. So, even if you cringe at the thought of those neon high top sneakers, if your child loves them and the school allows them… let him wear them. Just document with oodles of photos so you can show him when he’s 20.

DO set boundaries for what your kids can and can’t wear to school, and do your best to abide by the school dress code.

DON’T mistake the word “top” in a name (like bikini top) to mean that it is an acceptable shirt. Crop tops are NOT school appropriate, unless there’s a long tank underneath. (Honestly, I kind of hope the crop top trend dies soon.) 

DO adopt and enforce the No Bs rule: No butts, boobs, or bellies. There’s a time and a place, but school is just not it. (Neither is the mall or a job interview.)

DON’T rule out second hand stores like The Salvation Army Thrift Store, Value Village or Frenchys. Sure, you might need to do some digging, but gently used clothing can save you a whack of money. You know your little one will get marker, glue, sparkles and probably paint on their clothes. And then, of course, the grass stains from sliding into second base during that game of soccer baseball. Sigh.

DO remember that leggings are not pants — unless the butt is covered, they are a big DON'T

My favourite spots for children's clothes? Gap Kids, Old Navy, The Children's Place (bonus: AIRMILES!!), H&M, Winners, Target and secondhand stores! 


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At the end of the day, DON’T spend too much money, DO make sure that the kids are clean, DON’T forget to give them their school supplies and DO remind them that the hallways at school aren’t runways — they’re there for an education, after all. (Of course there’s nothing wrong with looking good while they’re there.)

Oh, and one final DO: pour yourself a big ol’ glass of wine now that the reality of back to school has hit you. You earned it, Mama. 

Thanks for dropping by. If you think your kids need to step up their sartorial game, check out this nine-year-old CEO's amazing sense of style. As for you, mama, save time in the morning rush by rocking an easy, peasy ponytail to the school drop-off and everywher else! See you next time.

You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.