Your back-to-school uniform

Back to school is big business. According to the latest Stats Can census, $690 million was spent on boys and girls clothing in fall 2017.

But it’s not only children that head back to class in September.

More than two million Canadians are enrolled in post-secondary educational institutions, about one in every 15 adults of all ages.

If you’re one of those students, I have an ideal uniform for the classroom that is all about comfort and ease.

My No. 1 pick is T-shirt and sweatshirt dresses.

These are the ultimate transitional pieces for fall and the epitome of comfort. Nothing pinching around your waist as you slide into those tiny seats.

Soft as a hug, these dresses are just as easy to take care of as they are to wear. No concerns about expensive dry cleaning and they come wrinkle-free out of the dryer.

As the thermometer drops, just add a pair of leggings underneath.

You will find great styles this fall at Roots and Gap.

The second key to back to school dressing is layers.

You’ll be running between sessions in weather that will be balmy one day and freezing the next. Some classrooms will feel like a meat locker and others will be blasting heat.

Over that dress, you’ll need a shawl or cardigan that can easily be thrown on or off depending on the temperature.

I’ve always had very positive experiences with sweaters and cardigans from Lululemon. Their fabric is cozy, breathable and non-pilling.

Recently, I discovered a brand from Norway called Karigar that specializes in wool shawls. They created ethically-sourced and manufactured capes in gorgeous hues that can be worn in a multitude of ways.

For a similar look at a lower price point (because they are made of acrylic), Joe Fresh is selling nice capes called ruanas on their website.

Scarves are also a fun and easy way to keep you warm on campus.

What about footwear?

The great news is that the sneaker trend is still going strong and they look great with pretty much any kind of outfit. Nothing better, and safer, for dashing from class to class.

Shop classic styles that have been around for decades from Converse, Adidas, and Vans at SoftMoc.

If you want buy Canadian, try the Liteknit sneakers from Native Shoes.

E-retailer Everlane has also gotten into the game by introducing their Tread line of shoes, promoted as the world’s most environmentally low-impact sneakers.

Coming in a rainbow of 14 colours, one pair is sure to complement your wardrobe.

The final piece in your back-to-school uniform must be a backpack.

These carryalls have definitely gone upmarket in recent years, with premier designer versions costing thousands of dollars.

While that’s probably not feasible on a student budget, you can still find durable leather versions at Roots and Coach.

If you prefer vegan leather, check out styles from Matt and Nat at The Wardrobe and Bia Boro.

Mountain Equipment Coop has a great selection of quality lightweight fabric options, including Pacsafe brand which are theft-proof.

While none of these are cheap, a solid backpack is certainly one thing worth investing in. If you buy one at the beginning of your studies, it will last you through your degree and beyond for travel.

And when shopping for a backpack, always check the men’s section as there will likely be more options there.

With your comfortable and easy-care back-to-school uniform, you can focus on your studies and getting that “A” grade.


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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