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The Back-to-School Outfit

Back-to-school is here! As usual, summer has whizzed right by and we’re back into the busy fall season (both at work and at home). This summer was a milestone for us — we moved houses for the first time in 14 years and we enjoyed a special visit from overseas relatives. But we’re ready for routines again, I think. That’s one bonus of school-aged children; it helps the whole family get into consistent routines.

Not to be outdone by Valentine’s Day or other commercially created and flogged-to-death occasions to spend money, the back-to-school ads have been incessant. Not only do you *need* a new wardrobe, but also brand-new stationery, and the latest and greatest technology gadgets.

Now, don’t get me wrong …. when I was a kid, I loved — loved! — back to school. I loved the fall weather, the classroom, reconnecting with friends and the back-to-shopping trip my mother would always treat me too. Looking back, I have no idea how my parents managed to afford it with four children, but somehow I was always kitted out with new clothes and goodies for the pencil case.

But for us, the back-to-school shopping event is turning out to be more of a non-event. Stella has no interest in fashion and hey, who says you actually need a brand-new outfit for the first day of school? The advertisements do, that’s who. So, we are taking Stella’s lead and adopting a far more simpler and less stress-inducing approach.

Here is the outfit she would like to wear for tomorrow’s first day:

I’m not sure if it will be shorts weather or jeans weather, so both are out and ready. The shorts and jeans are regular features in her closet — both from The Children’s Place, which has a line of jeans that is perfect for Stella’s slim body type, as well as shorts that I consider “nice” and not “short-shorts.” We have the shorts in pretty much every colour and about five pairs of the jeans since Stella, like her father, prefers jeans over any other kind of pant. The shoes are a New Balance pair that we picked up late last school season when she outgrew her other pair of “indoor” shoes. I’m a big believer that the indoor shoes the school requests should be shoes designed for exercise with good cushioning and support, since the kids wear these shoes for gym class. Out of all the clothing elements a child has, I think shoes are the best investment for a growing body. These ones still fit perfectly and are in good condition, so it would be wasteful to toss them simply because they’re not pure white any more.

So, did you add all that up? Yep, a total of $0.00.

But wait, there is one brand new item. A never-worn-before item kept aside specifically for the new school season. And it’s this t-shirt:

Ontario Parks has created a number of nice lines of clothing for toddlers, kids, and adults. This one is from the Species at Risk line, and features the Eastern Wolf. We picked it up on our recent camping trip to Achray, but you can also buy them online (cost is $16.95).

In addition to this Eastern Wolf shirt, we picked up one with a butterfly on it. And during the summer, Stella and I happened upon some great Chinese dragon (a fave creature) shirts that were on sale for $3 each somewhere. So, in total, there are about 4 new shirts for the season.

All up, then, the back-to-school wardrobe this season totalled less than $40.00.

How did you make it through the season? Is your bank account still suffering? What were your top picks or most favourite finds?


  1. I too spent very little. My son wasn’t interested in getting an outfit and he has enough clothes to last the season. My daughter ordered one outfit online and was happy with that. Her only real request was a backpack on wheels, so I spent $40 on that. I am enjoying the simplicity now while they are young!

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