Back to School Planning

I think I might be in denial about this, but we go back to school in less than a month! Summer never lasts as long as I want it to! I am already making back-to-school plans and purchases so today I'm joining Erika and Andrea for their Monthly Chit Chat on this topic.

For me, back-to-school means I'll be back to doing some volunteer work at my kids school. I was a little uncertain about what to wear to volunteer at school my first few times, and now that I have a few years of experience I've learned my outfit choices vary quite a bit depending on the exact nature of the work I'm doing. With all of my volunteer outfits, I make sure the tops are not too low cut and I usually wear pants vs. shorts since the teachers at our school aren't allowed to wear shorts. Volunteers don't have a dress code like that, but I take it as a "preferred attire" hint anyway.

Here are a few examples of what I wear as a school volunteer for different activities...

Field Trip Chaperone:  
When I'm chaperoning a field trip I make sure I have shoes that are comfortable for plenty of walking and possibly some sprinting to chase after that one kid who wants to play in the monkey exhibit. I also like an easy on/off jacket that I can tie around my waist or stick in my bag. And of course washable, easy fabrics for accidental spills and splashes. I usually end up carrying my own lunch plus a few extra items for the kids in my group, and possibly even my jacket for part of the trip, so I like a pretty big bag. The bag I'm carrying below has a shoulder strap which is okay for field trips, but a backpack is would be a better choice for comfort and hands-free convenience. I don't happen to have one I love but might consider getting one before my next field trip.
Jacket: Express (Similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Necklace: Express (Similar) | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Nordstrom  | Watch: Fossil

Shop the Look:

Grading Papers:
This is one of the easiest tasks at school to dress for because just about anything goes. I don't have to worry about getting messy or walking long distances or getting my necklace covered in paint and clay. Almost any outfit works because I'm just sitting at a desk, but I usually like to wear something a little nicer than in the other volunteer categories just because I can.
Top: Express | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Amazon | Bag: Amazon (Similar) | Short Necklace: c/o Kendra Scott | Chain Necklace: Forever 21(Similar) | Watch: Fossil | Bracelets: Express | Ring: Rebecca Minkoff (Gift)

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Class Parties:
This is my personal favorite type of volunteer activity! I make sure I have comfortable shoes for carrying a bunch of food and supplies to and from my car, and I prefer shorter sleeves for things like this so they stay out of the way for passing out snacks and after-party clean-up.
Top: Express | Shoes: Nordstrom | Jeans: Express | Bag: c/o Danielle Nicole | Necklace: Stella & Dot (Gift) | Bracelets: Express

Shop the Look:

Art Project or Reading Helper:
This would be very similar to a field trip outfit for me, but I haven't actually done this type of volunteering in the past year now that my kids are in the upper grades so I couldn't find a good example! In reality I wouldn't bother with the hat, fake ponytail or a long necklace for a day as a reading helper or art project helper. Generally a simple, low-fuss, high comfort outfit is good for this since you might end up sitting on the floor to read, and no one wants to ruin their nicest clothes with art supplies!
Tee: Nordstrom | Jeans: Express | Necklace: LOFT (Similar) | Converse: Nordstrom

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Front View:

Back-to-School Shopping for the Boys:
Growing up, I always remember asking for a few new clothes to start the new school year. So far my boys don't seem to share my interest in clothes shopping, to say the least. I have an easier time taking them to the dentist than clothes shopping! But there are two areas where they usually need something new for year whether they want to shop for it or not because they completely wear out their existing options: shoes and backpacks.

Both of my kids went to Kindergarten in the Seattle area and I think it was one of our friends there that told us to get Lands' End back packs because they hold up the best. I don't really shop there much (as you can tell from the blog) but I took that advice and have become a fan of their kids' backpacks and repeat customer in that department. They don't have quite as many fun options as some places but they have been the most durable backpacks we've tried, and they do have fun custom embroidery options. Wheeled backpacks are so popular these days, and least year we bought some from Amazon that didn't last long, so we may take the plunge on the Lands' End version this year.
Lands End Kids Backpacks

And since this is a brand I don't usually mention, I just want to be clear that this is not sponsored content! Just my honest experience with a shopping category that doesn't come up here too often!

Last but not least, new shoes are usually needed in our house for the new school year because my boys play hard and wear out their sneakers like nothing I've ever seen. I don't do a lot of damage at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale when shopping for myself, but since I usually buy my kids shoes there anyway, now is the best time to do it for the best prices. My kids choose their own shoes and I stay out of the way, but here are a few options I wouldn't mind if they chose!

Boys Shoes Nordstrom Sale

Nike and Obsidian ($56.90 vs $85.90 after Sale) | New Balance ($41.90 vs. $69.95 After Sale)
Vans ($34.90 vs. $54.95 After Sale) Under Armour ($39.90 vs $59.99 After Sale)

My kids current favorite shoes are Vans and Under Armour, so I was glad to see those brands have options that are included in the sale.

* * *

I know a lot of my regular readers have kids of their own so I'd love to hear from you ladies if you have tried-and-true brands for backpacks or shoes for your kids. I always see kids with cool backpacks at school but would feel weird asking a child, "Where did you get that?" Chances are most of them wouldn't know anyway since I'm sure their mom did the shopping!

Linking up with:
ErikaAndreaNarci | JoLynne |  Lindsey | Alison



  1. Your volunteer outfits are so cute, it's a good thing because as a kid I remember always being proud of my mom because she always looked nice when doing school activities. Not sure boys will notice lol.


    1. Ha! I was the same way. I had certain thing I wanted my mom to wear if she were coming to school. One of my kids is a little bit particular about what I wear to school, but for the most part yeah, I think boys are less concerned!

  2. I can't even believe summer is almost over! I love all the outfits you chose for your days :)

    My Vogue Style | www.myvoguestyle.com

  3. I cannot believe it is already time to start thinking about this. As a former teacher, I think it is so awesome that you volunteer. It's so nice to have parental support. You have nailed the what to wear question! I used to love back to school shopping as a kid.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  4. We go back in two weeks! Love this outfit inspiration for volunteer activities! Class parties were always my favorite!

    Doused In Pink

  5. I love that you covered volunteer outfits. I volunteered once a week at my stepson's school a couple of years ago and was so nervous initially about what to wear. You gave good tips :)

    1. Thank you! I'm glad they made sense to you. I'm sure it varies a lot with each school and region so it's nice to hear at least one other person can relate!

  6. I take my kids shoe shopping at Nordstrom quite a bit, it is just so much easier then Shoe Carnival where they are ALWAYS out of their size in everything they like... I am curious about the Land's End backpacks, it looks like the ones with the handle on top may possibly have wheels? My son like to have a backpack with wheels, so I may have to look into their backpacks for this year!


    1. Yes, they do have one option with wheels. We've only done their "ClassMate" backpack and haven't tried the wheeled option yet. It's kind of pricey but hopefully worth it for the quality. We'll see!

  7. Loving all of these outfits...so stylish and put together! I can't believe summer vacation is almost over...I go back to work in a little over 2 weeks and I'm totally not looking forward to early wake up calls again...I'm a school nurse. Hope you have a wonderful day!
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

  8. School officially reopens in a month and on that 22nd day of August, I'll be joining my children (and other parents) in deep mourning GRIN

  9. I bet you are just the cutest volunteer they ever did see at school!

    Shelly||The Queen in Between

  10. Love your adorable "volunteer outfits".....we have very similar style! As PTA president and parent volunteer coordinator for my kids school I always love when our volunteers show up looking comfortable, but professional!

    1. Kudos to you on being PTA president! That is a busy and often thankless role (from what I've seen as I haven't done it myself!) so I truly appreciate those who step up to it!

  11. Thanks, Gina, for the back-to-school reminders. It's been several years since I used to volunteer for my boys, and I'm about to begin again with 1st grader. Forgot all about rolling backpacks for those tiny backs! You told me just in time to be ready for the new school year; now, readjusting the school supplies list!

    1. Ha, I kind of forgot about it all myself until I saw this post topic come up. And it's good timing because sometimes the customized ones take a little extra time and I've gotten them after the start of school, so this year I will feel FULLY prepared on time!

  12. That is so great of you to volunteer for their school. I can't believe it is already BTS time!

  13. I am sure you are one of the most stylish volunteers - so many great looks. I can't believe it is back to school so soon. Your second look is my top pick.

    Daily Style Finds

  14. Back to school is a foreign topic to me but I still loved the outfit inspo in this post and picturing you in your volunteer duties! I'm pretty sure you just rock at everything you do!
    Carylee | http://morepiecesofme.com

  15. All such cute looks! Love that grading papers look. I hope to volunteer at my daughter's school once she is old enough to actually go. Working in a school, I know how much volunteers are appreciated!

  16. I love your school outfits! I bet you're the hottest mama there! I think grading papers would be my favorite part of volunteering. Chasing after kids is definitely not a forte of mine anymore after doing it the first year I worked at oak grove ( although those chases were a bit more dangerous and dramatic lol). Summer never lasts long! I try to soak it in since it's my favorite time of year!

  17. i cant wait for school to be back in! hahahaha. KC had the least relaxing summer ever, he had to work and was switching jobs and whatnot, but i just prefer the school year because i like routines and such. summer throws a wrench in everything routine wise.
    hahahaha @ asking a kid where they got something. that would be funny. i will keep the lands end backpacks in mind for when i have kids in school. i love all your outfits, and you are such a good parent volunteering and whatnot.

  18. This post makes me really excited for this stage in life! Someday I'll have nice clothes again! :)

  19. Say it isn't so Gina! Where did the summer go, I'm sooooo not ready :( LOL. Classroom moms can be the best and definitely help with freeing things up for the teacher. I'm glad you are so active, and utterly fashionable while doing so!


  20. Those outfits are spot on. They look so put together and perfect, especially for volunteering!


  21. Love to read your blog. I love my school days and really want to back to school planning. Your outfits are looking awesome in all these pics. Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog with us.


  22. That's so cool that you volunteer. I'm registering my oldest for kindergarten soon and there will be an opportunity to sign up. I'm wondering if I can work it into my work schedule because I really would like to give it a try and get involved. Thanks for the tip about Land's End. I think I've heard that from others as well. Ah, shopping for kids at the N Sale. I hadn't even thought about that. I should probably check out the kids' section.

  23. your outfits look stunning! Love them all.

    The White Ocean

  24. That is so awesome that you are able to be so involved with your kids' education. We buy my son shoes about every 3 months and it's always a tough because he has very wide feet so Nike don't fit him. We have found Ascis work well for this feet.

    As for backpack, we've had a Swiss Army backpack for about a year now and it's still as good as new and I know he is rough with his things. My son started school 2 weeks ago so we are already back to homework and having a schedule.


    Hope to see you for TBT Fashion link up.


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