Why let the kids have all the fun? It’s back to school time. Which also means it’s the dog days of summer, and while autumn is just around the corner, it sure doesn’t feel like it is. So while this is shameless rationalization for shopping (and really, there are a ton of reasons not to spend your hard earned cash) it still seems like a bit of fun worth having. Below you’ll find some of the most common back-to-school items translated into potential pick-ups for the grown up guy who has an eye for style. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to writing my what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation theme.
Backpack —> Briefcase
- Boarding Pass NYC Flight Brief – $199
- Saddleback Flight Bag – $589 (shown top of post)
- Filson Original Briefcase in Black – $199 ($325)
- Korchmar Outpost Olive Twill Field Brief – $159.97 w/ extra 20% off ($650)
- Banana Republic Waxed Canvas Briefcase – $95.40 when 40% off ($159)
- WP Standard Zip Top Briefcase – $319
Backpacks might be convenient, but they’re just never gonna be as professional looking as a briefcase. Look for something that’s well made from leather, canvas, or ballistic nylon, doesn’t shout in terms of style, and comes with top grab handles AND a shoulder strap for longer treks.
New Sneakers —> New Shoes (sneakers count too)
- Allen Edmonds St. John’s Double Monk Strap – $395
- Allen Edmonds Strand Oxfords in Coffee – $237.60 ($445)
- Banana Republic Hadley Italian Leather Brogue Oxford – $95.40 when 40% off ($159)
- Massimo Matteo Made in Italy Oxfords or Monks – $159
- adidas Continental 80 Sneakers – $60 ($80)
- adidas Stan Smith – $75 ($80)
- Puma Super Liga OG Retro – $59.99
- Jack Erwin Joe Cap Toe Oxford – $195.00
My times have changed. Now, kids can’t have their sneakers clean enough. Back in my day you’d take those bright white, new sneakers, and head RIGHT out into the back yard to rub dirt on them. Yes really. No, I don’t know why. Anyway, don’t do that with any new footwear purchase. Dress shoes or sneakers. No faux dirtying up please.
Textbooks —> Style Books
- A Man and His Watch – $19
- Dressing the Man – $24
- Esquire The Handbook of Style – $8.50
- Marking Modern Times: A History of Clocks, Watches, and Other Timekeepers – $26
- Dappered’s “Start Here” Guide – FREE (aren’t we nice?)
In case you’re at the point where you’d like to fill out your bookshelf with something other than “intro to bio-chem.” LOTS of options out there. From coffee table style books (like A Man and his Watch) to timeless classics like Alan Flusser’s Dressing the Man. Then there’s our own Start Here page. It’s not a book. Or even an e-book. It’s just a part of this site. It’s basically our playbook. And it’s free.
New “Nice” Clothes —> New Nice Clothes!
- Bonobos Jetsetter Stretch Italian Wool Blazer – $382.50 w/ SOLSTICE15 ($450)
- 1901 Extra Trim Fit Wool Sport Coat – $149.49 ($299)
- Suitsupply Wool Blend Grey Raincoat – $499
- Nordstrom Cashmere V-Neck Sweater – $145
- Suitsupply’s Blue Line Suits – $359 – $399
- Ledbury Fine Twill Mid Spread Dress Shirt – $145
- Made in the USA Flint & Tinder 365 Pants in Slim or Straight – $98
- Kent Wang Navy Grenadine Tie – $75
- Suitsupply Italian Brushed Wool Flannel Bomber – $399
Remember when your folks or Grandma would drag you to JC Penney or Kohl’s to buy you itchy, ill fitting, ugly clothes for school that somehow got labeled as “nice”? I’m convinced that’s where many men developed the (wrong) idea that dressing “nice” is irritating and uncomfortable. In fact, it’s the opposite. So if you have the means and the time, take revenge on those awful, pre-6th-grade trips to the “Husky” section at Sears (I was there too my fellas), and get something that looks great, feels good, and most importantly, fits. Anyway, stay tuned for our annual Autumnal Temptation post, which will be a big round up of this year’s cooler-weather appropriate new arrivals.
Notebooks —> Notebooks
- Moleskin XL – $19
- Field Notes – $9.95 / 3 pk
- Field Notes Steno Pad – $9.95
- Appointed Notebook – $24.00
Dirt cheap or spendy. Tiny or enormous. Whatever your preference, now’s not a bad time to see if you need a new stack of stuff to scribble in. And if you’re rolling your eyes at using good ol’ pen and paper in the digital age? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Using a notebook and pen or pencil is a lot like wearing a wristwatch. The benefits over your smartphone are numerous.
Pens/Pencils —> A nice pen
- Made in the USA Brass Embassy Pen – $98
- Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – $20 – $28
- Karas Kustoms Fountain Pen – $100+
- Fisher Original Astronaut Space Pen – $41
- Rustico Tornado Classic Lacquer Pen – $25
- Kaweco Fountain Pen – $19.30
While we’re in the pen and paper aisle, let’s find something better than a bic that your co-worker Pete has chewed into a shiv. No, you don’t have to get insane and go for something in the hundreds or thousands (pens can get stupid expensive) of dollars. Just something that feels good in the hand, and is a pleasure to write with. I like to physically write stuff down. So, I’ve tried a bunch of pens. I keep, KEEP coming back to the Lamy Safari. Cheap plastic, but writes like a darn dream. I don’t know how. But it does.
Boots/Galoshes —> Dress or Heritage Work Boots
- Huckberry: Rhodes “Felix” Chukkas – $198
- Allen Edmonds Liverpool – $237.60 – $495
- Allen Edmonds Dalton Wingtip – $237.60 – $495
- Banana Republic Arley Gray Suede or Brown Leather Boots – $106.80 when 40% off ($178)
- Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill in Brown Grain – $237.60 ($395)
- Nordstrom Bradley Chelsea Boot – $124.95
- Red Wing Beckman Boots – $189.97 ($350)
Used to hate being forced to put on boots for the walk to school. HATED it. They were ugly, clunky, uncomfortable things. My how times have changed. Now I can’t wait for boot season. So many types of boots worth owning… so little time to wear them.
Art Supplies —> Art for your home or office
Do they even teach art anymore? I really, really hope they do. Even though I stunk at it. Whether it’s an original by a friend or a local artist, or a picture you took that you’ve always wanted to have printed on canvas, or a classic off Art.com or somewhere like that, treating yourself to something new on the wall is rarely a bad idea.
Calculator —> Wristwatch with a Slide Rule!
- Citizen Night Hawk – $188
- Casio Aviator – $59
- Seiko Quartz Chrono – $144
- Hamilton X-Wind Automatic Chronograph – $995
Wow we’re stretching it here. Plus, I seriously doubt two things: First, that calculators are still required back-to-school buying equipment. Remember those bulky graphing calculators from the 90s? Pretty sure those are obsolete now (the device, not the math). Second, I also highly doubt that anyone with a slide rule on their watch actually uses it. But if you do? Good for you!
Loose Leaf —> Stationery
- Terrapin Stationers Golden Rooster Stationery – $18
- Art of Manliness True North Letterpress Stationery – $23.99
A little different than notebooks. Why? Because Loose Leaf was usually something you’d write on, but eventually hand over to someone else. Same goes for stationery.
Lunchbox —> Tote, Pouch, or Dopp Kit
- Saddleback Toiletry Bag – $189
- Banana Republic Waxed Canvas Pouch – $29.70 when 40% off ($49.50)
- Gustin Made in the USA Horween CXL #8 Tote – $199
- Filson Grab N Go Tote – $79.99 ($150)
- Popov Horween Leather Valet Trays – $28 FINAL
- Made in the USA Korchmar Outpost Olive Twill Tote – $119.97 ($350)
- Huckberry Standard Issue Dopp Kit – $49.98 ($68)
- Saddleback Travel Case – $209 (can actually be used as a lunchbox!)
A smaller thing to put smaller things in that otherwise wouldn’t have fit in, or, needed to be contained within the bigger thing that you put bigger things in. Got all that?
Good luck to all of the parents out there with kids who have to do REAL back to school shopping. Also, if you’re still in school? Good luck with the rising costs of tuition and books and all that stuff.
This post originally ran in 2018 but has since been updated with current product suggestions.