Summer vacation is over. It’s time for back to school and/or back to work. But when it comes to getting geared up for fall, why let the kids have all the fun? So while this is a shameless rationalization for shopping (and 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 someone who has an eye for style. A warning: Just like the parent or guardian who forked out their hard earned dough for your trapper keepers and colored pencils, be prepared for sticker shock. It’s early in the new retail season. Significant sales haven’t quite hit these new arrivals just yet. No wonder those receipts gave heartburn to the person in your house who signed all those field trip permission slips.
Backpack —> Briefcase
- WP Standard “The Woodward” Briefcase – $348 (Shown above. Review here.)
- Fossil Haskel Leather Double Zip Briefcase – $170 – $200ish (shown very top of post. Review here.)
- Maverick & Co. Manhattan Deluxe Leather Briefcase – $279
- Gustin Made in the USA Deluxe Leather Briefcase – $349 (gotta wait for a pre-order campaign to go live)
- Boconi Slim Zipster Laptop Briefcase – $120 ($298)
- Hook & Albert Black Leather Briefcase – $300
- Made in the USA Filson Original Briefcase – $450
- NEWHEY Waxed Canvas Briefcase – $39.99 (One of those Amazon generics. Tiny Review: It’s fine enough. Exterior really is waxed canvas. Interior is fine, but the lining feels loose and like it could rip easily. Not gonna light anyone’s trousers on fire with passion, but it’s forty bucks.)
Backpacks might be convenient, but they”ll never be as professional looking as a briefcase. Look for something that’s well made from leather, canvas, or ballistic nylon, and doesn’t shout in terms of style. You also want something that comes with top grab handles AND a shoulder strap for longer treks.
Textbooks —> Style Books
- The Style of Time: The Evolution of Wristwatch Design – $44.34 (old Christopher Ward C-65 Trident Manual Wind not included)
- Dressing the Man – $29.39
- Esquire The Handbook of Style – $22.40
- Dappered’s “Start Here” Guide – FREE (Aren’t we nice. No cheesy “e-book” nonsense here.)
In case you’re at the point where you’d like to fill out your bookshelf with something other than “intro to bio-chem.” There are lots of options out there. From coffee table style books 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. We won’t even make you sign up for our email list. I know. It’s any wonder we’re still in business after all these years.
New “Nice” Clothes —> New Nice Clothes!
- Suitsupply Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Navy Blazer – $499
- Suitsupply Italian Wool Navy Check Havana Jacket – $449
- Spier & Mackay Suits in Medium Gray, Indigo Blue, Charcoal, Navy, etc. – $378
- Spier & Mackay Super 110s Merino Wool Trousers with side tabs – $118
- Spier & Mackay 100% Merino Waffle-Knit Shawl Collar Cardigan – $99 ($158)
- Ledbury Fine Twill Non-Iron MTO Dress Shirts – $125
- Banana Republic Slim LUXE Traveler Jean – $130
- Banana Republic Sweater Polos – $110
- Flint & Tinder 365 Pants – $98
- Kent Wang Grenadine Ties – $75
- Target All in Motion Golf Pants – $32 – $40
- Target All in Motion Jersey Tech Polo – $20
Remember when your folks or Grandma would drag you to JC Penney 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. Dressing well should feel as good as it looks. So if you have the means and the time, take revenge on those awful, pre-6th-grade trips to shop for uncomfortable, ill-fitting “nice” clothes (that felt anything but nice), and maybe splurge on something that looks great, feels good, and most importantly, fits.
Notebooks —> Nice Notebooks/Notepads/Journals
- Paperblanks Journals $18.95 – $34.95
- Alexa Pulitzer Long Pads – $16
- Appointed Notebook – $24
- Moleskin XL – $26.95
- Field Notes – $13 and up / 3 pk
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 on. And if you’re rolling your eyes at using good old 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. Physically writing (typing just doesn’t seem to work as well) is the key that unlocks neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s capacity to alter well worn pathways (habits) into new, more beneficial ones.
Pens/Pencils —> A nice pen
- Retro 1951 Tornado Classic Lacquer Pen – $25
- Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – $20 (shown at very top of post)
- Fisher Original Astronaut Space Pen – $69
- Kaweco Fountain Pen – $17
To go along with the notebooks, as you’ll need something to write with. 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 real 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. Been using (the same one) for years. Takes a refill every so often, but so far, the body and nib have been indestructible. Cheap plastic, but writes like a darn dream. I don’t know how. But it does.
New Gym Clothes —> New Sportswear/Athleisure
- Amazon Essentials Performance Stretch Quilted Active Jacket – $36
- Nike Dri-FIT Short-Sleeve Fitness Top – $22.97 ($30) via Nordstrom Rack
- adidas Design 4 Movement Shorts – $26.97 ($35)
- adidas Freelift Sleeveless Tank Top – $18.97 ($25)
- Under Armour Men’s Tech 2.0 V-Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt – $18ish
- adidas Tiro ’23 League Pants – $50
- Lululemon Warpstreme Joggers – $128
- Lululemon Down For It All Hooded Puffer – $228
Remember all that heavy cotton crap you had to write your name on with a sharpie back in middle/high school? Thankfully, the tech-wear and athleisure revolution has brought us lightweight, breathable, flexible fabrics. Protip for workout gear: This stuff is often overpriced at MSRP. Check discount stores like TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and Ross. Often they have racks and racks of this stuff. If it fits, feels, and moves great, who cares about the color if you’re clangin’ and bangin’ through a workout. And don’t forget when washing your workout clothes to throw a little white vinegar in with your standard detergent. It’ll help kill the funk-breeding bacteria that can build up on performance-wear.
Art Supplies —> Art for your home or office
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. Get stuff that means something to you. Or get something that means totally nothing but looks nice. For the curious looking for something not so serious, try “replace face” on society6).
New Shoes —> New Shoes
- Allen Edmonds Park Avenue – $395
- Nike Air Pegasus ’89 – $110
- adidas Ultraboost 1.0 – $152 ($190) (sale = for members w/ login)
- Grant Stone Traveler Penny Storm Suede – $248 ($312)
Dress shoes or sneakers. Or both? Usually a stop at the shoe store/shoe section in the department store was a requirement during back to school shopping. Both for “nice” shoes, and gym shoes. So yes. Here we are.
Boots/Galoshes —> Dress or Heritage Work Boots
- J. Crew Kenton Pacer Boots – $209 when 30% off ($298) shown above and very top of post
- Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Weatherproof Boots – $495 (review here)
- Grant Stone Diesel Boots in Crimson Chromexcel – $380
- Grant Stone Diesel Boot Natural Waxed Commander – $348
- Red Wing 6″ Moc Toe Boots – $300
- Red Wing Weekender Chukkas – $250
- J. Crew Kenton Chelsea Boots in “Color 8” – $208.60 when 30% off ($298)
- Huckberry Rhodes Blake Boot Chelseas – $198
- Huckberry All-Weather Duckboots – $188
- Golden Fox Boondocker Service Boots – $120 (review here)
- Nordstrom Blaine Chukkas – $119.95
Used to hate being forced to put on boots for the winter walk to school. HATED it. They were ugly, clunky, uncomfortable things. My how times have changed. Now many of us can’t wait for boot season. So many types of boots worth owning… so little time to wear them.
Alarm Clock —> A New Watch (alarm equipped or very much not)
- Lorier Neptune IV – $499 review here, also shown very top of post
- Timex Harborside Coast Automatic 43mm – $189 review here
- Orient Bambino Bauhaus – $170ish review here
- Baltic Bicompax 002 Mechanical Chronograph – $590ish review here
- Seiko 5- Sports Dive Style Automatic – $275ish when on sale ($325)
- Dan Henry 1937 Dress Chrono – $270
- Invicta Pro Diver 1953 Automatic – $129.99
- Orient Ray Automatic – $160ish
- Timex x Todd Snyder MK-1 Jet Stream Watch – $138
Pretty sure many of us have anxiety dreams about our old alarm clock not going off and we miss the first day or school or a big test. Even the precise sound of our first alarm clocks/long time clock radio buzzers is ingrained forever in our brains. And while almost everyone uses their phone for an alarm as well as to tell the time these days, there are still many reasons to wear a watch. Not least of which is helping you get to where you need to be on time once you get out the door. Fumbling with a phone when you’re on the move can be cumbersome. And who wants to be one of the
millions billions glued to their tiny screen as they walk (inattentively) down the street?
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, Dopp Kit, Catchall, etc.
- Portland Leather Goods Dopp Kit – $66 w/ HOT25 ($88)
- J. Crew Waxed Canvas Tote – $103.99 ($168)
- WP Standard “The Utility Pouches” – $98
- Herschel Supply Co. Alexander Insulated Zip Tote – $90
- FormFunctionForm Valet Tray – $88
- Bespoke Post “Weekender” Bag – $49 (for members)
- Patagonia Black Hole Cube – Medium – $45
- Northwind Canvas and Leather Toiletry Bag – $29.95
A smaller (or medium sized) 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, as well as all the Teachers who are digging into their own pockets to buy supplies for their classrooms. Which is ridiculous that has to happen, ever. And it happens often. If you want to help out, check out Donors Choose and the projects teachers put up on that platform for funding.