Back-to-School Cool

This day has long been dreaded by students and teachers alike, it’s the day when summer is over in an official sense, and school is back in session. Growing up I always had a love/hate relationship with going back to school. On the plus side it meant seeing friends again and finally getting to wear my back-to-school clothes. On the minus side was the whole school thing—including homework, bullies, and getting up unbearably early. I know it’s bad to get so excited by material things, but I also know that for those of you headed back to the classroom this year, sometimes it’s one of the few things to look forward to.

I haven’t been back to school five years, but I still get that little buzz of excitement each September. The urge to buy something plaid, to stuff a new backpack full of binders and pencil cases that will break or get lost after the first week. Anticipation and apprehension mingle together to create a feeling like no other—new possibilities, or maybe just the pleasure of being one year closer to graduation, or retirement.  Whether the new school year is thrilling or depressing, when that first bell rings, summer is over, and Autumn is ushered in.

I always had my first day of school outfit picked out weeks in advance, whether it was a matching lime green skirt/leggings/tank combo with pink LA gear sneakers and scrunch socks in second grade, or JNCO jeans and shiny new doc martens in Junior high. I spent most of the summer daydreaming how cool I would be as I marched through those double-doors in September. Of course, the novelty of new clothes and school supplies wears off fast, especially when you find yourself back at home with ten million homework assignments.

The idea of back-to-school fashion still carries a certain nostalgia though, a strange rush of exhilaration that is lost without summer vacation. I’m surrounded by teachers in my life and I’m sure they would all tell me it’s very different sitting on the opposite side of the classroom, but maybe they can indulge me for a moment, and remember back to a time when sharpened pencils and a perfectly matched ensemble made something dreadful seem better.

(Click to enlarge, and see itemized list below)

I personally love seeing people’s old school pictures, so you should send me yours; because sometimes they’re funny and usually they’re incredibly cute. Below I will share some of mine and my family’s. Send me yours and we’ll do a whole feature—90’s styles, funny glasses, cool backgrounds, braces and side ponytails especially encouraged! If you have any of you actually on the first day of school that’s even better.

This is me at age 5 in late 1980’s Queens, probably pre-school, which means it was my first ever school picture. I had a boys haircut because I had a penchant for cutting my own hair with my Crayola safety scissors, which never worked out too well for me. I also lost a few friends by trying out my stylist skills on their hair too—whoops!

My older sister, probably also in pre-school, she doesn’t look like she trusts the photographer much does she? I like her blue velvet hippie dress—too cute!

This one is my mother, sometime in early 1960s New York—we’re a family that loves bangs, what can I say?

Aww, that’s my fiancé—mid 1980s also in Queens, I like his little vest/jacket.

I had to include this one because of the awesome laser background, and also because I remember this school picture the most vividly. I chose my own outfit (that’s pastel sweatshirt material with bows) it had a matching ruffle skirt and pants. I also remember it was the first time I had brushed my hair in ages and I was shocked by how long it had grown, I’m pretty sure that’s the longest hair I had during my childhood.

Send me your pictures—come on, it’s fun! I’ll even contribute some hideously bad class pictures of myself from high school, which aren’t cute at all.

And to all you teachers and students out there, I hope you have a great first day back!

back to school by justinez featuring a travel bag

School Spirit Knee-Hi 3-Pack
$17 –
Socks »

KAMILLE Soft Brogue Shoes
$100 –
Flat oxford »

Vivienne Westwood Gold Bow Black Vegan flats
68 GBP –
T shirt shoes »

Contrast Strap Satchel
$90 –
Leather handbag »

25 GBP –

Nautical Check Scarf
3 GBP –
Vintage scarves »

Elmer’s Washable School Glue
$15 –

Prepared for Anything Pencil Pouch
$15 –

sniffty scented pen set
$12 –

Back To School
$6 –




Filed under shopping

7 responses to “Back-to-School Cool

  1. mkz201

    I think that picture is from nursery school, so I was about 4 years old. I remember that dress and feeling very fancy in it. And no, I did not trust the photographer.

    I can’t tell you how depressing I find it to work all summer and straight into fall with no special, first day, new beginnings moment.

  2. haren

    The first day of school always sucks for students and teachers. Ours ended today with fully outfitted firemen walking in and around the school because as if things weren’t crazy enough, our fire alarm went off! Oh and our pregnant teacher left early for the hospital!

  3. Sarah

    The first day does kinda suck. Having said that, my favorite moment of the day was when I realized I had a hypochondriac in the mix. After we talked about the importance of washing your hands, one kid stared at his hands, with his cute little furrowed brow, and said “I see the germs!”

  4. kristen

    AW! the photos are wonderful! I love the first day of school. I still get all excited the night before, even though I’m not a student anymore.

  5. lizzy

    justine!! you’re so pretty! and this is just proof to me that you’ve always had good hair. i like your little pixie cut!

  6. Jessica

    Can I just say… LISA FRANK!!

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