Back to School Clothes for Women

woman shopping

Young children aren't the only ones who need back to school clothes. Busy mothers, women going back to school, teachers, or young women headed to high school or college all need stylish, versatile, and functional wardrobes, too.

Women's Back to School Wardrobe Essentials

Get a polished, pulled-together look by having the best essentials for back to school season. Jaimie Hilfiger, fashion expert, model, and niece of famed designer Tommy Hilfiger, gives advice on some of the most important basics women should invest in for back to school season to update her wardrobe.

Cute Colored Blazers

blue blazer

Jaime says a fitted blazer in a bright, bold hue is a good choice. "Wearing a tailored blazer will instantly make a simple outfit look polished," she says. "Also, classrooms are always heavily air-conditioned, and it's important to be comfortable while learning." This is a great choice for any woman in a school environment, including those who are teachers, because it is professional but not overly fussy.

Figure-Flattering Jeans

Denim is another essential. Jaime says, "Everyone needs to have that one pair of jeans that goes perfectly with your body type. Plus you can match any type of top with jeans, so having a good pair will leave with you plenty of options. " For a polished, school-appropriate look, skip any styles with ripped designs or that are overloaded with the embellishments. Invest in a dark or basic wash, like the Tried & True Bootcut from J. Jill, for the most versatility.

Simple Layering Pieces

Choose pieces that you can layer easily to create different practical and cute looks. For women who are trying to update their wardrobes on a budget, this is especially great advice because it helps them create more looks with fewer pieces.

Stocking up on simple shirts that you can layer, Jaime says, "...will help you to avoid looking like you wear the same thing over and over again. I know in school, there is a lot of competition based on what everyone is wearing. By layering different colors in different combinations, this will throw people off and give you some variety." Items like fitted tees in feminine cuts, basic blouses, simple cardigans, and lightweight long sleeve shirts are great choices.

Embellished Flats

printed knotted flats

Choosing embellished flats combines the best in both function and style. "Whether you're in high school, college, or just taking some night classes," Jaime shares, "it's important to have comfortable footwear." She adds, "Walking across campus can be a long trek, and during high school it's important not to be late -- sometimes causing you to run to your next class. Wearing stylish flats with some added embellishments will give your outfit an effortless boost." Today there are flats with every imaginable detail, including bows, floral detail, eye-catching hardware, and beaded embellishments, so there is something for every woman's style. A style like the Candie's ballet flat with detailed accents and sleek look is cute but low-key.

Satchel with Hardware

Another accessory that really pays off in terms of function and style, according to Jaime, is a "versatile satchel with cool hardware. In school it's important to have a good-sized bag with you. There is so much that you need to carry around that sometimes finding the perfect bag may be tricky. My advice is to pick up something practical but with distinguishing hardware, which will separate you from the pack." The Buxton Pleated Chain Convertible Satchel is one example of this style -- a sophisticated bag that has added personality with the gold hardware.

Trendy Comfort

cute top with denim

Investing in pieces that are comfortable, as well as trendy and stylish, is also tremendously important. In fact, Jaimie says that this would be her top advice for busy female students, mothers, or other women who need back to school clothing: "My number one piece of advice in selecting new clothes for their fall wardrobes is to go for comfort. It's so important to be comfortable while being in the classroom because if not, your attention will be diverted elsewhere. There are so many stylish options now that are also comfortable, such a ballerina flats, jeans with stretch, and tops made out of soft and loose fabrics."

Other items that women may want to consider include the following:

  • Knit blazers: A knit blazer, like this knit blazer from JC Penney provides a structured look, but the material makes it more comfortable.
  • Embellished cardigans: A cardigan is a great classic and comfortable piece, but if you want to spice up it up a bit, consider styles with some added detail, such as ruffles, sequins, or embroidered designs. A cute example is this boyfriend cardigan that has detailing down the sleeves and front.
  • Multi-way dress in comfortable fabric: Some of today's dresses, like the Nikki 5-Way Dress by Abi Ferrin, are designed to be worn in multiple ways and come in stretchy, comfortable fabrics. Although women in school atmospheres may not wear dresses all the time, a dress like this can be a good choice because it can easily go from a tunic when paired with leggings for day to something a little dressier for evening when you have a busy day.

Where to Shop

Women can often find great deals at the same stores that carry back to school clothing for children, such as JC Penney's or Macy's. Here are some other excellent options for where to find deals on back to school basics for adult women:

  • Kohls: With their frequent sales, large selection, and variety of brands, Kohls is a good resource. Brands like Chaps that carry more classic items are available, as well as brands like Rock and Republic that are more trendy.
  • Bananna Republic: Find clothing that is stylish, versatile, and always polished at this store. Although clothing here can be pricy, you can often find deals of 25 percent off or more when shopping online, as well as special online savings and free shipping over $50.
  • Ann Taylor LOFT: A great selection of casual but pulled-together styles are available here, and the prices are lower than the regular Ann Taylor store. You can also find sale and clearance items online for thirty percent off or more.
  • Asos: Slightly more on the trendy side, Asos is good choice for younger women, or any woman who wants to add incoporate trend pieces, for several reasons: a large selection, a unique fashion finder section with plenty of ideas and looks to browse, and ability to shop by price point (for example, Under $35).
  • J. Jill: Relaxed yet stylish, this is a great place to shop for easy-to-wear basics as well as comfortable stylish pieces like crepe dresses and draped slacks.

Shopping Tips for Women's Back to School Fashions

female student in red top

No matter how cute something looks on the rack, it's important to keep the following in mind when shopping:

  • Look for functional and versatile pieces: Items that can't be mixed, matched, or layered will be more difficult to work into your wardrobe, Make it easier on yourself by getting a selection of great pieces that are versatile enough to be changed up and work with your exisiting wardrobe.
  • Consider fabric choice: It might look cute on the rack, but if the top, pants, or dress you're considering is made out of stiff, uncomfortable fabric it won't do you any favors sitting in the classroom or walking around campus.
  • Choose a few tops in rich shades: Choosing a few tops or blouses in rich colors makes a great transition from summer. Colors like burgundy and deep blue work great seasonally and work well for most skintones.
  • Add a few trendy accessories: If you're worried about your polished look being too plain, add a few of-the-minute accessories. A long necklace, patternedd scarf, or funky belt can create a brand new look that expresses your personality.

Comfort and Style

Knowing how to choose the right pieces, where to shop, and how to spice up everyday basics are key to creating a back to school wardrobe for today's busy women. Go back to campus in comfort and style with your own look.

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