Back To School Window Shopping

Back To School Window Shopping

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Locations - Chinook Centre


I can’t help it. For seventeen years straight I went to school every fall. While there are some years before school and certainly many more since graduating university, I still have the urge to shop. For back to school everything.

Now, I know that this is silly as I’m not currently studying and no one I care for in my home is either. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about back to school shopping. It’s everywhere.

A colleague of mine shared that she and her kids went shopping all day for school supplies and a few clothing pieces. I went to her socials to find out that the whole family got the same brand of shoes - each in their own style – like a cute sports team or something. After admitting what I saw, I urged her to tell me ever last detail of what her kids choose and why she thought they did. It was fascinating. Kid one selecting this; kid two fretting over that; kid three wanting no part of shopping and decided to hang in the food court instead. There was a style story for everyone.

While I’m not keen on a full-on matching moment, the community boding moment part is thrilling. As I think more about it, I’m getting a twinge of clarity. Is back to school shopping exciting because it’s about school? Preparing for a new year and new possibilities? Learning about new things with new people? Sure, but I think there’s more to it.  

See, I think there is something to the idea of checking off a list – so satisfying – while also choosing some pieces just for you. Digging a bit deeper, I think the self-selection part is what I’m really interested in. With a new year – and maybe a new school – comes a new opportunity to share who you are. Clothing is a huge part of that, especially for young, mentally squishy people. Nothing like waiting two whole months to purchase something you’ve been crushing all summer, am I right?

Does a fresh pair of jeans tell the world everything about you? Of course not, but it does say something. Or maybe you focus your style effort on a pair of shoes you’ve been saving for all summer. Maybe it’s a new bag that’s so you? Or maybe it’s not the clothes at all. Maybe it’s the school supplies that get you jacked up like you’ve just chugged a litre of Mountain Dew.

For the kids that wear uniforms, is it your jewelry? Your hair style? Makeup or shoes? How do uniformed kids express themselves positively? Perhaps it’s the height of a sock, or the roll of a skirt. I’m sure there are some Fresh Prince look-a-likes wearing their blazers inside out. Regardless of the what I’m so very, deeply curious about the why.

Thoughts and question continue to pop up…

Do the kids in your life try and look like the other kids? Or do they choose their own thing? How does that work? How does the conversation go? Does it change over the year(s)?

How much money do you budget for back to school? Is it getting more year over year or less? What do the kids contribute themselves? Does your spouse or other loved ones help out?

Are the supply lists as long, detailed, and painfully specific as they were in the nineties?

What stores are you visiting? A single session or multiple trips? If you could add it up, how long do you spend shopping all together?

And maybe the most important question that’s rattling me is why do we do it? Aside from the, “Kids grow out of clothes, silly Sarah,” part, do we buy things every fall because we need to? Want to? Simply have been conditioned to feel we need to?

This sounds like another masters style thesis in the making. Now can I go to Staples?

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