3 Back to School Clothing Essentials You Need Now

This post is sponsored by MarketFair in Princeton, NJ.

It hit me this month that we really do not have much time before my oldest, Max, starts Kindergarten. Like, legit public school Kindergarten, which to me feels like a foray into the rest of adulthood. Not to mention, Rowan (who’s been home with me for three years since Day 1) is starting Preschool! I panicked a little thinking of school supplies yet to buy, seasonal clothes, teacher gifts to plan, but mostly I feel a pang in my heart knowing this is a big step for both my boys I won’t be able to take with them.

So to celebrate, I took the kids along on one of my most memorable childhood pastimes — back to school shopping — at our favorite local mall, MarketFair in Princeton, NJ. With over 40 shops and restaurants, MarketFair is just small enough to provide a relaxed shopping environment, and big enough to offer the right mix of well-curated retailers to satisfy the whole family’s needs. We love browsing Gap, Gymboree, Pottery Barn Kids, FreePeople, and Barnes & Noble on the regular.

As a young girl, the hunt for all the best back to school fashions was thrilling to me, and always made for a fun day at the mall with my sisters and mom. I think of our MarketFair as a “come for the clothes, stay for a milkshake and fries” inviting kinda place. (Did you see this video of the boys' incredible back to school shopping adventure in MarketFair?)

I may not be ready for the kids’ next big milestone, but they sure do look ready! Read on below for the only three everyday clothing essentials you need this school year — and to see two A-worthy first day styles that make the grade!

Look 1: Gap plaid short sleeve shirtGap Superdenim high stretch skinny jeansGap perforated classic trainers | Gymboree Concrete Grey Moto Lunchbox  //  Look 2: Gymboree baby shark print tank  //  Look 3: Anthropologie Pilco Script High-Rise Embellished Skinny Jeans  //  Look 4: Gap science varsity jacket | Gap marled jersey tank | Gymboree Funflex skinny jeans

You don’t need a ton of clothes to make it through a school year, if you invest in a smaller selection of good quality basics that are easy to mix and match. Trends are fun once in a while (hello, embellished jeans!), but I believe timeless styles that wear well will get you more bang for your buck. After going through racks of graphic tees, striped tanks, and stylish jeans, both boys put together their own cool looks that are sure to inspire your family’s back to school style.

The three everyday clothing essentials your kids will need this school year:


If you’re a boy mom, then your boys’ pants probably have holes. Not the kind of already-ripped-for-you trendy denim that you buy like that, I'm talking about the holes that somehow appear after a day at school or on the playground. Last year, GapKids launched its new Superdenim collection — and it’s the best I’ve seen for kids jeans. Super durable and brilliantly designed, it combines Gap’s heritage authentic styling with fashion-forward detailing and innovative eco-friendly yarn — making it the most comfortable, softest and stretchiest denim yet. And of course, a concealed adjustable waist helps you get longevity. Bonus points: GapKids Superdenim also comes with a 100% guarantee made to last the entire school year, or Gap will replace them! Read the full Superdenim exchange policy here — it includes rips, broken zippers, and torn or worn out knees! Perfect for all the boy moms! ;)


Stock up on good-quality Henley tops. This is a collarless pullover style, with a round neckline and a few buttons. Laid-back and loveable — kids love 'em! Essentially a collarless polo shirt, Henley tops are perfect for boys who need to look pulled together for school but don’t want to feel stifled by a collar. We love this long sleeve slub henley top from GapKids.

I’m a firm believer in less is more (especially when it comes to kid stuff), and that kids only need two high-quality seasonal pairs each year — a good sneaker and a good boot. If you opt for a classic style in a basic color, like brown or black, this will work with any outfit. We love these perforated classic trainers in navy blue and these perforated slip-ons sneakers.

Our MarketFair is a hub for fun family events, like a Back to School Reading Rocks interactive magic show and a few storytime events at Barnes & Noble that I’ve penciled into our calendar, featuring new book arrivals How to Get Your Teacher Ready and Goodnight Lab: A Scientific Parody Storytime. Back to school season holds fond memories for me… the promise of new beginnings, new friends… hope my boys will feel this way, too. Find a great mall, score some serious discounts, start back to school traditions, and don’t forget to savor the last few sips of summer. Before you know it, your kid will be bigger and smarter than you.

All featured pieces available at MarketFair.