As the yellow buses get ready to rumble again, a few of us on the editorial team thought we’d play back-to-school dress-up, using our own elementary-school photos to create looks based on what our moms made us wear way back in the day.
Or, rather, my co-workers agreed to let me dress them and share their school photos with the Internet. Which really puts getting dressed for Picture Day into perspective.
So, to the moms out there who still get to dress their kids for school, this one’s for you.
Suzanne (me), Age 5
This photo was taken at the end of my preschool year in 1980—and it’s been hanging on the wall of my mom’s den ever since. The T-shirt I’m wearing says, “I’m going to be president. As soon as I’m allowed to cross the street.” Awesome. I wish I still had it. It was easy to find a screen-print tee and flared jeans to match my look, and I threw in the owl backpack and red TOMS because grown-up me loves birds and primary colors. And because this photo was how I began preschool.
Peek Cap Sleeve Tee
Joe’s ‘Bell’ Flare Leg Jeans
Skip Hop ‘Zoo Pack’ Backpack
TOMS ‘Classic Youth’ Slip-On
Virginia, Age 5
That’s Virginia in the middle there, waiting at the bus stop on her first day of kindergarten in 1970. “As you can see, I am very psyched about my blue dress and loafers,” she told me. When I recreated Virginia’s outfit, she practically squealed with excitement—but not for the precious polka-dot tunic. Her delight was over the pink of the leggings, a color forbidden to her as a child. Of course, I was more than happy to feed Virginia’s rebellious streak 40-plus years on.
Mini Boden ‘Funky’ Tunic Top
Tractor Knit Corduroy Leggings
Geox ‘Shadow’ Mary Janes
SoYoung Mother Insulated Lunchbox
Jeff, Age 5
As a kid, Nordstrom’s blog editor dressed better than most adults—all thanks to his mom, who loved dressing him for school Picture Day (what mom doesn’t?). Jeff must have picked up a sartorial trick or two from his mom, since he’s grown into quite the natty dresser. And, rest assured, his mother made sure he wore pants, despite what this photo collage might have you believe.
Did Too ‘Quinn’ Cardigan
Peek ‘Vintage’ Polo
Popatu ‘Trolley’ Rolling Backpack
Titanium Silicone Watch
Justin, Age 6
Justin puts this photo at about 1988. We put it at adorable. The striped Rugby shirt, the coordinating royal-blue pants, the cheesy smile—it’s school-photo gold. I tried my best to match his retro look, and then threw in some cooler-than-cool dunks to replace his dorky Velcro sneakers. Plus Yoda, who never goes out of style.
Peek ‘New Ross’ Hoodie
Did Too ‘Richie’ Chino Pants
Nike ‘Ruckus Mid Jr. 6.0’ Sneaker
Lego ‘Yoda’ Character Watch & Toy
Simone, Age 6
While the Twirlybird has seen better days, Simone (aka my boss) makes it work with that smartly striped turtleneck and a look of steely determination. To match, I selected items that aren’t so different from what she’d wear today—a ’70s-inspired striped cardigan that I wish came in my size, a chambray tank, super-versatile black skinnies and classic Converse sneakers. Here’s hoping she approves.
Peek Tie-Front Cardigan
Peek Stripe Chambray Tank
Vigoss Reversible Skinny Jeans
Converse Chuck Taylor Low Sneaker
So there you have it. A back-to-school style guide by way of a nostalgia-filled tribute to our moms. Because, even though it may have taken us decades to appreciate their efforts, hindsight shows us we looked really cute. Thanks, Moms. You did an awesome job.
Got little ones of your own to dress? Check out our Kids’ Back-to-School Guide for helpful shopping checklists tailored by age group. And for the teens out there, be sure to watch the BP. TV Back to School video and shop our Monday-through-Friday style picks.