Whether you’re headed back to high school, gearing up for a year at college or, like me, feeling oddly aged and nostalgic that you aren’t about to do any of these things, I figured we could probably all enjoy some back-to-school fashion tips! It’s a new school year and the perfect time to make an impression as the chic and stylish dapperQ that you are. However, as you wake bleary-eyed to yet another early morning, the call of those sweatpants may be strong. To prevent fatigue compromising your fashion sense, now is the perfect time to get prepared with some comfortable, school-appropriate, yet bang-on-trend items, so you always hit your classroom wearing a look you’re proud to be seen in.
Before I start with my back-to-school shopping list, first check out dapperQ’s Queer Ivy shoot, shot at Columbia University and featuring some of the most amazing queer “ivy inspired” style.
Photo by Bex Wade. See the full shoot with model bios here.
1) Hoodies are definitely practical and comfortable. While it’s not impossible to incorporate a hoodie into a polished, sophisticated ensemble, it takes a bit of planning and finesse. (We’ll show you how below.) That’s why I’m obsessed with these hoodie alternatives I’ve seen on ASOS! They are fashionable on-the-go alternatives for those who would be inclined to wear the same hoodie everyday.
The first is this baseball neck sweatshirt – you get all the comfort of a hoodie while also having a touch of sophistication with the on-trend cut-and-sew design and the mature neckline and buttons.
ASOS also carries some pretty stylish bomber jackets, which, again, give you the comfort and convenience (1-2-3 out the door) of a hoodie but with a more fashionable edge. They are lightweight enough for indoor wear and the bomber jacket shape always gives you an effortless element of cool. This one was originally $62, but is now on sale at ASOS for $38.
2) If you’re a dapperQ who favours more formal attire or need dressier options for campus meetings, work-study jobs, etc., pick up a great blazer to bring back to school with you. Jersey blazers are really on trend now and are perfect for crisp, but not cold, fall days that do not necessitate a heavy jacket or tweed sport coat. Jersey blazers allow you to rock the dressed up look using a more casual fabric. This ASOS jersey blazer can be dressed up or down and is on sale for $46.50 (down from $116!!!)
You may also consider getting a blazer in a heavier fabric for when the weather does start getting cold enough for jackets and layering. A blazer with texture can dress up your outfit without drifting too far into business suit territory Topman has a great selection of blazers in a wide variety of fabrics, including this one that is on sale for $85 (down from $180!!!)
While we’re on the subject of using blazers to layer when the weather gets colder, let’s reconsider the hoodie. Some “menswear” blogs say it’s a “don’t”, others say it’s a “do,” but we personally like the “hoodie under blazer” aesthetic. Check out these examples of hoodie/blazer layering, perfect for campus style:
3) It’s a classic queer style staple, but I really can’t recommend enough investing in a good flannel shirt. A nice quality one is the comfiest thing you’ll ever wear, and they are easy to wear either on their own, to smarten up a t-shirt, or as a layering element tied around your waist. I really recommend Superdry’s flannel shirts, which are soft, thick and comfortable. But, you can also find more affordable options at H&M and Forever 21. Here are some examples of how to layer flannels to create an effortlessly stylish look:
via Men’s Fashion
via Stitch and Bound
4) A comfy pair of chinos are another back-to-school wardrobe essential. I am in love with chinos, as they are so stretchy and comfortable, making them really easy to throw on. I can’t recommend H&M’s chinos enough! They come in an array of colours, are outrageously affordable and are so comfy I seriously wear them as an alternative to sweatpants.
I should add that H&M only sells trousers in a 36inch leg. I’m sure I’m not the only dapperQ who measures up rather shorter than lots of shops assume their wearers will and finds this frustrating! However, you can get trousers turned up for very affordable prices at places like dry cleaners which offer alterations, and with H&M’s super cheap price tag, you can’t begrudge that too much!
Another, yet more pricey and higher quality, option are Peter Manning chinos. Peter Manning designs masculine attire for individuals under 5’8″. Their chinos start are $80 and up. However, they (1) have great annual sales and (2) offer 20% your first purchase if you sign up for their newsletter.
Petter Manning chinos for the shorter dapper.
5) You can totally wear canvas shoes and still look classy: the answer is canvas chukka boots! They have a leather boot look but will feel like you’re wearing your Converse. Double win! Of course, leather boots are a cold weather must. (Check out dapperQ’s boot 101 on Autostraddle.) But, these canvas boots are perfect for dapperQs who are looking for a dressier alternative to the canvas sneaker.
6) Needless to say, a fashionable and functional bag is a must on your back-to-school shopping list. While holdalls and satchels are very stylish, when you’re staggering around with piles of books, a backpack is really the only option. However, it doesn’t have to drag down your outfit! A backpack with buckles is classy and stylish. ASOS carries them in loads of different colours. They look so adult and smart.
If you’re going to be carrying your laptop around with you on the regular, you definitely want a good-looking laptop bag or case! For laptop accessories, I really like this brand called Knomo. Considering they make good quality leather bags, they are relatively inexpensive. They also even sell some very attractive laptop backpacks – who knew those two phrases could ever go in the same sentence??
dapperQ also published an article on masculine work bags, which is a great resource for those who want alternatives to backpacks.