2016 Guide to Ethical School Clothes

School Rules: 2016 Guide to School Clothes
Pictured: Standard School Attire from City Threads with an Everlane Mini Backpack


The lazy days of summer are closing for our family as we prepare the boys to head back to school. Gap, Old Navy, and Target are popular stops for standard school attire around here, but whenever I can I try to add some ethical credentials into my boys’ wardrobes.

Second-hand shops are still my favorite way to stock the kids’ closets with school attire. I love thrifting, so I keep an eye out for quality clothing as I shop at stores and consignment sales throughout the year. I did NOT relish the idea of taking two boys shopping with me this summer, however, so I just placed my first Thred Up order to fill in a couple of closet gaps.

A new find for me this year is City Threads, which specializes in made-in-the-USA basics. I order City Threads items from Amazon where they often are on sale. The pants we’ve ordered from City Threads use a lighter fabric than what I’m accustomed to seeing, so I’ll be interested to see how they hold up with daily use. City Threads also is a great source for  undies — the quality is terrific, and organic options are available.

American Apparel is still on my list for dress code attire. I’m becoming more comfortable with the company as they rework their image and practices. We’ve enjoyed some of our school clothes from American Apparel, while other items have been terribly mis-sized. I recommend trying them with caution — be sure you can return your order in case of fit issues. [2017 Update: American Apparel is no longer in business.]

Remember my epic backpack search when my first son started kindergarten? With boy #2 starting school this year, I was gearing up for another search. However, the little guy made a wiser choice than his mama and decided he wanted his brother’s old Patagonia backpack. Big brother, who has moved onto an R2-D2 backpack that is now threadbare, asked me to patch his backpack rather than buy him a new one. Wisdom from the kids! In case you ARE looking for backpack options, I’ll let you know that I was eyeing the Everlane Mini Backpack as well as some sale bags from Timbuk2. Honestly, though, I’m relieved to stick with what we have.

So what are your back-to-school shopping secrets? Are you a mender, a thrifter, or a spoiled-by-grandparents-er (ahem — we know something about that)? How are you preparing for the school year?


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