We at Team JTB splurge on a few things for ourselves this Back to School season. It’s after Labor Day – there’s no denying we’re back at it and there’s nothing like a new pair of tennies and a fresh backpack, right? Here are our favorite luxuries this September because pencil cases aren’t just for kids… do children even use pencils anymore? Don’t answer that.
Joy Wilson, creator
The vibe: colorful, cleaned out, and oversized.
• You will not catch me in a tired, dusty pair of Converse sneakers this September. They surely exist in my wardrobe but they’re banished, for the time being, to the closet floor. September is a time for fresh school sneaks no matter how old we are and this simple white pair feels both grown up and child like with their oversized laces. Also – it seems like we can make ANY fresh pair of sneaks instantly cooler with this wide range of oversized laces – this is my personality now, I’m sorry.
• September feels very “new year, new me” and I find myself hauling my regretfully trendy summer purchases off to Goodwill and settling back into my 41-ness by reorganizing my embarrassingly large purse and cleaning out my George Castanza wallet. Why does my wallet end up with so much paperwork!? To freshen, I love this bold green wallet on a chain or this rainbow stripe wallet for days when I don’t need a full purse. And if I’m keeping it petite, a brightly colored wallet like this small folding card holder are also super easy to find in the abyss of my purse.
• This year my style is very… French Cowgirl which I suppose speaks to my double roots in Houston and New Orleans. A simple colorful scarf like this Horse Bandana or this Floral Bandana is my accessory of choice. Lighter than a necklace, v French, and clearly v cowgirl. Again yes, I will be taking this on as my personality. Apologies in advance.
Abby Mallett, editor
The vibe: the never-quite-grown-up art teacher that gives the best life advice and has 20 pairs of eyeglasses
• Sitting on my couch, there are no less than nine notebooks in my line of sight. For reference, I live in a studio apartment. To say I love notebooks is an understatement. They represent where you are and what you’re feeling. Somehow they make you hopeful that your ideas will make it on their pages. Of course, they don’t, they never do. But oh, the thrill! DesignWorks Ink holds my current favorite, but this is a very close second. Also, if you give me a Five Star 5-subject notebook I will burst into tears.
• Choosing a backpack at the start of every school year is a defining moment. To me, it determined my year, no, the trajectory of my life. I remember feeling fancy with my Gap crossbody bag, stuffed to the brim, giving me future hip misalignment. Today I still prefer stylish backpacks over purses, my three current favorites being Herschel, Fjällräven, and Everlane (not exact, but simiilar). For the record, I was into Fjällräven before anyone I knew – you heard it here first.
• Were you the kid in school that color coded their notes with the organized highlighters and pens on their desks? Well, first off, I admire you so much. Secondly, why are you an August Virgo? I will admit I could never get to that level of organization, but I am a self proclaimed hoe for a good pen. As a left-handed lady my life is one constant pen and Sharpie smudge. And please don’t ask me to write on a white board. I am hard in love with the .4 Pilot Juice Up, but you can never go wrong with a classic. Especially in a quirky lil’ pencil case.
Kim Baldwin, contributor
The vibe: woodsy, sexy, cool
• When you live in the south you have to find creative ways to show you’re a Fall Girl™? because the temps won’t do it for you. I may not be able to wear a scarf until November, but I will be sporting the deepest, darkest red nail polish I can find as soon as Labor Day is over.
• Once my nails are painted, I like to light a candle, get out the weighted blanket and watch a Nora Ephron movie. Ranger Station makes some of the best candles around and this one called Santalum is my current fave.
• Maybe it’s because it’s back-to-school season, or maybe it’s because Olivia Newton-John died, but I’ve been remembering how much I loved the movie Grease 2. I bought the soundtrack and have been playing “Cool Rider” on repeat. In the spirit of Stephanie Zinone, maybe we could all use a new faux leather moto jacket.
Toby Lowenfels, contributor
The vibe: Janine Teagues meets Rory Gilmore
• When I started substitute teaching last spring, I was excited to eat lunch in the teacher’s lounge like they do on Abbott Elementary. Turns out, most teachers eat solo in their classrooms. But I still have that new-school-year-energy and like eating with the kids in the cafeteria. Standing at 5 foot nothing, though, one occupational hazard I run into is blending in with the students. I needed a lunch box with authority and landed on this eco-friendly number. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of A+ lunch containers, as seen here, here, and here.
• You can tell I’ve been listening to Renaissance on a loop because the first thing I thought when I saw this desk calendar was: UNIQUE. I spend most of my energy as a writer trying to avoid the trap of procrastination. So I’m attracted to this desk calendar because it gives me one less reason to check my phone when I blank on the date. Plus, it’s so sleek, it takes up hardly any real estate on your desk. Add to cart. (Other vintage options here and here.)
• I’ve been dragging around a hardback copy of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History for 20 years. This hunk of a book had been through two cross country moves before I finally decided to crack it open this summer. And, wow. Released in 1992, it’s the story of how a murder affects a group of tight-knit college friends. As a true testament to Tartt’s talent, she’s able to give away the plot in the opening chapter and still hold your attention via exquisite details and character development. It’s the kind of novel that’ll ruin you for all other novels. Sorry.
Do you find yourself back-to-school shopping long after going to school? We’d love to hear your favorites! Happy September!
What a fun post! And. . . as a long-time public school teacher, I’d also suggest a batch of goodies or a catered coffee break (group up with fellow citizens or parents if your school is big) for your local public school teachers would be a great way to celebrate back to school and say, “We see and appreciate you!” There’s also https://www.donorschoose.org/, which is an easily accessible way to support public schools, too. Educating our country’s offspring is a hugely important task, and, friends, it ain’t getting easier. Thanks for your consideration.
PS: Pumpkin Pecan scones with Browned Butter Glaze for the mmmmmmmmm!
Somehow every year I convince myself to buy a new planner at the start of the school year, even though I continue to use my wall calendar at home instead ? still, there’s nothing like a fresh new planner to me! I love the ones from rifle paper co. that show both month and week display.
“The Secret History” is such a great book! And while it didn’t ruin me for all other novels, it did ruin me for Tartt’s novel “The Goldfinch”. I was so excited when ”The Goldfinch” came out, but it totally underwhelmed me. Ah well, such is life! And nothing takes anything away from “The Secret History”!
Loved this! Thank you for the double dose of nostalgia and dopamine. Back to school season is so much more of a natural/cosmic reset than January and nothing says “unstoppable” like fresh school supplies and a signature style.
Joy the Baker
I feel like you get it, Hailey. A dose of dopamine for all! xo
Trena Louise Price
I, too, am a lefty. Due to strange circumstances, my mother taught me cursive. She was also left handed and made a very simple adjustment so that I don’t write “upside down” and smear the ink. All I had to do was tilt my paper the opposite way that the righties did. So simple! Too bad nobody taught that to our teachers.
Joy the Baker
Joy, how’s the running going? (Gone?) I’ve got my first half marathon in about 2 weeks & it helped me to see I’m not the only one who takes up such things at such an age.
Joy the Baker
Carrie I’m so excited for you! You’re going to be great! I’m so thrilled for you to show yourself what you can do! I’ve backed off the length of my runs through this hot summer but I still get out for shorter runs and just love it! I hope to do another half marathon early next year! Cheers to you and all your training! xo
French cow girl!! That’s brilliant.
Yes!!!! BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON ?????????
I love people who get the best time of the year!
As I retired teacher, nothing makes me happier than seeing the kids at Target squeal with delight in the back to school department!
I was doing so well not buying school supplies until you suggested those cool pens…..now I ordered them! My grandson is into mechanical ? pencils…..any suggestions ? ?
My ?? Are supposed to be smiles…..lots of smiles!
Joy the Baker
We love your smiles Julie thank you! Hahha.
Julie! I am a personal fan of the Paper Mate Clear Point mechanical pencils. Pentel also makes a twist eraser pencil that’s amazing!!