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Ah, back-to-school season. Once you’re over the sadness of doing homework and studying for tests again, it’s actually kinda lit. Think about it!
It may mean the end of midweek sleepovers and day camp excursions, but heading back to school ALSO means reuniting with the squad and stunting on your classmates with your fresh gear. It doesn’t matter if you’re headed to high school, a college semester, or just want to celebrate at your grownup desk for nostalgia’s sake. We’re ALL going back-to-school shopping right this instant because admit it, that’s always been the best part of summer bidding adieu! Treat yo’ self in honor of the season with these cool finds.
1.Plain white vans that come with a shoe art kit because one of the dopest things about back-to-school season will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be a fresh pair of kicks.
With this shoe art kit (available with Vans exclusively at Nordstrom), it’s a guarantee that NO ONE will have the same shoe when you step out this fall.
Promising review: “I love the Vans slip-on sneakers and have been wearing them for years. My husband also has two pairs and loves them as well. They are really comfortable and light for easy walking.” —RG815
Get them from Nordstrom in women’s sizes for $49.95 (available in sizes 5-11) and men’s sizes for $49.95 (available in sizes 8.5-13).
2.A weekend T-shirt to let the crew know when you’ll be skipping out on parties to get to the books. You know, because dancing on bar tops can’t be the move ~every~ weekend.
Get it from JLawCreations on Etsy for $20 (available in five colors and sizes S-2XL).
3.Tiny, adorable, and helpful cable bites that can decorate and protect the part of your charger cable that gets bent and damaged the most with regular use.
Promising review: “These are super cute and there are a ton of collections to choose from. They’re multifunctional since they help you find your cable/cord easier and protect against fraying. The cable bites fit on both my smooth and threaded off-market phone cables and the name-brand cables such as iPhone and Amazonbasics. I wish I saw these ages ago!” —Featherlashes
Get them from Amazon for $5.99+ (available in 21 different assortment packages).
4.An acrylic pencil holder to offer the right touch of color without throwing off the rest of your dorm, locker, or desk decor.
Just stick this pretty thing wherever it works. You can use it for pencils, makeup brushes, flowers, etc.
Get it from Forever 21 in purple for $4.99 or pink for $2.99.
5.A daily planner for keeping up with your schedule, as well as set weekly and monthly goals. It has space for to-do lists, motivational stickers, and reflecting on your weeks’ victories. Translation: This planner is out to be your personal lil’ cheerleader.
Promising review: “I love this planner! I needed something for keeping track of things in a summer college course and usually use my phone but found myself flipping back and forth between apps to get the info I needed. This planner let me fill in my dates so I could start off in June. Most academic calendars that I found don’t start until July at the earliest. I’ve got space each week to schedule and still room to add in my goals for the week, a to-do list, and extra to scratch notes in. Several sheets of stickers also add to the fun of planning ahead. The book itself is sturdy and attractive with three ribbons to mark your place… It also came in a hard box perfect for gift giving. All in all, it was definitely a worthwhile purchase.” —S.Bult
Get it from Amazon for $19.97.
6.Handy dandy bookends to keep all of your required reading in perfect order.
Promising review: “These are absolutely stunning in person. Nice weight, but not too heavy. They would work well as decorations alone, but it is cool that they are also functional.” —Gina
Get them from AllModern for $24.99 (available in three colors).
7.Paper Mate Felt Tip Pens to make all your notes, doodles, diary entries, and other projects look extra bright and pretty.
Promising review: “These have to be my absolute favorite pens! I use them for almost everything from notes at school to the forms I have to sign. The pens come in a variety of colors which really allow me to color code and organize my notes and events on my calendar and in my planner. These pens have a felt tip so they allow me to write nice and smoothly… I feel they make my handwriting look a little neater and more professional. I also like the fact that these pens write darker but do not bleed through as badly as other felt pens I have used in the past. Additionally, these pens have a great life span… I have been using them since January and they are still writing like they are brand new pens right out of the package.” —Jordan Lauren
Get them from Amazon for $9.23.
8.Candy-colored mismatched earrings that are perfect for setting your style apart from everyone else on campus.
Get them from The Apollo Box for $9.96 (available in two shapes and color options).
9.Rael Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Healing Patches because oh yes, all blemishes will be immediately escorted off campus for violating this semester.
Promising review: “I am a sufferer of hormonal cystic acne and I am a pimple popper. I love these patches for several reasons. They prevent me from touching the pimple and further infecting the area around it. I also feel the pimple heals faster when covered with these. I have had several small pimples disappear overnight and large cystic acne healed within four to five days compared to several weeks! I wear them throughout the day in my corporate, business professional job since they are clear. If ever get a pimple and it turns white, I change it. They are inexpensive so I have them stashed EVERYWHERE and use them ALL THE TIME. I will be a lifelong buyer of these!” —Jmays2800
Get them from Amazon for $15.99.
10.New jeans because new jeans are always an appropriate purchase but also because this season is the perfect time to update your wardrobe whether you’re actually planning to hit a classroom in new digs or just clothes shopping for old time’s sake.
By the way, Nordstrom and the reviewers who bought these jeans note that you should size down if you wear a half-size as they run slightly large.
Promising review: “These jeans are simply amazing! They are the most comfortable pair of jeans I own. I have three pairs and plan to buy more. The fit is so perfect and you don’t have to worry about them slipping down. You can certainly dress them up or go casual. They will not disappoint!” —Butterjeans
Get them from Nordstrom for $39 (available in sizes 24-34).
11.An Ember temperature control mug that’ll heat up a drink from your phone and keep track of your caffeine intake. Uh-huh. You never have to deal with your warm drinks going cold midway through the cup. Coffee and tea guzzlers, this baby’s for you!
Having your hot drinks taste warm and fresh every second you want them to is another level of bougie that I definitely aspire to.
Get it from Verizon Wireless for $129.99.
12.Crystal pens to journal, take thorough notes, or doodle to your heart’s content at the highest level of glam.
Promising review: “I’m completely and utterly impressed by these pens! I bought them originally because they stand out and would less likely to be stolen by co-workers. When I received them, I was impressed by the quality and blown away by the VERY smooth writing ability. My first thought was that they write like a knife through very soft butter. They’re a bit heavier than your normal pen but not so much that it infringes on writing for extended periods. I use them for taking notes in school as well.” —Kim L. Medina
Get them from Amazon for $14.98+ (available in seven color options).
13.A monogrammed L.L. Bean backpack that’ll hold all your books, folders, drinks, gym clothes, hopes, dreams, and dark secrets.
I’m a proud L.L. Bean backpack owner and here’s my unbelievable-but-believe-it story: My mama ordered my navy blue L.L. Bean backpack in 2006 for my first year of high school. I’ve had the backpack for 13 years, there still hasn’t been one rip, tear, frayed strap, or broken zipper on the thing — and it’s not for the lack of use. I carried it every single weekday in high school, all throughout my four years of undergrad, and for another year and a half for grad school. Three years after grad school, I still use the same L.L. Bean backpack to tote my clothes and laptop for overnight stays and to carry my detergent and dryer sheets to the laundromat. I would have purchased three new ones over the years if it weren’t for the fact that the L.L. Bean backpack I got at 15 years old is still alive, good-lookin’, and ever-useful now that I’m 28. It’s like my other sibling at this point and probably the best $50 investment I never made since my mom bought it and I didn’t. It really doesn’t matter if you’re in school or not. A backpack that can outlive a ton of life’s milestones is a plus for anyone.
Get it from L.L. Bean for $39.99+ (available in eight colors).
14.A subscription to Book of the Month so you can hop back onto your leisurely reading routine after a summer of binge-watching your eyeballs loose and texting by the pool.
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Our five July books are here! This month we’re featuring: “Lock Every Door” by Riley Sager (@riley.sager) “Things You Save in a Fire” by Katherine Center (@katherinecenter) “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo (@lisadtaddeo) “The Gifted School” by Bruce Holsinger (@bruceistic) “Gods of Jade and Shadow” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (#silviamorenogarcia) • Log in to make your selection or tap the link in our bio to get your first book for just $9.99 when you join with code RIDE. • #lockeverydoor #thingsyousaveinafire #threewomen #thegiftedschool #godsofjadeandshadow
Book of the Month will send you five new books every month. You get to keep and pay for your faves. If you’ve spent the summer doing everything but book surfing or simply want to split your time this fall between required and leisurely reading, then let the back-to-school season be your cue.
Subscribe at Book of the Month for $14.99 per month — and add any extra books on for $9.99 each!
15.Ramen noodle sticky notes because what will serve the best humble reminders of just how broke you used to be in college than a faux pack of noodles on your desk?
Come on. Ramen noodles had your back (and your bellies) when you had nothing. Show ’em some love even if you’ll just be sitting them on your desk in your new office.
Get them from Forever 21 for $6.90.
16.A pretty pink stationery set to write old school letters when you get homesick while away in school or to send out thank you letters if you’re busy big-time adulting at your lil’ corporate cubicle.
Get it from Forever 21 for $9.90.
17.Personalized name crayons to actually draw with or to simply brighten up a room as desk art.
These are excellent to have for yourself as a fun memento OR to gift the artsiest person you know for back-to-school season.
Get them from Art2theexgreme on Etsy for $19.95+ (available in for names with up to 13 letters).
18.A literal treasure chest of coffee because you know how it’s going down this time of year. A few all-nighters. A ton of long meetings. It’s about to get a little cray so arm yourself with plenty of Joe. Each coffee bag is free of sugar, lactose, gluten, and alcohol.
Be warned: If people in your office or dorm get wind of this pirate’s booty you’re stowing, they may come hunting for it more than once. Luckily, there’s plenty of coffee in this thing to share with the crew and still have loads left over for yourself.
Promising review: “This was a gift for my mother and she loved it. She said that the chest was big, sturdy, and very charming. She uses it now in her kitchen for storage. My mom also said the coffee was delish, fresh, strong, and very aromatic. The bags were of a generous size which was perfect for her and my father. She said each coffee bag renders about six to eight cups of coffee. It’s definitely worth buying again.” —Dennise Maldonado
Get it from Amazon for $57.95.
19.A chill neon stripe jogger set for the days you plan to kick back, cozy up, and do absolutely nothing but look bomb after a week of tests, meetings, projects, and whatever else.
Consider this your wardrobe reward for how hard you’re about to go this fall.
Get it from ASOS for $48 (available in sizes straight 0-14, plus 12-28, and petite 0-12
20.A dorm divider that’s machine-washable, blocks out light, has zero transparency, and minimizes noise so you and your roommate won’t get sick of each other quite as fast as you thought. It comes with holes just like a regular window curtain so you can put it up easily with a long-enough tension rod. BOOYAH. TREAT YO’ SELF. KISS THE HEAVENS.
By the way, if you’re beyond dorms and roommates, then this remains a clutch idea for a shared office space or large rooms in a home that you might like to split up.
Promising review: “I bought this curtain to divide a guest room I had. The length and width are perfect. You can’t see the other side of the space. If there is light on one side, then it still remains dark on the other, not bothering the person on the other side. I ordered the black curtain and it works great with the decor in the room. I highly recommend this curtain if you’re looking to divide a space.” —The Truth
Get them from Amazon: curtain for $32.99+ (available in four colors and seven size options) and tension rod for $30.99+ (available in four colors)
21.A desk pad to zhuzh up your workspace so it looks more like a creativity hub instead of a boring spot for busywork. The mat can also add more color to your desk, be used as a background for taking photos, and double as a mouse pad.
One reviewer used the desk pad as a mat for a makeup vanity which is SUPER smart since it can prevent beauty products from staining lighter surfaces.
Promising review: “I had considered many other desk mats but decided on this one mainly because of the color since I have a dark walnut desk. It looks very expensive and was packaged well, rolled in a heavy tube and then in more good packaging. As soon as I unrolled it and put it down, it flattened right out. I love the color and it is not too thick so it looks great. There is a smoother side and a textured side. I am using the smoother side and it is extremely pleasant to write on paper using that side. This appears to be a high-quality product and I anticipate getting many years of use from it. Thank you so much for such a great product and for offering it on Amazon!” —Missy
Get it from Amazon for $13.99+ (available in three sizes and six colors).
22.A Funko Pop Cher doll for desk decor because if anyone’s going to inspire you to run your busy days like a divalicious boss (even when you feel a little Clueless), it’s mos def the queen of Bronson Alcott High School.
By the way, you can most certainly definitely surely complete the full plaid gang since Cher’s bestie Dionne and her frenemy Amy are also available in Funko Pop doll form.
Promising review: “She is absolutely amazing! I am SO impressed by the detail! She even has her backpack and her hair is just perfect! This is one of the best dolls I have.” —David Hunt
Get it from Amazon for $13.27.
23.A mini portable Cooluli fridge to store your snacks, drinks, or beauty products. It has cooling and warming settings and is chargeable via USB, which means you can store it underneath your desk, in your dorm, and even take it on the car on trips.
Promising review: “I’ve been seeing skincare fridges being sold at astronomical price tags and wanted one to replace my cheap $25 one that broke. This is the one. The white one is pretty simple. The door has a magnetic closure which I was concerned about initially, but after using it for a few months, it’s not a problem. The size is labeled for six cans of soda but I can fit so much in there. After Tetris-ing everything in, I store my sleeping mask, COSRX pads, moisturizer, toner, acne cream, calming cream, mist, vitamin C serum, sunscreen, a mini eye gel, and a few sheet masks. Although it isn’t crazy big like the advertised skincare fridges, it works after a bit of stacking and removing the shelf. I can also squeeze in a chocolate or two!” —A Fellow Musician
Get it from Amazon for $44.99+ (available in seven colors).
24.A cooling lunchbox with a zillion compartments to help you take the whole kitchen to the campus. It will hold three meals in the bottom compartment and one more meal in the top section. The lunchbox also features two insulated bottle holders, side mesh pockets, three reusable containers that are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, and two ice packs.
This is a pretty dope choice for anyone who meal preps, is going on a trip, or has long days that require multiple meals to be packed. By the way, if you’ re looking for an excuse to make food at home and not blow your money on Chipotle four days out of this week, then allow this lunchbox to be your organized inspo.
Promising review: “This is the holy grail of lunch boxes for me. I tend to bring a lot of containers to work because of my dietary needs. This includes having a beverage container with a pre-made green drink in it. I couldn’t find a lunchbox to hold my lunch and drink while saving me a hand to open doors with (my other hand usually has my coffee in it). This lunchbox holds it all and more! I have space for extras and side pockets to slip my cellphone in if I’m in a hurry. Plus, it has a stylish square and compact design. It looks more like a camera bag than a lunchbox. I couldn’t be happier with how it performs!” —A. Whitehouse
Get it from Amazon for $22.95+ (available in five colors).
25.Noise-canceling headphones for days when you need to hunker down and FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS. (Or, when you just feel like entertaining absolutely no one.)
Promising review: “These are amazing! The sound is clear and the bass is quality. I put on some Kendrick to test out the bass. Ha! They were so easy to use straight out of the box. The headphones were already charged and it was way simple to connect to Bluetooth. The noise-cancelation is great when music is playing and if you’re not playing music, you can still hear which is great for safety reasons. I’m really happy with this purchase. It feels like a quality product. Plus it came with a little travel bag!” —Sticker Ninja
Get them for $59.99+ (available in four colors).
26.A deep pocket sheets set to make sure the sleep you get in your bedroom or dorm is top-notch. The sheets are made with hypoallergenic microfibers and the set features a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and pillowcase.
One of the keys to having a successful school year (and life!) is to catch quality ZZZs, right? Sheet set, meet the person with better sleep goals. Person with better sleep goals, you’re welcome! These sheets have over 10,000 five-star reviews so maybe you should have added it to cart like yesterday? FYI: The sheets have deep pockets that fit 14- and 16-inch mattress!
Promising review: “I ordered these on a whim because I wanted nice looking sheets that would feel cooler but still soft. I was so impressed with these! They’re incredibly soft right out of the package and pretty wrinkle-resistant. Even after sleeping on them, they stayed pretty crisp. The pillowcases are very soft and comfy to sleep on. I like that these sheets are lightweight; they’re perfect for summertime! They’re also an amazing color (I ordered the silver-like color). I may order more sets in other colors to replace some sheets I have now! These are amazing! They’re also great for allergies. I have had breathing problems with other sheets and have had no problems with these.” —¸Lindsey L.
Get them from Amazon for $23.99+ (available in 44 colors and sizes twin to split king).
27.A Tasty Bake The Internet Kit that includes one six-piece non-stick bakeware set and the Tasty Dessert: All the Sweet You Can Eat cookbook — because GAHHH your future and college budget are so much brighter when you save money and bake stuff at home!
Yesss for satisfying that sweet tooth and that piggy bank! Whipping up snacks and sharing them with your classmates, co-workers, or roommates is also an easy-bake way to make new friends. Includes a dessert cookboook, and a six-piece non-stick/dishwasher-safe bakeware set (cookie sheet, muffin pan, rectangular cake pan, round cake pan, loaf pan, and emoji timer).
Get it from BuzzFeed’s Tasty line at Walmart for $54.24 (available with free delivery).
28.A sunrise alarm clock to help you get acclimated to ~not~ sleeping in until 12 p.m. as you’ve been doing all summer. The clock has a sunrise stimulation wake-up setting that gradually increases its light similar to a real morning sunrise. It also works reversibly for creating a sunset when you’re ready for bed!
Behold, your own personal sun! This clock comes with eight color options, 20 brightness settings, seven nature sound options, FM radio, and a USB power cable.
Promising review: “The light helped me tremendously with waking up and feeling energized. Waking up slowly to natural sounds like waves or birds chirping has made getting up easier. I love how the light begins to increase like the sunrise. It feels much less stressful waking up gradually versus the harsh shrill of my cell phone alarm. My favorite feature is the nightlight. It is a warm orange glow that I enjoy falling asleep to. It is very calming and warm. The setup was quick and easy enough that I could have done it with my eyes closed. The wake-up clock has a sleek modern look and fits right into my bedroom without looking out of place.” —Justin Hildreth
Get it from Amazon for $31.79.
29.A vegan leather reversible everyday tote bag and wallet set to hold all of your daily essentials and match a variety of outfits so getting dressed for work or classes is a no-brainer. The bag is also designed to be water- and scratch-resistant.
Promising review: “What a wonderful tote bag! It feels and looks like a very expensive leather design. Plus, it comes with a small bag to keep your keys, lip gloss, phone, etc. The color is beautiful and the uses for this bag are endless. I can take it to workout, to work with my computer, and on a plane. This has an amazing value for the price.” —Angela Churchill
Get it from Amazon for $32.95 (available in four colors).
Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.
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