OUTFIT 1: little black dress | old chambray, similar here | white perforated sneakers | similar watch

As a little girl and up through college, back to school shopping was always one of my favorite things about school. And even though I’m not going to school this year (and haven’t for a bunch of years now), I still like to do a little bit of Fall shopping to prep my closet for the cooler months.

The key to creating a versatile and remixable closet is having a good mix of essentials and basics, and then some fun and unexpected pieces that express your personality. If you have a collection of good basics that work well together, the outfits you can create by mixing and matching are nearly endless and you get much more bang for your buck when shopping. Throw in a few fun pieces, and you have even more outfit possibilities, all that share your personality.

5 Must-Haves for Back To School Shopping (or shopping in general)

Little Black Dress. You’ll find this on any clothing essentials list, because it’s the most versatile piece ever. I love this one from Norma Kamali because it easily goes back and forth between dressy and casual. I paired it with sneakers and a chambray for a super easy school or daytime look, but you could dress it up with a pair of strappy heels, oversized sparkly earrings, lipstick, and curled hair and you’d be ready for a fancy date night or the school dance. 

Chambray Button Up. I  bought my first chambray button up three or four years ago and haven’t ever looked back. They’re the perfect layering piece under a sweater, over a sleeveless dress, tied around your waist like I did here (which you can do with jeans, shorts, skirts, or dresses), buttoned up and knotted at the waist with a skirt, or just worn as a regular top with a pair of jeans. Did I say the little black dress was the most versatile? I actually think the chambray button up takes the cake. 
Sneakers. I honestly thought the sneaker trend was going to be short lived, but I think we’re going on about two years strong here and they’re definitely not going anywhere. And you’d better believe I’m not complaining. Although my closet is groaning under the weight as I add more and more to my collection. Slip on sneaks are the perfect school shoe for any kid, and they’re also the perfect shoe for moms. I love these perforated white ones from Report because they go with everything from jeans to dresses and are easy to wipe clean when needed.  
Ankle Boots. If you’re going to have any two shoes in your closet this fall, slip on sneakers and ankle boots should be your two. There are a million pairs of ankle boots to choose from, but a classic pair will last you for years and won’t go out of style anytime soon. Sam Edelman is one of my favorite shoe designers, and I’m in love with these Petty ankle boots in “putty.” I will be wearing them all fall and winter long. 
Jeans. Of course one of the most important pieces in any girl’s closet is a great fitting pair of jeans. They’re some of the hardest pieces to shop for though because everyone’s body types are so different, and sizing varies so much from brand to brand, but having at least one pair of jeans that you love and that fit you perfectly is such an essential. Also I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pairs of jeans soon on the blog!  
Once you have those essentials in your closet, it’s time to fill the rest up with pieces that fit your personality and add life and visual interest to your basics.  Find fun tops in different lengths, colors, patterns, and styles. Choose jewelry that fits your lifestyle and aesthetic. Pick outerwear that fits your weather needs and compliments your basics. 
And don’t forget the bags! If you’re going back to school, find a backpack or bag that fits your personality. If you’re not, choose bags that express your style and fit your lifestyle — you should have at least one large bag, one small bag, and one clutch. 
What other must-haves are on your list for back to school/Fall shopping?
photos by rad and happy. In partnership with Zappos.