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Back to Boarding School

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So I'm going to boarding school this year, and while I'm excited, I'm worrying about what to wear. Packing space is limited, and I don't have many chances to shop while I'm at school. So, two questions. What are wardrobe staples I need to have? Also, I don't have many dresses, so what are cute ways to dress up a blouse/any shirt and skirt combo? Dressy enough for an event where something like a dress would be most appropriate.
Thank you so much!


Hi Lily!

Thanks for writing in! I am so honored and flattered that you have enlisted my help in packing for boarding school! I'm assuming that you have a mandatory school uniform to rock Monday through Friday, so I'm going to narrow my focus on some must have basics for weekend, formal and leisure occasions. Class is now in session.


Jeans & Pants - One pair of casual boyfriend jeans and one pair of nice dark rinse jeans or skinnies that can be easily dressed up with a cute top. Extra credit: A pair of denim jean shorts/cutoffs that will totally make the grade while lounging around the dorm and on study breaks. A good pair of crisp khaki pants, shorts, and/or skirt serves as a great neutral base for any adorable academic ensemble.

Tops - Crisp long sleeved button downs in your favorite shades, a few soft tissue tees, sweaters/cardigans to add pops of color and texture, and at least one long sleeved henley, thermal and turtleneck to layer once it gets chilly. A peplum and or lacy top will instantly dress up the dressy jeans I just told you to pack.

Blazer - A classic navy or plaid blazer is a versatile piece that will heighten any look. I personally love the cropped variety with elbow patches on the sleeves. Nothing wrong with going preppy, you're a boarding school girl after all. As for alternative outerwear, a denim jacket and faux leather moto jacket or bomber will keep you warm come Autumn and never go out of style.

Skirts & Dresses - A few pretty pleated skirts will take you a long way. Leather ones are all the rage and feel so un-uniformal, especially paired with fun tights. I know you mentioned that you don't have a lot of dresses, but do yourself a favor and pack at least one cute all purpose LBD (little black dress). It may become your go-to piece for dances, banquets, events and formals. If not, don't worry. You can always borrow a frock from one of your new besties' closets, that's what suite mates are for.

Shoes - I've always had a soft spot for saddle shoes and lace up oxfords, but I also recommend packing a classic pair of ballet flats or loafers (one solid, one fun print like plaid, polka dot or kitty cat to mix it up), and at least one pair of pretty black or nude heels.

As for your 2nd query, the easiest and most inexpensive way to pump up any basic blouse and skirt combo is with a sparkly statement necklace or a pretty detachable collar. Eye-catching bling and instant drama = A+ styling.

When it comes to dressing up your school uniform and off school duty blouses and skirts even further, take a cue from Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf with posh headbands, colored tights/knee high socks and heirloom brooches. Follow her lead and you very well may be the Queen Bee before the first semester is over.

I hope this helps Lily! Sending you best wishes for a super stylish school year.


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Samara Sanchez

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Sammy Sanchez is a Miami based freelance writer, greeting card designer, and self-professed USWeeklyholic. Sammy loves tall coffee light frappuccinos, vino not from a box, and Mark Ruffalo...not necessarily in that order.
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