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Choosing a first-day-of-school outfit is a big deal—especially for kids who haven't seen their classmates in person for over a year. Whether your child is sporty, artsy, or just wants to be comfortable, we've found 12 places to shop for the perfect back to school look.
1. Boden: For clothes that last
Boden is a British company that's become popular stateside in the last few years. Its line of children's clothing—dubbed "Mini Boden"—features cheerful prints and stellar seasonal collaborations. Mini Boden's sizing is generous, so my kids often get two years of wear out the pieces we purchase, and since most items are 100% cotton, they wash well and take a beating.
2. French Toast: For kids who wear uniforms
If your child is headed to a school that requires uniforms, you'll definitely want to peruse the selection at French Toast. Search the specific school to see a selection of pants, skirts, and shirts, and then stock up on the styles your child prefers.
3. Primary: For gender-neutral basics
Primary was founded by two moms who were frustrated at the lack of affordable, basic clothing for kids. The company specializes in gender neutral, colorful clothing made of 100% cotton jersey. Streamline your child's morning routine by stocking their closet with clothes that can be easily mixed and matched. Primary's leggings are a favorite of all 900 women in my local mom's group, and there's a good reason—the durable, high-quality fabric and unisex designs mean they can be passed down from sibling to sibling.
4. Target: For everything your kid needs
If one-stop shopping is your jam, it's hard to beat Target for the selection of both school supplies and back-to-school fashion. One of the things I like best about Target is that they carry a great selection of both branded merchandise—like superheroes and princesses—as well as character-free lines such as Cat & Jack.
5. Splendid: For the softest clothes
My kids are obsessed with only wearing soft clothes, so I've done a lot of research to find clothing brands that they won't deem "ouchie" or "itchy." Splendid is a Los Angeles-based brand that makes buttery-soft cotton-rayon pieces with which my kids have yet to find fault. Splendid's clothes are on the high end, price-wise, but I'm willing to pay a little more if it means less complaining from my children. Sign up for their emails to be notified about sales—they usually offer 30-50% off at the end of the season.
6. Kohl's: For fashion on a budget
If you're on a tight budget or your child is prone to coming home with paint on their clothes, you need fashionable wardrobe staples that don't cost a lot. Kohl's "Jumping Beans" line offers a huge selection of dresses, pants, and shirts all priced under $20.
7. Hanna Andersson: For sleepwear and school wear
Hanna Andersson may be famous for their organic cotton pajama sets, but the clothing garners rave reviews from parents, too. The durable—and cute—clothes stand up so well to rough and tumble kids that they're hand-me-down worthy.
8. Polarn O. Pyret: For kids in cold climates
The temperature may still be hovering around 100 degrees, but it's only a matter of weeks before the first cold snap of the season. If your kids will be braving snow, sleet, and sub-zero temps to get to school, you need to know about Polarn O. Pyret. The Swedish company has been making adorable (and practical) kids clothing since 1976, and their sweaters and thermal underwear cannot be matched.
9. Tea Collection: For clothes with a cause
For fashion with global-inspired prints, there's nothing better than Tea Collection. The San Francisco-based company finds inspiration for their designs all over the world—and they donate 10% of their profits to The Global Fund for Children. I like that Tea's clothes are crafted from thick cotton that doesn't fade or tear easily, and they feature prints that aren't especially gendered.
10. Maisonette: For the fashionista
If your little one has a taste for designer duds or you need something special for the first school dance or holiday concert, look no further than Maisonette. The beautifully curated site features high-end fashion for children, as well as home decor and toys. Esoteric European brands are well represented on Maisonette, but there are plenty of options from well-known designers and brands as well. If there is a fancy party in your child's future, or you just want them to look absolutely fabulous on their first day of school, Maisonette won't disappoint.
11. Mabo: For clothes made in the U.S.A.
If you've got kids, you may have seen ads on Instagram for Mabo's organic cotton clothing. The Salt Lake City-based company designs and manufactures all of their pieces in the United States, and the cotton, linen, and wool basics are outstandingly soft and cozy. Mabo's organic cotton leggings are a favorite in my house both because they are comfortable and because they're durable enough to hold up to wear from multiple kids.
12. Nordstrom: For the right pair of kicks
Nordstrom began as a shoe store, which may explain why they always have a great selection of kids' shoes. Whether your child prefers running shoes or penny loafers, there are plenty of options to choose from both online and in the physical stores. Plus the customer service at Nordstrom can't be beat: They offer price adjustments if an item you purchased goes on sale, and the kids' shoe departments usually send little customers home with a balloon.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.