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Back-to-School Shopping

When I was a teenager, the best part about going back to school was definitely the shopping. By the time I was thirteen or fourteen, my mom would just give me an envelope with cash and tell me that was all I had for the whole year, so I’d better spend it wisely. She’d drop me off at the mall, and I’d do my best to budget that money and get the most for my dollar.

I vividly remember the year I was in eighth grade. It might have been the first year my mom gave me the envelope o’ cash. That was the year Guess came out with overalls. I wanted them so badly, but they were $80. I think my budget for the whole school year was only $200. So $80 was a pretty sizable chunk. Plus, I had to buy a shirt to go with them. The stores were showing them with this white blouse with ruffles at the neck. I needed that blouse too.

So I bought the overalls and blouse and spent about half of my money on that one outfit. I have no idea what else I bought for that year, probably something pink. My nickname that year was “Pinky” because I wore a lot of pink.

The next year I went all Goth and didn’t buy anything pink for another 15 years.

I watch the ads for back-to-school shopping now and think, “Those clothes are so ugly!” Why would the kids buy those? Of course, they’re mostly eighties inspired, so how can I talk? Plus, I spent $80 on overalls! I'm no fashion icon.

What about you? Do you have fond memories of back-to-school shopping, or was it (is it) a nightmare?


  1. I wore uniforms so school shopping was not adventure, only ugly.
    My granddaughter is is college and she gets a laugh when I tell that I wore the same styles she's now buying. (ot the pics to prove it!)

  2. I loved new tennis shoes. We didn't go on a shopping spree for school except for the stuff we had to bring-crayons, pencils, box of kleenix. But the only thing I really remember always buying at the beginning of the school year was new tennis shoes. And I treasured them. :)

  3. A lot of schools have gone to uniforms, Mary. It's smart and economical. Terry, I loved buying new shoes too.

  4. I remember those days as a kid. We lived in the mountains so had to drive an hour into the city. My mom knew all the best bargain places for good clothes! Luckily living in a small town far away from real society meant that "style" or "trendy" or "name brand" were of concern. LOL! Made it easy on mom!

  5. Sharon, I moved to Houston from a little town called Flushing, Michigan when I was in the 4th grade. We didn't have any name brands in Flushing. I was in for a shock when I got to Houston and all the girls already shaved their legs and wore pantyhose!

  6. Okay, I'll admit it. I had a pair of pink seersucker bellbottoms that were my absolute favorites. This was "pre-eighties" - that's my only excuse. That, and the fact that Cher was my fashion icon.

  7. I don't really remember back-to-school shopping. I guess I did it--I just don't remember it.

    But in the tiny Eastern North Carolina town we lived in, back-to-school coincided with the tobacco market. Traffic tripled, huge banners waved on Main Street, and everywhere there was a festival jubilation, as the sleepy town wakened to the jingle produced by farmers with cash money.

    Speaking of shoes, those were the days of "no white shoes after Labor Day" so new shoes mattered. You could hardly get near the shoes departments in the stores.

  8. Your mother's idea of giving you an envelope with a set amount of cash is a great idea! Even if you did spend most of it on one outfit, you learned to make decisions for yourself.

    I was in high school in the late 80s and remember buying a "great", colorful outfit to wear on the first day of school. A splashy skirt with suspenders and matching T-shirt that had teddy bear shaped puzzle piece design. I LOVED that outfit (hint: I now think it was hideously garish) until I saw not one, but TWO other girls wearing the exact same outfit on the first day of school. *GASP! I scarcely wore it after that.

    I also remember getting teased a lot because I wore generic tennis shoes. My parents couldn't afford brand name shoes. I had no problem with it, but kids can be really mean and petty. I'm sure to have nightmares about my junior high school days tonight, thanks. I was also once accused of wearing a garbage bag. I swear it was a black trench rain coat slicker. (Did I mention kids in my junior high school were really mean?)

  9. Argh! I remember those Guess overalls! I desperately wanted a pair, but had to settle for cheap knockoffs. Most of my school clothes money came from berry picking (which was the one job younger kids could get in Oregon's Willamette Valley in the summertime). Every berry I'd pick, I'd be thinking, "that's one little corner of the hem on a pair of Guess jeans."

    Fortunately, I have discovered thrift stores in my advanced age. I do still enjoy the occasional designer label, but I know how to find them on the cheap!


  10. My grandmother was the one who liked to go shopping for clothes and since she loved treating us girls, she was the one who bought most of our back-to-school clothes.

    I'm really showing my age here, but does anyone else remember Weejuns?

  11. Do not remember Weejuns, Cheryl. What are they?

    It sounds like back-to-school shopping was a bit traumatic for some of you. Glad I wasn't the only one!

  12. First off I'm having bad flash backs with that photo at the top.
    Too close to 80's fashion.

    I wore unifroms for grade school and regular clothes for high school and thankfully my grandmom took me shopping. We didn't have a lot of money growing up, so grandmom always made sure we had just enough "cool" clothes. No Guess for me though, because I had some meat on my bones :)

    Do you remember multiples? The wide belt could be a tube top, a cowl, a skirt if you were skinny. They were also called interchangeables.

  13. Firenze green print flower jeans with pink accents flowers on them. They were $35. And, yep, it was the 80s.

    I think I just threw them out about 5 years ago. And now they'll probably come back in style...


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