What Back-to-School Season Means to Us Now That We're Adults

We may be full-grown adults, but we still get super nostalgic every August as we reminisce about back-to-school shopping. Because while we have no personal need for college-ruled notebooks, construction paper, or fancy graphing calculators (thank goodness, tbh), we still like to use this time to stock up on new-season goods for ourselves and our homes.

Just ask renovator and designer Patti Wagner… “When I became a mom, my wardrobe and style took a backseat, but I’ve learned how important it is for each of us, no matter what stage we’re in, to take time for ourselves,” she shares. (We’re just going to take that as encouragement to do a little shopping for glasses for us (and our family) at Target Optical.)

Whether you need to update your closet, treat yourself to a facial, finally get that eye exam you’ve been putting off, or get in on a new-season accessory trend (hello, stylish glasses), Wagner and fellow expert Kari Jensen—founder of Living Life’s Moments—have a few shopping suggestions for you.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

back-to-school shopping

Jensen is a mom of three (almost four!), and she’s been working to simplify her closet in order to cut her getting-ready time down. “Buying less and with more intention” is how she explains it. “Currently, my closet is stocked with basics because it’s easier for me to add pops of pattern into my look with shoes, bags, and glasses,” she says.

“This time of year takes me back to when I was little and how excited I was to do back-to-school shopping with my mom and brothers. We didn’t have much money, but my mom made sure we didn’t miss out on the experience, and I’ll never forget how happy it made me feel,” says Wagner, whose daughter will be entering kindergarten this year.

Even though her own schooldays are over, Wagner says she still uses this time to assess her wardrobe and pare things down. “Each season, I try to donate certain clothing items and accessories to give myself a fresh start with at least one new outfit,” she notes.

Carve Out "Me" Time

back-to-school shopping at Target

Jensen says that for a long time, she put the things she enjoyed aside for her kids, but over the past year, she’s been making herself a priority again: “It’s as simple as saving room in the budget to go shopping, go to the spa, or move my body at home, the gym, or yoga—whatever I need to make myself feel good is important. It’s liquid gold, in my opinion.”

“Moms are always putting everyone else first, and it’s so important to do something for yourself,” agrees Wagner, who says her and her husband plan regular date nights together. While she doesn’t buy an entire new outfit for each of these outings, she says that treating herself to a new accessory is sometimes all you need. “Refreshing my style from time to time gives me a lift of confidence, which my family notices,” she remarks.

Shop With a Purpose

Target back-to-school shopping

It’s important to treat yourself, but if you’re able to check off other to-dos during the same shopping trip, even better. Wagner, for one, tells us that when she and her daughter went to Target for some back-to-school shopping, they also popped over to Target Optical for a quick comprehensive eye exam and to look for a new pair of frames.

“It was so nice to not have to drive somewhere else and to get things checked off my list at one place,” says Wagner. “There were so many stylish must-have frames starting at $99, so it was hard to decide which pair to go with.” She ended up with classic Ralph frames with a subtle pop of mint to add a little bit of fun. “I’m so excited they’ll go with everything from day dresses to date-night looks,” she shares.

Jensen felt the same way: Target Optical is not only a great place to find the best styles and prices, but it’s also convenient. “The staff is super helpful and knowledgeable, and really helped me find the right Versace frames for my face,” says Jensen. “I feel like I’ve had a mini makeover. Glasses are the one accessory people notice first, and I love how my new pair is a total reflection of my personality.”