From Andover, Massachusetts to Montgomery, Alabama … in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and New York City ... kids are back in school.  What are they wearing? A cursory “Wandering With Val” survey reveals they’re heading out the kitchen door with their backpacks wearing UnderArmour tee shirts, faded denim shortie-shorts, flipflops and Uggs.

Whatever happened to Polly Flinders smocked dresses? Tan corduroy pants with collared plaid shirts? Does anyone wear Danskin outfits these days? 

“My only rule is that Maddie’s shirt must cover her bellybutton at all time,” daughter Alex told me when I stopped to visit and was treated to a fashion show of the seventh grader’s “back to school” clothes. “And no cropped tops or anything too tight or short.”

With that, Maddie appeared in a Vineyard Vine shirt tied at the waist and white shortie-shorts that appeared to be manufactured in less fabric than the Lollypop underpants I wore as a teenager.  Alex looked at me ruefully and said, “Mom, YOU try to find shorts for a 12-year-old. Where did Bermudas go?”


Older brother Max, now a junior in high school, is Maddie’s polar opposite. He only wears dark jeans and sweatshirts everywhere. Doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or snowy. Alex said, “It was so hot the first day of school — like 88 degrees. The next day was 92, and he still wore jeans and a sweatshirt.”


Down in New York City, grandsons Miles and Henry headed off to PS-6 swathed in UnderArmour shorts and Nike tops touting their athletic heroes, from Gronk to Federer. “Would I rather they go to school looking like they were about to play nine holes of golf?  Yes, but these jerseys are what they live in,” said daughter-in-law Jen. 


“We let our girls call the shots,” Julie Wolfson says about daughters Willa and Maxine who live in Montgomery, Alabama. “Our rule or approach is that they have to wear something that reflects they’re taking school seriously — i.e. nothing ripped, torn, paint-splattered.  They love striped knee socks and they always wear bike shorts under their dresses so that they can climb on the jungle gyms in the playground.”  


Six years ago Tori Lytle and her best pal Hannah left for first grade in Andover wearing smiles, adorable dresses and backpacks nearly half their size.

Tori:Hanna:Kindergarten 2012.JPG

This year, the two best friends walked into sixth grade looking like miniature fashionistas. Tori’s mom Lee said, “For now, she doesn’t gravitate to cropped tops or shortie shorts, and that’s a win for me.  But I also heard her say something recently about wanting ‘new Uggs for Christmas’ so I know where we’re headed!”


Happy Back to School and good luck, Moms!