Back to School Shopping: one baby tee and one adult life lesson

girlvana yoga for teen girls

The year was 1996 and I was about to enter high school. According to all my friends, Hollywood and the reigning teen fashion magazines, this was a BIG FKING DEAL. I “needed” to have the “right” outfit for my first day or it would be an EPIC FAILURE. I remember agonizing over the pieces I really wanted, but were outside of what my parents could budget for. I recall wearing the baby tee everyone had, the very one I had bargained so hard with my mom to have; only to feel super uncomfortable all day. It ended up stuffed into the back of my closet.

Fast forward to now, I’m thirty five and having a meta moment writing this.

In hindsight, these were life lessons to be learned, but what I wished someone reminded me to do then, was to choose ME first. Choose to be secure in the fact that there is no shame in secondhand.  Recognize that trends are a consideration, not the rule. And most importantly, explore my style and my way to learn what feels good to wear instead of valuing someone else's opinions—no matter how popular or famous.

In honour of learning from our future selves, some hot tips to help finesse your wardrobe this season

  • Optimize
    • Organize and consolidate the pieces you love so that they are easy to find and reach for. Take stock of your essentials and note what’s missing for you. For items that are hung, flip the hanger after wearing to track what you choose most and to encourage dressing with other items.


  • Flip It or Repair It
    • Hanging on to a top, pant or dress but wish it fit better? Off the rack sizes aren’t always inclusive. Take it to the tailor to personalize the fit, just for you. Got a missing button or loose hem? Hit up your local fabric store for mending supplies. Don’t know how to mend? YouTube is a great resource #lovedclotheslast


girlvana yoga for teens
  • Clear It Out
    • Store away your favourite summer looks to declutter and focus on the fall/winter season ahead. Clothes you used to love? Donate thoughtfully to a local charity that supports your community.


  • Shop With Intent
    • You’ve got gaps in your wardrobe to fill but want to choose with care. Here’s how:
    1. Budget. Our options are vast. Knowing what you can spend helps you zero in on where you shop.

    2. Consider pre-loved. Secondhand isn’t only budget friendly, it’s also eco-friendly.

    3. Feel good, look good. Trend forecasts are for buyers. Be a chooser and reflect on how you want to feel in your clothes before considering how you want to look.

    4. The Yes/No Test. Can you see yourself wearing it 30 times or more? Can you pair it with pieces you already own? Does it feel good? If it’s a sale item, would you pay full price for it? If you couldn’t return it, would you still buy it? A few points to consider before handing over your hard, earned cash.

    5. When In Doubt, Pause. Unsure about a purchase? Sleep on it.


  • Finally, ENJOY. Your style is yours to explore and express.

Written by: Elim Chu (stylist, mindful AF, proud WOC and mega-babe intersectional feminist).

Follow her on Instagram or check out her site.