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VICE Readers’ Back-to-School Outfits Made Us Care About Clothes Again

Not even COVID-19 and remote classes via video chat can put a damper on the joy of a great first-day-of-school outfit.
Katie Way
Brooklyn, US
August 25, 2020, 4:00pm
How we're adjusting our routines, habits, and mindsets for a new normal.

COVID-19 may have put a damper on actually, physically chatting up fellow students and new instructors—but everyone knows that the right first day of school outfit can do the talking for you.

Whether you’re logging on from home or remaining distant from your peers in a lecture hall, the confidence that a truly slick first day outfit confers can help anyone nail that all-important first impression. That’s why building a back-to-school look is an intensive process: How many patterns is too many patterns? Can anyone tell this septum ring is fake? Band shirt or basketball jersey? Does this hat make my head look weird?


If you spent hours deliberating on the perfect pants-shirt combo to wow your fellow students, don’t worry: you’re in stylish company. VICE talked to students about what they’re rocking as they show up (or log on) for fall semester: how they chose their outfits, what they hope their classmates will think (besides, you know, “great outfit!”), and what exactly makes the perfect back to school outfit shine.

Eliott, 21, on DIY confidence

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Photo courtesy of Eliott Dale

“This outfit was inspired around a Gucci ad I saw and I wanted to take what I liked from it and make it my own. It makes me feel incredible because I made something I look good in from basically nothing. [A good outfit] expresses individuality, and goes beyond the brands and price tags, that's why I only thrift for my clothes.”

Antonette, 22, on making it personal


Photo courtesy of Antonette Cayco

“Honestly, just facts, I hope [when people see me] they think ‘That’s Antonette, that’s how she dresses, she’s cool like that.’ It’s funny to admit but I want people to know what kind of person I am through my outfits, and if they do not figure it out, then I’ll leave it to them.”

Lori, 33, in praise of unique threads


Photo courtesy of Lori LeChien

“Even a trash bag can make a good fit if you rock it with pride. Also, I love a good  unique piece like clothing designed by my amazing artist friends (shout out to @airyvision) that can’t get mass-produced.”

Selene, 24, on how outfit powers mindset


Photo courtesy of Selene Canter

“A great outfit is something that makes you feel fresh and good. I like to dress towards an aesthetic I’m feeling- In my head I’ll be like ‘I want to look like a 90’s Seattle grunge girl’ or ‘Today I feel like a Disco mom’ or ‘I’m Britney…’ I honestly cannot get work done unless I think I look cute.

This outfit makes me feel cute and collected. Like I’m going to take notes in my pink notebook and then get coffee with the girl I sat next to in English Lit.”

Zen, 19, on looking expen$ive


Photo courtesy of Zen Panday

“I feel like a million bucks. I got my favorite Canada Goose jacket on, along with Maison Margiela pants, my Saks Fifth backpack and Bally’s I saved up and bought while visiting New York. It’s taken years to buy this fit all together, but it’s worth the wait because I always feel like a boss everytime I wear it. I had my eyes on the drip since [I was] a kid, so it was only right I get my way with it now.”

Gabriel, 27, on conjuring memories


Photo courtesy of Gabriel Rios

“The shirt really just pops with all the colors. It’s a bowling shirt, and I love to bowl. Before the pandemic every Tuesday night I would go bowling by myself for like 2-3 hours straight. This fit low-key takes me back to that.

Honestly, the beanie is the cherry on top for me, how the colors from the Oakland Roots logo match the shirt. So subtle, yet so important.”

Omar, 20, on letting the outfit transport you


Photo courtesy of Omar Altaee

“When I wear this ‘fit just makes me feel like a tourist in my own town, haha, I feel way too cool to walk these streets in this ‘fit.”

Sara, 20, on self-expressing while dressing

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Photo courtesy of Sara White

“This outfit makes me feel confident in myself. I've never been comfortable dressing traditionally feminine and this year I'm making a bigger effort to present in a way that feels good to me. Putting this outfit on gives me a new sense of freedom and confidence that feels like a weight off my chest. It gives me the opportunity to be who I really am.”

Liberty, 22, on crafty chic

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Photo courtesy of Liberty Dauber

“I handmade this outfit myself, the oversized nylon trench coat, oversized jeans and not to forget the sustainable ball bag! When I wear this outfit, it makes me feel like I am unapologetically myself.

Blixa, 20, on head-turning style

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Photo courtesy of Blixa Roldan

“Outfits can be functional, comfortable, conceptual, minimal, whatever you want. I think it’s cool when people try new things with their style though. Whenever I’m walking down the street and I think, damn, that’s a nice ‘fit, it’s usually because it’s something I’ve never seen before.”

Sophia, 18, on the importance of accessorizing

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Photo courtesy of Sophia Licata

“A great outfit has to have character (preferably that of whoever is wearing it), a unique top, and chunky shoes. Oh… and can’t forget the winged eyeliner and some jewelry. Any outfit can be spiced up with a good necklace or rings.”

Jacob, 25, on who his outfit makes him feel like

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Photo courtesy of Jacob Ellsworth

“Makes me feel like fucking James Bond.”

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