From the category archives:

What to Wear to School


Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Woo hoo! The annual What to Wear to School photos are ready!! For those of you who are new here, I’ve been writing What to Wear to School posts basically since I started blogging. You can find them all here. The series has changed and evolved over the years, and this year is no exception. For the last two years, I did 3 posts featuring two kids in each. But we’ve made some big changes:


1) Now that he’s a college boy, Ralph has officially retired from the series.

2) Since Oscar, Betty and June are all in the same school for the first time since we moved here (and probably the last time — Oscar is off to middle school next year), I thought it would be fun to feature them all in one post: What to Wear to Elementary School!

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I went on back-to-school shopping dates with each of the kids, and then we came home and put together 4 outfits for each of them.

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Oscar is ten, and in 5th grade. Betty is nine, and in 4th grade. June is five, and in Kindergarten. Read to jump in? Let’s do this!

Come see! We found tons of cute stuff this year.


Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1534

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Here it is! Part three (and the final part) of our What to Wear to School wardrobe posts for 2014-15.

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know we typically share these posts in the fall, as the school year begins. But as I mentioned earlier, this year, we didn’t do our wardrobe photoshoots until January! I started processing the photos last month, and I’ve been sharing the tours over the last few weeks.

Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1503 Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1521

Some people have wondered via email how I get my older kids to participate in this series, but honestly it hasn’t been a battle of wills at all. They don’t mind participating, because they end up using the photos a ton throughout the year, and they’ve found that they really love having a record of their wardrobe. And not just the wardrobe, but photos of them wearing the clothes.

When they see the photos, they get instant memories of wearing certain outfits to certain schools. They’ll remember that they picked out a particular shirt or pair of shoes for a trip, or for the first day of school, and they’ll feel nostalgic in the best way. In fact, Ralph said he would be in heaven if Ben Blair and I had a similar record of our wardrobes as kids and as teenagers. He eats stuff like that up — he loves looking at our old yearbooks and any family album he can get his hands on.

Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1501 Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1522

So anyway, all that is to say that I hope this is great content for you — I received a ton of hopeful emails in the fall asking if I would be doing the posts this year, so I’m crossing my fingers that many of you are glad to see these posts even if it’s almost Spring now. But I also create this content with my kids in mind. I know they love it.

Ready for the wardrobe tour? Let’s get started.

Click here for five full outfits for each of them.


Olive & June 2014-1541

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Here’s the next post in this school year’s What To Wear series, featuring 4 year old June and 13 year old Olive. It’s been an odd week — I intended to post this on Monday or Tuesday and here it is Friday and I’m just finding time. Hah!

Olive & June 2014-1530 Olive & June 2014-1526

My afternoon is filled with meetings and phone calls, but I’m going to publish this now with just the photos, then I’ll come back in later today and add sources and other details.

Olive & June 2014-1511 Olive & June 2014-1521

So be sure to check back in if you’re craving more info.

Five full outfits ahead!


Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1544

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Well here is a post I don’t think any of you are expecting. Hah!

Last fall, I never got the chance to shoot our annual What To Wear To School Posts. There was Sweden, and a move to France and England for two of the kids, and it simply didn’t happen. The kids were bummed, but understanding. Then, throughout September and October I kept getting requests from readers for those annual posts, and I decided that maybe I didn’t have to abandon the posts after all. I mentally filed away the idea that we might shoot them in January, when everybody was home again.

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1511 Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1522

So we did. There was a Saturday in January between my trips to DC and Alt Summit where we happened to have a laid-back schedule, and we made it happen!

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1529 Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1513

This week, I finally started processing the photos and I have to say, I’m so glad we did the shoots! Partly, it’s the satisfaction of keeping the tradition, but it was also a reminder of how often we end up using the photos throughout the year — for ID photos, for social media profiles, for school projects. We used one for June’s preschool valentines this week!

All that, plus the kids LOVE having an overall snapshot of how they looked on any given year — their clothes, how they stood, the way they wore their hair. They like to see which pieces get handed down and then make an appearance in a future shoot. We end up referencing our What to Wear To School posts frequently.

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1508 Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1504

I realize it’s February and “back to school” is far from anyone’s mind, but I hope you’ll indulge me as I share the images. I’m going to publish the photos in 3 groups — today is Oscar & Betty. Then, next week, I’ll share a second post with Olive & June, and a third post with Maude & Ralph. I hope you enjoy them!

Click for more outfit pics plus sources!


Olive & June Outfit17 What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Here is the third and final installment of our 2013 What to Wear to School posts, featuring the lovely Olive & June. This is  a bit of a landmark post, because it’s the first year that June has had interest in participating. And boy was she interested! She thought the whole experience was pretty much the funnest thing ever and kept bringing me additional pieces of clothing that she felt should be included — Mom?! What about my watermelon pajamas? Mom! My slippy slops!! (Which is how she pronounces ‘flip flops’.)

Olive has had a big growth spurt since last year and her wardrobe is pretty much entirely new. In contrast with June, who is mostly wearing clothes we bought in France last fall/winter (most are from our favorite French grocery store), sprinkled with hand-me-downs. I confess, I will be sad to retire her little clothes. But on the bright side, it was so fun to have her join in the fun this year.

I hope you enjoy the tour!

What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom What to Wear to Middle School and Pre-School  |  Design Mom

On Olive:
Houndstooth Dress from Gapkids (sold out online, but the polka dot version is cute too!). Yellow Knit Tights from H&M. Leather Ballet Flats are hand-me-downs from Maude, purchased at Carrefore, a French grocery store.

On June:
Floral Scarf from Zara Kids, Striped Dress and Grey Knit Tights from Carrefore, Leather Boots are hand-me-downs from Betty. And Betty wore them as hand-me-downs from our friend Kathryn (I don’t know the brand, but you can find similar here.)

Five more outfits when you click through!


What to Wear to 9th & 10th Grade  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Are you ready for more What to Wear to School photos? I’ve got a whole bunch for you! Today’s post features Ralph and Maude, our highschoolers. If you can believe it, Ralph was in 3rd grade when we shot our first What to Wear to School photos! I can hardly believe how much time has passed. And I can hardly believe I’ve really been blogging for so long.

Every year, we wonder if it will be the last wardrobe shoots for our oldest kids, but then we conclude it’s so nice to have a yearly record of how they dressed, and how they styled their hair — and they end up using these photos throughout the year for different projects and with their social media accounts. As for myself, I have so few photos of my teenage years. And I know I would get such a kick of looking at my wardrobe choices during high school! So we keep going.

These wardrobes were put together before school started, and I’m curious to see how Maude and Ralph will feel about their choices a few weeks or months in. Will their style evolve with the new school? We shall see!

What to Wear to 9th & 10th Grade  |  Design Mom What to Wear to 9th & 10th Grade  |  Design Mom What to Wear to 9th & 10th Grade  |  Design Mom What to Wear to 9th & 10th Grade  |  Design Mom

On Maude:
Cropped Pants by DPAM, Green Layering Tank and Zig Zag Sweater by H&M. Converse Hightops at Zappos.

On Ralph:
Cardigan and Fitted Tee by H&M. Skinny Jeans by Vans. And the Checkerboard Slip-ons are Vans as well!

Note: If you have a son who is in between the boys department and mens department and is having a hard time finding pants that fit, Vans jeans are a lifesaver!

More outfits ahead!


What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade

September 10, 2013

What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom

Text and Images by Gabrielle.

For this year’s What to Wear to School posts, I thought I would photograph the kids in pairs — starting with Oscar & Betty.

What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom

On Oscar:
Buffalo Check Shorts, Smiley Face Tee, Chambray Button-down from Polarn O. Pyret. Socks from H&M. Shoes by Vans.

What to Wear to 2nd & 3rd Grade   |   Design Mom

On Betty:
Polka-dot Dress and Polka-dot Leggings from Old Navy. Gingham Scarf by Polarn O. Pyret. Shoes by Vans.

More outfits, straight ahead!


What to Wear to 1st Grade

This lovely creature is Betty Blair, age 6. She is kind, and funny (and giggly) and she takes ballet classes. Side note: I think ballet is a French word, but Betty’s classes are called “Classique.”

Would you like a tour of what she’ll be wearing to 1st Grade?

What to Wear to 1st Grade

Outfit #1 is a blue floral skirt from Benetton with a layering henley and cotton sweater from the grocery store. The brown flats are from the same grocery store but they were a mistake. They’ve only been worn a few times but they’re already scratched up and looking sad. We’re on the lookout for some better replacements.

What to Wear to 1st Grade
What to Wear to 1st Grade
What to Wear to 1st Grade

Betty is number 5 in our line up and I was number 5 in my family. I remember mostly trying to stay out of my older siblings way, and I see that in Betty sometimes too.

Keep reading to see 7 more outfits.


What to Wear to 9th Grade

This is Ralph Blair, age 15. Fifteen! If we were in Colorado, he would be starting his freshman year of high school, but here in France he’s in his last year of middle school. They call middle school “college” in France so that makes it sound pretty cool to an American teen’s ears. : )

What to Wear to 9th Grade

For outfit #1, Ralph is wearing a heathered henley from Zara, jeans and a scarf from his closet, and tie-up Vans. Ralph’s in that stage where we sometimes pick something up in the kids department and sometimes pick something up from the men’s department. It all depends on the actual item of clothing.

What to Wear to 9th Grade
What to Wear to 9th Grade

Ralph is a great sport about taking part in these posts, but he hinted to me that it might be his last year participating. Totally his call, of course.

Click through for 5 more outfits.


What to Wear to 8th Grade.

Here’s a little tour of what the lovely Maude Blair, age 13, will be wearing to 8th grade. Starting with outfit #1, which features a floral jumpsuit from the Next outlet, and a navy cardigan from Abercrombie. (If you’re curious, you can find a little sidenote about what my kids think of Abercrombie in this post.)

What to Wear to 8th Grade.
What to Wear to 8th Grade.
What to Wear to 8th Grade.

The silver, leather ballet flats are from Carrefour (a French grocery store).

Click through for 5 more outfits.


What to Wear to 2nd Grade

Here’s another What to Wear to School wardrobe tour, this time featuring 7-year-old Oscar. Fun fact: based on the emails he’s received, Oscar has a bit of a fan club from his roles in the Olive Us episodes. Luckily, it hasn’t gone to his head. : )

What to Wear to 2nd Grade

For outfit #1, Oscar is wearing a yellow polo shirt from JC Penney, sky blue khakis from a clothing store in Rome, classic checkered Vans and a striped tee from H&M.

It’s fun for me to look at these photos and see how much Oscar moves around. He is active as can be!

Click here to see 4 more outfits.


Hey there! It’s time for some What to Wear to School posts. Let’s start with Olive Jean Blair. She just turned 11 and started 6th grade here in France. Fun fact: because of different age enrollment guidelines, in Colorado she would be starting 5th grade.

In this first outfit, Olive is wearing pale-pink sequin capris we found at a Next outlet near Dover, England. Her pink layering tee is from Carrefour (a Target-like French grocery store chain) and the dark brown oxfords are too. The grey wool v-neck sweater used to belong to Ralph, but it was accidentally washed and now has a cropped, shrunken, felted (but still cute) look. The necklace is by Truebirds.

For years, bright green was Olive’s favorite color, but recently she’s had a change of opinion and currently there isn’t a bit of green in her wardrobe.

Click here to see 6 more of Olive’s outfits.



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It’s Betty Blair’s turn! (Fun fact: Betty is our only child with no middle name.) If Betty was in the US, she would be attending Kindergarten. Here, she’ll be attending the final year of Maternelle.

For some reason that I can no longer remember, I hadn’t shopped for Betty in ages. Everything she owned was either too small or stained and worn. So her wardrobe received a pretty complete overhaul. She seems very happy with the new clothes and thought modeling for these shots was the bees knees. Betty loves school and I’m betting she’ll be the first Blair kid to be fluent in French.

Find the whole series here.

P.S. I included an image of Betty’s lunchbox. I picked it up at a tag sale and Betty was NOT interested. But we tied on a big red bow and that made it acceptable. : )

Click here for sources.



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Are you completely sick of What to Wear posts yet? So many kids! I hope you’ll indulge me while I finish the series. It’s Oscar’s turn now, and I think I’ll post Betty’s today too, so it’s all wrapped up this week. Thank you truly for your kind comments. The kids LOVE reading what you have to say.

Oscar is all about comfort. If his clothes allow him to do “rad moves” then he is happy and satisfied. One thing I realized as we were putting away his new clothes: I pretty much only buy striped socks for Oscar. A little peek of happy stripes can make even the most uneventful outfit feel young and adorable. But really, Oscar is adorable with or without stripes.

I would guess most of Oscar’s outfits (except maybe the scarf) would fit right in both American and French schools. What do you think?

Find the whole series here.

P.S. — Speaking of school clothes, remember Cher in Clueless?

Click here for sources.



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Olive’s Turn! Olive Jean Blair is delightful. She adores color and we did our best to work it in amongst the navy and grey and neutrals. As you might guess, Olive’s wardrobe is peppered with hand-me-downs from Maude — but we always make sure to work in a few new things that are especially for her.

Today is the first day of school and she’s wearing the yellow tights outfit. It’s my favorite! The navy “jacket” with the buttons and zips is actually quite lightweight and functions as a shirt or a cardigan. She looks fantastic in the outfit (and in everything she wears).

What do you think? Still Euro-looking? Or is Olive’s wardrobe more “American”? Find the whole series here.

Click here for sources.



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This is 12-year-old Maude. Looking fantastic! Maude looks good in everything and she loves experimenting with clothes so it’s nothing but joy when we put together outfits for her.

This year, she did quite a bit of shopping from Ralph’s closet. Trashed jeans (we’re calling them boyfriend jeans), flannel trousers that happen to fit wonderfully at the waist, a necktie for a belt, a chambray button down and a heather grey polo — all items Ralph had outgrown and Maude adopted.

What do you think? Would your daughters like these clothes for middle school? Are these as Euro as Ralph’s looks? Find the whole series here.

Click here for sources.



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Hello, Friends! Are you ready for the annual series of What to Wear to School posts? I hope so. Because here they come! Ralph is first. Maude and Olive’s photos will be posted soon. Oscar and Betty’s will get posted as soon as we get some photos taken. : )

Ralph was very pleased when his school wardrobe came together. He said it looked more French and that he would fit right in clothes wise. What do you think? Do they look Euro to you? Would your 8th grader wear similar clothes?

P.S. – You can find the whole What to Wear series here.

Click here for sources.


Following is a glimpse of what Ralph (7th grade) and Maude (6th grade) are wearing to middle school this year. I’ll update with sources asap.

UPDATE: You can find sources below.

click here to see lots more back to school outfits

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What to Wear to 6th Grade

August 18, 2009

Button down by Peek. Tee by Old Navy. Jeans by H&M;. Red sneakers by Adidas.

At your request, here is 11-year-old Ralph showing off his back-to-school wardrobe. Today is his first day of middle school (gulp). We’ve spent the last 24 hours practicing the right-left-skip-the-number-right-padlock-unlocking-method so he won’t get frustrated when he encounters his locker combination. Oh man! I hope he loves school this year.

I’ve included source links where applicable. As with Maude, much of the wardrobe pictured here was already in Ralph’s closet. But boy clothes are pretty easy — I’m betting you can find similar items to the ones shown here at a dozen different stores.

You can see more of Ralph’s photo shoot here. (Also. I’ll post Olive’s B2S wardrobe in the next couple of days.)

Button down by Mossimo for Target. Ringer tee by Old Navy. Jeans by GapKids. Backpack by Ekco. Tie-dye tee by Maude Blair. Cargo shorts by Mossimo for Target. Black Sneakers by Adidas.

Printed polo by Wes & Willy from Juvie. Plaid shorts by Gymboree. Superman tee by Old Navy. Brown herringbone trousers by GapKids.

Tee by Old Navy. Track jacket by Peek Aren’t You Curious. Screened tee by Peek. Khakis by GapKids.

Green polo by Lacoste. Denim cargo shorts by Mossimo for Target. Batman tee by Old Navy. Jeans by H&M.;


What to Wear to 5th Grade

August 12, 2009

Gray henley and leggings by Poof. Denim mini by Hydraulic. Plaid scarf by Passport Accessories.

It’s been so much fun putting together a back-to-school wardrobe for 10-year-old Maude this year. She’s had more opinions and ideas about what she wants to wear than ever before. Today she had the idea to put together some of her outfits and model them for the camera. Doesn’t she look amazing? I love how flexible everything is — there are 9 outfits here and she could come up with another dozen combos from this stuff.

For those wondering if we broke the bank, we spent about $100 on new clothes (I had the best luck at TJMaxx) and $50 on new shoes. Everything else was already in her closet. You can find more images from our living room photoshoot here.

Plaid top by Chaps. Skirt by Peek. (Francie Pants underneath the skirt.) Cardigan by If It Were Me. Stripe tee and cargo pants by Old Navy.

Hoodie sweater by Pink Republic. Yellow tee and polka-dot leggings by Old Navy. Plaid dress by She’s The One. Skinny jeans – Sqin by H&M;.

Yellow jacket by Ismodern. Jean shorts by Old Navy.

Feather printed top by Kiddo. Cropped pants by Jean Bourget at Juvie. Houndstooth capris by Gymboree.

Mock turtleneck by Target. Shrug by Seven Smooches.

I’ve listed sources (and links where I can), but as I mentioned above, at least 50% of the clothes pictured were already in her closet — so they probably won’t be available in stores any longer.

Maude is shown barefoot because we’re still waiting for her shoes to arrive. This year she’ll have 3 pairs to choose from. These Converse from Zappos and these black sporty shoes from Payless. Plus, she has a pair of cute brown and turquoise Asics that are still in good shape — we just need to replace the laces. The only thing left to buy: a backpack.

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