Aside from the vague hopefulness that stems from knowing you're one step closer to breaking outta there, creating a moodboard and shopping for a new year's aesthetic (just me?) has to be the only good bit about back-to-school. Ahead, 10 grownup fashion buys that replicate that feeling—without the eventual letdown when you realize some people took "never change" literally.
Then: The most important decision of the season, to be agonized over for 12 minutes in the backpack aisle (until your mom gets exasperated, so you choke and get one with a lame cartoon character). Now: Buttery leather, a clean shape, and zero turtles trained in martial arts to be seen.
Mansur Gavriel, $795
BUY IT: openingceremony.com.
Then: "But I want the sweater with GREEN GLITTER, MOOOMMMMM." Now: You got it.
BUY IT: hm.com.
Then: No heels until you're, like, 35. They'll affect your development. Now: Should've listened ("I want to be 5'10" like Cindy Crawford"), but it's too late now, so I'm wearing these monochromatic mules.
BUY IT: finerylondon.com.
Then: New prescription, new owlish glasses. Now: Contacts and life through rose-colored Hello Kitty sunglasses.
Hello Kitty x Crap Eyewear, $76
BUY IT: crapeyewear.com.
Then: Hard plastic pencil case you poured Elmer's glue onto for bookmarks. Now: A zip-around wallet for carrying the *real* supplies (card, cash, ID, single-serve Wet Wipe in case of ribs).
BUY IT: cuyana.com.
Then: Adidas Gazelles but black. Now: Royal blue.
BUY IT: barneys.com.
Then: The friendship bracelet Kristin wove for you at camp, even though three days after, she named Molly her new best friend. Now: Geometric drop earrings and a bit more maturity. (But still—f*ck you, Kristin.)
Surface Handmade, $78
BUY IT: needsupply.com.
Then: Whatever jeans would fit you for the 2 seconds between growth spurts. Now: Silver trousers that'd get you roasted all the way to hell back then but mad compliments now.
BUY IT: us.topshop.com.
Then: Death before plain primary-colored notebooks. Now: Some things never change.
Paul Smith, $30
BUY IT: mrporter.com.