My Fall 2017 Back to School Essentials

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Back to school time is my favorite time of year. My idea of starting a “new year” is when the academic calendar resets, not January 1. Maybe this is a product of being in school and/or working at universities my whole life, but it could also just be because I’m a huge nerd.

This fall is my last semester of grad school (what?!) and I’m not even taking real classes, just working on a few research projects. Even though I won’t be sitting in a classroom this fall, I still feel the need to stock up on some “back to school” essentials. Here are a few things that are going to get my semester off to a good start!

back to school essentials

Sharpie pens // Moleskine notebook // Madewell tote // OXO cold brew coffee maker // ban.do travel mug // Kate Spade mug // J. Crew blazer // OPI nail polish


School / Office Supplies

I am terrible at using paper planners, but I can only function with a physical paper to-do list. I always have a Moleskine notebook and some of these Sharpie pens with me at work and in research meetings. I prefer the squared paper Moleskines because I find they make it really easy to draw clean to-do list squares to check off, divide pieces of paper into sections, and line things up both horizontally and vertically. Unsurprisingly, I am very picky about pens, especially when it comes to what I use to write in my notebooks. Over time I found that the Sharpie pens work the best for me. (P.S. Moleskine notebooks are WAY cheaper on Amazon than they are at your local Target or Barnes & Noble!)

Tote Bag

This Madewell stripe tote bag is my new favorite thing. I like the look of the classic leather tote, but the stripe adds an interesting detail without being overwhelming. This is kind of pricey for a basic tote (though worth it in my opinion) so I’ve linked some less expensive non-plain tote options here (on sale now!) and here.

Coffee Essentials

One of my new school year resolutions is to make more coffee at home instead of stopping by coffee shops en route to work. I ordered this cold brew coffee maker on Amazon a while back and have only used it a few times, but I love it. Time to put it to work again! And of course, I always need more coffee mugs like this ban.do “But First Coffee” travel mug and this Kate Spade cityscape illustration mug.

Fall Style Finds

And of course, no back to school shopping is done without a few new items in the closet. I already have way too much clothing, so I’m trying to be more strategic about buying classic basics like this J. Crew blazer that can easily be dressed up or down depending on what I’m doing in a given day. I’m also already thinking a lot about fall nail colors and loving OPI’s Iceland collection. The colors featured here are Suzi & The Arctic Fox (dark purple) and I’ll Have a Gin and Tectonic (nude peach).

What’s on your back to school shopping list? What should I add to mine?



  1. Kasia wrote:

    Okay so I’m going to get all of these things! Starting grad school next week, and I LOVE going back to school shopping! Favorite time of year.

    Published 8.17.17
    • largecoldbrew wrote:

      Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one! No matter how many pens and notebooks I have, I always need new ones for the start of school!

      Published 8.17.17

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