That feeling of getting ready for a new year on campus is always an exciting one – but potentially nerve-wracking, too.

It’s a delicate balancing act – carving out a niche on campus, keeping up with school work, holding down a job … oh, and trying to remember to put your best foot forward through it all.

Upgrading your back to school style is as easy as sticking to the principles of the Lean Wardrobe that we hold so dear at Effortless Gent. Start by picking out classic men’s style essentials that will work for any situation – including the typical casual occasions you run into in college.

Fear not, though – we’re doing it all on a budget. Upgrading your back to school style starts here, right now.

Beyond the Logo Polo

The Upgrade: J. Crew Factory Short-sleeve Chambray Shirt

These 6 Back to School Style Upgrades Will Take You to Top the Class

SHOP SS CHAMBRAY SHIRTS

Rather than reaching for a logo polo to head to a party (21-and-up, only!) or even an early morning class, throw on a simple, stylish fitted chambray shirt. The short sleeves and simple color of this J. Crew Factory chambray shirt make it a winner when it’s hot out.

It’s not that far off from a polo. But it’s all the better because you’re ditching a gaudy logo and opting instead for a piece that’s wearable with everything. This shirt goes with classic dark denim and stylish suede chukka boots, a pair of slim tan chinos, and everything in between.

This chambray shirt is also affordable and easy to layer up with when it gets chillier. A winner all the way around for back to school style.

Go Beyond Sweatpants

The Upgrade: Forever21 Grey Classic Chinos

These 6 Back to School Style Upgrades Will Take You to Top the Class

SHOP GREY CHINOS

Forget the cargo shorts, relaxed-fit chinos, and black dress trousers. Instead, try out some slim, classic grey chinos. They work in situations that call for both tailored wear and more laidback attire.

Forever21 makes a stylish pair with a modern fit – it’s the type of pant to wear with leather wingtip boots and a classic Oxford shirt to a job interview or heck, just a class.

Try ‘em out with the slim short-sleeve chambray shirt above, too. It’s yet another piece of menswear that can work just as well to end the semester in the winter as they can in the early part of summer – all thanks to the cotton fabric and tailored fit.

Seriously, throwing on some slim chinos and a fitted, casual T-shirt puts you leaps and bounds ahead of your classmates in terms of back to school style.

You never know – you just might catch the eye of that special someone, ehh?

Slim Down Your Jeans

The Upgrade: Abercrombie and Fitch Langdon Jeans in Dark Wash

These 6 Back to School Style Upgrades Will Take You to Top the Class

SHOP SLIM DARK DENIM

First things first: Fit is key. And when it comes to your favorite pair of dark denim, fit is absolutely crucial.

If you don’t yet have a modern-fitting pair of dark denim in your arsenal, it’s time to make that upgrade – before the start of a new semester.

As with slim grey chinos, you can go with a pair of classic blue denim in just about any everyday situation, from a casual weekend coffee run to a dash across campus for an exam. They’re a crisp (yet still casual!) alternative to sweats or athletic shorts, too.

And with this pair from Abercrombie and Fitch, you’re getting the real deal for a great price. The Langdon Jeans feature a clean, classic fit that’s neither too tailored nor too baggy – juuuuuuust right.

You’re getting this pair for a great price, and you’re getting excellent wearability, too. Remember, for back to school style it’s all about the small details. The right fit makes a world of difference – no matter where you’re going on campus.

Change Up Your T-Shirt

The Upgrade: Abercrombie and Fitch Garment Dye Henley

These 6 Back to School Style Upgrades Will Take You to Top the Class

SHOP GARMENT DYED HENLEYS

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Small details make the difference. That goes for your T-shirt situation, too.

Rather than tossing on an old athletic tee or a sloppy plain white tee (sorry, fellas), reach for a shirt that’s all rugged style and timeless appeal – a classic men’s henley.

From grabbing a quick lunch to taking fast and furious notes during class (listen up!), a rugged henley just works.

It’s got more visual interest than a plain tee thanks to the button placket. And Abercrombie and Fitch does a nice job here with a garment dye process that makes this henley feel lived in and easygoing.

Throw it on with a leather jacket for sharp Saturday night style. And keep one handy to wear underneath a chambray shirt to class Monday morning – it’s the go-anywhere shirt you didn’t know you needed, but will wonder how you lived without.

Step Into Stylish Sneakers

The Upgrade: Tretorn Nylite Plus Sneakers

These 6 Back to School Style Upgrades Will Take You to Top the Class

SHOP STYLISH SNEAKERS

Want to stand out from your peers in yet another reliably stylish, dependable, and affordable way? This classic, simply designed pair of Tretorn Nylite Plus Sneakers is the way to go.

They’re certainly a step above flip-flops and other common footwear choices around campus. And they’re ready to pair up with both dark denim and the slim henley as shown above for a winning back to school style.

The low profile of the Nylite Plus – in addition to the range of versatile color options – makes ‘em a perfect pick for the hotter temps of September and even crisp, early fall days.

Much like, say stylish leather high-top sneakers, a premium-yet-affordable pair of simple kicks is a much better choice for class, errands, library study sessions – you name it. What’s more, you can even wear this pair with shorts – and you get all of this for well under $100.

Swap Out Your Boots

The Upgrade: Clarks Originals Tan Tumbled Desert Boots

These 6 Back to School Style Upgrades Will Take You to Top the Class

SHOP TAN CHUKKAS

For our last entry, we turn again to the footwear front – an EG favorite, classic chukka boots. Footwear can be an underrated consideration in your back to school style collection. So many guys are just throwing on the pair of shoes closest to the door.

But you, my friend – you read Effortless Gent. So you’re on a whole different level.

The solution for what to wear with your new dark denim and slim chambray shirt? A pair of rugged-yet-versatile leather desert boots. The profile is classic, the price is affordable, and they come with plenty of built-in styling potential.

Team them with grey chinos and a stylish Oxford shirt for putting in hours at work or strolling to a study session. And much like your trusty dark denim, these boots are made to go right into fall (and beyond, weather depending). They’ll look even better the more miles you put on them – and you’ll be standing out in style the whole way.

Start the School Year in Style

Upgrading your college wardrobe at this crucial time is but one way to start the school year off on the right foot – literally and figuratively. Reaching for pieces that are classic yet casual, rugged yet wearable anywhere, is the way to go.

From handsome leather chukka boots, to classic dark denim, to a slim chambray shirt, back to school style upgrades aren’t hard to find if you know where to look. Remember to dial in the fit, reach for versatile colors and as always … have a little fun with it!

What back to school style upgrades will you be making this year? What picks would you add to this list?

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