THE A LIST | Back-to-School Style Staples They'll Absolutely Love

via H&M

Those 3 little words. Back. To. School. Dun, dun, dunnnn. After the Best. Summer. Ever, it’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. But as I've learned over a lifetime of shopping, fashion makes everything better. Whether you're sending your little one off to JK for the first time (sniff), or getting your pre-teen prepped for a stellar first impression at her new school, you can't underestimate the power of a perfect first day outfit. From fun shirts to perfectly distressed jeans to shoes that can handle the perils of the playground, we've got your kid covered. 

I've tracked down some of the cutest, coolest buys at White Oaks Mall so you can get a jump on the competition before their sizes sell out. Oh, and the White Oaks Mall Back to School Contest launches tomorrow and it will make your back-to-school season so much sweeter. Simply snap a pic of you in front of your favourite store and share it to the White Oaks Mall Facebook Page for the chance to win 1 of 2 Ultimate Backpacks, complete with an iPad Mini 3 from Outpost2 plus $100 to shop at your favourite store. Alright, alright - back to summer. Let's soak up as much of this as we can, shall we?

Read on for the back-to-school staples they (and you) will absolutely love...

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | A COOL BACKPACK

WHY THEY'LL LOVE IT | It's undeniable - there isn't a single accessory more important for back-to-school than the almighty pack. It holds their books, their clothes, their lunch, well, their life. So, if it can do all that and look like space, stormtroopers, or a hamburger? Yup. Best. Mom. Ever.

OUR PICKS | JanSport Superbreak Galaxy Backpack, $40, Journeys; Stormtrooper Backpack, $40, Journeys; Photoreal Burger Backpack, $14.98, The Children's Place

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | UPGRADED SWEATS

WHY THEY'LL LOVE THEM | Little ones might feel nervous going to school for the first time. These cozy sweats will feel like a warm hug if they're missing you, plus they're well designed so look totally pulled together, too. Win. Win. 

OUR PICKS | Sweatshirt Dress, $17.99, H&M; Colorblock Sweatshirt, $17.99, H&M

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | COOL KICKS

WHY THEY'LL LOVE THEM | Most schools require runners during recess but that doesn't mean you have to go full sneaker. A pair of cute kicks will keep them looking cool while handling whatever the schoolyard throws their way. If they're just learning to tie their laces, try the amazeballs lace-trying trick below (just did it with my kids and it TOtally works). If not, opt for velcro, a pair of curly laces or TOMS' brilliant elastic tongue straps for optional lacing.

OUR PICKS | Youth Converse Chuck Taylors in Pink Glow, $34.99, Journeys; TOMS Youth Paseo Casual Shoe, $43.99, Journeys.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | PATTERNED SOCKS

WHY THEY'LL LOVE THEM | Time to toss those white sport socks, stat. SO embarassing. Opt instead for some printed socks that will make getting dressed every morning so much more fun, for you and for them. 

OUR PICKS | Animal Socks, $15.95, GAP; 7-Pack Socks, $14.99, H&M

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | GREAT JEANS

WHY THEY'LL LOVE IT | We love distressed jeans for school because unlike other pants, they look better the more worn in they get. Our new favourite find? The boyfriend jeans from GapKids. If you can convince your budding stylista to wear them, she might just collect Coolest Kid award this year. 

OUR PICKS | 1969 Destructed Boy-Fit Jeans, $39.95, GapKids; Tapered Jeans, $24.99, H&M

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | EXTRA AWESOME ACCESSORIES

WHY THEY'LL LOVE THEM | Once you've picked up all the basics, it's time to bring their school wardrobe to the next level. Pretty little necklaces, a bright watch, a striped belt and playful headbands will give them top style marks this year. And remember to hit up adult stores for great cheap and cheerful accessories, too - I've found some of the cutest accessories for my littles at Ardene, the H&M adult section and even American Eagle.

OUR PICKS | Star & Tassel Charm Necklace, $5.99, H&M; Striped Webbing Belt, $16.95, Gymboree

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | BEYOND BASIC TEES

WHY THEY'LL LOVE THEM | Do your kid a solid and step away from the solids. Fun varsity influences (like the football tee above) and detailed hemlines turn basic tees into fashion pieces. Meanwhile graphic tees will help your kids show off their personality, whether they're obsessed with sportscars, T-Rexes or really good tunes. If you're like me and can't handle tacky Disney logos etc., this tee is just design-y enough to not be tacky. And it will make him happy. Sometimes, as Elsa so brilliantly belted out, we just have to let it go...

OUR PICKS | Football Tee, $19.90, Justice; T-Rex Tee, $14.95, GapKids

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | NEW-SCHOOL BOTTOMS

WHY THEY'LL LOVE THEM | This year, challenge yourself (and your kid) to think outside of the box. Leggings are great on their own but worn under a fun tulle skirt? Amazing. You can't go wrong with basic jeans and chinos but this year, add a pair of slouchy tapered joggers into his school wardrobe rotation. 

OUR PICKS | Star Tulle Skirt, $17.99, H&M; Cotton Joggers, $24.99, H&M

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | A FALL LAYER

WHY THEY'LL LOVE IT | As the days start to cool off, vests are a lifesaver. We love some of the cute new vests coming into stores now - from a faux fur waistcoat you'll wish you could borrow to a bright red vest that will help him stand out in the crowd. 

OUR PICKS | Faux Fur Waistcoat, $34.99, H&M; Warmest Vest, $54.95, GapKids

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | A PICTURE DAY PICK

WHY THEY'LL LOVE IT | Picture day pops up every fall so this year, make sure you're prepared. If he gives you a hard time, have him wear his favourite tee underneath his shirt so he can unbutton it as soon as picture sesh is over. For her, opt for a sweet denim shirtdress - dark enough that it will hide stains, and structured enough that it won't wrinkle, so she won't look dishevelled by the time her class gets called. They might not appreciate your efforts now but they'll love you for it when they're older. 

OUR PICKS | Cotton Shirt, $19.99, H&M; Denim Fit & Flare Shirtdress, $44.95, GapKids

BACK-TO-SCHOOL MUST | A SUPER FUN HAT

WHY THEY'LL LOVE IT | When the weather makes the switch from hot to cold, we love fun hats. From a pom-pom stunner we can picture on Beyonce's kid to a super cute superhero beanie, these hats will top off their outfits to perfection. 

OUR PICKS | Felt Pom-Pom Hat, $17.99, H&M; Knitted Superhero Hat, $12.99, H&M