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Whether you’re preparing for a new semester at college or a collaborative charter academy, it’s important to dress the part. According to a study by Austin Community College, the higher people rated how comfortable their attire was on the day of an exam, the higher scores they received. In addition, comfortable clothes have been shown to increase productivity, according to the New York Post.

At the same time, formal attire helps students feel more powerful and confident, according to a study conducted by Mike Slepian, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School. When it comes to back-to-school shopping, here’s how to choose essentials that will help you strike the perfect balance between comfortable and confident.

Choose clothes that fit properly.

When it comes to clothes shopping, the best way to prioritize your comfort is to choose clothing that fits properly. For example, if you’re shorter than 5’4″, shopping for petite jeans can make all the difference. Petite clothing specifically caters to people who are 5’4″ and under, so you won’t have to worry about inseams that are too long or baggy sleeves ever again. In turn, you’ll feel more confident, comfortable, and ready to take on your classes.

If you have trouble finding clothes that fit properly, try researching different stores on the internet. While it might require some trial-and-error to order the right size for you, most stores have generous return policies, so you can exchange a pair of jeans for a different size until you find the right pair. Alternatively, if you don’t have time or patience to shop online, you can always visit a local tailor.

Shop for your body type.

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Feeling confident isn’t just about choosing comfy materials—it’s about choosing what flatters your figure. Unfortunately, if you don’t understand why certain pieces look great on you, it’s going to be hard to shop for new favorites. In reality, finding pieces that look good boils down to your body shape. Once you learn what types of clothes flatter your body type, it’s easy to pick up staples that you love to wear.

For example, if you have an apple-shaped body, you’ll want to choose pieces that balance your shoulders, waist, and hips, such as bootcut jeans and wrap tops. Meanwhile, if you have an hourglass-shaped body, opt for pieces that accentuate your features, such as sweetheart-cut necklines and cinch-waisted tops.

Elevate your wardrobe with more formal pieces.

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To strike that perfect balance between comfortable and confident, you’ll need to dress the part for job interviews, presentations, and internships. Believe it or not, clothing is actually the smallest piece of the puzzle when it comes to formalwear. By incorporating a few staple pieces and accessories, you’ll be able to dress for most occasions.

Above all else, pay attention to fabrics when shopping for formalwear. You want to choose fabrics that can dress up nicely without being too season-specific. This way, you’ll be able to wear that sleeveless top to class—or dress it up with a blazer for your job interview. Silk, taffeta, crepe, and matte jersey are all great options that can be dressed up or down with ease.

Don’t forget about comfortable footwear.

If you’re going to be walking around campus all day, comfortable shoes are essential. Wearing good shoes can help you feel your best, prevent injuries, and keep you comfortable all day long.

Whether you’re shopping for sneakers or flats, it’s important to choose shoes with a stiff back. Your shoes should also provide arch support, be wide and long enough for your feet, and keep you comfortable while walking long distances. If you’re unsure, it’s always a smart move to choose shoes that feel comfortable straight out of the box.

Ultimately, finding pieces that keep you comfortable and confident—all while blending seamlessly into your wardrobe—can help you create the best back-to-school outfits this semester.

Kathy Heckle