Going back to school is tough. You’ve been away for a while enjoying the summer, and there’s an entire year of work facing you. Not only that, but you’ve got to deal with all the social aspects of school again, too. There are a lot of good reasons to look your best on the big day when you first go back to school. For one thing, you want to get noticed for the right reasons. For another, you want to feel good about yourself so you start out the new school year on the right foot. Finally, you want to make sure you’re sending the right message to everyone who sees you. From the pony cap to the right tee shirt, here’s how to nail your back-to-school fashion statement.

Mix it Up

The old rules said that you have to pair casual with casual and sophisticated with sophisticated. That’s no longer the case, but people do still follow this rule most of the time. That’s why you can really stand out by pairing a knitted tee shirt with a sophisticated and classy trouser or skirt. You can do the same with accessories, as well. Choose a toned-down outfit to wear and then class it up with some classy shoes. Go the opposite direction by wearing snazzy her outfit paired with a beanie hat or pony cap.

Change Your Look From Last Year

If you have previously been known for your love of dark colors, consider showing up in a bright outfit to make a statement about your versatility. A new haircut can really say something about who you are and where you intend to go in the coming year. If you don’t want to trim those gorgeous long locks, put it up with a cute pony cap. If you typically wear flashy jewelry, consider toning it down to something more understated but elegant.

Don’t Forget the Hat

People talk about “pulling off” a hat as if it’s impossible to make it look good unless you have a strangely-shaped head. Nothing could be further from the truth. Knit caps, the pony cap, and even beanies can be an awesome look if you have the confidence to wear them. It’s not a matter of the shape of your head whether that pony cap looks good or not: it’s a matter of how much you want it.

Mix and Match to Save Money

Everyone has to follow a budget when they’re planning their school outfit, so while you may want to go all out for that first day of school, you do want to have enough pieces to take you through the whole year. Getting some quality items that can be easily mixed and matched with other pieces can save you money in the long run while still providing lots of variety.

Working Within the Uniform

If you go to school that has uniforms, you may feel there’s really nothing you can do that can help you look unique. That’s not true, though and there are a few options that stay within the uniform policy but still let you stand out. You can get polos with lace ruffling, for example, or with ruched sleeves. Your cardigan or sweater can have a bit of sparkle in the trim. If you’ve got to wear flats, you can still pull out the stops by looking for ones with trimming and unique settings over the toe.

You can stand out this year and look great. All you need is the right pony cap, a little change-up of your style, and the confidence to go in and be yourself.