Because You Can

Our monthly column where Leeann gives you easy ideas for having more fun with your clothings.

Borrow your dad’s gigantic wooly sweater and wear it over the shortest kilt you can find. Try to get it so the hem only just peeks out from under the sweater.

Kate Moss on the cover of Mademoiselle, 1993

Thrift an old lunchbox to carry your pencils and other school junk around in.

From glasspanic and ZucchiniFlourVintage, both on Etsy

Style your hair into a nice, big ’60s ponytail and stick your favorite badges in the poufy part.

Camille Rowe by Tim Barber for Opening Ceremony

Wear knee socks with everything! You can cut them from an old pair of tights, or get the slouchy old-lady kind from the drugstore for 99 cents – they look great with a cute skirt and flats. Black knees socks and a leather jacket bring your favorite summer dress into fall, white knee socks give a little plaid jumper a schoolgirl vibe.

Street style from StreetPeeper, Kløver

Tie an old belt around your schoolbooks like kids used to in the dark ages before book bags. Your brother’s old brown belt will look very classic ’50s Ivy League; bonus points if you can find one of the crazy neon rubber ones they made in the ’60s.

Present & Correct, Jack Spade x K-Swiss, and the Book Belt

Speaking of book bags, never buy one from a regular store. Army/Navy surplus stores have a million awesome bags that are sturdy and dirt cheap.

Plaid might as well be the official pattern of fall. Go all in and wear clashing plaids like Drew and these stylish ladies.

Drew Barrymore by Mert and Marcus for Pop magazine, 2008

Street style from Streetstyle Aesthetic and StreetPeeper

Have some school spirit for once and get a varsity jacket in the school colors. If you don’t play a sport they can almost always be found in the men’s section of the thrift store for super cheap. They look great when they fit nice and loose, worn with a pair of skinny jeans, and your hair hanging in your face just so people know you haven’t totally gone Spirit Week.

Supreme, Mj Sistare and DaVinci Sistare of Bows & Roses, Christian Slater and Milla Jovovich

Bronny from

Even if you don’t have to wear a school uniform, you can put together amazing outfits at a uniform supply store (for incredibly cheap). Try wearing a knife-pleat miniskirt with a little shrunken polo, or a Peter Pan-collar blouse with an a-line jumper. You can carry a plaid pencil case as a clutch!

Picture day in Heavenly Creatures and The Virgin Suicides

If you have a little brother, definitely raid his closet for the blazer he wore to your aunt’s wedding when he was 11. It’ll look perfectly shrunken and cute on you. Put your favorite pins all over the lapel and wear it with a big scarf, shirt buttoned all the way to the top, and close-fitting khakis or jodhpurs.

Life magazine archives, Balenciaga Fall 2007

Saddle shoes are the cutest and most classic shoe you can wear with any sort of schoolgirlish look. The school uniform store should be able to help you out here, or you can do what I once did in a pinch and take a black Sharpie to a pair of basic white canvas sneaks.

Ad for Prince's Controversy LP, Life magazine cover photo by Nina Leen

Audrey Horne's signature saddles shoes on Twin Peaks

If you’re the arty-crafty type then swap out your regular shoelaces for a piece of yarn. It looks extra cute when the yarn starts to fray and get all fuzzy. You can also tie a same-colored piece of yarn around your ponytail, but only if you want to be the most adorable girl in school.

On the subject of berets, many are deeply divided. To them I say, gaze upon the luscious mohair tam of Bridget Hall, the detention-worthy black beanies of Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, and be won over forever.

Bridget Hall, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington by Steven Meisel from Vogue Italia, 1994


  • meltedinblack September 6th, 2011 7:06 PM

    I loved this! Thanks, I really needed some inspiration.

  • Marguerite September 6th, 2011 7:08 PM

    If my uniform wasn’t so totally strict, i would totally wear this stuff!

  • summerness September 6th, 2011 7:08 PM

    Finally!!! Cute school-appropriate unique pieces!

  • georgia September 6th, 2011 7:11 PM

    I love old school lunch-boxes… All these ideas are great, I wish I could actually use them! *glares at school uniform*

  • unicorn September 6th, 2011 7:15 PM

    love these so much!!!!!
    totally gonna try varsity jacket and yarn thing, and whatever else i can that fits in dress code.
    love the berets and the whole school girl vibe.
    totally replacing the blazer with my cardigan, though. my cardigan has elbow patches.

  • Pinkwitchcraft September 6th, 2011 7:17 PM

    I’m unschooled.. This post definitely made me want to go to school (preferably one with all of my blogger idols in and that constantly plays music by no doubt).

  • memagurl91 September 6th, 2011 7:19 PM

    i love the school girl look! this magazine rocks, keep it up!

  • Kacela September 6th, 2011 7:26 PM

    Absolutley love all these new ideas for my closet. Finally, a way I can be unique and not look like all the other weird unfashionable monkey see monkey do middle schoolers!

  • Pau September 6th, 2011 7:28 PM

    love it!

  • Beejuice September 6th, 2011 7:31 PM

    I think this website is very good and I find the articles interesting, but could you be a bit more realistic with the style pieces. I know this website isn’t geared to the “everyday teen” and more towards the “outcast”. In no way am I trying to change this to Seventeen magazine, but c’mon. No teen in their right mind would wear this unless is was 1994. Maybe the varsity jacket and oxfords because those are kind of cool now cause they sell them at major stores like H&M. But everything else looks kind of played out.

    • Tavi September 6th, 2011 8:28 PM

      @Beejuice — We’re not geared toward the “everyday teen” or the “outcast,” but I do think there’s a bit of something for everyone here — kneesocks and blazers for the more conservative, lunchbox as a purse for the more experimental, maybe. But “no teen in their right mind”? Let’s not generalize here, or make anyone feel bad for liking this.
      If the aesthetic feels played out to you, well, it’s September. We’re embracing back-to-school and teen movie vibes! And recreating them with DIY and thrifting ideas. It doesn’t have to be at H&M to be stylish, and tons of sites and magazines already offer up shopping lists of stuff to buy at those kinds of stores if that’s what you were looking for. Truthfully, I think it’s more stylish (and affordable) to put things together yourself!

  • soursequence September 6th, 2011 7:35 PM

    I need to go to Goodwill. I always go in looking for new brand names and get stuck feeling uncreative and unhappy. I love how inspiring Rookie Mag is. I anticipate each new posting.

  • Virginia September 6th, 2011 7:35 PM

    Love it… but that’s not Leah of Full Nilson, that’s Bronny (from Fat Aus) :)

    • Tavi September 6th, 2011 7:45 PM

      AH! Thank you! Got it from a post somewhere on Tumblr that linked to Leah’s blog, poor double-checking on my part. I just thought she’d shaved her head was all! Will change now!

  • Chimdi September 6th, 2011 7:44 PM

    1. I dress SOMEWHAT like this.

    2. I need to dress like this.

    3. Here’s the thing: at my school, wearing a school varsity jacket is like wearing pants. So…no.

  • Rowanne September 6th, 2011 7:48 PM

    Great ideas! Knee socks for the second day of school it is, thanks Leeann! And thank you Tavi for bringing this wonderful site together. Excuse me while I go and read every article obsessively.

  • Toilets September 6th, 2011 8:00 PM

    I can hear the saddle shoes calling my name! (“Toiiiilets, toiiiiilets!”)

    @Beejuice – Plaids, knee high socks and blazers are also pretty popular at the mo’ and sold in all the high street shops where I live. But things don’t have to be sold in H&M to be worth wearing. Jus’ sayin’.

  • stephanie4786 September 6th, 2011 8:07 PM

    LOVE THISSSS!!! <3

  • Whatsername September 6th, 2011 8:19 PM

    EEK, SADDLE SHOES<3 I have a high-heeled pair but I'm really tall as is so I tend to save them for special occasions.

  • Danbi September 6th, 2011 8:24 PM

    It makes me wanna go to school again. I’m jealous of all freshmans! Anyway, it’s awesome. I love all about these.

  • EveyMarrie September 6th, 2011 8:27 PM

    Love this, can’t wait till college. Be walking around with my books with a belt ;D and of course I’ll be rocking the plaid. Love plaid haha. Great article :)

  • HoldenRose September 6th, 2011 8:32 PM

    I love all of this! Very few of my classmates dress super fashionably, so sometimes I am hesitant to go all out on my outfits, but I am just so excited by today’s styles that I am going to go for it! Thanks for the great inspiration and congrats, Tavi, on getting this site started! I LUV IT—Rookie is the perfect blend of fashion, culture, and fantastic writing!

  • Maggie September 6th, 2011 8:39 PM

    I love all of these, I can’t wait to try them out! This is just the kind of thing I need to inspire me on the first day of school. I’m really loving Rookie so far, and the posting schedule is GREAT, it’s so fun to have something to look forward to after school. Keep up the great work, everyone!

  • myelegantlife September 6th, 2011 8:46 PM

    Grrrrrrrrrrreat editorial! I absolutely loved it! A child at <3, I'd sport any of these!!! Adorable, well done!!!

  • Bayonne September 6th, 2011 8:50 PM

    Tavi, I love this!
    I agree with you, as well. I think it’s way more affordable to buy clothes second-hand and put outfits together yourself! I much prefer communicating my inspirations through the clothes I wear, and doing it at a low cost? Best!

  • Minna September 6th, 2011 8:56 PM

    Leeann this is fantastic!! Going to change my outfit today, ha..

  • Moonshoes September 6th, 2011 9:14 PM

    greaaaatt job with this article and this website! Im obsessed and so far I have adored every single post. I love these looks!! <3

  • olivia_t September 6th, 2011 9:29 PM

    @Beejuice I would totally (and already do ) wear all these things!! Great post!!

  • ichewmylips September 6th, 2011 9:31 PM

    i loved this article! great inspirations and I’m definately trying out the plaid and oversized sweater combo. also loved the clashing plaids!

  • acatfollowedmehome September 6th, 2011 9:36 PM

    I LOVED this post. So many great ideas. I might not put pins in the ponytail, but I’d definitely like to try doing some sort of up do like that. Only problem, my undercut is at the grossest stage of growing out. ever. the website is going great! loving everything about it.

  • boyghost September 6th, 2011 9:44 PM

    This is the grooviest thing that’s happened to me. Thanks for making my day! I want to try all of it..!

  • SnowLee September 6th, 2011 9:45 PM

    Too bad I go to private school. I love all the 50′s stuff that’s on here.
    Glad to know I’m not the only one who loves the oldies.

  • Brodie September 6th, 2011 9:49 PM

    Bronny is my style queen, body acceptance role model and actual real life friend. I am so, so happy to see her in this xlnt article!

  • oriana September 6th, 2011 9:52 PM

    aaaggggghhh i’m in love. in. love. (and inspired!)

  • maya September 6th, 2011 10:31 PM

    Loved this so much! Thaaaaanks

  • LauraLouise September 6th, 2011 11:02 PM

    The yarn is such a lovely idea.

  • adrizzprinzz September 6th, 2011 11:12 PM

    your article is very good and reminded me of old times, as those are not mine, nor yours lolo

    I enjoyed it a lot, but now…. I love ♥ ♥ ♥

    greetings from mexico ♥

  • Hazel September 6th, 2011 11:27 PM

    I think what’s so great about this whole thing is that there’s a bit of every decade in here. Teens wore some of this in the 40′s (when the idea of a teenager was invented!), then the 50′s and 60′s, definitely in the 80′s (big 50′s throwback in that decade) and plaid kilts were DEFINITELY big in the 90′s, as we all know! There is really retro, teenage iconic look in ever style tip here. In fact, this school girl vibe might me the most timeless look ever! Live on, schoolgirl vibes!

  • elise September 6th, 2011 11:28 PM

    Rarely does a magazine/website get me to jump up and run to my closet upon reading the article, but here, the use of almost entirely retro photos to create a moodboard-esque setup is really intriguing. Just found two really cute (and comfy) chunky sweaters in poppa’s closet, which I’ll wear with short skirts and my mother’s hand-me-down leather knee-high boots. Digging the website.

  • Stephanie September 6th, 2011 11:51 PM

    Thanks for some new style inspiration, especially the thing about wearing badges as barrettes! I have a *ton* of them and not enough things to pin them to. I’m not totally sure that it will work because I have short hair and can’t wear a ponytail to hold them in, but I’m sure as hell gonna try because it means I suddenly have about 50 new barrettes!

  • paigesofnothing September 7th, 2011 12:08 AM

    the school girl/teen movie vibe is so inspiring! love this whole article–starting tomorrow there will be buttons all up in my hair.

  • iWantLovely September 7th, 2011 12:09 AM

    You people are wonderful.

  • LoversSaintsSailors September 7th, 2011 12:15 AM

    Oh man, stop it! You’re making me wanna go back to school!

    Hmmm…I’ve gotta think of a reason to carry a bunch of books now.

  • joenjwang September 7th, 2011 12:19 AM

    History makes the clothes so much more appealing. I love how all of them are not based on flighty trends, but stories. You can immediately feel an intrinsic connection with clothes from the past (a.k.a. nostalgia). Lovely. I absolutely loved the supplemental photos as well.

  • Hannah September 7th, 2011 1:11 AM

    Since when is any teen “in their right mind”?

  • Gabi September 7th, 2011 1:37 AM

    crying tears of happiness + plaid

    dying a little over the belted books <3

  • September 7th, 2011 2:47 AM

    There’s definitely a Sylvia Plath vibe in here! I like it :-)

  • Me September 7th, 2011 3:43 AM

    I really want to try the lunchbox idea – already raiding my kitchen cupboard for my old one from when I was six!

  • all-art-is-quite-useless September 7th, 2011 4:25 AM

    I would wear this! That’s if my teacher’s wouldn’t freak whenever they see a miniskirt.

    Also my ponytails are always big bushy ones, if I wanted anything less I’d have to cut off my hair! The badges are an idea though.

  • dreamyj September 7th, 2011 4:29 AM

    Really awesome article, I love everything! I think it’s great that you encourage people to buy from thrift stores, rather than buying from regular stores. Not that I don’t do it myself, but the reason I stopped buying regular magazines was because they kept telling me I needed this dress/cosmetic/shoe in order to make my life better and to stop being such an ugly, pathetic mess. This article is what fashion should be about, having fun playing around with certain looks, rather than feeling inadequate unless you posses certain items or look a certain way.

    I’m at University right now, but I was saying to my friend how I wished this existed 5 years ago for us when we were teenagers in High School. All magazines that existed were patronising and totally void of inspiration. I used to buy old issues of Sassy instead, and the whole vibe of Rookie Mag reminds me of that. Bravo Tavi and co, you’ve done an amazing job!

  • Suus September 7th, 2011 5:12 AM

    Aww you’re making me relive my youth! I’m 28 so well out of my teens but i love this website. Having a Christian Slater moment right now, so am gonna watch Kuffs again for the first time in over 10 years after work.
    P.s: how beautiful does Drew look in that picture, i love her haircolour!

  • R September 7th, 2011 5:43 AM

    Sorry if someone has already said this – the url linked to for ‘’ (below the two mismatched plaid pics) has been spelt wrong. The link takes you to Streetpepper – which apparently exists only for link revenue from people trying to get to Street Peeper but spelling it wrong:)

  • ellyellyelly September 7th, 2011 5:59 AM

    i’m completely hooked on this website already and now want to start wearing school uniforms.

    i’m 22 soon, i may look peculiar x

  • Rita Unicornia September 7th, 2011 6:25 AM

    This website is right what teenage girls needed.. I’m in love with it and I’m following all the steps to become a perfect teenage girl ;) fashion way!

  • Emily Condon September 7th, 2011 9:58 AM

    @ R – thank you! Fixed it. Not sure I want to know what “Street Pepper” would be…

  • Izzy September 7th, 2011 10:47 AM

    The yarn idea is amazing, I am going to do it with all my lace up shoes! Next time, DIY platform boots, lol

  • Filia September 7th, 2011 12:22 PM

    Oh all this stuff is so adorable! At the moment I’m totally in love with knee socks and uniform skirts. Next time I’ll go downtown I have to buy some.

  • Sunshine September 7th, 2011 3:25 PM

    Amazing ideas!!!! I’m printing/sharing with everyone I know.

  • Harry September 7th, 2011 3:53 PM

    I’m somewhat suspicious of the tone of this article. It sometimes takes on that authoritative do-this-not-that attitude of the Seventeens and Teen Vogues I feel that this website attempts to subvert.


    “Never buy [a backpack] from a regular store”

    “Saddle shoes are the cutest and most classic shoe you can wear with any sort of schoolgirlish look”

    And it’s the fact that it encourages responses like these that concerns me:

    “Finally, a way I can be unique and not look like all the other weird unfashionable monkey see monkey do middle schoolers!”

    Just something to consider in future installments of this otherwise great column. (I really did enjoy the yarn shoelace thing)

  • Anaheed September 7th, 2011 4:00 PM

    Hi, Harry! I appreciate that you expect better from us than you do from most teen media – that means a lot and we hope to live up to your expectations.

    We call this column “Because You Can” because it’s Leeann’s ideas for things you CAN do. Not directives for what you SHOULD do. We mean for it to be inspirational, not prescriptive.

    Thank you for bringing this up; this is the kind of thing we are thinking about all of the time.

  • natasha September 7th, 2011 4:47 PM

    Oh myyyyy I want to go shopping NOW!

    I loved this. Usually I don’t like reading articles about what to wear because I like to choose myself, but this was just lots of ideas and inspiration, no fixed items.

    I just need some money. I don’t have any. And this is where this whole “I want to go shopping” thing ends.

  • nutellacube September 7th, 2011 5:23 PM

    loved this! thank you!

  • PhoenixErin September 7th, 2011 5:42 PM

    Because of this article, I dug out my “9th grade” plaid kilt, which I bought back in 1994 to kick off my high-school career. Today I paired it with a white button down shirt, black tights, and a religious bracelet and went off to work feeling the “school girl” vibes. It was the best feeling fashion day I’ve had in a while.

    To protect myself from the weather, I wore my green Army jacket and black rain boots and felt like the coolest dude who ever duded :)

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • erin September 7th, 2011 6:07 PM

    Love the yarn idea! And I need to get some knee socks now… for sure. I love how you guys are sharing all these cheap sources, because most articles don’t do that. It’s refreshing.

  • BeccaIsQueer September 7th, 2011 6:13 PM

    I was convinced that this was a joke. Then I read the comments… What?

  • ThisIsMyFace September 7th, 2011 8:17 PM

    Inspired. And I had just Googled Elastica and Kim Gordon, so the nineties vibes are out there!

  • MichyMich September 7th, 2011 10:05 PM

    My GOSH!! I LOVE the schoolgirl chic inspirations with the smorgasboard of plaid, hair clips, chunky knits and saddle shoes! Oh man, everything I saw there is definitely worth instant drooling!! Thanks Leeann, I really need some new inspiration for my outfits. :)

  • Youcantakethegirloutofthe70s September 7th, 2011 10:36 PM

    This article reminds me of the British magazine Jackie, which I used to read back in the day…

    When pluck, inventiveness, humour and loyalty were publicly valued attributes in teen girls.

    Congratulations, Tavi and all.

  • insteadofanelephant September 7th, 2011 11:30 PM

    sadly (perhaps?), what i wear to class is half the fun of my education…

    instead of an elephant

  • Luceisms September 8th, 2011 1:06 AM

    Having attended catholic school for two years, even the thought of wearing a schoolgirly get-up gives me the trembles, but I applaud anyone still rocking this look even out of their school years. If I personally go preppy I like a more menswear style- blazers, oxfords, tweed vests, etc. The using yarn as shoelaces idea, though? Totally stealing it.

  • catstickers September 8th, 2011 11:56 AM

    this is so far my favourite feature in Rookie, I can’t wait till next month! Keep it up!

  • Naomi Morris September 8th, 2011 12:06 PM

    wore knee socks today yey!

  • Kristen September 8th, 2011 12:52 PM

    I’ve been lamenting the fact that I wear a uniform to school every day for years now. Well, until I realized there were small infractions I could get away with like putting studs on the bottom of my skirt and wearing slightly different knee socks than everybody else (gasp!)

    This post is spectacular and sort of got me stoked to put back on my blazer and polo. And yarn for shoelaces?! BRILLIANT!

    Thanks for spicing up the lives of the girls who don’t have that many exciting wardrobe decisions to make in the morning!

  • TheWeirdBeard September 8th, 2011 6:12 PM

    I got a pair of vintage Bass saddle shoes for $18 at Buffalo Exchange, if any of you live in a city with a Buffalo Exchange, GO THERE ALL THE TIME. I sell my out of season stuff there and that’s how I got my saddle shoes:)

  • miss azalea path September 8th, 2011 6:53 PM

    I have to confess I’m significantly above the target audience age having been a teen during the original riot grrl movement in the late 90s. That said, there is a huge part of me that wants to go grab my sticker collaged Spottie Dottie lunch box, knee socks, doc martens and thrifted 50s slip skirts out of storage and join back in the resurgence of this whole neo-riot grrl movement. This article totally had me nostalgic and I’m so excited to read the Bratmobile interview. Bravo ladies!

  • Hannysea September 8th, 2011 8:55 PM

    This is such a great project. I wish ROOKIE was around when I was a teenager, doesn’t mean I won’t still enjoy it thoroughly now though at 22. Can I submit some of my photos and artwork? or is that just creepy?
    All the best!

  • Anaheed September 8th, 2011 8:58 PM

    @Hannysea: Email

  • Pat September 9th, 2011 10:53 AM

    This is officially my new favorite site :) I’ll be coming back here time in time again. This is perfect inspiration. GREAT JOB! :D

  • ApolloSkyfish September 10th, 2011 8:12 AM

    I love these ideas.
    I think something about the format turns me off from actually using them as inspiration.
    I would feel unoriginal and it would take away part of how you feel when you wear something unique.
    I do love the site though. It just feels like something sacred is being exposed and used up.

  • dixxxie September 11th, 2011 12:35 AM

    those Opening Ceremony pictures with the badges on the ponytails were GORGEOUS!

  • TacoFemme66 September 11th, 2011 1:40 AM

    LOVE the whole Virgin Suicides reference, good times.

  • yourenotfunny September 11th, 2011 8:40 AM

    Definitely gonna use the yarn idea. Such a cute, subtle way to spruce up some Keds or Docs. And going crazy over the Present&Correct website <3

    I really like this website so far, and also appreciate that the style guides seem to take into account how much extra money a teen girl would realistically have. (something many publications fall to acknowledge.)

  • Whoami September 12th, 2011 12:42 AM

    Great <3

  • madame_addie September 12th, 2011 1:22 AM

    awesome! and very useful :)

  • heavycross September 13th, 2011 8:30 AM

    I am a boy and i am still gonna do this there such creative ideas well i guess it does not matter that i am a boy since i dress like a girl :P

  • sedgwick September 19th, 2011 7:16 AM

    kate’s plaits! fantastic