Shopping·8 min read

14 Back-to-School Accessories for Everyone (Even If You Aren’t a Student)

back-to-school accessories
Design: theSkimm | Photos: Urban Outfitters, Branch, Baggu
August 9, 2023

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Here’s the thing…back-to-school season always deserves to be celebrated — even as an adult. Whether you’re working from home with a space that could use some updates, you’ve just moved into a new apartment and need to get your setup figured out, or you’re a student and need some affordable options, we’ve found items for you. Below is a mix of functional (and cute) decor and accessories, so you can easily put your best foot forward. A bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, anybody? IYKYK.

Work-from-home must-haves


A desk chair our editors raved about…

We tested this chair out and it got straight A’s in…well, everything. Plus, it’s durable and provides back support on the countless days you’re glued to your computer. The best part? It’s comfortable while not being an eyesore. Pick from four calming hues and give your back a break. ($249, Branch)

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A compact charging station from Anker…

PSA: Every home office needs this. It’ll power up to seven devices simultaneously and even allows you to fast-charge four devices. It comes with three AC outlets, two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and an extension cord. If you’re worried about this device overheating, don’t sweat (pun intended). It has built-in technology that will monitor its temperature and adjust power output based on what you have plugged in. Goodbye, tangly cluttered mess. ($65.99, Amazon)

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A laptop stand that’s better for your posture…

Fun fact: We use these at Skimm HQ and they’re the best. Just slip your laptop into the stand and it’ll adjust your screen height to eye level. Since it’s made of aluminum, it’ll help to cool your laptop down if it’s prone to overheating. ($39.90+, Amazon)

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PersonalizedLivingFL via Etsy

An acrylic, dry-erase board…

Your childhood whiteboard just got a majorly chic upgrade. All you have to do is pick the size, board color, and wall mount color that works best for your space. You can hang it above your desk, in your kitchen, or anywhere else you want to easily jot down notes. ($26.09+, PersonalizedLivingFL via Etsy)

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Brighttia via Etsy

Cable organizers for when you've got a wire jungle underneath your desk…

Consider these gold ones a small style win. No more cheap-looking plastic clips. You can use them for your desk setup, or for lamps you have placed around your home. It’s the little things in life. ($11.98+/2 pack, Brighttia via Etsy)

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Accessories if you’re decorating a new space


A bookshelf tree that’ll hold a ton…

Utilizing vertical space in a smaller apartment or home is a must. This modern wooden bookshelf comes in both three-tier or six-tier options, and has a spacious shelf at the base. Use it for your growing library, to store office supplies, or to organize vinyl. ($39.99+, Amazon)

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Urban Outfitters

A mini glass table lamp that comes in five funky shades…

Buy one in every color for the best cozy lighting. The frosted glass will emit a warm glow and you can easily wipe them clean when dust collects. Joy = sparked. ($49, Urban Outfitters)

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Smiley hand towels from Baggu…

Hand towels are an easy swap if you’re looking to change up your kitchen or bathroom. This set of two is reversible, machine washable, and is made of organic terry cloth. Psst…they also make for great bath mats in a pinch. ($34/set of two, Baggu)

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The Container Store

A clear rolling cart…

One of our editors uses this cart from The Home Edit for pantry storage and loves it. It’s easy to assemble and you can add these multipurpose bins for even extra organization. It’s also great for laundry rooms, office supplies, or beverages. Because it’s clear, it seamlessly blends into any space. PS: Check out our full interview with The Home Edit for more organization tips. ($129.99, The Container Store)

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Everyday essentials for dorms, graduate school housing, and more


A mini desk under $40…

Budget-friendly and bound to fit a small dorm room? Check and check. This rustic white desk is minimal, so it’ll work no matter what your interior design taste is. If you want to add a little flair on a budget, we recommend adding some peel-and-stick wallpaper to the top. Stock up now. ($35.99, Wayfair)

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End tables that can be used in multiple ways…

C tables are an essential if you want to maximize space. They can slide underneath couches and work as a makeshift coffee or dining table. Use them as a lap desk if you don’t have room for an actual desk at home. We’ve even used them as a temporary TV stand. These come with a gold or gray base and a white faux-marble top. They’re lightweight, easily movable, and are made of an anti-scratch material that’ll last. One will be enough, but if you’re looking to treat these as end tables, we recommend buying two. ($84.99, Wayfair)

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Virginia Chamlee via Artfully Walls

Artfully Walls, if you’re looking for more luxe, curated art prints on a budget…

If you’re browsing for pieces that look like they came straight out of a fancy gallery, Artfully Walls is for you. They partner with different artists from all over the world, so you’re bound to find something that few eyes have ever seen before. One of our favorite artists from the site is Virginia Chamlee for cheeky word art. ($26+, Artfully Walls)

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An academic planner that’ll keep you on top of deadlines…

Sure, digital calendars work, but there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off a finished task or assignment. Papier has tons of customizable covers and options, whether you’re looking for notebooks for lectures or planners to keep you on track. This academic one has spaces for your daily schedules, deadline and finance trackers, weekly planning pages, spreads for recipe ideas, and more. Treat yourself. ($32, Papier)

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A wavy border bath mat…

If buying a rug doesn’t fit in your budget for this year, go for a fun bath mat. This one is made of durable polyester and doesn’t have the same texture as a traditional bath mat, so it’ll work in your kitchen as a runner, in your desk area as a statement piece, or in your bathroom. Plus, it’s machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about getting it dirty. ($25, Dormify)

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