For better or worse, there’s no denying that schoolgirl uniforms have been cemented (and fetishized) in pop culture (thanks, Britney Spears and creepy porn videos.) The fact remains, however, that certain aspects of classic school uniforms are quite on-trend for fall—miniskirts, pleats, prim button ups—and there are ways to pull off a collegiate-inspired look without appearing as if you’re a total cliché.
To make a schoolgirl look appropriate for a modern woman, be sure to stay away from entire outfits that are reminiscent of uniforms. For example, don’t wear a plaid miniskirt with a white button down, a blazer, knee-socks, and oxfords—that’s veering into costume territory. Instead, pair each of those things with other fall staples—an oversized sweater and tights with your plaid mini; knee-high boots with your knee-socks so they just peek out of the top; a white button-down with a solid swingy skirt.
And, for the love of all things holy, don’t even think about wearing pigtails or braids.
Here, we’ve gathered 20 of our favorite schoolgirl-inspired looks that any modern woman could easily pull off for work, school or play.