Few items in your wardrobe scream “back to school” quite like the outerwear icon that is the peacoat. The name, reportedly derived from the Dutch word pij, meaning coarse wool, first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary way back in the early 18th century. Though it’s a collegiate classic now, the clean-lined, rugged coat actually has military roots—it was initially adopted by British midshipmen before becoming the go-to for many of Europe’s naval fleets.
Despite its naval heritage, we can’t help but picture the peacoat as the ultimate school uniform, its broad collar flipped up to shield students against brisk fall breezes as they bound across campus. To celebrate a coat with serious school spirit (which we’re excited to offer a grown-up version of), we share eight of our favorite school-themed movies. Ready that Netflix queue.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Robin “O captain, my captain” Williams plays an unconventional English professor at a private Vermont boarding school who inspires his wide-eyed students (Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard among them) to seize the day, or rather, carpe diem.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
“Aloha, my name is Mr. Hand.” Memorable lines abound in this cult classic comedy that traces (hilariously) the academic and romantic woes of a group of California high schoolers. It also boasts what is, quite possibly, the most memorable pool scene ever, involving Phoebe Cates, a red bikini and The Cars’ “Moving in Stereo.”
As the tagline goes: “If they’ve really got what it takes, it’s going to take everything they’ve got.” The film chronicles the lives of students at New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts (it actually exists; the current student roster includes Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes) who are working for much more than a diploma.
Reese Witherspoon is pitch-perfect as Tracy Flick, a blindly ambitious high school student who refuses to let anyone (teachers included; that means you Matthew Broderick) get in the way of her destiny: class president.
Lean on Me (1989)
In this drama based on a true story, Morgan Freeman plays domineering principal “Crazy” Joe Clark, who is brought in to help revive an ailing inner-city school.
Quirky director par excellence Wes Anderson’s second feature stars Jason Schwartzman as precocious Max Fischer, a beret-wearing, extracurricular-obsessed student at prep school Rushmore who forges an unusual friendship with an eccentric mogul (Bill Murray) and falls hard for a teacher (“she was my Rushmore”).
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Step-siblings Sam and Patrick (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, respectively) adopt shy freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman), who is coping with mental illness and the suicide of his best friend, into their circle of friends in this honest, endearing portrait of high school, based on the Stephen Chbosky book of the same name.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
“Each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.” High school stereotypes dissolve, albeit temporarily, during weekend detention in this John Hughes masterpiece featuring brat pack queen Molly Ringwald and a killer soundtrack.