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We get it—fashion oftentimes falls to the wayside in the wake of everything else teachers have to do, and pay for! But it’s still important (and a pleasure) to be well dressed. So what’s a teacher to do?
Whether you’re looking to update your wardrobe for next school year, or just add a few new pieces to your closet, these fashion tips from WeAreTeachers readers and the style expert for NEA Member Benefits, Rosana Vollmerhausen, will ensure you’re dressed professionally, comfortably and affordably.
1. Create a capsule wardrobe. Think about your closet right now —I bet you have a few favorite pieces, mixed in with a bunch of others that you’ve worn a limited number of times. By creating a capsule, or mini, wardrobe, you focus on essential items that don’t go out of style, mixed with seasonal pieces. It’s an easy way to keep your closet slim, and cut back on shopping.
2. Choose durability. If you move around the classroom a lot, you’ll want to buy durable clothing. Twill breathes well, has some weight to it and is like denim. Some teachers aren’t allowed to wear jeans, so this is a dressier option that’s still comfortable. For legging-type pants, invest in a pair made out of a ponte knit, which is a heavier-weight fabric with stretch for durability and easy movement.
3. Blend comfort and style. Ladies, try ankle boots with a stacked heel. They’ll add style to your outfit and take care of your feet all day. If you’re choosing skinny jeans, opt for a pair with spandex, similar to these dark skinny jeans (via neamb.com).
4. Dress for your body type. Try a fit-and-flare dress if you’re conscious of your curves below the waist. It will flatter in all the right places!
5. Be careful not to expose. “Piko tops, black slacks and flats are my favorite outfit. It’s so comfortable, and you don’t have to worry about bending down and exposing anything.” –Lauren S., via Facebook
“In the fitting room, test to see if your outfit is ‘teachertastic.’ In front of the mirror, I have to be able to stoop down, raise both my arms, jump and bend forward without showing anything I shouldn’t be.” —Julie K., via Facebook
6. Accessorize. Accessories are the easiest, most inexpensive way to spruce up your look. A pendant necklace with a pop of color or a printed scarf can transform your outfit. If you’re looking to relax your look a bit, use this helpful tip.
7. Consider the grade. “Teaching pre-K, I wear t-shirts with khakis because they are easier to keep nicer longer and not as expensive to replace when paint and other stains get on them.” —Amy H., via Facebook
8. Shop wisely. Larger retailers have discount outlets that sell clothes for less, like Nordstrom Rack. You also can find on-trend deals online. Try browsing factory.jcrew.com, overstock.com and asos.com. Signing up for sale alerts from retailers can also help you take advantage of upcoming deals!
9. Select shoes sensibly. Instead of athletic sneakers, choose a printed slip-on sneaker. You can wear flats that have a little cushion for support, like loafers. But beware of ballet flats: They often have little to no support and sometimes are harder on your feet than a small heel. What should you be prepared to pay for supportive shoes? Find the recommended price range here.
10. Know your comfort brands. On the topic of shoes, it’s best to know which brands are comfortable and reasonably priced. Some of Rosana’s favorites are Sofft, Trotters and Aerosoles. Find out which other brands she swears by.
11. Blazer or cardigan? “If you’re going to wear a blazer, make sure it’s comfortable. Otherwise a cardigan is a nice choice as long as it’s professional in appearance.” —Lisa I., via Facebook
12. Go bold. Color is the easiest way to work a trend into your look. Choose one courageous piece to completely transform your outfit. Looking for an example on how to do this? Watch this quick style video (via neamb.com).
13. Prepare for emergencies. “Always have an emergency change of clothes in your car or school closet—you never know when you’ll need it!” —Adriane G., via Facebook
14. Dress up. Men and women alike, if you’re being considered for a promotion, step it up a notch. Instead of a pull-over sweater or button down, opt for a tailored blazer. It’s a more polished, professional look.
15. Add shorts.“If I wear a skirt, I normally have leggings or shorts underneath since I’m up and down off the floor so often.”—Trish A., via Facebook
What style tips do YOU have for fellow teachers? Find even more wardrobe advice, including makeover videos at NEA Member Benefits. Plus, NEA members can enter the Member Appreciation Style Giveaway for a chance to win a $1,000 Visa gift card!
Good luck, and remember—these quick tips don’t have to break the bank.