With back-to-school days around the corner, it’s not just youngsters worrying about what to wear to school to make a grand statement for the new year, many young, stylish graduates go into the teaching field, not quite sure how to meld their love for fashion and their need to look like a professional teacher. Even for veteran teachers, these tips and timeless looks can be an inspiration to update your look for this new year.
Everybody knows that look, that “teachery” look—long shapeless dresses, unflattering jumpers, unbecoming florals, and everything matched with a too-big cardigan.
It’s a fine art, achieving effortless teacher style while still maintaining your professional look.
Two Tips to Keep in Mind:
1. Modesty is essential, especially if you’re working with high school students.
Those teenage boys have enough estrogen to distract them from their studies, no professional teacher wants to be another distraction. Keep this in mind when choosing tops, especially V-neck tops. The majority of the time you’re going to be bending over helping a student with a problem.
2. Length and comfort are key, especially for those teachers working with elementary students.
The majority of the time, teachers need to squat down or bend down to meet a student at eye level or help them with their projects. A lot of projects are done on the floor as well.
Timeless Look #1: Skirt and Cardigan Top Combo
This ensemble is a good example from Anthropologie. They usually have great styles for teachers. Their prices may not be the most practical, but viewing their gallery can be an inspiration for any teacher willing to find similar pieces at thrift stores and vintage shops. The pairing of the pink top and grass green bottom is an unexpectedly refreshing combo. If you’re looking for a similar combo at a vintage shop or thrift store, look for the most flattering and comfortable skirt styles as marked below:
You’ll notice that the marked skirt styles fall into the A-line category of skirts, but the last two are my favorite because they are flattering on many women. They curve around the hips like a pencil skirt but the bottom flare makes them comfortable to squat in or move around effortlessly. Plus this style achieves the hourglass figure on many frames without feeling pinched around the knees. It basically offers a flattering fit with movement.
The style is best at a length that is right below the knees to the mid-calf. This length is probably the best bet for any teacher dress or skirt because it’s comfortable and professional. Knee length can get tricky when you have to squat or bend down. Above the knee is veering off into questionably modest attire, especially on taller frames, and anything below the mid-calf has the tendency to look too much like a potato sack. So when choosing skirts- the above 3 styles are the best combination of professionalism and comfort.
As far as choosing a cardigan, I would avoid the long sleeve cardigan and opt for a 3/4 length sleeve which is the most flattering sleeve length for any figure, or a cap sleeve like the example outfit. Cap sleeves are more flattering than regular short sleeves. Notice the difference:
Unless you are wearing a long sleeve shirt or a 3/4 sleeve shirt, when you wear a short sleeve shirt, you should always have cap sleeves. The cap sleeves (left model) flatter the female form because they draw the eye to the waist. Notice how the regular short sleeves (right model) create a boxy look. You want to avoid a boxy look. The only time I wear regular short sleeves is when I’m working out, otherwise, you’ll be hard-pressed to look stylish in a regular short sleeved shirt/blouse/cardigan.
Still, the fail-proof length is 3/4 sleeve:
Timeless Look #2: Pants and Blouse
You really can’t get more comfortable than being in big, wide-legged pants. The key is to find a fit that is comfortable and flattering. Save your boot-leg cuts for casual weekends and your slim fit pants for a sexy night on the town. Wide leg pants are professional, modest, comfortable and stylish. Here’s one way to wear the look:
You can pair off the wide leg pants with a fitted blouse. My favorite teacher blouses are the bodysuit kind, so you’re not constantly trying to tuck in your shirt! Why more blouses aren’t made like this, I don’t know! It’s genius! Here are ones from Victoria’s Secret:
For those of you who ever watched Sex in the City, the outfit below is my favorite Carrie Bradshaw ensemble! She pulls of the timeless look number 2 with a little trendy pizazz, adding the suspender corset top and cute spotted blouse. LOVE this outfit! It’s one hot teacher outfit!
You can also jazz up the wide leg pants with some billowy tops or a fitted vest. Very chic.
Timeless Look #3: Breezy Floral Dresses
When done correctly, floral dresses make perfect teacher outfits. Keep the print simple. Here are my favorite looks.
Check out this floral dress paired with pants.
Kimono style dresses look great on every figure. These small-printed kimono style dresses are available on our homepage.
I love these two dresses by Trashy Diva. I just wish they were a little longer–right below the knee. They reminded me of a dress that Drew Barrymore wore in the movie, 50 First Dates.
And of course, the lovely shirt dress. Paired off with a waist cinching belt like Miss Bosworth on the right and keeping with delicate small prints like Miss Biel, as a general rule, you want to stick with small prints, especially florals. As you can see with Miss Alba’s dress, large floral prints can be a bit too overwhelming for any figure, even her itty-bitty one. Miss Bosworth’s dress has large print but with it’s barely there colors, it’s a forgiving print.
I’ll be honest, you’ll be hard pressed to find some floral print dresses that aren’t too loud, too short, aren’t sleeveless, and don’t make you feel engulfed. But when you do, they are great, comfortable pieces to add to your wardrobe. If you can’t find any floral dresses with sleeves, the next best bet is to pair a sleeveless version with a 3/4 cardigan or a bolero top.
So there you have two tips to keep in mind, and three timeless looks for your polished, professional teacher wardrobe!