I’m studying elementary and special education here at Liberty University and am loving it. As I’ve progressed in my degree, I have begun to spend more and more time in the elementary schools observing and teaching. Cue appropriate dress! In the school system, most teachers are in business causal. Luckily, I grew up with a momma who was a queen in my eyes when it came to dressing with style, but also appropriately. One of my earliest memories of women who rocked it in the workplace was my elementary school counselor. I remember her always wearing color and awesome, chunky jewelry. It made me realize that “adult clothes” can be fun.
I’m going to break down a few categories and then talk about my go-to’s.
Business Professional options: Suit, skirt and blouse, dress, and always a jacket/blazer.
Business Casual options: Don’t worry about a blazer for this one. Nice pants and a sweater will be just fine. A blouse and a cardigan, with pants too. No denim.
Since I’m working with kids all day and comfort is an important factor, we’re expected to be dressed in business casual. And sure, I totally see some teachers in jeans and t-shirts— BUT one of my favorite things that a professor of mine reminds us of is “Those teachers are already hired, you, however, are jobless.” Good point, Professor S.
Throughout my 3 years of doing practicums in schools I have learned that investing in a few staples is critical, and then stocking up on other basics builds a professional wardrobe quickly. Accessorizing is what makes professional dress less boring. Sure, you’ll find yourself in black pants with a grey sweater on plenty of times, but if you switch the SHOES and the EARRINGS, boom. New outfit.
Okay, let’s get to where to shop—
J. Crew & J. Crew Factory— J. Crew pants are something I think I will always invest in. These Cameron pants are my favorite and here’s why: they’re high waisted. I cannot stand low rise pants, especially when I’m always crouching down to work with students. I’m really not interested in having my butt out while in the classroom. Check them out here. I really want to stress here that having an appropriate wardrobe for a job does not mean you need to go and spend hundreds of dollars on J.Crew business-wear. I do, however, love these pants right here. J. Crew is currently doing 25% off full-price styles, btw.
Gap— I only shop Gap when there’s a sale. There’s almost always some kind of promotion going on. I love their cardigans and their blouses. For some reason I always gravitate towards their scarves too (a great way to accessorize when it gets chilly).
Target— Who What Wear, A New Day, Prologue, Knox Rose are my favorite lines for professional dress. Last year, when I felt desperate for more professional clothing, I realized what a jackpot the Target clearance section is. I find that I have more success with it in the winter/early spring time because so many heavy sweaters and blouses are always popping up in there.
Loft— I love all the pieces that my mom has passed down to me from Loft. I actually haven’t shopped there for myself yet, (I feel like shopping at Loft means I’m actually an adult so I’m taking my time) but I know one day I will. Oftentimes they are having good sales, so avoid buying anything full price! My professor mentioned that they have a teacher/student discount, so I’ll have to check that out!
Madewell— I like to splurge on Madewell every once in a while when I’m feeling fancy. Of course only when it’s on sale but I still feel like it’s a splurge. This blouse here is one of my favorites. I wore it to church with jeans and wedges and then also wore it with black pants.
Shoe Options (my favorites):
My mom introduced me to these shoes and I adore them. I tend to stay away from flats with backs to them because they can HURT! These, however, are so soft so that’s not an issue. I got the black leather first, and then just got the leopard for my birthday. I swear leopard is a neutral, so get those first ;)