A Fashion & Lifestyle Blog
This past week concluded my second year as a middle school teacher. Thinking back on the the naive 22 year old I was when I first entered my classroom, much has changed. The way I walked, talked, and dressed is quite a bit different from how I am now. I struggled to find my fit with the teacher
When I first started teaching, I set my mind to dressing like a cross-breed of Ms.Frizzle and Bill Cosby. The end result, as seen in the first semester of my teaching, was nausea-inducing. I had gone out and thrifted vintage skirts and dresses with pockets and wacky prints on them. I was trying too hard to fit the archetype of a teacher that I had created in my mind. It wasn’t until after New Years of my first year of teaching that I decided to sit down and craft my signature style. This is what I came up with it:
My new style consisted of things I already owned and already wore. I wasn’t trying to be someone else; instead I was trying to bring the real me to work every day. My students loved it! They didn’t always understand my matching or the way I put my outfits together but they respected my style and my boldness. They would ask me how and why I had chosen to wear certain items together and I would patiently answer that the silver glitter in my loafers complemented the gray stripe in lapel of my blazer. I’m glad I finally decided to represent my own sense of style. By doing so, my students could see the difference between stylish and trendy. There were times that my outfits missed the mark, but at least I was doing me and not trying to be someone else. And besides, the Ms. Frizzle persona took too long to create every morning. My sense of style was more effortless and natural.
Tip #1. Cardigans are your best friends
Classrooms are cold. At least mine was. Even in my Houston classroom in the middle of March, the A/C in the building would be cranked up so high that I could always been seen with a cardigan on. Cardigans have the magical ability to make increase the sophistication level of almost any outfit. My closet is full of plain cardigan, printed cardigans, light cardigans, heavy cardigans, and so on. I even keep a beige neutral cardigan in my classroom, just in case. A cardigan has a professional air to make your outfit work appropriate.
Tip #2. Layering can maximize your wardrobe
Layering outfits make it seem as though you have a lot of clothes. Layering is a great excuse to wear the same clothes more than once, but in a different way. For example, a printed button down shirt is an ideal layering-agent. Check out the outfit below:
My version of layering:
Tip #3. Keep a pair of flats around
After being on your feet for several hours, you’re going to wish you had slipped those cute loafers instead of your Jimmy Choos earlier than morning. Check out my post on alternatives to high heels. Click here.
Tip #4. Invest in a sturdy teacher bag
A a teacher, any old bag won’t do. A teacher bag is expected to hold papers, planners, grade books, numerous colored pens, and other miscellaneous items. When the straps on my large tote back broke from the weight of my bag, I headed to Target for some well-priced sturdy bag options. Another great choice is a diaper bag. It sounds crazy, but diaper bags are built to hold a lot of stuff. They have many pockets and compartments– the perfect compliment to a teacher lifestyle.
Tip #5. Do the “reach and squat” test
I taught middle school boys, so I had to be especially conscious of my attire. When you check yourself out in the mirror in the morning, be mindful of the range of motions you will be performing throughout the day— reaching, leaning over, and squatting. Students won’t always necessarily tell you if you are exposed. In my experience, they like to whisper and point it out to other students before they finally tell you. You have to be self-aware at all times. One time, I went through an entire class period with my zipper down and no one said a word to me about it. Ironically, the kids were very attentive and into the lesson, or so I’d thought. Lesson: cover up.
Even though I am now transitioning out of my role as a teacher into my role as a graduate students, I will probably dress somewhat like a teacher. I’m most excited to wear shorts and jeans freely again. I’m looking forward to being dress code-less, but at the same time I must admit that the dress code taught me how to dress. Dress codes are not stiflers of style, but instead a challenge to think outside the box while staying in line.
If you’re a professional who has a work dress code, how do you stay within dress code without compromising your style?
1. Make an evite or Facebook event
Be sure that you explain what a clothes swap is in the info section of the evite. Many people are apprehensive about swaps because they have no clue what to expect.
Watch this quick video to learn more about clothes swaps:
2. Find a Venue
Depending on the kind of atmosphere you want to create, you need to pick your location wisely. I have been to a clothes swap in a small boutique with strangers (as an attendee) and I’ve hosted many in living rooms of homes with friends. Both were entirely different experiences. The boutique was interesting because I was getting to shop in strangers’ closets. It was nice to meet the other ladies and sample treats from local vendors. The swaps I had in homes felt comfortable and fun. I saw old friends and made new ones. I have concluded that there is no right or wrong location for a swap. You simply need to find a space that is big enough to store and display the clothing, a mirror for guests, and perhaps a private area (like a restroom) where they can try on clothing.
Another thing to consider is the size of the venue. In my experience, it’s best to over-invite. Cancellations are expected of any event. On average, I have about 15 guests at my swaps. This is a good number for such an event. 15 people will provide variety among the clothes, yet it is a small enough number for the event to still have an intimate feel. Make sure the venue can hold the number of invited guests and their belongings.
3. Collect donations
There are a number of ways to get clothes to your swap. First, look in your own closet. Purge it of any items you no longer wear. Wash the items and put them aside for the swap. Then you can send a reminder to your guests to start putting aside some items about a week before the event. Guests often ask me what to bring. I throw the question back to them.
Most guests opt to come to the event with their donations in hand.
4. Sort through the items (guests can do this themselves)
5. Mix and Mingle
You and your guests should set aside the first 15 minutes of the swap to sort through the clothing. My guests and I enjoyed some light snacks while we waited for the swapping period to pass. The snacking continued as the swap went on.
6. Setup and Organize the items into their designated areas
If everyone sorts and organizes what they brought, the process is much faster.
Shopping is the easiest and the best part. There are a couple options when deciding how gets are going to shop:
Option #1: One-for-One trade- This means that the more you bring, the more you get to trade.
Option #2: First Dibs Goes to the Highest Giver- The person with the most donations gets to pick their items first
Option #3: Free-for-All- Everyone can shop to the hearts’ content, regardless of how much they brought.
All of my swaps have been free-for-alls. I have never had anyone complain or fight over clothes. The free-for-all has the potential of appearing a little chaotic, but as long as your guests put back the items they don’t want, this option is a lot of fun.
Don’t forget to shop for yourself too. It can be easy to forget that you are a shopper as well when you’re floating around doing host-duties. By all means, help recommend clothes for your guests
8.Choose a charity or resale store to donate the remaining clothes
10. Fill out a donation receipt
If the donation is big enough, it just may help you out on your taxes.
Planning a clothes swap might take some work, but you and your friends will get more out of it than you put in. Give it a try!
This past weekend, I threw what must have been my 6th Clothes Swap. When I started planning for the swap, I reached out to Pennywise Resale Center, one of my favorite thrift stores in Houston. I have been shopping at Pennywise for years, so naturally it came to mind when I was thinking about what store to donate the remaining clothes to. Few people actually know about Pennywise’s philanthropic efforts. Pennywise is dedicated to “Assisting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.” I sat down with Liz Moreno, the chairman of Hispanic Business Division- Fort Bend County Womens Center. I was impressed by the great work the Fort Bend County Womens Center, in conjuction with Pennywise, is doing to help the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the city of Houston. Keep an eye out for my upcoming feature on Pennywise.
I had a blast organizing and hosting the clothes swap. It’s one of those experiences you have to see to believe. My post today is mostly going to consist of pictures of the event. Enjoy!
The guests came bearing donations.
We sorted their items in the designated areas:
I brought a lot of clothes to the swap and found some great pieces at the swap. I honestly prefer clothes swaps to thrifting. They are a great way to introduce new items into my closet without going broke. Now that I’m moving up North for graduate school, I’m changing up my style quite a bit. This swap helps me, but it helps others even more. At the end of the swap, we had more than 500 articles of clothing left. Because I donate all the proceeds to a charity, my love of clothes is doing a world of good to people I may never meet. That makes it all worth it.
I love being short! I used to resent being vertically challenge, but I as I grew in years yet not in stature, I began to see the “5 feet 4 and under club” as an elite society. Not everyone can be small and petite, so I consider it a badge of honor lol. Wearing flats and kitten heels allows me to stay low to the ground while staying stylish.
When I first started teaching middle school, I was taken back by how tall sixth and 7th graders were. They towered over my 5 foot 2 inches (and 3/4th) frame. I quickly started wearing heels to disguise my height. I would be on my feet for hours on end, five days a week.
I began having achy feet and back problems. I went to the podiatrist to have my foot x-rayed. The doctor told me I had bunions on both feet and recommended that I get bunionectomy surgery! Whaaaat? I was 23 years old. Whenever I thought of bunions, I thought of the 90s tv series “The Nanny” and how Fran’s elderly parents were always always complaining about having bunions. The doctor explained that high heels were putting unnecessary pressure on on the balls of my feet. She suggested that I ditch high heels and tight shoes.
Whenever I thought about the discomfort and pain that accompanied high heels, I decided the switch to flats would be the less painful option. I ventured into the wonderful land of Oxford shoes and loafers, and there I fell in love. These classic shoes were the perfect complement to any outfit. Thanks to stores like Target and DSW, my flats collection has grown exponentially. They are now my shoes of choice.
On the occasion that I am in need of some height elevation, I typically spring for a pair of kitten heels. Many of my friends refer to kitten heels as “baby heels”. They may not be as grown as six-inch stilettos, but they have a feminine and playful air to them. I wear kitten heels so that I do not have to compromise style for the sake of comfort.
Other shoe alternatives to heels are wedges and boots. If I must wear high heels, I prefer platform wedges. With the platform, my feet can hardly tell they’re elevated.
The transition away from high heels has been a good decision for me. I still occasionally wear heels, but I try to do sparingly or for short periods of time. I don’t feel like I am missing out because I’m wearing flats. Shoe designers have been doing a great job of making flats look just as fashionable as a a pair of heels. I am most likely going to wait until Christmas break to get the foot surgery. Until then, I will keep wearing flats and try to avoid googling pictures of “bunions” (Hey, don’t judge me! I was curious!).
Everyone who knows me knows that I re-invent my style in some way. Recently, I’ve been digging the tv series Mad Men’s 50s-inspired style. I love the bold prints and patterns, the full skirts, the clean feminine lines of the clothing, and the classic pieces. From head to toe, this mod style is womanly and playful at the same time.
Check out Mod Cloth’s full list of Work-Approriate Outfits (click link)
Pinterest also provided some great Mod style-inspired boards (click below to view the boards)
As I transition into graduate school, I will be revamping my style once again. My upcoming clothes swap will be my last one in Houston. This time I know exactly what I’m looking for in the swap. Thankfully, I’ve already thrifted a lot of full skirts, colored pants, bright tights and interesting flats into my wardrobe. Now I just need to introduce some printed tops and flirty dresses. Some new jewelry wouldn’t hurt.
I’m glad Jenn and I got to catch up. This chick is my partner in crime. We go back to sophomore year in college when we first became resident assistants. We had so many crazy moments in that job and made some great memories. We always joke that she will be my Vietnamese bridesmaid and I will be her Nigerian bridesmaid. We’ll see who makes it to the alter first lol.
The restaurant, Benjys on Washington, was a great choice for a dinner with friends. It has a laid back atmosphere, with light upbeat music in the background. It has dimmed lighting, which gave the room an intimate vibe, even though there were people all around. There’s also a rooftop dinning option, which I enjoyed the last time I went to Benjys. The meals were moderately priced. All the plates in the picture above were below $20, I believe. With its complementary birthday dessert and complementary valet, I definitely recommend this place!
Yesterday, I went to Macy’s Trendspotter event. Houston Fashion Bloggers let me know about this event. I thought I’d stop by after work.
Looking at my past outfits of the day (OOTDs), I’ve realized I have been a bit tomboyish as of late. I love polka dot print. I was feeling funky today so I wore my black and white polka pants.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Houston’s new style. Houston is quickly becoming a hip place for fashionable young professionals. Thank you to all those who allowed me to capture their style for my blog.
Special thanks to Macy’s and Houston Style Magazine for putting on the event. Check out the talented people on the Trendspotter = host committee:
Keagan Noelle Stylist, Feyi Omodele Stylist, Jon “Cabby” Caballero The Class Room Men's Boutique, Phillip Adesulu JPR Styling, The Houston Fashion Bloggers, Zoe Jackson-Jarra Stylist, Chigozie Anaele Designer Kachi Designs, DJ Fanci, Ahrif Sarmui Writer/Contributor Huffington Post, Chris Huston R&B/Pop artist, SoutherNewyorker Kavachi, Chris Manfredi Futurist & CEO Connect Strategies, Brittany Sweetnam Stylist, Southern Gents’, Shalanda Turner Live Life in Style Blog, Marquis Trill MC/YouTube Personality, Nadia Palacios Lauterbach & Gabriella Aliberti Mon Venin
We parked the cars and walked a couple blocks to the PopShop Houston event on Spring Street. I felt like I had stepped into Austin. I’ve never seen so many hipsters in one place in Houston before. The Heights is turning into mini-Austin.
We met Laura, the owner of Birds on a Wire, and I she was very sweet . Laura was a teacher, like Bunmi and I, and we were surprised to see that Birds on a Wire was a non-profit. Head over to her blog to see the story behind her shop (it’s a good one!). Her jewelry display was creative and chic. I loved the necklaces hanging from the branches and the door-knocker necklace.
Outside there were vintage business trailers all over the place.
Height of Vintage
We stopped by PhotoMoto, a vintage truck with a photo booth set up inside with props included. We paid $5 and got a set of two photo strips.
I stopped in the middle of the street for some jumping pictures. I’m a little rusty.
Special thanks to Bunmi for the great pictures!
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