Tag Archives: cardigan

5 Tips on Surviving Teacher Dress Code


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:

teacher style

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

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Tip: Add bright colors to break up the monotony of an outfit

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:

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My version of layering:

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Tip: Layering with sleeveless tops can prevent overheating

Tip #3. Keep a pair of flats around

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Tip: Keep a few loafers in your closet. They always come in handy

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

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Tip: When buying a teacher bag, pay attention to the handles to see if the can handle wear and tear.

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

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Tip: Tucking in your shirt and wearing a belt make for less peek-a-boo moments

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?

Top 10 Desires for 2013

At our house, we have a scrapbook resolution tradition that we do on New Years Eve. We make a poster of what we want for the upcoming year. I love this tradition. Here’s my poster. See if you can decipher some of my desires for 2013. I’ll tell you a few of them.


This year, I will be turning 24 and I know that God is going to show out in a mighty way. I have a few things that I desire to accomplish before the year is over. Note I didn’t mention resolutions. For some reason, my mind, body, and soul go out of their way to spite my resolutions so I’m going to call them desires instead.

1. Get into an Out-of-State Graduate program

2. Get more organized

My OCD planner
My intense planner

3. Establish my style which I call “Professoriate”

– Professoriate style is quirky, eclectic, and includes tortoise-shell glasses, blazers, cardigans, and loafers.

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4. Come to terms with my vertical disinclination (and stop pretending to be 5’5)

"Little" bro and I.
“Little” bro and I.

5. Get my smile & joy back

I'm already working on it ;)
I’m already working on it 

6. Experiment more with my hairScreen shot 2013-01-14 at 8.07.36 PM

7. Learn to do more things with my hands (sew w/ a machine, build, design…)

8. Sky dive for my 24th birthday (I won’t be stopped this year!)

9. Be on stage more (The Voice?)



On a side note, for the sake of my readers and instagram followers I hope I can find an alternative to those sophomoric mirror picture. I hope someone loves me enough to start taking them for me ;)

“I like your style, Ms. K”

A student said this to me today, only after she had stared at me long and hard for a few minutes. I think she was trying to decide if she really liked it or if she was just being courteous.

When I first became a teacher, I decided I wanted to be the Ms. Frizzle of education. I even bought my very own Ms. Frizzle dress. It’s flowery print and has a big skirt. I bought it because it has deep teacher-friendly pockets.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t go out and frizzle-rize my wardrobe; I simply added more school-appropriate piece. I still wear most of my college wardrobe. The only difference between then and now is that I paired up my college clothes with some for crisp and professional pieces. I went and bought some button-down shirts, some slacks, some cardigans, and comfortable heels, but for the most part, my wardrobe remained the same.

I may be a teacher, but that doesn’t mean I have to look like one. Yes, I want to be professional but I don’t want to compromise my style. I still wear red lipstick like I love to do. At first I was afraid I would scare the kids. I was right, at first they were shocked at my bright lip color, but then they got used to it. They got used to my colorful dresses, my skinny belts on top of cardigans, and my ever-changing hairstyle changes.

Some days I have big hits and other days the kids whisper in the hallway that my hair makes me look like King Tut, the young Egyptian pharaoh. That’s ok. They’re just jealous that they have to stay in the same old dusty uniform all year and I get to change my look every day :D. But on the cool, there was a time last year that I considered adopting a signature uniform like Janelle Monae had done.

But then I’d have to give up some versatility…I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.