Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On pants {WIW}...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “How to Dress like a Teacher.” I had an overwhelming response to this post and many of you asked if I would make it a regular feature. I know many of you are teachers, and there are probably others who are not technically teachers but work at some kind of job where teacher-like clothes are necessary {meaning professional but not too formal}. Others of you work with children in some other capacity and you realize how you dress is going to influence them.

So I am back again today for How to Dress like a Teacher - Round Two. Today we are talking about pants.
When it’s hot outside, I prefer to wear skirts and dresses to work because of the whole air flow/built in air conditioning system factor. However, sometimes it’s just easier to wear pants. You don’t have to worry about sudden gusts of wind, falling or sitting and flashing students, tucking the back of your skirt into your underwear, etc. etc. when you wear pants. And if you live in a cold state, like I used to, pants are pretty much a necessity for many months out of the year.

This is the pants section of my closet. And here is a close-up of some of the different colors and patterns of my pants that make dressing up for work a little more fun.

Rule #1: Build a good foundation. If you have a job where you are dressing up five days a week, you should build a good foundation of dress pants. I’ve seen many people who only own one or two pairs and they get all shabby and raggedy looking because the same pair of pants gets worn 2-3 times a week. Remember, part of our mission with students should be to teach them that women can dress WELL and still be modest. Having one raggedy black-fading-to-gray with frayed bottoms pair of dress pants is not dressing well.

I have a ton of dress pants. So many pairs, in fact, that one year my students noticed and wanted to know how many I owned, so we made a game out of it. I promised to wear every single pair of my pants without repeating {I kept them in order in my closet and everything} and each day during 2nd period, my class would make a tally on a sheet we kept by the whiteboard. It turned out I had 21 pairs of dress pants, and when you consider they were being worn four days a week {we had to wear skirts on Thursdays for chapel}, that means I had more than a month’s worth of pants. I slowly built this collection over my first four years of teaching. Almost, if not every pair was bought on sale for $30 or less at Gap, Banana Republic or J.Crew {or the outlet version of these stores}. Maybe it seems excessive, but I haven’t had to buy a pair of dress pants in years now, because I have such a good foundation and none of them ever gets worn out from overuse.

Of course, you don’t need 21 pairs of pants, but I would suggest a black pair, a chocolate and/or light brown pair, a gray pair, a striped pair, and a plaid pair. I also highly suggest a pair of cords and a cropped pant, if these are allowed at your workplace {I have worked at some schools where cords are not allowed, but I love it if they are}. If you have a variety of pants, you will be more enthusiastic about mixing outfits for work and showing others that professional can be pretty and that pretty should be modest.

Blouse:: Kohl's // Cardigan:: Nordstrom BP // Cords:: J.Crew Outlet // Shoes:: Banana Outlet 
// Necklace:: Nordstrom Last Chance // Watch:: Skagen {Nordstrom}

Rule #2: Size it right. Please, please, please wear the correct size of pants. Don’t wear anything too big and saggy – unattractive. And please don’t wear anything too small and tight – also unattractive. Wearing the wrong size and style can also be a hindrance during the work day. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. You put on something in the morning and realize later at work that it doesn’t fit quite right, so you spend all day tugging and pulling at your clothing self consciously. 

Also, please wear the right style of pants for your body shape. I have learned over the years that some brands fit me better than others. GAP dress pants almost always fit me flawlessly. Banana’s used to but they changed their styles recently and now they don’t anymore. When I figured out that the Lauren Conrad skinny cords matched my body shape perfectly I ended up buying a second pair in another color. My main concern is this… when pants don’t fit right students sometimes get to see things they shouldn’t. I don’t know how many times in the past seven years I have seen a female teacher leaning over or squatting down only to expose her thong hanging out of her ill-fitting pants. Really? Your pants should fit snuggly around your waist so you don’t accidentally give adolescent boys a peep show. And if you can’t invest in new pants quite yet, a belt goes a long way….

Sorry these pictures are a bit over exposed. Dang Arizona sun. Just kidding... I LOVE IT!
Top:: TJ Maxx // Caridgan:: Banana Republic // Pants:: GAP // Shoes:: Nine West 
// Necklace:: American Eagle {gift}

Who knew I could write so much about pants???

Linking up to: The Pleated Poppy, The Letter 4, and Five Days, Five Ways...


Erin said...

I love your teacher style! You really do show students that you can be fashionable and modest at the same time!! Gorgeous pics!

Claudia at Lashes and Beard said...

Great style, Jen! You look gorgeous in your pictures as always.

I know I don't work with kids, but I find I'm able to carry many of your tips over to working with seniors. They enjoy seeing younger generations dressing in a fashionable, but sensible, and respectful way.

I know one of my residents, a woman who is literally 101 years old, saw me wearing multiple necklaces in a layered style. A few days later she came down, dressed in typical grandma attire (you know... sweatshirt with applique kitties, pleated slacks and orthopedic shoes), but with about 5 different necklaces dangling around her neck. It was sweet to see her emulating a more youthful appearance, and even though it wasn't a combination of necklaces that Vogue might approve of, I'm certain they'd approve of the self-confidence and happiness it inspired in her. :-)

Jessi said...

Cute cute outfits! And I am impressed with how many pairs of pants you have and with your extensive pants knowledge :)

Pippa said...

Yah for teacher style!!!

And my goodness, that is a wonderful selection of pants you have too - I also adore that they are all hung so neatly and color coordinated.

Super excited to have found your blog and follow you!

Annie said...

I love this! I'm a teacher at a Kumon learning center and I've spent almost the past year exercising my ability to dress well & modestly with a small professional wardrobe and on a nearly nonexistent budget {both of those limitations because I'm still in college, but it's thankfully my last semester!} I'm looking forward to reading other recommendations you have for teachers' fashion!