Tuesday, November 22, 2011

If Mapleton Jr. High was InStyle Magazine, No One Would Be on the Cover

Teachers are often, stereotypically, thought of as frumpy. And we've never blamed them. Do you want to get all dressed up to get covered in glue and peanut butter sandwiches or to babysit a bunch of punk teenagers? No. Why in the world would you do that? Sometimes teachers "let themselves go" because they are underpaid for hours of work and stress, are targeted and punished for the failing education system whilst trying their best (usually. hopefully.) and on top of that are raising families, young and old.

Anyways, my point here is that I understand that. But I'm going to do my best to avoid it for as long as possible, hopefully forever. In fact, my style has done nothing but improve since I've become a teacher. It's been a process.

I think it began with Ryan. When we started dating, I started trying harder. I also had more places to go and more people to see when we were dating, because we went out all the time. I wanted to look good and wanted Ryan's friends to think I was pretty. You know. All that vanity and stuff.

This summer, with that whole getting married business, my style started to evolve. I had to be more selective about the length and cuts of my clothes, and sometimes things like shirtdresses and sequined tanks are easily labeled as "Singles Clothes." So those were passed off to my little sisters. No tears were shed. (Some tears were shed.)

I went shopping a few times before school and right after school started, and I was so pleased. I used to come home with a bag full of gray and black hues. But this fall I started to mix it up. I came home with wide leg gray and blue trousers, skinny cropped khakis, a khaki twill pencil skirt and printed dresses. Instead of my standard v-neck or detailed tank and cardigan, I mixed it up with blouses and shirts, styles I'd been too scared to try, and even rolled the dice on some FANTASTIC leopard print booties I'd been coveting.

I worried that buying things that were more adult and conservative for school would make me boring. That hasn't been the case. These kids see me every day, so I weirdly care that I don't wear the exact same outfit twice. I HAVE to mix it up a little even though they wouldn't necessarily notice. Also, I'm like 5'4" and young. I NEED to dress well to set me apart from these little (lovable) punks. In a sea of skinny jeans and Toms, a pair of slacks can go a long way.

I didn't think I'd be able to rock heels - that's usually a church only thing - but when you get the right comfortable pair (read: wedges) they aren't bad, even when I'm on my feet running around my room all day. I love it. I love being able to look down instead of up at (most) kids.

That's right. Forget those stupid stories your mom told you about girls camp with me a few years ago. Pick my colored pencils up off the ground.

Also, when you're an intern and really care about teaching and want to get a job, style is one way to show you're serious about it, especially when you are an exhausted slave intern. I'm not afraid to volunteer for things and speak up in meetings, but the most obvious, daily indication of dedication to your job it dressing for it. (If I was dressing for the job I WANT, like everyone advises you to do, I'd be in basketball shorts preparing to analyze yet another season of The Office for NBC.)

Ok. Here's what I was really getting to.

My tips for stepping up your fashion game.

1. Start with inspiration. Decide what your style is. I've been thinking I like the preppy look for years, but in reality I never wear it. How do you do this, you say? Well, Pinterest, obviously. Start pinning outfits and items you like. Then look at your board as a whole and assess. Oh, you actually like more feminine stuff than you thought? Me too.

2. Clean house. Get rid of crap. You know right now there is a ton of stuff in your closet that
A. Doesn't fit.
B. You hate.
C. You have no idea where it came from.
D. Hasn't been worn (in the appropriate season) in forever.
E. Doesn't really work with your new style inspiration via Pinterest.
F. All of the above.
Get rid of it! I always have to make a "tentative" pile. I put stuff that fits the above categories in there, and if I haven't pulled from it in a month or so, it goes. Never look back. Trust me. It makes more room for good stuff so you can look awesome. Think of it that way.

Check out Kendi Everyday's "Create a Working Closet" for some awesome tips from a fashion wizard. That's how I started. And it's well worth the tears. (Just kidding)

3. The best part: Go Shopping! I always look through my Pinterest boards, saved pictures and blog posts to see what I should be looking for. I will usually make an "URGENT" list of 4 or 5 things that I absolutely NEED. (Ryan has a different definition for the word "need"....) Shop with what you FEEL. Does that denim jacket speak to you? Trick question, because denim jackets look gross on everyone. But a chambray button-up? Yeah! Buy it!

4. Use accessories to mix up old stuff. I may wear the same outfit, but I change my shoes, hair and jewelry and it becomes something new. Don't get boring. Forever 21 is a great place to find jewelry that works for people of all ages, relatively cheap. Non-committal. Be cheaply brave.

5. If you're EXTRA brave, which I am not, you can try the 30 for 30 challenge, where you remix a limited number of pieces for 30 days. Again, Kendi Everyday should be your guide.

6. Finally, keep evolving. My new rule that I'm alternately hating and loving is that for every item of clothing I buy, I have to throw one out (with the exception of staple pieces - blazers, pencil skirts, plain white tees, etc). This helps me decide if I REALLY want something, because if I do, I'm willing to ditch something for it. It also helps me eliminate pieces from my wardrobe that need to go. Thus my closet is only getting better and more manageable! Can you believe it?!

How do YOU mix it up with your closet? What about pumping up your style for the holidays? What fashion blogs/Pinterest accounts are you obsessed with for fashion? Please! I need even MORE reasons to online shop!


  1. i love this post! i think that maybe i will hire you as my personal fashion consultant/ shopper. because i definitely need it.

  2. This post=awesome. I've been wanting to change my style to things I really like and now I know how!

  3. Just purged my closet. It didn't even hurt. (I think that means I didn't purge it enough.)