Dress Code: Teacher Wardrobe

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(more essentials and inspiration below)

First year teachers (or teachers/anyone who want to update their work wear attire) this post is for you!

I started my teacher wardrobe in August of 2013, right before starting my graduate program at the University of Washington (GO DAWGS!) I was a recent graduate, 22 years old, stood (well… stands…) 5’1 AND 1/2″, and well… one might say I effortlessly blended in with a crowd of middle schoolers. When I found out my placement was at a middle school, I had a total mouth drop and went straight into panic mode. But what if they are taller than me? What if I don’t know how to teach thesis statements? What if I am too young and they don’t listen to me? What if… I get mistaken as one of them… I ended up building my teacher wardrobe with very basic, very work-like & professional pieces of clothing. If I had plans to meet up with friends after work, I would pack an extra pair of clothes in my teacher bag and change before leaving… but hey- it was worth!

I will never forget the day I was wearing my navy polkadotted pencil skirt from Banana Republic and our sweet little lunch lady asked for my student ID number, again. What middle schooler wears a pencil skirt? I had tried everything I could to avoid being mistaken for a twelve year old and here I was… I realized the “teacher” clothes I thought would miraculously make me look like the a real deal adult weren’t working out the way I had hoped. I sat staring at my closet thinking, “wow… I have a lot of clothes that I don’t love… that I would never wear outside of work… ugh…”

I started mix-and-matching my “teacher wardrobe” and my “every day Ashley wardrobe” and found out a pencil skirt looks pretty dang cute with a bacon shirt… and throwing a jean jacket on basically anything made for an instant “Yup this is it!” when I looked in the mirror.

I can’t go back in time but if you’re looking to start or upgrade your teacher wardrobe (or just shop) and wondering what to buy or how to stay true to yourself and the dress code, I have found some stylish, professional, and great priced upgrades to your wardrobe– I have picked my favorite 48 essential pieces to help with, or inspire, your back-to-school shopping!

I could go on forever but the reasoning behind each piece and how to mix-and-match (There’s over 150 different outfit opportunities within those 48 pieces)— but for now… Let’s focus on the 3 most important teacher wardrobe lessons I’ve learned over the last couple years.

It’s Time: Purchasing and wearing a watch is my number 1 Teacher Wardrobe must-have! The amount of times I lost track of time, couldn’t see the clock in my classroom, and used my watch to collect behavior data makes a compelling case. If you were like me and didn’t own a watch until you were 22– it’s time!

The Teacher Bag: Teacher staple!!! Every teacher has got to have an amazing Teacher Bag. However, finding a fashionable bag that is big enough (and has enough pockets for storage so your life doesn’t look like a sinking ship) is incredibly difficult. My first bag was just a basic tote with zero pockets… In which I could never find my chapstick, hand sanitizer leaked multiple times, and loose papers galore! I honestly didn’t invest in a good teacher bag until the beginning of my 2nd year teaching… I know… awful… I highly, highly, highly, recommended The Day Tripper by Stella & Dot– link below! However- if you have a lot of cute pencil pouches– bag number 6 has limited pockets but is super cute 😉

Goody Two-shoes: Buy. Comfortable. Shoes. AND RAIN BOOTS! I hope that no one is on recess duty against their will– but in the chance you are… Keep rain boots in the closet (or under your desk)! I learned this from one of my co-workers after leaving middle school for elementary land… and not realizing that some days you have to venture out to recess. Thankfully the rain has slightly slowed down in the Seattle area… but just incase I keep my rain boots in my classroom!


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twentynine | thirty thirtyone | thirtytwo | thirtythree | thirtyfour
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fortyseven | fortyeight

What are your favorite teacher wardrobe essentials!? I can’t wait to hear from  you!

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Ashley Boston

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