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Cracking the Dress Code: A Teacher’s Wardrobe According to The Tightwad Gazette

by Kayla K on March 4, 2012

As a recovering thrift shop addict and aspiring minimalist, I have become fascinated by capsule wardrobes.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to choose staple items that mix and match for endless outfit options.

I first read of this notion in The Tightwad Gazette.  A reader wrote in with a formula to make 24 outfits from 9 pieces: Two blazers, three tops, and four bottoms.

I adapted this formula to fit my job as a high school family and consumer sciences teacher.

Cracking the Dress Code Capsule Wardrobe

My dress code is quite casual.  The only thing set in stone is no “jeans.” However, black denim, jean jackets, and jean skirts are appropriate.  Go figure.

My wardrobe challenges include:

  • I teach culinary arts so I am always dirty.
  • My classroom temperature ranges from very cold to very hot, depending on how many ovens are running.
  • I am very active; lots of bending, stooping, climbing, and walking.
  • I don’t mind looking 24, but I don’t want to blend in with my students.
  • I have a tall slim build that fits best into juniors clothes.
  • I am rushed in the mornings.
  • I believe teachers should dress modestly.

So many demands!  Many of these can be alleviated with a capsule wardrobe.

Mixing the basics pictured above and adding a few accessories gives me a week of work-appropriate wear:Teacher Clothes Capsule Wardrobe

The pieces for this wardrobe were “purchased” from Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Zappos.  The extra accessories are from the design website Polyvore.

My preference would be to shop consignment for high-quality staples at the same price of Old Navy clothing.

How do you “crack” the dress code at your work?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tiffany March 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Can you please post the links for all these items? Love your choices!

2 Ann June 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

This is just what I’ve been thinking about lately – what clothes do I need?
Around here I think it is going to be hard not to have 5 different tops for workdays. Probably ok when you start out as a teacher, but not in my job, so I’ll need about 7 tops. Then, jeans is perfectly acceptable. 2 jeans – semi skinny and trad, and one black stretch office pants. 2 skirts: denim and black stretch. Winter lasts 7 months so I need 2 seasonal sets of tops and at least 2 long sleeved and 2 short sleeved wool underwear tops black and offwhite, and one set of super underwear. 2 fleece sweaters/jackets – one nice be for summer parties, 2 summer dresses, 2 winter dresses, my folk costume, the very nice ethnic wool jacket (mandatory), the equally nice ethnic wool sweater for summer wear (nice to have)(if it snows in june you can wear it under the fleece for barbeques)(work related barbeques)(equally appropriate for midsummer celebration), one black blazer, one black wool “blazer”, 4 wool, 4 cotton cardigans. I think this is close to the absolute minimum where I live. Our temperatures go from -25 C and high winds to + 35 C and no wind, and we live on the coast, so before the ice settles in winter it is impossible to keep warm. There is no parking so travelling to work means going by bus. I always wear scarves and 99% of my wardrobe is black, clay, sand, offwhite and white. We’ve stopped wearing jewellry, and even colors are not really popular though we know it is trendy.
I hope this is useful :)

3 Kayla K June 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Wow, thanks! Are you from Sweden? I wonder what you mean by “ethnic” wool sweater. I have a very heavy wool cable sweater that I just love.
Decorah, Iowa is a Norwegian-heritage town close to where I live and intricate color work sweaters with pewter buttons are very popular there.
Your wardrobe sounds fantastic!

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