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On the hunt for cute teacher outfits? These are my tried and true tips after 15 years in the classroom for putting together the best teacher outfits that are both stylish and functional.
Let's talk teacher outfit ideas. Fellow educators, this is….for you. 15 years in the classroom, and I'm a teacher forever. There are so many things that are unique about our job….and one of them that I didn't expect when I started my first year in my first grade classroom at the (ha) ripe old age of 21…….that teaching has a different sort of wardrobe requirement than most jobs. Do we do business casual? Not really (at least not in elementary school). For me? Teacher outfits were about function as much as they were about style. Casual was ok, when it was appropriate. I didn't want to wear workout gear, but I didn't want to wear heels. And what I found? At least teaching the little kids? Things you don't think about in other jobs….sitting on the carpet, pockets for extra erasers, where to put your classroom keys. Am I right? I feel like there is sort of an unspoken teacher dress code……and I'm here to crack it for you.
After a LOT of trial and error, these are my best tips for putting together an affordable teacher outfit wardrobe (because, let's be honest…….they aren't exactly paying us a ton).
Cute Teacher Outfits: The Ultimate Guide
Before we go into specific……a few tips for selecting pieces:
Function is key: can you sit, kneel, crouch in a piece? Obviously it depends on the age of your students (kindergarten teachers do a whole lot more sitting criss cross applesauce than a high school teacher does)…..but….keep it in mind.
Special Activities: are you in charge of the cheer team at lunch? Science club? If so, you'll need pieces that work for those things or a change of clothes.
Comfort: Look, we are on our feet ALL day as teachers. Great teacher outfits need to be comfortable. I suggest breathable fabrics and layers (the temperature can shift vastly between before school yard duty and the end of the day).
Washable fabrics: I know, I know, I sound sort of old school but……dry cleaning really adds up. For me? Wardrobe staples for school needed to be machine washable. And bonus tip? I also kept a stain pen in my desk for emergencies (and oh did it come in handy).
Accessories that are a Must Have for Every Teaching Career:
A Great Layering Piece: I always kept a layering piece in my classroom for emergencies (spills, a change in weather, etc). My suggestion? Keep a denim jacket or a cardigan just in case. A neutral piece that will go with anything. I promise, it will come in handy!
Key Lanyard: Yes, it's sort of cheesy. Yes, it's used by most teachers for a reason. Get yourself a key lanyard. It's the only way you'll remember to lock your room and not lose your keys in the lunchroom or by the copier!
Now, the most important of all my affordable teacher outfit tips: a capsule wardrobe is key. Invest in quality key pieces that you can mix and match. You'll wear your favorites over and over again and can create tons of different teacher outfits with them.
In absolutely no particular order….these are my favorite finds for creating cute outfits that work in any classroom.
Midi Skirt / Knee Length Skirt: A great fitting skirt can be easily mixed and matched. You can wear it with sneakers and a graphic tee shirt, a warmer top, a jean jacket, loafers and a solid shirt. It's worth taking the time to find one that fits in a way you love. This midi skirt? One of my favorites on my pear shaped body.
Shop Midi Skirts:
Chunky Sweater or Cardigan: Let's talk layering pieces. A great cardigan or chunky sweater can add a fun layer to your basics. I love my red version for adding a pop of fun color to any outfit and I also have a neutral tan longer version that I love that layers perfectly over a dress or dress pants.
Shop Cardigans and Sweaters:
Sweater Vest: I never thought I'd be suggesting this as a wardrobe staple but….I love a neutral sweater vest. They're one of the latest trends and can be layered for a ton of additional teacher outfits with your basics. I've worn mine over a light dress, over a pencil skirt and tee, over jeans and a tee, and over joggers and a long sleeved top.
Shop Sweater Vests:
Joggers: Now, I'm not talking sweat pants. I'm talking, polished joggers. I have a faux leather pair that I LOVE that are a great, polished pant. You can also get them in a nicer cotton blend material. Try pairing them with a fun and different cardigan, or a tee and a sweater vest. They're a great way to diversify your teacher outfits.
Shop Work Appropriate Joggers:
Light or Dark Jeans: Now, hear me out. Great jeans are important teacher attire. My only suggestion? Not ripped jeans (I got in trouble for wearing them back in the day). Yes, they're super in style…..but probably not totally appropriate teacher attire. I'd suggest taking some time to find great fitting jeans that are a classic style. If you struggle with finding jeans that fit, I actually ordered custom fit jeans recently and got EXACTLY what I wanted (and for a way better price than I expected). If you're looking for casual teacher outfits, you can easily wear your jeans with a striped tee or one of your graphic tees and your favorite pair of sneakers. To dress up, try a sweater blazer and wide leg jeans. There are a ton of different ways to wear your jeans on repeat for fun teacher outfits.
Blazer: I have to say, a blazer is a more recent addition to my suggestions. They're very on trend right now, and I think they're a GREAT way to dress up your basics. You can pair them with any type of shoe or pant. A blazer dresses up a pair of jeans and sneakers and looks really fun with a knee-length dress. They come in a ton of solids and different patterns. I'd suggest a subtle plaid. It will be the most versatile!
Graphic Tee / Teacher Tees: Teachers tend to dress more casual on Friday or spirit days. And it's always fun to have a fun graphic tee or teacher tee to mix into your wardrobe. When I was a fourth-grade teacher, we all got special graphic tees for state testing. It was really fun to wear them with jeans and sneakers to encourage our students.
Shop Graphic Tees:
Dress Pants: Don't worry, I'm not talking about uncomfortable suit pants. I'm talking about adding a great pair of black pants to your closet. They're a good idea for Back to School Night, conferences….etc and can instantly dress up a simple tee or sweater….great for a ton of teacher outfits options!
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Comfortable Shoes: Loafers: Ironically, these give me flashbacks to my student teacher days. Yes….loafers are back in style. I just bought a new pair of chunky ones, and have been putting together tons of loafers outfits. They're a great way to dress up those jeans and blazer, or look really cute with a dress.
Solid Tee: This…..is the starting point for your teacher clothes. A great white tee (or tan or black). Or one of each. For me? Investing in some great fitting solid tees in different colors helps to extend my wardrobe. You can layer over them, and mix and match them with all your other pieces. My suggestion? Invest in two neutral colors (white, tan, black, brown) and one with a pop of color (red or blue). That will give you a TON of options.
Shop solid tees:
Knee Length Dress or Midi Length Dress: I'm definitely a dress person, and wore dresses a LOT in the classroom. You can easily wear them almost year round, especially if you layer different pieces on top of them. My suggestion? A couple fun patterns (plaid or polka dots will be in style for YEARS), and a solid dress or two. Then you can add a jean jacket, cardigan, blazer or sweater vest to switch things up and find the right outfit for each season.
Denim Jacket: Last and not at all least……invest in a nice denim jacket. A good quality jean jacket will last you most of your teaching career. You can wear it over dresses, with skirts and over those dressy pants. I promise, you'll get a ton of use out of it in plenty of teacher outfits!
Shop Denim Jackets:
Comfortable Shoes: Pointy Flats: Want the dressy factor of heels and the comfort of flats? Pointy flats are perfect for dressing up your casual outfits. They're perfect with skirts, jeans, dress pants….any of the above. Keep in mind: you want comfortable flats (Rothy‘s actually has GREAT pointy flats, highly recommend).
Shop Pointy Flats:
I hope that this gave you some fun fashion inspiration for stylish teacher outfits with items you already own and to find a few more things to add to your wardrobe. If it helped, be sure to share this blog post with your teacher friends!