My unprofessional closet

When you shop for clothes, what are your rules for buying something? One of my rules comes in the form of a question sparked by professor paranoia: Is it work appropriate? What if I run into a student? Here’s why I’m trying to throw that question out.

I don’t know what the split is like in other’s closets, but I would guess that about 75% of what I own is for work. And this is reflected in my shopping habits and what I’ll allow myself to buy. New work pants? Sure, go for it. A crop top? I probably won’t wear it that often, so I should skip it.

Until. It’s 85 and I’m going to an outdoor concert. I rifle through button up shirts and shift dresses getting more and more frustrated as I try to pick an outfit. “I don’t have any fun clothes!!” I complain.

I’ve been trying to save more space for fun clothes lately. 2020 made me miss fun, after all, and it turns out I do have some fun clothes. I’m just more likely to chicken out before wearing them or add them to the donation pile.

I also realized that I don’t really talk about fun clothes here because this is my blog about getting dressed for work after all, but part of talking about career is also trying to strike a balance between having one and not only being about work. So today I thought I would show you the fun parts of my closet. Like these Tevas and a mesh beach bag.

Fun is in the eye of the beholder, right? Sometimes I feel pressure to have a more daring closet. The fact is, I really like clothes with some coverage (being 5’11” does that to you I think). So yeah, long linen shorts are fun to me. I wouldn’t wear them to work but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a valuable addition to my wardrobe!

Another look I’ve been embracing this summer is more of a casual/Madewell/possibly 90s babysitter vibe. This was a style I wore a lot more in Colorado but now I work somewhere where not many people wear jeans so I’ve transitioned away from a lot of it. But some good jeans and a striped shirt still feels very much like me, so I’m trying not to give all those clothes away.

I’m also actually trying to get dressed these days on weekends. I think it helps me to remember that I am allowed to go places (within reason) after a year of staying inside. It’s nice to put on an actual outfit and dream up some reasons to leave the house, even if it’s just for errands or a patio brunch.

The last reason I skip out on fun clothes is out of teacher paranoia. I know that seeing teachers outside of the classroom is the equivalent of seeing a zoo animal take itself out for a walk and that reaction from students can feel a bit embarrassing. I wonder what they’ll think if they run into me, an adult woman, wearing overalls? Will I end up on snapchat?

But I’m trying to get over that because living my whole life as a teacher just to forgo awkward 5 minute student interactions at the grocery stores is silly. And I teach a class where we talk about “professionalism” and how it is an unspoken code that disciplines us to dress certain ways, talk certain ways, style our hair certain ways… and not everyone can perform being professional because of the ways it is tied to race/gender/class/sexuality.

So. If you run into me in the store in a crop top, that might be the 5 minute lecture you get from now on 🙂

We are more than our work selves and we deserve more than clothes that just create a professional image. Teachers, you deserve fun clothes, too!

2 thoughts on “My unprofessional closet”

  1. Great post! I’ve been loving your blog! And it’s nice to hear that someone else has the same issue of too many professional clothes and not enough fun ones.

    Maybe a future post can talk about how to “fun-ify” work basics…?



  2. I am currently trying to build a “professional” wardrobe and I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s frustrating because things deemed professional are very much outside of my normal style and I don’t know how to be me and also look like I am a working person. It’s nice to remember that I’m not trapped into only wearing professional clothing!


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