The 8 pieces you need to start teaching

Hi friends! This post is all about what I bought to get started teaching as a grad student. This was my big question after I accepted my offer to start my MA (yeah I know, I should have been looking for apartments and registering for classes). I think with 8 pieces or so, you have a good start that can make lots of outfits, whether you are TA-ing once a week or teaching your own class several times a week.

I suggest a nice work bag, 2 work shirts, a dress, a blazer, a pencil skirt, dress pants, and one pair of extremely comfortable work shoes. Sources here.

To extend these pieces, I mix my casual wear in with a couple of dressier pieces. I think t shirts and jeans can look classy, especially with a blazer.

I also tend to add in my more casual shoes, like sandals and boots. Though if you’re in the market for several pairs of teaching shoes, I think oxfords are so geeky and perfect for grad school.

If you’re getting ready to make the move to start teaching, I hope this list helps you start to make a workable wardrobe ❤

Summer 10×10 Days 2-5

Hi Friends! I’ve been in a comprehensive exam studying bunker but I’m still enjoying my 10 picks that I’m wearing for 10 days. Here’s what I’ve been wearing this week:

Nothing like the 10×10 to remind me that sometimes the simplest clothes are the best. This shirtdress is so versatile–I’ve worn it to teach and do dissertation interviews this month and it has made me feel confident in all situations! Also, may I suggest these Sam Edelman flat as the most comfortable teaching shoes ever?

I found this black button up at a thrift store for $15 and it is such an MVP. Also, Gap makes the best white jeans. The pockets in them are tan so they don’t show through the material. Genius.

This outfit was pretty boho for me but I love that only working with 10 items makes me branch out more.

I hope you’re all enjoying your week! Summer school teaching has been flying by so I’m trying to savor summer by doing lots of fun reading (here’s a spooky dystopian future series I’ve been enjoying–with all women characters, score!).

Summer 10×10 Day 1

Wahoo! I’ve picked my 10 clothing items and am ready to mix and match them to make 10 outfits over the next 10 days. This is perfect timing for me because my summer school class starts tomorrow, and this challenge will guide me through the first 10 days of teaching. Here are my picks:

I have three t shirts, one blouse, one dress, one skirt, and one pair of jeans.

As one of my instagram friends pointed out, I am dumb, and this is only 8 items. I had a pair of sandals on my feet when I took this picture that I knew were going to be part of the challenge, but even so, I’m only at 9 items of clothing. Suddenly I have decision fatigue and am drawing a total blank on what my tenth item should be! Suggestions welcome. I think a light cardigan would be good but I don’t have one that totally “goes” and I think going out shopping for one is counterproductive to a challenge about working with what you have.

For now, I’m just working with 9 items. Here is my day 1 outfit, the wildest thing I could think to do to start the day–make a shirt into a vest.

When I put this on I was all “noooo this is awful” but you know what I photographed it and then I thought it didn’t look so silly and now I’m accepting this idea of shirt-as-vest. So, this challenge is already a success for me! I’m excited to pick an outfit for tomorrow for my first day of teaching as well. Be back then with what I decided one!

I love 10×10 challenges because they make me really reach to try to find new and creative ways to wear my stuff. If you’re interested in starting one yourself, click here.

Teaching when it’s hot out, part 3

You know when you have to walk to campus because the university has disabled your bus pass because they are evil fee collectors, but when you get to your classroom it’s a little chilly?

Or perhaps you are opting to walk to campus all summer because all winter you put on a lot of stress weight?

My outfit solution to this is a sundress + blazer. I put the blazer in my bag or leave it (along with all my high heels, deodorant, dry shampoo, a desk sweater…) in my office to put on when i get to campus. Instant professionalism!

One more outfit idea to come, then maybe I’m joining the Summer 10×10 challenge! What are your go-to “it’s way too hot” outfit combos? I’ve been enjoying making these outfit plans in between studying for my Fall comprehensive exams.

Teaching when it’s hot out, pt. 2

Happy almost July! I start teaching in 12 days so I’m obviously gearing up by planning my first week of outfits instead of the first day of class (#syllabusday).

The joys of teaching 5 days a week in July are…none. It’s really hot out. I usually teach 3 days a week. Now I can’t repeat outfits as frequently. But I can repeat outfit formulas over and over again, and that’s exactly what I plan to do by doing vest + sundress combos.

Vests are so magical. I didn’t own any until last year when I realized that they make everything look somehow pulled together without causing me to overheat. Now I’m a vest enthusiast. Here I’ve picked out one of my many Old Navy sundresses (so cheap! so plentiful! come in tall sizes when you’re trying to look professional!) and paired it with a vest from Target.

I hope your summers are the perfect combination of productive and unproductive so far!

Teaching when it’s hot out

I’m participating in No Shop June this month, a genius instagram challenge for people who can’t fight the urge to walk through the mall, so I’ve been trying to work with what I’ve got to make outfits I enjoy. I’m prepping for a course I am teaching in July, so this is perfect timing, because something about teaching a new semester always makes my brain say “hey, stop editing that syllabus and go check out the Loft website.”

So today I’m bringing you the first of several outfits I’ve thought up for the dilemma of summer teaching: that it is too damn hot out and my classroom has no AC and I’m supposed to look professional. Here’s my first formula: sweater tank and skinny pants.

I looooove this tank. I got it in the Everlane choose what you pay sale (it’s still there!) so for my first outfit with it, I kept it simple with my J. Crew pixie pants, which are basically leggings in a dress pant fabric. I think I’ll make this sweater nerd-tastic in the future by putting a button up under it. I’ll probably wear this on my first day because it makes me feel fierce.

I’ll be back another day with more options. For now, this challenge is keeping me off my favorite online shopping sites!

What items in your wardrobe are worth waiting for?

Talking unicorn items today…you know, the things that you have picked out in your head and you wait and wait for them and then suddenly one day you’re out shopping and you find the one! I was wasting time while waiting for a brunch reservation in Kansas City when I wandered into the boutique next door (strategically open for hungry people like me, I’m sure!) and this shirt caught my eye. I had been wanting a white button up shirt for a while and when I tried it on I knew it was the one! It hangs really well and is a kind of athletic-y fabric that doesn’t wrinkle. Amazing. 

If only it were always this easy. Unfortunately, I’m a to-do list motivated person, which means I tend to pull the trigger way too soon on clothing items that are not perfect and then realizing my mistake once the tags are already off. I’ve decided the key to waiting for the right clothing item to come along is to shop for dream items really casually–I keep a list in my phone of things I’m on the look out for. Currently:

-White shirt (found it! Spendy but here if you are also on the hunt)

-Moto jacket

-Overalls (nearly impossible because I’m so tall)

I try to keep the descriptions really loose so that I’m open to trying lots of things on. For example, I don’t really have a color or fabric in mind for the moto jacket, I figure I’ll just know when I find one I’m in love with. And then I can donate the two that are currently sitting in my closet that I don’t love. Whoops. 

Dressing down the pencil skirt

If you return to grad school after working an office job for a couple years you might have this conundrum: how do you style all the great business clothes you accumulated? I still have two nice suits sitting in the back of my closet, guilting me because they’re not getting enough use. So today I’m here to focus on how I dress down my dress clothes, starting with the pencil skirt. 

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My formula for dress clothes tends to be pairing one fancy piece with a bunch of other casual clothes. So today, I went with a chambray button up and lace up sandals. I do the same things with suit jackets (with a t-shirt plus jeans). I also like buying things that look like dress clothes but are super comfy, for example, pull on pencil skirts! (Like this one I’m wearing, and this one, which doesn’t have side slits).  

Do you have any clothes that suddenly seem too fancy? If so, what are your strategies to make them work? 

What I learned from wearing the same 10 items of clothing for 10 days.

Phew, the 10×10 challenge is over. I’m really happy to be back to my full wardrobe, but the challenge did have its perks. In no particular order:

1) i felt way stylish every day. When I get dressed in the morning, I tend to style things in the safest way I can, probably because I’m tired and not thinking ahead. But with only 10 items to work with, I had to start pairing clothes in ways that weren’t my first choice, which is how I learned that culottes + a long cardigan sounds excessive but actually feels pretty cool!

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2) Less choices is just better. Having a limited color scheme may seem boring, but it also makes getting dressed a no brainer, because everything goes together. I picked black and white, blush, and navy as my colors and I felt like I could do no wrong in whatever I paired. 

3) I should totally do this every season before I go shopping. I think from now on I’ll pick the ten things I’m most excited to wear for the season and use them all to get dressed for at least a week before I go shopping. This challenge definitely helped me identify holes in my wardrobe (more sandals!) and now I feel more confident in the colors and styles I should be looking for. 

4) Start with accessories. As someone who is not very naturally accessory-inclined, picking accessories that all coordinated and building outfits around them was a fast way to get dressed in the morning. Here were a few of my picks:

5) Making internet friends in the best! Seriously had so much fun commenting on everyone’s outfits on Instagram and got a bunch of good ideas from others. If you participated in the challenge, thanks for your inspiration! ❤ If you want to do your own 10×10 challenge, check out Style Bee’s guide, and maybe see you in a summer or fall challenge!