And since I'm newly employed as an ESL teacher (okay, temporarily as of this writing, but at least newly employed) I might as well share with you a few elements from the current looks that I've been rocking at work. Now, my current workplace is a little more relaxed, but it's the kind of "casual" workplace that has a lot of unspoken rules regarding the existing dress code, so I thought I'd share my own tips for dressing up in that kind of environment.
- Dress for authority. The ESL program I'm working with is part of a sociocultural exchange program at the university, which means that there's already a built-in expectation to stay on the conservative side, fashion-wise. Our "kids" may show up for their classes in trendy, fashionable items - like, say, ripped denims and bright off-shoulder tops - but that doesn't mean their teachers should show up for work likewise without getting the stink-eye from one of the higher-ups during the day. The Gap camp shirt shown here, for example, is a tad rugged, but it still has a little more structure and polish than your average polyester blouse, and easier to dress up than a jean jacket.
- Dress for comfort. Like the majority of female staffers at this job, I too would really like to show up for work in a dress, at least for one day. And while that thought may sound nice, it's actually impractical in real life, where we have to do a lot of walking - uphill walking - just to get to our classrooms. Add to that the fact that a few of us have to take the jeepney to work, and you're looking at a major comfort issue at hand. Long story short, pants and sensible shoes (like the Privo wedges shown above and at left) are an elegant, work-friendly solution for both comfort and respectability.
- Match the bag with the shoes. This is one of the biggest Unspoken Rules of the Workplace, since it shows a sense of consistency regardless of how "casual" everything else turns out to be. I lucked out because I have a red bag that matches my favorite red flats, but if I were starting over again I'd go with something in the neutral family. Here, the Fossil bag is in a warmer caramel shade than the suede in the Privo shoes, but the structural details in the bag match the sporty geometric lines in the shoe straps.
(Unpopular opinion: Real leather makes all the difference here - and even if you're not wearing actual cowhide, then at least make sure that the material in question holds up like the real thing. The loafers I wore on my first day at work got so much work from all the walking that they came home looking beat-up and shredded at the end of the day. As much as I make fun of the "fake" "leather" on my red flats from SM, at least they've survived the daily hike!)
Lauren Conrad, right.) I also started wearing a turquoise bracelet on my right hand - partly as a conversation piece for my students, partly to spice up the more conservative elements of my work outfit, and partly because I like to have something sparkly to look at during the moments when I'm feeling quite stuck at work.