Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Current Work Uniform

Yay, new Polyvore set!
work uniform

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.

privo Women's Zuri Wedge Mary Jane,Brown Leather,8.5 M US- 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!)

- When the whole look is conservative and neutral, you can go wild with everything else. This weekend, our weather shifted drastically from sunny to stormy-ish (high winds, cloudy skies, occasional rain), so I started wearing my long scarves to work. Besides keeping me warm, the scarves provided a much-needed hit of color close to my face while putting a bohemian-preppy spin on my work look. (See: 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.

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