Help Desk: Can a Preschool Teacher Be Stylish AND Realistic?

Today's Help Desk question comes from Meghan:

I am a preschool teacher, at a Christian school, and we have a very strict dress code. We must dress professional, business casual, but I'm running around with kids all day, so I need comfort and wash-ability when it comes to clothes. We must wear closed toed shoes, or sandals with straps (no heels). We can wear pants, capris, and the occasional dark denim jean, skirts and dresses, but they must come down to at least our knee. Shirts must have sleeves, must not be too tight, can't be revealing (at all), and need to be cool, as it is about to be summer time in Texas, and we spend a lot of time outside. I usually wear a pair of khakis, a fitted t-shirt made of a nicer material than a regular tee, a cardigan, and loafers. Boring. If I'm feeling exciting, I'll wear a skirt, sandals, and a blouse... with a cardigan. I have a huge walk-in closet full of clothes- mostly basics, but for some reason, I can't put together an outfit that is stylish for work. I'm starting to look like my kindergarten teachers- I'm afraid holiday vests and ankle length denim skirts are around the corner. :(


It sounds like Meghan's needs aren't so different from those of the average SAHM or WAHM. I can tell you from experience that staying stylish with small children is challenging, but not impossible. To make things easier, I put together a few looks with one of my favorite ShopStyle gadgets. Just click on the images below for shopping information on any of these pieces I featured- You will be directed to the appropriate site.

A very stylish yet casual look for school could include a lightweight tunic top and skinny crop pants. Pair your outfit with metallic ballet flats (these pearl pink flats are a great "neutral" shade and just $9.99 at Old Navy- also come in gold and silver!) and you're both comfortable and on-trend. I know it's hot in Texas- It gets incredibly warm (and HUMID!) in Tennessee, too. I actually like to buy swimsuit cover-up tunic tops and dresses for summer daywear- They have the same look as a heavier tunic top, but they're generally gauzier and much cooler- they're also often about half the price! Just wear a light cami top underneath if you need one.

Put your cardigans to work with a strapless or strappy summer dress underneath to keep things cool. I practically live in lightweight, washable dresses all summer long- a light cardigan would make these dresses work-appropriate and then, when the school day ends, whip off the cardigan and switch out the flats with heels for a night out.

This is a great year to stock up on work-appropriate tees. Ann Taylor and LOFT both have a multitude of pretty ruffled and flower-bedecked tees that would be perfect for the classroom. And I am loving J. Crew's watercolor painted tees like the one pictured above- The design dresses it up enough to make it work... for work! Add a khaki pencil skirt (or khaki crop pants), a low-slung brown leather belt and brown leather sandals and you're doling out Nilla Wafers in style!

A few more quick ideas... Give a boring outfit some pizazz with a bright necklace or earrings. Add a pop of color to boring neutrals with a bright pair of shoes. And look for "statement" pieces like this pretty cardigan or the lightweight tunic top. They'll blend in with your basics and set you apart from crowd.

Hope that helps, Meghan! And moms, you can rock these looks, too!

Disclosure: I'm a compensated ShopStyle affiliate.

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