“What on Earth does a Professor Wear?” Secrets to getting your closest ready to go back to work

“Will you buy all new clothes?” a friend questioned me when I shared that I was accepting an adjunct position at a local university. Nope. In fact, since that celebratory day, I have purchased exactly 3 new pieces of clothing: a pair of black pants from LOFT (a staple that truly needed an update), a red sweater to wear around the home and on errands because I decided I needed more red in my wardrobe this winter, and I found it at Anthropologie for 70% off (and I’m wearing it today, so it was definitely worth it), and a red blouse that was also on sale that I knew I’d wear often.

I didn’t need much for three reasons:

  1. Working part time from home has allowed me to have more professional, classic clothing in my wardrobe for the few events I have each year. I’ve been careful to buy items that I know compliment me and will be worn season after season, year after year;
  2. I pay a lot of attention to accessorizing. Tossing on a bright scarf or a statement necklace completely changes a look. You can dress up your favorite black t-shirt enough to wear it to teach a class of 27 twenty-somethings without even questioning if you’re dressed up enough to be a college professor;
  3. I savor my LeTote membership.

I just completed week 7 7(!) of my first semester as a college-level instructor. Each week, I enjoy a new wardrobe combination and each week I feel more confident in my instruction. While a large part of that comfort is attributed to my preparation for the course and the relationships I’m building with my students, I know that because I’m comfortable in the clothes I’m wearing, I have one less thing to worry about.

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Staples You Need to Go Back to Work Tomorrow

A staple for your closet: black pants are a must-have for your work wardrobe

Black pants are the staple I needed to update most in my closet. They’re easy to move and work well with so many options in my closet. I bought a pair at LOFT, a great back-to-work shop that doesn’t usually break the bank. LOFT has a 30% off special this weekend. Use code FIRST LOOK to save.

Keep at least one tunic sweater dress to pair with leggings or tights. Tunics can easily go from work to play.

Pairing a tunic sweater dress with leggings or tights is my absolute favorite way to dress for work. There are so many options for well-fitting tunics and the right accessories can dress them all the way to a party or down to shopping at the mall. In the Fall, I featured sweater dresses for a Fashion Friday post. Most of my tunic sweaters come from Le Tote. (See below.)

anne klein sport shoes may not be the trendiest look, but for women who are on their feet or do a lot of walking at work, these wedges are must-haves for comfort and style

Anne Klein Sport shoes may not be the trendiest look, but for women who are on their feet or do a lot of walking at work, these wedges are must-haves for comfort and style. When I wear shoes that aren’t these, I usually walk across campus in flip flops, carrying my heels. But in these shoes, I can walk a mile and still not complain.

Going to work in a t-shirt isn't a problem if you throw a scarf on top

th the right accessories, you can pull off a plain black or white top and no one will give you a questioning look. Having a scarf or two, and knowing how to wear it, is a huge help in this area. So are a few pieces of statement jewelry. (And I’m always here to help with finding the right statement jewelry to wear with your look from my Jewelryverse boutique.)

Pair a statement necklace with an easy top and you dressed up your look for another day at work

Before going back to work, stock up on a few pair of quality leggings and tights. I purchased navy, black, gray and neutral (both tights and leggings) knowing those colors would blend with most of my wardrobe. Having a few on hand is definitely a help if they haven’t been washed or for when they finally have a snag or snap in the elastic. (Remember, this is a lot less likely to happen if you buy for quality.) While you’re in the department, grab a few new pair of trouser socks, too.

I really can’t imagine going back to work without a LeTote membership. (LeTote is a clothing rental service that delivers packages at your door in less than a week and you can send back as soon as you’re finished– no dry cleaning required! For more information, read my latest post about it.)  It’s the biggest reason I haven’t felt like I needed to refill my closet with modern clothing. At $60ish a month, I’ve realized just how much money I’m saving. Now, when I select my clothing for the upcoming week, I keep my job in mind — I always request one or two looks that I know I’ll a) already have the compliments for in my closet (example:  my black pants or leggings to go with a top or tunic that will be in my mailed box), and b) clothes that look “teachable.” If I weren’t using LeTote, my dry cleaning bills would be far higher than they are now. Also, I’d be spending oodles more on new clothes, especially tops and tunics, to wear to work. (And, yes, I also make sure I borrow fun clothing for date nights and parties.) Want to try Le Tote?



mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2016, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

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