That said, today I have a great topic thanks to an email from Lindsey, who is a high school teacher and grad student looking some budget friendly outfit ideas that are versatile and school-appropriate. I think that teachers have such an amazing opportunity to model what it means to dress with class for girls who need to be reminded that showing as much skin as possible isn't a good idea. (Even when you live amid stifling humidity in Houston!)
Here are my ideas for a capsule wardrobe that's not void of color and style, and where to find those pieces at a good price:
Colorful cardigans and/or ponte blazers: These pieces are key, because they'll add lots of color to your outfits, and can be purchased on the cheap at Old Navy, Target, and with coupon codes at LOFT or J.Crew Factory. I've gotten some great ones for under $10, and usually just peel them off when I go outside in the heat. The blazers will be a bit more of an investment, but if you are persistent and check Gap sale racks often, you'll find some for under $50! I'm a fan of the Academy Blazer, myself, and it's currently 40% off!
Basic dresses that fit like a glove: Think of these as a blank canvas over which to layer great necklaces, cardigans, blazers, or even wear over a button-down shirt. You can find deals everywhere, but first you should focus on the fit. I have a $21 Mossimo dress that looks more expensive than an $88 version from J.Crew simply because it fits me perfectly. As you build out your wardrobe, consider a pattern like stripes or a floral print to mix things up a bit.
Statement necklaces: Big bold necklaces make existing outfits feel fresh, especially when you wear them over a button down or dress. Plus, you can find beautiful options for a song thanks to stores like Forever 21 and H&M.
Printed button-down shirts: I love the look of a black or navy gingham or polka dotted shirt and a pencil skirt. It's a little unexpected, but still perfectly appropriate. You can also pair it with trousers or jeans, of course, and one of your new statement necklaces. I wear mine with shorts in the summer, as well. As for stores, I've had great luck with J.Crew Factory and the Joe Fresh line at JCPenney. However, like with the dress, you'll be at the mercy of the cut of the shirt. I think $40 or less is a good price, and you will definitely get your money's worth!
A dressy blouse you love: Every woman, even teachers, need that one top that makes them feel pretty (but still covered). I think something in a bold color, but conservative cut, will liven up your basic skirts and pants, and transition well to your life after school too. Target is actually a great place to look for dressy tops, as is H&M, LOFT, and J.Crew Factory.
Sexy but chic pencil skirts: These skirts are universally flattering, and widely available in a host of prints and fabrics. I'm a big fan of the printed stretch cotton versions at J.Crew Factory, and you can score them for under $40 when they're having a sale (as they always seem to be). These will look great with your collection of cardigans and blouses, and the cotton versions are breathable and won't make your thighs sweat when you walk out to the parking lot (a Houston problem, trust me).
Pants that fit: Again, focus on fit then stalk your chosen style in hopes of a sale. Since most teachers spend the day standing in flats, I recommend a slim cut or straight leg as opposed to a flare that tends to look sloppy puddled on the ground. I've had great luck at Gap (don't get hung up on the sizes - they're wildly inconsistent) and gotten a few styles for under $30!
Hopefully this was a good idea-starter for Lindsey. If there are any other teachers or bargain shoppers out there, please chime in!
P.S. I still need guest bloggers while I'm in Europe! Let me know if you're interested!