Saturday, August 13, 2011

Working Girl

As some of you may remember, when I first started blogging (in January of 2010), I was working in an environment where the dress code was rather, uh, extreme in its conservatism, especially for women. We had to wear (every day): a dress/skirt; stockings/tights/hose; and close-toed shoes (no boots). While I did build up a pretty awesome collection of separates and cute skirts/dresses (and an abiding hatred for panty-hose and a greater love for their more opaque cousins, tights), I sometimes really wanted to wear pants and boots. Because I live in New England. And I had to go to work in the winter. 

The day that I interviewed for the job that I will be starting this year, I was informed that the school had no dress code. In fact, one of the male teachers boasted that on sunny, warm days, he often wore shorts, sandals, and a Red Sox tee to work. So you could say that it's kind of the, um, opposite extreme of my last working environment, don't you think? 

When I got the job, I started thinking about what I personally would wear to work day in and day out. I do tend to wear skirts and dresses a lot when feeling "professional" (especially that the bad taste of the other place is finally out of my mouth), so I was pretty sure I'd mostly be going in that direction, but with the added pizzazz of my awesome (if I do say so myself) boot collection. Not to mention the relief of wearing pants/jeans whenever I wanted. I figured out these personal rules for myself:
  • Each element of the outfit must be suitable for going to work: i.e., nothing torn/dirty/booby/obviously inappropriate, etc. Pants/shirts/dresses/skirts/jeans/etc. that fit into these categories are A-OK, although I'm probably not gonna wear my Lady Gaga racerback tank tunic to work. Although I'd probably be allowed.
  • No leggings as bottoms (within this I count jeggings and their corduroy counterparts): I don't want to dress like my students. As you know, I always wear leggings with butt-covering tops/tunics and usually with boots, so it's not like I'm exposing that much to the world, but I think that for my own standards, it's too casual for a teacher at a school. Especially since some people sometimes assume that I'm a student IN high school. 
  • [I will, however, consider maybe wearing my corduroy leggings with tall boots (and a long sweater) on days that it's ridiculously cold and humankind should really not be out on the streets, let alone on a school campus. Oh, and wearing normal leggings under a dress/skirt for warmth is okay: then they're like tights]
  • Shorts are right out. I don't wear 'em in the summer (when I do, they're my husband's) and I don't think I'm ready to teach the subjunctive while rocking my winter shorts over boots over thigh-highs over tights. Save it for the weekend, Chalkdust. 
Aaaaaaaaaand that's pretty much it. As you can see, it's not an exhaustive list (and let me again emphasize that these are my own rules for my own wardrobe and I would never judge someone else who feels comfortable wearing this to work). I was pretty satisfied with these fluid guidelines, though, and felt comfortable enough to make it through a whole year of teaching in all sorts of cracked-out Massachusetts weather.

Then I found out I was pregnant. And, judging by how my belly grew this week alone (seriously, between Wednesday and Thursday, I turned into another person), I'm gonna be pretty big by the time school starts in September and a behemoth by the time winter break rolls around (baby's due in early-mid January). And suddenly some of my rules seem tougher to maintain because I'm not sure how much leeway my current wardrobe has. Granted, I'm sure many of these problems will be solved once I buy some more maternity clothes because I literally own: two tank tops (one of which I hate and is staying in Greece), a dress, and a pair of jeans (win!), not to mention a bag of my sister-in-law's (and her sister-in-law's) maternity hand-me-downs. So I know I need a few more versatile pieces and I'll feel a little less nervous about going out and about in the (professional) world. Also, I love me some loose jersey dresses, so I'm sure many of those will serve me well throughout the first half of the school year. 

But what about some of my other rules, specifically with leggings? Won't those, at some point, be the most comfortable pants I own that I can still pull on? If I wear a long-ass sweater/tunic/shortened dress and some cute boots, won't they just look like really thick, opaque tights? Will I have to rethink my rules?

Style Nation, here's where I'd love it if you weighed in. What say you to my sudden quandary? Can I wear leggings as pants (with all my usual stipulations of butt-coverage) to work at an artsy high school? Do you have any other suggestions for a lady whose body will be changing constantly as she heads on to work? Have you been pregnant and worked while doing so and have some tips? Do you have strong opinions about professional wardrobes and will set fire to your retinas if I dare break those rules? I'd LOVE to hear from you! Lemme have it! 


  1. I've never been pregnant, but if I was, I would totally wear leggings and a butt covering top. It sounds like it wouldn't be a problem where you work, and I'm sure it will be nice to retain elements of your style as your body changes :)

  2. Hm, the only time I had to worry about this might have been just before graduate school when I was carrying my first and that would have been prior to the days of leggings/jeggings. But, I don't think they would be objectionable with tunic length tops. I know that several years ago, I actually shopped the maternity department for the looong sweaters I wanted to wear that season.

  3. It's your body and you can dress it however you want, Boots! I have to admit that I don't feel comfortable teaching in the legging and tunic look - no matter how butt covering it might be. I'd rather avoid the side eye I might get from a couple of colleagues and feeling like I was dressed to much like a student.

  4. I say yes, you can wear leggings with butt coverage, but I also understand your reservations. In your situation, I would consider saving the leggings-at-school for later in your pregnancy. Wear the real pants as long as you can, and then bust out the leggings for work when you really need to.

    Hey, do you want some of my maternity clothes?

  5. Thanks for the input, everyone! I think I'll have to do a thorough investigation of my wardrobe when I get home and see what will work and what won't. Kelly, I agree with the idea of deploying the leggings when we get closer and closer to winter break.

    [And K, as to your kind offer - when I get home this weekend, I have to do some shopping/winnowing. Then I might totally take you up on it, although I suspect you're slimmer than I am in real life. Then again, with maternity clothes, does it matter too much? :)]

  6. For maternity tops it doesn't much matter, but what might matter is that I'm only 5'4" and all my pants are hemmed accordingly.