In search of a young professional wardrobe on a budget

Q. Next semester for school I will be required to do my student teaching. This is set for 10 weeks in a row. I will start in about February and end in May. I am a college student and am on a budget, but still want to buy pieces I can wear into my first few years of teaching. I also want to be able to wear some of these pieces when I go out to meet up with friends. I want to fit into the professional environment with my clothing, but at the same time still look young and fresh. My question is what stores should I look into? And what pieces do you suggest I buy considering I’ll be teaching through almost 3 seasons (winter, spring, and possibly summer weather)?


A. You can’t go wrong by collecting a wardrobe of cute dresses. This is by far the most versatile piece you can own, and can easily move from work to play depending on what you pair with it. You can also wear the same dress for several seasons by adding tights or layering pieces.

Below are four 3-season dresses paired with several mix and match accessories including a thin turtleneck to layer under a sleeveless dress or short sleeve sweater dress and a blazer and cardigan to layer over the dresses. Add or remove these layers, depending on the weather. Comfortable knee high boots, ballet flats and pumps round out your shoe wardrobe. Add a chic tote, trendy belt and layered necklace and you’ve got the beginnings of a well-rounded wardrobe. All of the pieces are under $100 and perfect for a young professional. Good luck!

  • Holly

    However, do pay attention to dress length. Being a young professional, I’m pretty sure I’d raise some eyebrows around my job if I wore dresses as short as the first three. Wearing short dresses can emphasize the fact that you’re young and still learning what’s appropriate, and it might bring you the kind of attention you don’t want.

    • StyleBakery

      If you’re concerned about skirt length, a pair of opaque tights always helps.

  • Nicole

    I’m 22 and I work in a public school. If I were to show up wearing dresses that short, even with opaque tights, I don’t think I would be taken seriously by my coworkers or my kids. I’m all for looking stylish in the workplace, but working in a school is different than other jobs.

  • ElisaQ

    Working in a school is DEFINITELY different, especially for a student teacher. Skirts to the knee are fine, but anything shorter would be a bad idea. That said, models are very tall, and if you are short, the dresses above might be OK. Opaque tights, while cute, can also look young in the eyes of older professionals. They aren’t enough.

  • gixxer

    I agree that you have to be careful about the length of a skirt. too high can get you into trouble.

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