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What I Wear to Work: Teacher Edition

On a daily basis, Bay Area language arts instructor Kara Wilson hears everything from "I like what you've got goin' on," to "You look pretty cool today, but what's with the bags under your eyes?"

Ah, the life of a middle school teacher. But while her students "aren't afraid to comment on appearances," Wilson's five years of teaching give her a leg up on looking professional, on-trend and age-appropriate, all at the same time. By now the 27-year-old is acing the subject, and actually enjoys getting dressed in the morning. Like commanding a room full of preteens, she's got the juggling act down.

For Wilson the compromise between professionalism and playfulness means avoiding teacher cliches and layering strategically. "Giant t-shirts, sweater vests and 'Mom' jeans" are all on the bad list, while printed ballet flats and pencil skirts get gold stars in her book. And when it's time to go from Ms. Wilson to just Kara, a stashed leather jacket, mini makeup kit and accessory (colorful scarf, pair of earrings) does the trick.

Click through the slideshow below for more of Kara's workplace style.

Everyday Staples

Kara's on her feet all day "teaching eighty-five minute blocks of language arts and drama." For her, "comfortable shoes are a must." But instead of other teacher go-tos (Crocs, Birkenstocks) Kara particularly likes pretty ballet flats that "add color or pattern to an outfit."

Beyond that daily necessity, Kara's lucky to have a fairly informal dress code. “Fortunately we're able to wear jeans at work, but I stick with dark wash boot cut," she says. Skinny jeans are for weekends-only in her world.

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