Fashion Advice: The Personal Touch

In honor of our Make Your Life Better contest I decided to give some personal style advice on the blog for the very first time!  Not long ago we received an email from Caiti, a middle school teacher in her late twenties and an Emma Approved fashion blog fan, looking for advice on updating her wardrobe.


Her main concerns?

  • Dressing maturely for work without falling into the boring teacher cliche.
  • Celebrating her figure, and avoiding being frumpy, without being inappropriate at work
  • Shopping on a teacher’s limited budget.

I completely understand your dilemma Caiti! Making good fashion choices is often all about finding a balance while still struggling to be an individual. You want your pieces to be affordable but well made, figure flattering but appropriate for work, fun and youthful but more mature as you enter your thirties. And though you asked for some summer staples, you want pieces that you can use year round, especially on a teaching budget. So I’ve come up with a few examples, currently available in your size, to help you on your way!


Though it will be the most expensive item you buy it never hurts to have a couple of nice, structured dresses that can be used both professionally and socially.

modcloth_dressesOceanfront Properly Dress: ModCloth  |  Lucky Pintucks Dress: ModCloth

For example, both these dresses are…

  • Bell shaped, which is designed to be flattering on all figures
  • Comfortably sleeveless and colorful enough for summer
  • Just fancy enough for a party, especially if you are going day to night
  • Both are relatively simple, a solid and a striped print, so with the addition of a cardigan or blazer can be work appropriate and useful year round.


As a young professional the most magical item you can have in your closet is a blazer. Throw them over anything and instantly be ready for a meeting. Black is a standard every girl needs, but I prefer color whenever possible.  Or for a slightly more casual effect, opt for button-up cardigans to tone down an outfit or cover up a low neckline. And either one will make it possible to wear a summery blouse in the fall.

sweaters-and-blazers Ruched Sleeve Jacket: Olivia Moon  |  Charter School Cardigan: ModCloth 

When choosing what colors to buy make an inventory of your closet and identify the color palette you naturally lean towards. Then choose a jacket or sweater that will complement the most pieces possible.

Tight vs Loose

Showing off your figure, but still being appropriate, is going to be a balancing act. Thankfully there is an equation that applies when dealing with separates. One loose piece paired with one fitted. For example, a flowing tunic over a pair of skinny slacks, or a tight tank top with a full skirt. These particular blouses are light and fun, but still completely professional.


Pair with a slim leg pant with a tailored fit, or a unique skirt that’s neutral enough to mix and match.


Believe it or not, appropriate is not always about fit. For example a tight, knee length pencil skirt is considered much more appropriate than a shorter, looser skirt. And while solid colors are the most flexible, try playing with texture or a multicolored print so versatile it can complement a range of different tops.


With a few key pieces in your favorite colors you could create dozens of different outfits that will fit all the events in your life.  As long as you personally like every individual piece you can never go wrong.  Hope that helps, and hope you’ll enter the contest!