Cristina Ehrlich, a style adviser to Coldwater Creek, remembers her first "cool teacher" in elementary school, who wore pleated slacks, V-neck silk blouses, a thin little belt and gold hoop earrings.
These days, that teacher might be wearing brightly colored skinny jeans and a boyfriend sweater, or trouser jeans and a crisp button-down in a cheerful color, Ehrlich said.
Maybe that same second-grade teacher would even try a pair of tuxedo-inspired jeans with a black stripe down the leg and a more fitted, cropped blazer, she said.
That might be an outfit similar to what high schoolers are wearing, and that's OK, said Emilia Fabricant, executive vice president of the Aeropostale brand.
Fabricant gives the caveat, though, that teachers might wear individual pieces differently so they're "appropriately styled": short skirts worn over leggings, tunics over tanks, and skinny jeans paired with the high front-low back cardigans that give an update to the classic silhouette.
Amazon.com fashion editor Sara Dooley imagines teachers of younger grades experimenting with prints. Florals are enjoying a fashion moment, she says, and animal prints -- leopard spots and the like -- have a little bit of edge but have been used for classic silhouettes.
Many closet-to-classroom items are basic pieces, including a pencil skirt, fit-and-flare dress, collared shirts, blazers, jeans and sweaters, so they can make the transition between seasons and between school years. They can all be dressed up or down, and adapted to look "new" with the right belt, shoe or jewelry.
"With little time during the school year to shop, teachers can maximize style all year long by buying key items that will update pieces they already own," said Sofia Wacksman, vice president of trend for Kohl's Department Stores.
Ehrlich suggests layers, as long as the overall look is relaxed without being sloppy. On the flip side, tailored is good, but too buttoned-up is not. If you're thinking of a bow-neck blouse, for example, make sure it has a soft touch.
Funkier accessories can be for anyone. Teachers need a stylish case for gadgets, and that's a neutral zone for experimentation.
So are ballet-flat shoes, which have more options than the periodic table.
Picking popular colors, including flashes of the almost neon brights, also is an easy "in," says Fabricant, and the broad choices in denim and knits should make it easier to find trend-right items.
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