(Closed) I want to look professional… but it's impossible!

posted 5 years ago in Career
Post # 3
445 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@MsBlackberry:  I have the same issue. 4’11/5′ depending on how truthful I feel, 32f boobs and relatively thinish. Everything I find usually makes me look mega frump or Jessica Rabbit.

My best advice is goodwill. Since I have lost my job and will no longer be wearing scrubs I have had to find new office clothes. Goodwill has been my godsend.I also have small feet size 5w and have 2 pairs of go to work shoes. One pair of wedges and one pair of flats

Regarding fit, I have to buy EVERYTHING in a slightly strechy fabric. otherwise I would have to shell out bank for tailoring. When things have a bit of give it helps out the girls for sure.


Don’t try too hard to look older, then it looks like you are trying to hard. In addition to looking younger I also have a very high ptched “sweet” voice. When you kick ass at your job, which I bet you do, you give an air of authority.

TBH no matter what I do the crossing guard at the highschool by my house tries to threaten me with tardies.



Post # 4
3520 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

One way of dressing professionally is to adapt a plain, conservative uniform for yourself.  Black pants or pencil skirt on the bottom, a nice T, shell, and cardigan on top.  Buy blazers and blouses at the thrift store when you can find them.  I keep a thin black cardigan at the office so if I get pulled into a meeting, it will work on top of most shirts.

when you can afford it, get more pieces, but start with the basics.

Post # 5
9087 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

You’d be surprised what you’ll find at Goodwill and other thrift stores.

I am a frequent good-willer. I can find items in perfect condition still with store tags on them. I have bought quite a few nice blazers and fitted dress jackets from them. Definitely take a look when you get a chance.

Post # 6
43 posts
  • Wedding: September 2013

I absolutely agree with the thrift store suggetsion. I’m about to start my first teaching job and I look SUPER young. I’m not as short as you, but I don’t have the boobs either? I am thin and not “womanly” looking if you see what I mean… I get asked what grade I’m in frequently ๐Ÿ™

However! I get all my “teacher clothes” at Goodwill-type places, and at least that solves the money part of your problem. That way you have more $ left over for tailoring if you need it.

Post # 7
1733 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

One more vote for Goodwill — especially so that you can try a lot of different looks on to see what works. As a short semi-busty lady myself, those buttondowns are going to kill you every time. Maybe some generous knits or tunic-style tops in a luxe fabric?

Also, maybe go to a local mall/outlet and “shop” to see what sorts of brands tend to produce clothes that look good on you? Then come home and eBay those brands to see what you can find.

The PP who suggested the “basic uniform” has a good idea, too. When you do start scquiring pieces, try to come up with a really interlocking wardrobe, where lots of pieces match lots of other pieces. The basic black pieces — skirt, pants, blazer in the same fabric, light cardigan, heavy cardigan — are worth a LOT.


Post # 8
1370 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I’m 4’11/5′ and have some of the same issue. I’m really petite, so I have trouble finding pants.

I’ve started wearing dressed with cardigans. I wear a lot of heels during the summer months, but I can wear a 5-5.5 shoe size – so it’s a little easier for me to find shoes.

If money is an issue – hit up consignment shops. I’ve found petite name brand pants at really low prices (that were already hemmed so I can wear them with flats) – also E-Bay. I’ve found Victoria and Express pants in my size for around 15-25 per pair. I’ve also found Express button-up shirts, 2 for $10. Maybe just avoid wearing jeans – any type of professional clothing is going to set you apart from the students.

I get cardigans from Old Navy because they hold up the best and they’re pretty cheap. In the winter, my standard work outfit is a dress with a cardigan and leggings paired with a pair of boots. I’m an office manager and I think I look pretty professional is that get-up. I don’t think a student is likely to be wearing the same type of outfit.

@MrsLongcoatPeacoat:  pretty much hit the nail on the head with her suggestion of professional outfits.

Post # 9
4495 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’m 4’10” so I hear ya. I find JCrew clothes to fit me really well while being sophisticated and professional, but they can be pricey. We have a JCrew outlet here so I can find AMAZING deals sometimes – their pants fit me really well.

Otherwise the suggestions for goodwill and EBay are great. Just look for basics that you can mix and match to create many outfits and help save money. I’d check out Marshalls and TJMaxx too – I found a lot of my work attire there when I first got out of college and needed to start my professional wardrobe from scratch.

I wear a 5 in shoes and it can be really hard to find my size. I can’t even imagine a 4! That must be difficult ๐Ÿ™

Post # 10
734 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Oh I get you! I’m a more average height (about 5’3″) but still petite. But if I’m not wearing make up, people ask me what grade I’m in…

Looking professional and nice clothes help, but at my work most of the time I’m wearing 3/4 length sleeve shirts and yoga pants (I’m a massage therapist, so comfy clothes are okay) and people think I’m older just because of the way I carry myself. I’ve had to work really hard at coming off as more mature (because we all know I’m not :P).

Make up does help though… I think it is good to wear professional looking but YOUNG clothes. That way you look professional, so you look more mature and older, but you don’t look like you’re playing dress up. Use lots of colors and play up your own unique style.

Post # 11
1145 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

Get some great pieces. I am a young teacher and I dress like that (not slutty nor drabby but just my age). And don’t forget to be yourself!!

In addition to what the PP has said, you can stalk eBay to find some dirt cheap pieces. I got a beautiful dress for $4 and all I had to do was cut and hem it. I recently avoided my graduation this year and used the money to buy some clothes on moddeals.com. I decided to follow this blog as a guideline as to how I could stretch my wardrobe. It is a very helpful read.

I hope ths helps

Post # 12
337 posts
Helper bee

@MsBlackberry:  I’m about to go into my student teaching year and I can so relate with you right now! I’ve spent the last month or so looking for adequate clothes to wear during the upcoming academic year, starting in 2 weeks, and I have not been able to find anything! It is extremely frustrating…I’m 5’1″ with a small frame, every dressy pant it’s too long and like you I don’t have the money to buy expensive ones or tailor them :/

I do have several button up shirts so I’m thinking I’ll use those a lot with cardigans like you did, money’s extremely tight since I’m paying for my school so hopefully I can find out how to accessorize and mix/match so that it looks diff every day.


Suits are expensive, I think I might stop by a few used-clothes stores, at this point I’ll try anything haha


Post # 13
3256 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@MsBlackberry:  It sounds to me like learning some dress making skills will be a really, really valuable thing for you in the future.  Most clothes you’ll want to wear won’t fit you.  I feel your pain, to a lesser extent.  I’m an athlete, and have to buy 32″ waist pants for the leg size and have them taken in.  I’m also 5’7″, so I long ago accepted that whatever pants cost at a store, I must add $12 for a hem.

But, seriously, I would suggest looking into taking some sewing classes so you can alter things yourself, and then, for the rest of your life, you’ll have more options.

Post # 14
1070 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Dresses and heels! Dresses and heels!

I’m a teacher and when I first started, I was only a few years older than my students. My best friends?

Dresses and heels.

In your case, skirts and blouses. How about try a pencil skirt with a larger blouse to fit your bust? And I’m talking BLOUSE, not cotton shirt.

Not to mention, it’s your attitude that makes you the adult in the room, not your clothes. ๐Ÿ™‚ good luck!

Post # 15
337 posts
Helper bee

@JackiBean:  may I ask what grade did you start with? I’m going for elementary grades and I don’t know how comfortable heels would be.  I love wearing pencil skirts and heels but idk if the tight skirts would work for running around with kids hehe

Post # 16
1070 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014


Ah! Great point. I teach 9th grade English. I do some running (from the back of the room to the front), but it’s probably not anything close to what you’d do.


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