Rosemary Miller tends to do things by the book. That’s not surprising, considering she teaches second grade at a private, coed K-6 elementary school in Los Angeles. Born in New York and raised in L.A. since age three, the 27-year-old Miller has been teaching for five years and is currently pursing a doctorate degree in education leadership at UCLA. “My goal in life is to improve the way we teach kids to read,” she said.
Miller’s daily routine includes planning her outfit and washing her long hair the night before (she usually winds it into a low bun for work), in order to be out the door by 6:45 a.m. “The kids get there at the same time every day, 7:45,” she said. “I have a note in my iPhone with awkward selfies of my outfits saved so if I am ever at a loss for what to wear I look on my iPhone.”
For Miller, who goes by Mrs. Miller in the classroom and Rosie off-duty, a throwback to the days when teachers wore pencil skirts and heels to work wouldn’t be a bad thing. “The field over the past 50 years has kind of lost some of its professionalization as it has become more highly regulated federally, so I think dressing nicely is a way to bring that professionalism back a little,” she said. Still, anything higher than a kitten heel would be too much for someone who spends most of the day on her feet. “I always pack a pair of flats, just in case,” she said.
WWD: Is there a dress code at your school?
Rosemary Miller: It really depends on the school. I’ve worked at schools where jeans are not allowed and others where they are. I’m now working at a more traditional school where there is a stricter dress code. There is a handbook with guidelines for faculty and staff dress and most of it is relayed to you through other teachers. For example, in my first few weeks, I asked another teacher, “I know we can’t wear jeans but can we wear a jean jacket?” You can if you are wearing it in a dressier way. This is true across the board at the schools I’ve worked at: you can wear open-toed shoes but they have to have backs, so no flip-flops. It’s mainly for safety because you are going up and down stairs and running after kids.
WWD: What accessories do you wear?
R.M.: My grandma gave me these pearl earrings; they are my birthstone. I wear these every single day. I like having a little something and they do go with everything. Oftentimes I’m leaning over with a kid and if I’m wearing a big necklace it’s waving in the air; bracelets can be noisy because I move my arms a lot when I’m teaching. The only other thing I wear every day is my sunhat because I’m outside whether it’s carpool duty or recess duty or lunch duty, at least 20 to 30 minutes every day.
WWD: What is your go-to outfit?
R.M.: A longer, full skirt with a shell or loose-fitting blouse tucked in. I love a flowy skirt especially with a waist at the top because I do feel like I can sit on the carpet with the kids on my knees or even cross my legs and my skirt will flow out in front of me. I always have a cardigan because of the change in temperature and I also like to wear something without a sleeve. If I know I am talking with a parent or we have a formal event I can just throw a cardigan over it and my shoulders are covered. I love my navy cardigan and underneath I will do a pop of color like a pink or a red, something fun.
If I wear pants, I usually go for a capri or something to the ankle bone with a flat and a blouse. I tend to do straight pants, no pockets, in navy, black. I like something with a little bit of stretch because I am constantly sitting down and getting up, and you don’t want to end up with baggy pants.
WWD: What are your go-to stores?
R.M.: My big three are J. Crew, Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic. I love them because their pieces are very teacher-friendly — you can find the flowy skirts, the simple blouses and cardigans, just real staple pieces you can wear year after year. Those stores also have great teacher discounts. I do most of my shopping online, although to get the teacher discount you do have to go to the store so a couple of times a year I do a big shop.
WWD: Is there overlap between your work and non-work wardrobes?
R.M.: When it gets to the weekend, I just want to throw on comfy jeans, Converse or Toms and a T-shirt. A lot of my tops will transfer over so while I might not wear a whole outfit to dinner, I can keep the shell on and throw on a blazer and jeans and it’s a totally different look.
WWD: Do you have an everyday bag?
R.M.: I have different ones but they are all big and durable with flat bottoms and sturdy straps that are comfortable on my shoulder. I have a Lululemon black bag that’s washable so if I spill my coffee down the side it’s not a big deal. It’s really about the function rather than the brand. What I love about my Lulu bag is that it has various pockets but it’s still a big bucket tote bag. Because I don’t want to carry a purse and a tote.