To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we visited with three fashionable educators in Minnesota to talk clothes, classrooms and clogs.
School photos can often be a major source of cringey feelings - who hasn't looked back and thought, "What was I thinking wearing that?". Teachers and friends Ellie, Marquette and Janette definitely won't have that problem - they've turned dressing for work and school into a most fashionable event. They document their amazing work outfits on the Instagram account @fineartsandfashion, a digital style journal where they showcase their beautifully curated, brilliantly eclectic and fun outfits on a daily basis.
Turning their school's hallways into a runway, the FAF ladies combine edgy individuality with current trends and vintage finds. Co-workers and ad hoc photographers Gina & Carly snap their picture wherever it's convenient in the building, be that in a meeting room, the cafeteria or backstage in the theatre department. As Marquette says, "Life is one big Spirit Week!" and there is never a lack of inspiration on their page. Despite always looking like a dynamic trio, they never coordinate outfits and if they match, it's on accident. Creativity is their main message - make sense, since they teach visual arts, media and drama to middle and high school students.
We interviewed Ellie, Marquette and Janette to celebrate Teacher Appreciation week and to find out what inspires them in fashion and education and why clogs are a good teaching shoe. And, as a bonus, the ladies put together a little Sanita photoshoot at their school!
"Being a teacher is doing 100 different jobs, and we just want people to realize it’s so much more than what they see on the surface" - Ellie
How did @fineartsandfashion come to be?
Ellie: All three of us love fashion, trying new styles, and experimenting, and I had been wanting to document my outfits every day for posterity sake, but didn’t feel like I could do it alone. So we all came together and decided it would be fun to document all our outfits together; to show that teachers don’t have to stick to a dress code and we can be expressive and be ourselves through our style, too.
Marquette: All Ellie’s idea! She is really the glue that holds us together, in this endeavor and in our relationships with each other and our broader group of friends!
How would you describe your individual fashion style?
Marquette: I like a good theme, I really like to dress my mood, and I love to just say “go for it!”
Ellie: Classic with a twist - I feel like I kind of go with whatever I feel for the day, but it mainly roots in pieces that feel somewhat classic but with a little extra.
Janette: Eclectic cozy
What inspires your looks?
Marquette: I think there is a bit of my high school self in almost everything I wear… a bit of early 90s alternative darkness surrounded by a bit of whimsy, a bit of business, a bit of snobbery, a bit of couch potato, and a bit of "hey there, sporty". But, in the end, you can’t go wrong with black.
Ellie: Period-piece movies and TV shows, street style in New York, looks found on Pinterest, the runway, Marquette and Janette ;)
Janette: Each other! I’ve tried things I never even knew to try because I was inspired by my friends.
"They are SO COMFY! I can be on my feet all day and not feel like they are cramping any part of my style or day." - Ellie
Do your coworkers/students comment on your outfits? What do they think?
Marquette: Yes, especially at first when I started teaching and I did not have Janette and Ellie to balance out my “interesting” outfits. Now that I have them, my co-workers just think we are especially “artsy.” Students will often comment about my shoes. I have a lot! Although sadly enough after my foot surgery this past summer I have had to part with many I will never be able to wear again, which is why Sanita clogs are perfect, comfortable and they go with all my clothes. :)
Janette: I think there’s a spectrum of inspired to judgement.
Ellie: Some students ask why we wear what we’re wearing, some say they like certain pieces of what we’re wearing, and some ask where we got our clothes from. I have never really had a rude or mean comment from a student or teacher, just questions. Though my husband doesn’t always get all my choices, ha!
What have you learned about footwear working on your feet all day for so many years?
Marquette: I learned early on that I can’t do heels, suede, or unsupportive shoes at school. Heels = just no. Suede = if they can't be wiped off with a damp towel then they don’t work in an art room. No support = I have high arches, so I need support or else my feet are useless at the end of the day!
Janette: Good shoes are everything! Cozy and cute! Statement shoes that you can wear all day are the ideal! Invest! The nicer the shoe, the happier the foot! Platforms are everything.
Ellie: Without good footwear, I end up distracted and just thinking about how much my feet hurt, so I need good footwear!
What are your favorite Sanita clogs and why?
Marquette: I have always been a fan of more classic clogs, so an easily slipped-on pair of basic color clogs is perfect. I have always had a brown, navy blue, black, and red pair of clogs. It’s amazing how long one can be in clogs and you and your feet remain comfortable and happy!
Janette: Mary Janes - I love a little strap and buckle.
"I need support or else my feet are useless at the end of the day!" - Marquette
What was your first impression when you put on your Sanita clogs?
Ellie: They are SO COMFY! I can be on my feet all day and not feel like they are cramping any part of my style or day.
Janette: SO COZY!!! They are like pillows for my feet!
How did you first learn about Sanita and clogs in general?
Janette: I worked at a thrift store in Union Square in NYC in 2015 and I remember a lady coming in with clogs and thinking to myself… this footwear choice is rarely seen but it’s for me!!
Easiest way to add a bit of individual style to a professional outfit?
Marquette: Hats and shoes can add a bit of oddity or what we in art like to call "contrast" to any outfit!
Ellie: Accessories and shoes! They can shift an entire outfit’s look.
Janette: A hat, if it's allowed.
What's the best thing the community can do right now to support teachers and show appreciation?
Ellie: Appreciate all that teachers do. We are not just teaching your kids how to take photos or paint or write or how to do math… we are teaching them about life outside of school, managing their schedules, teaching them how to be a good human, working through life problems with them, being a counselor, keeping up with current teaching expectations and also trying to balance our own lives outside of school walls.
Being a teacher is doing 100 different jobs, and we just want people to realize it’s so much more than what they see on the surface
Marquette: I think we are all really burned out and have been working our butts off, so I would say we need time. The preps we are given do not equate to the amount of time we need for grading, lesson planning, and prepping. This has been even more relevant since COVID, since we are re-writing all of our lesson plans, learning new systems, prepping for multiple scenarios, and dealing with possibly the broadest range of people possible. Teachers’ health (mental, physical, spiritual, etc.) is delineated to the point where we need respite & resources in these areas.
Janette: I think it can be the little things...maybe the things they just think that are nice that they wouldn’t share out loud would go a really long way when verbalized! Say the nice things you think!
What's your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Janette: I love my kids. I love being surprised by them, I love watching them learn, I love learning from them! It’s the best way to spend a day.
Marquette: Seeing a student create something in which they impress themselves in both their artistic skill and imagination.
Ellie: Being able to use my own creativity to bring out the creativity in my students. To see them thrive in certain areas they didn’t know they could love so much and then leaving our school to pursue those creative fields is incredibly fulfilling and makes it all feel worth it
What advice would you give to a new teacher in their first year?
Marquette: Set boundaries and say no when other work is asked of you. You are a teacher, learn to teach well and settle into what you are called to do. Always evaluate yourself and revise!
Janette: Stress less. Make small attainable goals and pat yourself on the back when you accomplish them.
Ellie: You won’t get it right in the first year or even your fifth year. It’s ok to fail- you will only be a better teacher for it. It took me 5 years to really understand what was sticking long term and how to integrate that into what I was teaching and doing- overall, be forgiving of yourself!
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