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Dear Tattered Toronto Teacher,

There's nothing harder than shopping for clothes with the knowledge that your workplace is a potential danger zone for any newly acquired garment. The idea of spending $150 on that cashmere cardigan is suddenly less appealing when you think of the likelihood that a student will mistake it for a Kleenex. What makes this shopping trip even more difficult is the fact that our tattered teacher requires clothing for a smaller frame, or what the apparel industry deems "petite".

With this knowledge at hand, we went to work at finding a few outfits suitable for the upcoming spring season that were both child-proof and fashion-forward. We pulled out 3 of spring's hottest trends, Safari, Black & White and Graphic Prints, and showed our tattered teacher that it is possible to find stylish petite pieces that are also kid-friendly. Keep reading to find key shopping tips for our Tattered Toronto Teacher.
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a) Learn to Read (your labels)
While it may not be as difficult as learning your ABC's, it's still important to learn how to read a garment tag. Make sure to take the time to read the care label on a garment before making a purchase. Find out before you buy whether or not the article of clothing is dry-clean only. In the case of our tattered teacher, it is best to avoid clothing that can't be cleaned in a traditional washer and dryer. She wants clothing that can be easily washed, not a monthly dry cleaning bill the size of a teacher's pension.

b) Make Friends with Your Tailor
While the most obvious place to find clothing made for a smaller frame is to shop the petite department, we know from past shopping trips with our vertically-challenged friends that not everything comes in petite. For those pieces that you just can't live without but are inches too long, see if the store offers free alterations. Many retailors provide this service at no charge to you. If not, find a neighborhood tailor and form a relationship. The more business you bring, the more likely you'll be able to snag a discount here and there.

c) The higher the heel, the better
If our petite teacher is anything like our petite friends, she has a slight obsession with heels. No heel is too high in their quest to add a few extra inches. Since it may not always be practical for a teacher to chase after a classroom full of 6 year olds, our advice is to look for heels with a little extra padding in the sole. Alternatively, many shoe retailers offer insoles that add an extra cushion in your step. We highly recommend Dr. Scholl's new line for footcare product designed just for women.

d) Pick your Prints with Care
Some fashion connoisseurs would advise petites to stay away from prints, but with the upcoming Spring season's obsession with prints, it's next to impossible to avoid this season's hottest trend. We think petites should be free to pick the print of their choice so long as they follow 2 rules: stick to smaller sized prints and make sure you wear them on top. Avoid oversized printed graphics as they will only serve to dwarf you and avoid printed pants as they will only draw the eye down.

* For more petite fashion tips, see our page Mom Jeans where we help Jenny find the perfect pair of jeans for a petite frame.

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