teachin' school

teaching tip 14. dress for success.

i recently read this post about dressing as a students’ advocate on “education week”.   it reminded me of this post from around this time last year.  after reading it, i updated it a little bit…


yes, i know it sounds outdated, but it’s true.

especially if you are a young teacher, be careful what you choose to wear.  middle and high school students need to see you as an elder.  even if you are four years older than your students your first year like i was.

dressing as a teacher

here’s a couple of tips to keep in mind:

  • in this case, follow the crowd.  observe what other teachers at your school are wearing.  sometimes a more casual look is appropriate.  at other schools, dressing up is the norm.
  • find your style.  don’t worry if it takes awhile to find it.  it took me years.
  • buy staples like black and gray pants, white and cream colored shirts, neutral cardigans, simple shirts.  you’ll get more out of your wardrobe if you can mix and match.
  • add in trendy styles with jewelry and not necessarily with clothes all the time.  your staples will always be there.  trends go away.
  • for school, simple is better.  you don’t want your clothes to be a distraction.
  • be comfortable.  choose clothing and shoes that you actually want to wear all day.  also, think about the temperature in your room/building. dress for the temperature inside more than outside.
  • dresses with pockets are amazing.  i don’t really buy dresses without pockets anymore.  they’re becoming more common, and i love that designers are putting them in.  it’s so much more convenient than tracking down where i left my keys all the time.
  • forget dry cleaning.  ain’t nobody got time fo that.  buy clothes made of natural fabrics or fabrics that are easy to care for.
  • watch your neckline and skirt length.  make sure that if you bend over, the kids aren’t seeing the goodies.  i realized this with one particular shirt one day.  those poor boys got an unexpected show.  i never wore that shirt again.  it wasn’t worth the risk.
  • invest in comfortable shoes.  i wear nice flip-flops, sandals, TOMS, and comfy flats pretty much every day to school, unless it snows.  you will be on your feet most of the day and you don’t want to be plagued with uncomfortable shoes.
  • don’t wear anything with appliqués or embroidery.  just don’t do the teacher sweater.  it’s not cute on anyone anymore.  the nineties are over.
  • tone down the make-up.  you’re not going out on the town.  you’re spending eight hours with a bunch of kids.
  • have some hairties and bobby pins available.  chances are, you will want to put your hair up by the end of the day.
  • pick out several outfits at night and have them ready at the front of your closet.  that way if you don’t like the way one of them looks, you have more options to choose from and you’re not wasting time trying to find something else.
  • although there are guidelines, wear what will make you feel confident and powerful.

2 thoughts on “teaching tip 14. dress for success.

  1. Absolutely love this. I had a teacher my sophomore year who was 22. And while most of us didn’t take her seriously at all (that was mostly because she kind of seemed dumber than bricks–more of a personality thing than anything else)–she at least never dressed like a student which we all appreciated, I think. The one thing that got me about her (as it would with anyone in any profession, I think( is that she would come to school and start teaching class with her hair wet.

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