When you start teaching, you’ll probably have a lot of questions. One of them is how you should dress so that you appear professional but are also comfortable in front of a classroom full of students. How to dress can be an absolute nightmare for teachers.
While the students have their uniforms, the teacher has to pick out a suitable outfit every day. If you’re new to teaching, you might feel like you need a formal wardrobe, but it’s down to you.
Let’s see how teachers can make sensible clothing choices and how you can find your look while also remaining a consummate professional.
Why Should You Consider What to Wear?
Teaching is a demanding profession in a lot of ways you often don’t think of. Young and immature students will regularly judge their teachers wear.
There are also important events when you’ll need to carefully consider what to wear:
- The interview
- The first day you meet each of your classes
- Meetings with colleagues
- End of year events
- Parents’ evening
This means that you need a mix of formal, elegant, and appropriate clothing for everyday use and these particular events. Similarly, you’ll want clothes that you feel comfortable in. It might be worth thinking about before the academic year begins.
Depending on the school’s dress code, teachers have a lot of freedom when it comes to what they wear. Of course, sexism hasn’t disappeared overnight and, unfortunately, female teachers tend to have more difficulties when it comes to choosing appropriate attire.
However, that doesn’t mean you should be stopped from wearing what you want. If the school you’re working at doesn’t let you wear what you’re comfortable in, you might want to change schools.
Some teachers will worry more about what their colleagues think of their outfits rather than their students. In a healthy workplace environment, this really shouldn’t be a problem.
“Elegance is a question of personality, more than one's clothing.” Jean-Paul Gaultier
What a teacher wears can be very important. You need to ensure that your outfit is also suitable for the age groups that you work with. In some cases, this means wearing outfits that won’t cause disruptions in class.
Choosing Appropriate Clothing
The first thing you need to consider when choosing your outfit is your establishment’s dress code. There may be a few things that you can’t wear.
In any case, this can help make decisions on what not to wear. In some cases, the dress code is flexible and in others, it’s the law. Generally, a lot of common dress codes mandate:
- Jackets, blazers, or suit jackets
- Formal shirts
- Understated coats
- Longer dresses or skirts
These kinds of rules don’t leave much for fashionistas and while t-shirts with designs on them or a patterned blouse might be a better way to express your personality, some establishments forbid them.
If you have any doubts, you can always ask.
It’s a good idea to have something akin to general business attire handy like trousers and a jacket as they can be used in a lot of situations. You might also want breathable shirts, too, as teaching can involve a lot of movement and you don't want sweat patches.
It’s a good idea to opt for clothes that are easy to wash. With correcting homework, marking tests, and preparing lessons, you don’t want a wardrobe that takes ages to wash.
We recommend choosing comfortable and functional shoes. As a teacher, you may be on your feet a lot and moving between classrooms throughout the day and you don’t want to get home and have sore feet from uncomfortable shoes or heels.
The most important thing is that you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing. If your style is important to you, try to find a way to make it work. However, remember that teaching can involve a lot of moving around so you also want to feel comfortable when you do.
Classic Outfits that Work
“I wear the same outfit or, at least, a different copy of it almost every day.” - Mark Zuckerberg
When it comes to what a teacher should wear, there are two schools of thought:
- Wear simple outfits that are comfortable and often very similar so you have less to worry about.
- Regularly change your outfits so that you don’t feel self-conscious about always wearing the same thing.
For the former, just keep doing what you’re doing. For the latter, we have some advice. Firstly, moderately formal trousers, shirts/blouses, and jackets are changeable and classic.
Generally, it’s recommended that women wear a dress or skirt that reaches close to their knees and tights. However, as summer approaches, the tights may have to go.
Jeans and a shirt can also look quite relaxed and some places won’t be bothered if you choose to wear these kinds of clothes, but always check with your employer before you show up dressed like you’re going on a night out.
Of course, if you teach PE, you’ll dress differently as you need to wear functional and suitable clothes.
A teacher needs to adapt their clothes to what they do. In some cases, your ability as a teacher will be judged by how you dress so it's a good idea to dress and look like you’re a good teacher. However, you also need to dress in a way that allows you to teach as effectively as possible.
The Outfits Teachers Shouldn’t Wear
While there are a couple of outfits that any teacher would be fine wearing, there are thousands of outfits that aren’t recommended. If you’re teaching younger children, you don’t want to wear any clothes that will shock them or give parents any reason to complain.
As for makeup, it’s a good idea to go for a less-is-more approach. Avoid using too much mascara and use a light amount of makeup.
As for your haircut, this may also be covered by the dress code. For longer hair, tying it up or putting it in a ponytail is recommended. In most cases, hair length isn’t too much of a problem.
Generally, avoid wearing anything too revealing. This is true for both men and women, but women get much more harshly judged for it.
Finally, just use your common sense. You should be comfortable in what you wear, but also remember that if you’re in a school, what you wear can reflect on you as a teacher and the school.
Now you should know a bit more about what to wear to teach. To learn more, check out our other articles.
If you'd like help with teaching, you could always look to private tutors. On Superprof, there are tutors for a large variety of subjects as well as those who specialise in teaching or pedagogy.
There are different types of tutoring available so you must consider the pros and cons of each before you decide which would work best for you and what you want to learn.
Face-to-face tutoring is excellent if you have specific things you want to learn and work on as the tutor can tailor every lesson to you. These tutors tend to charge more than others as they spend extra time outside of the lessons planning and adapting their resources to the student. However, this also makes them the most cost-effective type of tutoring because every minute of the lesson is spent working with you.
Group tutorials are great for those on a budget as the cost of the tutor's time is shared amongst several students. This does mean that you won't be able to get lessons that are tailored specifically to you, but if you're looking to brush up on your subject, for example, this type of learning approach could be very useful and affordable.
If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, you can always broaden your search to include private online tutors from all over the country and around the world. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, there's no limit to how far away your tutors can be.
Don't forget that a lot of tutors on the Superprof website offer the first lesson for free. Once you've found a few tutors that you think could be suitable, get in touch with them to arrange a free lesson. You can try out several tutors before deciding upon the one that's right for you and how you like to learn.
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