Dressed to Teach
One time when I was a teenager, I was meandering in the library. I wanted something to read but had no idea what. So, I began to randomly grab books off the shelves. One cover caught my eye. It was stunning. The artwork and coloration were exquisite.
“This one will do,” I decided. It turned out to be one of the best stories I’ve ever read. That experience was when I first started to doubt the proverb “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Appearance is the initial impression we impart to other people. How someone wishes to present themselves, and therefore, their respect for themselves and others, is reflected deeply in their outfits and outward appearance.
An author who respects and wants people to read their book invests in a gripping cover to draw people in. Likewise, people who take time to pay attention to appearance and grooming show that they care about their bodies and their image. They have respect for their profession, colleagues, and subordinates.
Regardless of personal beliefs and opinions, your dress in the classroom automatically sets the tone for your interactions with students and administration.
Do Looks Matter in Teaching?
YES! They do!
Following the dress code and with a professional look does wonders for a teacher’s image. It establishes a boundary between teacher and student and promotes confidence. Parents and students are more likely to respect and lend credibility to someone who presents themselves professionally.
Fun teachers dress wildly for special occasions (spirit week, holidays, birthdays, etc.). However, professional dress on most days maintains an atmosphere of control and focused learning in the classroom. Students and colleagues are more likely to respect individuals who appear older or more mature. When a teacher dresses like they are in charge, it encourages positive student attitudes.
Following a set dress code also shows superiors your willingness to cooperate. As a teacher, you are going to have disagreements and issues. That is normal in any profession, but the old adage, “Pick your fights wisely,” applies to your school dress. Abiding by the dress code adds credit to other arguments you make or accommodations you ask for. In general, employers are more cooperative with cooperative employees.
Abiding by the dress code also sets a good example for students. A dress code is a standard expectation in any profession. Teachers should encourage students to comply with the dress code rather than teach them to be rebellious. Yes, stand up for yourself when you have been wronged, but every workplace has a dress code. Compliance is the best way to give a good first impression and set yourself up for success.
What is The Required Dress for a Teacher?
Business-casual is the expected standard for a teacher. This dress has the general requirements of a business professional, but colors and individuality are allowed. Try to avoid:
- Mini skirts
- Flip flops
- Ill-fitted clothing
- Large or gaudy jewelry
- Casual dresses
Every organization will have its specific dress code, so be sure to thoroughly read it before acquiring your wardrobe.
Suits should be worn for meetings or interviews as they demonstrate professionalism. New teachers are advised to play it safe and dress up. Doing so establishes your dedication to work and professionalism with students and colleagues early in the job. It is harder to gain this respect later if you start your school year appearing too casual and relaxed.
Dressing Professionally Within a Budget
Dressing nice costs money. Being a trendy teacher with a teacher’s salary is hard.
Do not discount the low-budget options. You don’t need $500 suits to look sharp and ready for the day. Go to Target, Walmart, thrift stores, and other discount stores. These all contain appropriate and affordable clothing for teaching.
For women, midi dresses are a great option! They are a respectable length and fit the bill for an appropriate work dress. They are affordable, colorful, and fun!
Plain shirts can be just as inventive. Think of them as blank canvases! You can spice them up with scarves, jewelry, sweaters, and accessories so one shirt has a hundred different styles. You are only limited by your imagination.
Comfortable shoes and clothing are nice, but teachers need to distinguish themselves from their students. Authority and respect are conveyed from a proper outfit. The focus and energy of students are vastly improved when they see a clear leader in the classroom. Dressing smart opens up the avenue to success!
Judging a Book by Its Cover
On that casual day, looking for a book in the library, I picked one based on its visual appeal. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows really was as fantastic as its captivating cover. Even better, the sequel was ten times as amazing as its predecessor with a matching effervescent outside.
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By: Lela Haroldsen
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“Dress for Success/Dress Code.” Etools4Education, https://www.online-distance-learning-education.com/dress-code.html.
“How to Dress Professional: What It Is and Why It's Important.” Glassdoor Career Guides, Glassdoor Inc., 30 June 2021, https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/guide/how-to-dress-professional/.
Johnson, Lois Joy. “10 Ways to Wear a Midi Skirt and Dress.” AARP, 1 Mar. 2019, https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/style-trends/info-2019/how-to-wear-midi-skirt.html#:~:text=The%20term%20%E2%80%9Cmidi%E2%80%9D%20applies%20to,few%20inches%20of%20ankle%20show.
Tingley, Suzanne. “Teacher Attire Matters, and Here's Why.” Hey Teach!, 28 Feb. 2017,