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Proper Attire for Teachers

Updated on July 29, 2012

It may sound cliché or relatively obvious, but dressing appropriately is extremely important for your profession. Your clothing choice is part of your career, and it plays a major part. Whether you are a construction worker with boots and Carhartts or a business professional in a three-piece suit, your attire reflects on who you are. Specifically, this hub addresses the proper attire of teachers and other educators.

From my time as a student to now as a teacher, I understand the importance of appearance. The way you dress is your first impression and a reflection of who you are. It may sound shallow, but you will be judged on this immediately. Not only will dressing well help in an interview and around other faculty, it will help garnish more respect from the students as well. Appearance is always your first impression, so it needs to count.

Proper dress seems to generally be more of an issue for males than females. This may sound stereotypical or sexist, but face it, men, because it's true. I'm a guy, so I can get away with saying that. Since I am more aiming this at men, I will only address the women on a few points. Keep it classy and not trashy. Looking good is fine, but there is no need to dress seductively. You are not there to really impress anyone. Keep everything covered, and don't wear extremely form fitting clothes. You are trying to teach the students and not distract them.

Gentlemen, this next portion is devoted to you. Unfortunately, male teachers often seem to struggle with dress. There are common issues to address:

Shoes and belt - Your shoes and belt should always match (brown shoes/brown belt or black shoes/black belt). Always wear a belt, and if not, wear suspenders. Don't just go without. Don't wear tennis shoes either. Dress shoes should be worn because you are dressed up; keep them polished and not all scuffed up.

Ties - While many schools do not require male teachers to wear a tie, I recommend it. Ties and sport-coats help to gain respect and show authority. Make sure the knot of your tie is tight and centered; also be sure the length of the tie is around the buckle of your belt.

Wrinkles - Don't wear wrinkled dress pants or shirts. Take them out of the dryer early and invest in an iron. Wrinkled clothing looks sloppy and like you don't care.

Untucked - While moving around teaching all day, it is easy for your shirt to come untucked. Reaching to write on the board and other actions can cause this. It looks very sloppy for part of your shirt to be untucked and hanging out. Be sure to check and make sure your shirt remains tucked in.

Matching – This one may sound obvious but to some people it isn’t. Your clothing should always match. You cannot just pair any color with another. Mixing different patterns can also cause other disasters.

Most of this advice is simple and easy to correct. However, the simple things can make a huge difference to someone’s outfit. Dressing well and looking like you care about how you look will help to immediately gain the respect of those around you. You can never take back a first impression. Students pay attention to how their teachers dress, and I have witness it firsthand that they appreciate and more easily respect well dressed teachers.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I completely agree with you on this article. I taught for eighteen years and though I hate ties I always wore one, as well as dress slacks and decent shoes. A teacher needs to appear professional in their dress and manner; you are a professional and should act and dress like one.

      Great message my friend, one I completely agree with.

    • Joelipoo profile image
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      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @billy - I guess it's just a little pet peeve of mine. I think that someone should dress in the way they want to be perceived. Teachers serve as models for the students and this is one way to help command respect.

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 5 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      This advice applies to many other professions as well. I worked in a time when we would wear jackets whenever meeting with a client or going to the conference room--it was a matter of showing you took business seriously. Now even law offices have taken to "business casual."

      Also, many kids don't have a male role model and it would be nice for them to be exposed to professional dress. Maybe kids will want to follow your example instead of wearing PJs to school.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good advice for teachers in how to dress. Some colleges allow you to wear whatever you want these days. However, I still prefer to dresss in what they call "business casual". I think it shows some respect for the position.

    • Joelipoo profile image
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      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @kschimmel - I agree that people have become lazy and think more relaxed is better. We have gotten away from wanting to dress up.

    • Joelipoo profile image
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      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @teaches - I was referring to more of secondary teachers, but a great deal of my college professors dressed extremely casually. It just makes it harder to view them as an authority figure when they are dressed the same as the students.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I worked for a public school district for 18 years and for the most part was appalled by the clothes all the teachers wore! Sweat pants, jeans, shorts...just not right. You are so right and I wish all teachers had to read your hub before starting their careers and then again after a few years as a reminder. How can you command respect when you dress like the kids, or worse! Voted this up, useful and interesting.

    • Joelipoo profile image
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      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @Till - What someone wears makes up a huge part of who they are. It's definitely true when trying to gain respect from students.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Good article with excellent advice. I worked my whole life as a registered nurse. Back in the days when i started the proper dress was white, including shoes and socks, and a white cap for women. As the years passed, and the dress code relaxed, nurses started dressing in different colors, and often casually - in no 'uniform' at all. I think that lost a lot of respect for nurses as professionals. Nowadays you can't tell the nurses from the visitors most of the time.

      And you are right in that, when you give up your professionalism, you lose your respect.

    • Joelipoo profile image
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      Joelipoo 5 years ago from Ohio

      @dwilliam - Your last line about giving up professionalism says it all. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Jules2013 4 years ago

      I hope you are not an English teacher, judging by the last paragraph.

    • Joelipoo profile image
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      Joelipoo 4 years ago from Ohio

      @Jules - Point out what is incorrect in there if you are so critical.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      A proper dress sense says a lot about who you are! Thanks for sharing, Joelipoo.

    • Joelipoo profile image
      Author

      Joelipoo 4 years ago from Ohio

      @midget - Thanks for reading and commenting. You are right that what you wear tells about who you are.

    • profile image

      sean 2 years ago

      I disagree with the no tennis shoes. Since it's a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, I believe comfort should come before the look. I have tried the dress shoes look and it just isn't feasible in the classroom...well not my classroom anyway. I need something light, flexible, and extremely comfortable. Everything else you mention if fairly good advice, although I skip the tie...a little bit too formal for my liking.

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