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For Female Teachers...Dressing Professional!

Updated on January 24, 2013

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we need to be taken seriously!
we need to be taken seriously!

After twenty years of teaching, I have finally figured my professional wardrobe out. I love style, and I love comfort, and I have dressed every which way for work. I see new teachers coming in and making the same mistakes as I did, and so I thought I would put together a list of tips for anyone who is interested in reading them.

  1. Give in to the fact that you do need two wardrobes. One that is professional, for school, and one that is your cool girlfriend going out wardrobe.
  2. Ladies, beware the bra and cleavage issues! It is unprofessional to show bra straps, bra color, or cleavage. It is just not okay in the teaching business.
  3. Along similar lines, be careful about the sheerness of clothes. Lined clothes are usually more expensive, but we don't want to be the talk of the school!
  4. Skirts are simple...not too short. We need to move around, bend over, squat, move things. We need coverage.
  5. Casual/professional is usually a mix. If jeans are allowed, pair dress jeans with a blouse or jacket. A more casual shirt with slacks is another good balance.
  6. Comfort is key. We work long hours and not usually in spectacular circumstances. If your shirt is itchy or your pants are tight it may just ruin your day.
  7. Shoes are important. They can't hurt! They can be cute and practical. The day that I wore my worst shoes was invariably the day I had unexpected ground to cover. No more.
  8. Good breath is important. Remember being a student? A teacher's bad breath can really interfere with the learning process. Enough said.
  9. Deodorant and scent are also important, and along the same lines. Don't let smells interfere with learning. Overpowering perfumes and colognes are equally as distracting.
  10. Double check...buttons buttoned? Fly zipped? Underarms shaved? Anything out of place? We are scrutinized from every angle, and gossiped about mercilessly.
  11. Where I live, a good spritz of hairspray goes a long way. I go car to wind to office to wind to classroom, etc. etc., and my hair now looks almost exactly the same when I get home.
  12. Teachers don't have to be fuddy duddies. I love fashion, and even though it's not high or cutting edge fashion, it's not giving the message that I've given up completely.
  13. Make-up polishes a professional look. Not overly heavy make-up, but make up that shows pride and that you consider yourself a professional.
  14. A watch completes the outfit. Although phones have replaced watches to a great extent, there are still situations where a phone should be away and the teacher is the timekeeper.

skirt too short or tight
attractive skirt with room to move
shoes too high or too tight
cute but practical
clothes that are sheer or fussy
camisols, slips, or lined items
outfits too warm or too summery
layers that allow for a range of temps
bare-faced or too-heavy makeup
polished make-up
appears rumpled, rushed, or slovenly
well put-together clean, wrinkle-free outfits
breath or body odor

Have you ever had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in the classroom?

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    • profile image

      BCare 5 years ago

      I have so many outfits that i class to be professional outfits. comfortable clothing is the first and upmost important. no clothing to tight or too loose is unacceptable. no extremely bright colours that distract students. soft colours such as baby pink, gray and brown. Not dark depressing sexual type colors such as the little black dress either. slacks and skirts are fine as long as the are not thin and see through. blouses included. strapless shirts and clothing that show undergarments are unacceptable too. had to be honest. : )

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Great suggestions for the busy school professional! Comfort cannot be sacrificed for style, and coverage is equally important. When you bend over in the classroom, hallway, or office, you don't need to put on a show, whether male or female. I found that the layered look was helpful for any temperature, and so practical when needing to switch from dressy to casual in a quick moment.

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Of course! I think squeaky shoes are even worse than hard shoes - the students can't stop giggling and lose concentration.

    • Lauhulu profile image

      Lauhulu 5 years ago from Hawaii, United States

      This is true, nifwlseirff ! May I include your suggestion in an edit? I had a student just a few weeks ago ask me not to wear a squeaky pair of shoes again!

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, welcome to Hubpages, this is a very good Hub! As a retired teacher I agree with everything you wrote! Voted up and interesting. Please continue to write articles as good as this one!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Although my phone is always with me (it's my dictionary as I teach EFL), my watch is also essential! It's less distracting to check time on a watch than to pull out my phone.

      Plus, flat, soft soled shoes are important - I'm on my feet for much of the day, and walking around noisy, echo-ey, wooden-floored classrooms. Noisy solid heels are a distraction, especially when students are doing writing or reading tasks!