What Should I Wear Today?

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20 thoughts on “What Should I Wear Today?”

  1. Very interesting for someone that hasn’t worn anything to school but short pants (year round) and a polo/collared shirt to school in over 10 years.
    What did you generally wear Ben? I have actually always felt like formal at school = stuffy and a possible barrier between me an kids.
    I would tend to be less concerned about formal dress on me and more concerned about what research says about the effect of how I dress on me and my thinking….
    what do others wear/think?

  2. I remember that some of the power dressing teachers’ clothes reflected their power dressing 4%ers and if the student didn’t have the “right” clothes on then they weren’t in the 4% club. It’s a big topic. My deal was blue jeans and polo shirts with the school insignia on it or just regular shirts. I had lots of nice slacks and never seemed to wear them because they seemed out of place. And I never could get my socks to match anyway. Why is that even a rule?

  3. Michael Coxon

    Arizona seems to be more casual than what I am used to in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up. I remember wearing ties everyday…yuck.
    I think I sweat more as a TPRS teacher. In the desert and with budget conscious schools, the beginning and ending months of the school year get hot inside and outside I have taken to wearing solid color t-shirts and khaki style pants and casual shoes. I think it lower affective filter when kids see teachers dressing casual.
    By the way, supportive shoes are a game changer for teachers. I never thought I would think so much about my feet as I get older. Teaching to eyes means we probably walk a mile a day in our classroom. Anyone have a fitbit and has tracked their steps?

  4. OH I love this post! So timely. I think we should get to wear whatever makes us feel most ourselves. So we are truly comfortable. Then our kids will be comfortable. My “uniform” has been pretty much jeans and layered t-shirt, shirt, sweater, etc. But once spring hits I def. break out the girly skirts and sparkly sandals (haha, fancy flip flops). I was lucky to work in a place where I could wear flip flops. I don’t own any pants that aren’t’ jeans or cords. I get messy (i.e., I had compost duty, which involved going around emptying buckets, going outside, etc. ALSO…old school I was using *gasp* CHALK …so yeah…messy Jen).
    Now that I am job-searching I am seriously stressed about dress code and do not own anything remotely “job-ish.” Was wandering around DSW with my sister last month looking for “interview shoes” when I freaked out bc I didn’t see anything in the store that I would actually wear! So, what do I wear to an interview?! I’m trying to interview for middle school positions and even some k-6. Any advice on this? Thanks 🙂

    1. Would you do plain flats? À la target, or TJ Maxx often has some good ones.
      I forgot about shoes… I rarely wear sneakers to work but I shamelessly wear flip flops and slipper moccasins. I used to wear heels every day… seems pretty funny now!

  5. I’ll weigh in on this topic, but I’m not sure I take the same lesson as Ben has from the article. Frankly, if I were to take anything from the article, I’d probably take the opposite, as per “”Wearing formal clothing leads to more big-picture thinking, rather than concrete thinking that focuses on the details”. I’m open to being wrong tho.
    When I began teaching in public schools at the age of 24, I was in the largest school in Nebraska and surrounded by kids who looked older than I. It was recommended by several people that I wear dressy clothes with a tie. I did so daily. I think it was probably a good move for me at the time looking quite young and needing to distinguish myself from the student body by whatever means possible. The clothes helped, and my somewhat sad attempt at a goatee was my other means.
    Now in a tiny rural school in MN and being almost ten years older, with a real-life beard and all, the practical purpose of the dressy clothes is not as important for me. In fact, because I’m cheap and don’t buy clothes (all of my dress clothes come from either that first year when I went shopping at Sears or from my fancy brother-in-law who seemingly buys two of everything and sends me a bag of clothes most years), I still wear most of these clothes minus the ties (woo hoo!!). If I wore a tie everyday I’d pry be shunned by the other male teachers.
    You guys can wear jeans everyday?! That’d be awesome. I personally think jeans are a great option for looking nice yet casual. I can only wear them on Fridays.
    To sum it up, I think optimal dress depends most on several factors: age, other teachers’ attire, personal preference, what was passed on to you by your in-laws.

    1. I’m with you, Jim. I wore dresses a lot when I was younger, but now I wear jeans on Fridays and not-quite-jeans or khakis M-Th. I used to be careful about keeping tattoos and cleavage covered; since then, a lot of conservative teachers have retired and been replaced with younger teachers with visible tattoos and cleavage. I also have a sister who buys new clothes very regularly and I get her hand-me-downs. My former principal didn’t even want us to wear jeans on Fridays, my current one doesn’t seem to care but I’ve only worn them M-Th when I was desperate for clean pants that fit.

    2. Michael Coxon

      Jim,
      That is a very good point about looking the part at a younger age. I too remember trying to look older when I was a younger teacher. Looking the part in new environments is probably a good way to establish a reputation as a professional too.
      I get a kick from the posts below the article. I compare teaching to being an artist, as someone else wrote on HP…you don’t see too many artists caught up in dressing formally in our society nowadays.

  6. I once had a principal who said that foreign language teachers are “free spirits” and he expected them to “do their own thing, and be themselves.” I took that as my license to wear bright colorful clothing. Like Leah I wear jeans on Fridays, but slacks M-TH. However, I wear my Keen hiking shoes EVERY day! gotta love Maine and its casualness – right Leah LePage?

  7. Holy jeez. I have never in my life worn anything other than jeans, shorts or cycling regalia (on commuter days) to school. Mostly I wear sandals as Vancouver has a lovely temperate climate but on rainy days Chucks.
    Jim’s comments about suits are bang-on: we have a student teacher who is short, like 5’7″, and he wears a suit so he doesn’t look like the kids. It sucks cos taller ppl seem to have an easier time seeming authoritative.

  8. Do you guys have a slightly different meaning of suit up there in Canada Chris? I wasn’t wearing suits. Only admins wear suits in my experience.
    re your student teacher, it’s just a good idea for a young-looking teacher working in a school.
    “It sucks cos taller ppl seem to have an easier time seeming authoritative.” tell that to a wrestler! 😉
    Also, I’m going to put Vancouver on my short list of potential personal immigration destinations.

  9. I go back and forth about dressy like a lawyer vs. dressing comfortably.
    I’ve noticed that no matter pants, dress, skirt, jeans, if what I wear “matches my mood” that day, then I feel better myself, and my feeling pleased probably passes on in the classroom.
    I absolutely agree about dressing professionally when younger, to make yourself not look like a student. And I’m short, and female, so I will never look scary!
    It was almost 90 degrees here today, but I still was nervous to wear shorts (and did not). Only the gym teachers can do that. So, on Friday dress downs it’s either jeans or khakis. Flip flops are sort of frowned upon, but some ppl wear them. I can’t wait to wear shorts the last two days of school when we are allowed to!
    I’ve managed to dress semi-dressy while still being comfortable.
    P.S. Flat, thin shoes with NO heel and plenty of room to move my toes are my friend.

  10. In summer I wear a sarong and tshirt and if the weather is really warm, I wear a sarong and kebaya (traditional Indonesian dress) with dress thongs (the Aussie word for flip flops!! ha ha) and it is sooooo comfy. In winter I wear jeans, school shirt, jacket and runners! At our local high school, though, jeans are totally banned for staff and students!! Gotta love teaching Indonesian!!

  11. Alisa Shapiro

    I say, always be suspicious of a too well-dressed elementary teacher. I sit on the floor or kneel, work with glue, scissors, markers and sparkles (making class materials), and get pretty worked up during some of the TPR and acting…w/no A/C in my classrm.
    My own colorful and casual pieces definitely reflect my style and need for wash ‘n wear economy and practicality.
    I don’t buy any of that ‘fancy clothes affect the transaction’ (again – I teach 6-10 yr olds!)- except maybe in the business world (where people are adding up your watch/tech and shoes $$), or when you’re giving a presentation to admin, the Board of Ed, parents, etc. Somehow uniform-like clothes (drab suits, muted buttoned up shirts, etc.) feel so antithetical to who I am/ what I do in there – but if they were comfy and met my criteria, I’d consider em, I guess.
    I agree that comfortable shoes make a HUGE difference. BTW, I do wear a Fitbit – i do get a few thousand steps in the classrm during a regular day

  12. Alisa, you are “speaking my language:”
    “I say, always be suspicious of a too well-dressed elementary teacher. I sit on the floor or kneel, work with glue, scissors, markers and sparkles (making class materials), and get pretty worked up during some of the TPR and acting…w/no A/C in my classrm.
    My own colorful and casual pieces definitely reflect my style and need for wash ‘n wear economy and practicality.”
    While I taught 7-12, and coached 5-8, the school was k-12 so there was always something going on that was potentially messy (in a good way, like sparkles, paint, mud, soup, etc). Hence my teaching uniform evolved into stuff I could wear that could stand some dirt. The last 2 years I was there, a few of us instituted “dress-up Wednesday” our version of “dress-down Friday.” Fun to wear girly clothes once in a while 🙂
    I’m hoping to score an interview for a k-6 position. What would you suggest for this? I know it is a stretch for me and I’m eager to explore it at least. I’d never have even dared apply if it weren’t for all of you on here who do this with younger kids. I plan to mention that I have “daily access to the best k-6 world language teachers IN THE WORLD”. That’s gotta count for something. We’ll see what happens 🙂

  13. Alisa Shapiro

    YES YOU CAN DO IT if the daily schedule isn’t horrendous. You could pick a simple story and bling it up/strip it down across the levels…
    I’d be glad to help!

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