Construction workers wear hard hats; doctors wear scrubs. Teaching, however, is one profession with a large gray area in terms of what’s considered appropriate attire.
The continued casualization of America, coupled with increased pressure to set a good example, have left teachers reconsidering the wardrobe they have while trying to upgrade on a limited budget.
Mary Lou Andre, author of Ready to Wear: An Expert's Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe, suggests that educators need not break the bank to dress for the job.
“There is no one dress code that works for everyone,” Andre said. “Our best approach is to use a lot of common sense. Start in your closet first. We, in America, wear about 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time. So there very well may be a whole new look right there.”
Although she believes that America has become far too casual, Andre feels this trend may have run its course.
“America has gotten more casual, and there is a backlash against it,” she said. “In tough economic times, if you're not getting work, you step it up a little bit. Teachers are no different. Clothing is a great communications tool, and people don't realize that.”
Andre warns teachers to be aware of what their clothing communicates. She cites a young teacher who was absolutely wonderful, but who wore clothing that was too revealing.
“She was great but [dressing like that] didn't instill confidence,” Andre said. “There is a real need for standards. When you are teaching children, you are in a position that should command respect.”
Andre offers her 5 Tips for Pulling Your Wardrobe Together and suggests that by following these simple rules, teachers can efficiently and effectively upgrade their look.