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Teacher Clothes

Compiled By: NCPinkTchr

What are teachers wearing? Some teachers feel that they should make an investment in clothing and shoes, however others feel that they should just wear what makes they feel comfortable. See what professional teachers are saying...

Teacher Clothes...don't forget the comfy shoes
Posted by: Carol

I love that we all call our work clothes "Teacher Clothes!" I agree with all of the posts...don't go all out and buy really nice clothes because you are always getting chalkdust, marker, and glue all over and you don't have time to worry about keeping your outfit clean(plus if you do spend time worrying about that you won't get along so well with your cooperating teacher). One mistake that I made when student teachng is buying shoes for style rather than comfort. Please take this a good pair of comfortable shoes! Try to go for a slight wedge or a flatter heal. There a lot of nice flat shoes out now that are professional and comfortable. You can try or see if there is a big shoe outlet near you where they have a wide selection. Good luck!

Clothes don't make the person...
Posted by: Laura

I sat and thought a long time about what I was going to wear this year. It is my first year and I too, look rather young. I am teaching 4th, so its not that close in age. BUT during my ST, I kept saying to myself that I have to get new clothes to look older and I have to fix my hair so that I look older. You know what, I wore the same clothes that I always wore (nice of course) and didn't change my hair, and I was respected and treated like an adult. I wore capris, khakis, black pants, etc.

I think it has more to do with you attitude and rapport you have with the kids. Worry about what you look like infront of the kids, not the staff. If you worry about the staff, you will just end up being unhappy. Heck, they hired you for you. Be yourself.


Posted by: Susan/5th

You teach highschool? My sister does also, and she dresses casual, but nice. She wears khaki pants with a nice blouse and blazer (to take off if she gets too hot) and comfortable shoes. She also wears casual dresses. Comfort is a huge must, but you also want to look nice. Find some comfy shoes. I would suggest stores like TJ Maxx. My sister shops there a lot - and I do, too! Very nice clothes with a wide variety and good prices. Goodies is also a nice one. Get some nice dress pants - black, navy, khaki - and some pretty blouses to go with them. Also pick up a black blazer to have on-hand to dress up anything. A few sundresses are also nice - just not too "skimpy". You can wear those with sandles and look very nice! I would just stay away from too "trendy" clothes - like low waisted pants, platform shoes, etc... You can look professional without looking matronly - and without looking like a student.

Posted by: Amanda K.

I wear dresses and capri/blouse combos mostly in warm months, and pants/sweater sets in the winter. I do not wear "teacher clothes" (I don't have anything against them, they just don't happen to be my style), although I did check out that homeroomdirect website and they had some nice-looking dresses.

We live somewhat rural, and I tend to buy my clothes at Target because it's closer than any of the other stores. I sometimes shop at Kohl's. I also do some of my own sewing because I like clothes that are tailored to me specifically, and it's generally cheaper to sew a long dress than it is to buy it.

teacher clothes
Posted by: Yvonne

If you can stand one more comment. As someone who worked out and was a size 7 or 9 at 5'8'' and still was not comfortable, I hear you.
You probably mean in climbing the steps, bendi ng, tying shoes, etc. you would like clothes that move with you.
I get the sale catalogs from Bloomingdale, Macy and Spiegel and guess what? I get complete outfits for $59-$89. I mean a skirt and top, pants and a top and sometimes 3 pc. sets. Go on the internet for coupons. At Christmas I got a $39.50 top for $4.75 with a coupon and half price sale. I agree that the material at Target may not last (the last clothing item I bought my son at 9 years old, shrank 2 inches when washed per instructions. We also have a store here that asked for models (we are all school employees) and we get a 25% discount the day of modeling. I got $110 suede pieces for $29.00! Do art, just take a school garbage bag and cut out openings for head and arms and cover yourself up. I use the Gimbels bag and the principal said "here comes the Gimbels lady.'" Good luck.

Posted by: Tammy


I would definitely try JC Pennys. Dockers are extremely comfortable and they do last. I usually shop for clothes shortly before school starts and they last all year. They come in a variety of colors and when matched with a nicer blouse can look dressy also. It allows for a lot of versitility. I definitely wouldn't listen to Beth unless you've got tons of money to waste on clothes that will probably get ruined while working with the kids.

Posted by: MG

I hear what you are saying about clothes and comfort. We stand all day (or at least I know I do) and totally have to be comfy. Now, I am guilty of having a few "teacher outfits", but my kids love them. I have found that the sales at Foley's are good, red apple etc. if you don't mind fighting the crowd. Also, Ross is a great place to find a bargain. You have to have lots of time to shop there and dig through the racks because it is a bit unorganized, but the prices are worth it! I have gotten good name brands, Dockers etc. for great prices. I picked up a pair of Dockers khakis that I wear every week for $13.50! They have many of the same things as Foley's and Dillards at a discount.

Comfortable clothes
Posted by: L.P.

Sorry, but I do wear long skirts so that I can tie shoes and sit on the floor with my kids and not have things show that I don't want showing. However, I'm not guilty of doing the apple thing and people are always commenting on my clothes so I must be doing something right. I buy a lot of my things at J.C. Penney (Sag Harbor and Koret make separates you can mix and match) and at good old WalMart. Since I teach kindergarten, I don't want anything too expensive. Jumpers are nice looking and are very comfortable. I also wear lots of skirts with matching vests or sweaters when it's cold. I think what's important is to find a look that is right for you and one that you can spend long hours in.

Posted by: ck

Amanda has some good ideas. I frequent Wal-Mart & Target, too. I have no time to sew anymore I teach ECE, so we can really get itno some messy stuff, too. You may think about purchasing one of those cute "scrubs" (like a doctor or nurse coat) to put over your clothes if things get messy. Wal-mart by us has several different cutesy prints that button in front & even have long sleeves & pockets. I also plan wardrobe around lessons, but sometime I have meetings I need to look nice for, or a project turns out to be messier than it looked on paper. I simply slip on my "lab coat" and go have fun with the kids!
P.S. Putting a little dish soap into your tempra paints will help them wash out easier, but red is still a pain!

school clothes
Posted by: mrsb203

I'm glad to hear most of you newer teachers have a good idea of appropriate dress for school. The last couple of years the student teachers that we've had teaching attire has been a problem. So much so that we were consideriung no more ST. We all understand $ is at a premium and you still have a "college" wardrobe, but a few have worn skin tight, very short "bar hopping" type clothes.
I'm not a fashion model and we have do have a reasonable casual staff. You have to go with what's acceptable among your colleagues and accepted by the parents also.

Profesional casual (if there is such a thing) is good. You can gradually add better pieces to your wardobe as you go on...for open house and parent conferences.

Good luck

Posted by: mab

I have 3 colors of slacks: khaki(2-3 pairs), navy and black. Then I usually wear polo shirts in a wide variety of colors. I get my slacks from Penney's, either in the store or thru the catalog and I love the polos that you can get from LLBean and Land's End. Lots of colors! I teach 2nd gr and these clothes hold up well with little kids!Teacher clothes are cute, but I usually don't wear them.

Posted by: julie K

Believe it or not, I buy most of my 5th year teaching clothes at Macy's (Filene's, Dillard's, Heicht's, etc). I buy mostly Liz Claiborne and Jennifer Moore (on sale of course) stuff. I don't know where you live and what stores are near you. I have been doing the major comfort thing. Like soft, jersey cotton pants with a matching shirt/jacket. I really have pushed the comfy clothes. I feel so good though. Good luck!!!!!

Clothes are secondary
Posted by: Elaine

I too took pains to make sure my dress was very professional when I was just starting out. My first day teaching I was stopped in the hall for not having a pass...It was a middle school. If you're going through what I did, the real concern was how could I control the students if I looked like one of them. Professionalism is more than your clothes, it's your attitude. Trust your training and your skill. You are the adult, you are the one in charge. Don't dress for church or the bar, and remember that YOU are the teacher in charge!

Good luck - I'm 38 and still getting carded. Trust me, you'll appreciate the youthfullness....

teacher clothes
Posted by: katy

There are lots of good stores out there with clothes that are "teacher-appropriate." I agree that Target has nicer clothes at reasonable prices. Another great store is Christopher and Banks. It has nice slacks, longer skirts, and great sweaters. It's really my favorite place to get "teacher" clothes, and it's relatively inexpensive. Hope this helps. Have fun shopping!!

Posted by: Lori

I love clothes and shopping. I really love the skirts at Anthropologie, they have so many a-lines down to the knees. I am famous for my pins, mostly flowers, but I don't really wear teachery pins. I also love Bloomies and BR. I have been into clothes since I was younger, and if things get stuff on them...heck that is what the dry cleaners is for!

Posted by: triana00

Casual, but professional.

We don't have a dress code, but tennis shoes are a no-no,and so are jeans except for Fridays.

In the fall and spring I usually wear capris and flat sandals with some type of top. I'm one that wears ::gasp:: tank tops. Most of the teachers in my district do. As long as your bra isn't showing, I don't know why that is a problem. Admin wears them too--not spaghetti straps,not things you'd work out in, but nice sleeveless shirts.

In the winter it's usually khakis or similar material pants with a variety of tops.

I get a lot of my clothes from New York and Company.

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Posted by: sara

I completely understand where you're coming from! I started teaching in January, and I'm 23 years old. The students and parents recognize how young I am and sometimes make comments, so I always try to dress professionally, but teacher's salary makes that difficult! Now I understand why I always thought my teachers wore horrible clothes! I like Casual Corner, but it's pretty expensive. I get khakis at Old Navy and wear simple skirts that you can find at Dillard's. I still identify with college age kids, so it's hard to have to shop in the "misses" or "career" section in the store.

Professional Clothes
Posted by: mohawk

When I started teaching I felt I needed to dress professionally all the time. I wore dresses, skirts or slacks. When I did my student teaching the teachers told me I was dressing up too much and that after a year or two my dress would change. I have taught at a number of schools and fifteen years later I am still dressing professionally. I have had to change somewhat, though, as now I live on a tropical island and many of the teachers here wear shorts, jeans and sandals. My dresses turned into sundresses with light sweaters and my slacks have turned to khaki's on Fri only for a dress down day but I still think I need to dress professionally. One day I wore jeans and it became a school announcement practically. I wore them with dress shoes, a jacket and blouse but that didn't keep me from taking a lot of flack. I guess my thought is it shouldn't matter what you wear if you are following policy, and if someone doesn't like what you wear, well, opinions are like elbows --- everybody has a couple.

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clothes for the classroom
Posted by: Carolyn

I buy a few pairs of pants that I can mix and match with shirts and cotton sweaters. I think that buying some pants in basic colors such as black, navy blue, and white help stretch your wardrobe a bit since they can be matched with so many other colors and give you more outfits to choose from.

Many of the teachers I have worked with have worn khaki pants. It has almost been like a uniform, and some teachers even show up with the same khaki pants as others. These pants are comfortable and practical for working with elementary schoolchildren, especially when you're going to sit on the floor and do something with the kids. You don't want to spend much money on what you buy, since you might get stains on them from markers, etc.

As for where I shop, I live in North Carolina, and I like to shop at Dillard's and Belk's for clothing. Dillard's carries teacher-style clothing (the little school buses, etc.). Another store that carries teacher clothing is Peebles, if you have one in your area.

Posted by: Julianne

I have always felt that if my clothing was in good taste, clean and conservative it was appropriate and professional. That means I occasionally wear shorts (not too short) and jeans (the clean, intact ones rather than the ratty, stained ones I wear around the house). Generally, I wear docker type pants and knit shirts. I always wear what some people would consider running shoes because my feet need the support. In your situation is your principal the last word? Are you protected by a contract? Is any type of dress code spelled out? Our school functions using site based management. This means that any formal dress code would have to be approved by the faculty. I know this doesn't help you much, but I would certainly work with your faculty on this. If you feel your teaching is compromised by what you are required to wear, then it deserves a second look, no matter what your principal says.

Posted by: Leigh

Mrs. Apple, I agree with you. I love the teacher clothes, too. I was kind of surprised the people on this post didn't like them because all the people at my school have teacher clothes, except for the two men on our faculty. My co- workers even go to jewelry parties together and get teacher slides for our necklaces. Elementary age kids do love them.

I spent a day in the classroom with excited kids (the day before Valentines and the week before a major field trip), bus duty, and hundreds of other little minor irritants today. I weighed 112 pounds my first year and still wore jumpers so I could move around freely. Now I am heavier, but by no means have a weight problem. I buy for comfort, and I am VERY professional. You go ahead and spend your weekend in Target and Wal-Mart. Those of us who LOOK GOOD NATURALLY and have SELF CONFIDENCE do not have to rely on our clothes to build up our self concept (sorry, that comment was way out of character for me but I have honestly never heard an adult be so shallow in my entire life). I bought a sweater at the GOODWILL STORE for $2.50 and wore it to school. My principal commended me on my attire that day, not to mention the dozen or so other compliments. Did I tell them where I got it? Of course! Now, Jenny, I am not advocating spending your time there this weekend because I just happened to wander in there because I was shopping with my mother in a store next door. But it is not beneath me to get my clothes anywhere. Shop at the discount places. Buy all the comfortable clothes you see. Then go to school with a smile.

teacher clothes...
Posted by: PM

teachers usually own a zillion jumpers (with pockets of course). When dressing for work just remember that parents especially will make first impression judgements. You can look very professional in good fitting pants and tops. Our kindergarten teacher often wears sleeveless knit tops with khackis. She wears a simple,classy necklace and earrings and always looks polished,kid ready and comfortable. Its the overall picture you present ~ grooming certainly counts! I always see pix of teachers in magazines and professional books wearing suits,dressy dresses and heels. They might do this in big city schools but not where I teach. Take your cue from the best dressed at your school. And that well worn tip ~ invest in a really good haircut taht looks good with little maintenance :-)

Posted by: Sue

I only wear jeans on school designated days -- pep rally's etc.

I wear khakis, blended slacks, twin sets, sweaters, etc. Dresses with no hose in warm weather.

Lee's has a great line of casual woven pants that, to me, are more comfortable than jeans.

For shoes I wear, Clark's, Birkenstock, and Easy Spirit.

One thing about dressing nice or preppy- if a visitor drops in, I am always prepared and never wishing that I had worn something nicer.
I have had a news crew in my room, a photographer for the local paper, several parents drop by, etc.
Dressing nicely gives me a psychological boost also.

business casual
Posted by: Penny

Teaching is more of a "business casual" look. I don't see a problem with nice capris and aren't khakis a teaching standard? I had a principal who abhored jeans, and told us that if we felt like dressing down to wear khakis.

I also don't see the problem with a no-collared shirt, long or short sleeved. Most of my tops don't have collars! Actually most of the clothes currently in style don't. They still look nice. In fact, my oxford shirts wrinkle so easily, you generally can't tell I even bothered with the iron by the time I get out of my car in the morning! (Okay, maybe I'm not the world's greatest with the iron.) A lot of shirts look good with a skirt.

I understand the no flip-flop rule, but in Texas, sandles are pretty standard. It gets really hot down here.

By the way...what's your opinion about gauchos? I love mine.

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Watch others
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

Just from the posts already it's easy to see that each school and school district will have it's own set of rules. Where I teach we are pretty casual as it's just the norm for where I am. While I dress neat and usually where long skirts, I'll wear pants and tops as well especially on days we do art. Some teachers wear jeans regularly and others dress up nicely every day.

In other school districts everyone dressed up.

So take the first week to observe - dress nicely yourself and then if you notice the other teachers are more casual ask your cooperating teacher about this. I wouldn't spend tons of money and comfortable shoes are a must. Many teachers I know also wear sandles until the weather gets too cold.

dress code
Posted by: Sandy

My school does not have a formal dress code, but we are expected to dress as professionals. We cannot wear shorts ever, and we can only wear jeans on specific jean days which are usually on fridays. I was only in college two years ago, so I too do not want to dress frumpy, so I wear a lot of capri's in the warm weather with a cute top. I have a lot of longer skirts that I wear. I like J. Crew and Banana Republic. They sell trendy but more conservative clothes. We cannot wear flip flops, but we can wear sandles and open toed shoes. I think it really depends on the district. Some districts by me are very casual...but some districts are more "business" atire.