That Teacher Look

Once upon a time, back in my own high school years, I made my mother miserable with my clothing choices.  I don’t really have any good excuse…I don’t THINK I had a traumatic brain injury that would lead me to believe that a size 14 (which is what I truly was back in high school) would look good in a size 10 pair of pants.  Spoiler alert: A size 14 does NOT look good in size 10 pants.  Exacerbating the issue was the fact that my school switched to a dress code that included polo shirts, knee-length skirts and dress pants or Dickies.  There were few other options available to us.   Let’s go ahead and imagine that look for a moment.

A size 14, in a size 10.

polo     +   dickies =    risingbread


I just wanted to establish with you my long-standing and healthy relationship with fashion before I give you my advice.

Soon after you start teaching, you learn which of the outfits that you thought were 100% good (and modest) and which are wildly inappropriate for teaching even if they’d be fine in another profession.  Here’s a few rules I have for myself.

  1. Wear a cami/undershirt.  Always.
    Female Teachers: Camisoles are God’s gift.  Even if a blouse is 100% modest, a cami makes sure that when you bend to help a student, you’re not giving anyone a show.  Even if you think your students wouldn’t be looking, you’re wrong.  A teenage boy would look down the habit of Mother Superior if they had a chance.  Wear a cami.
    Male Teacher Tip: If you’re a male teacher, you should also wear a undershirt.  Or your chest hair WILL be a topic of conversation.  I know, because they tell me about it, because apparently I really needed to know about the follicle forest of my coworkers.
  2. Wear a skirt/dress/shorts to that is within 2 inches of your knees.
    Female Teachers: Girl.  You cannot bend over to help a student with a skirt more than 2 inches above the knee.  You end up doing this weird, ungracious crouch, and it’s uncomfortable and awkward.  Wear a skirt/dress to your knees.  Modcloth is almost always on point.
    Male Teacher Tip: I know a male teacher that got a talking to for wearing shorts too short.  It’s frowned upon.  Keep your upper thigh hair a special secret.
  3. Hip-hugger anythings are a terrible idea.
    Don’t be that teacher that bends over and shows the whole class your underwear and/or your crack.  Unfortunately, it’s super difficult to avoid bending over and giving students a full butt-view regardless of your pant choice, which is why you need to be so careful.  Camera phones you guys.  These students have CAMERAS IN THEIR PHONES.

    Do not be this man.
  4.  Wear shoes in which you can take down a fool.Now, this is different for everyone.  Some teachers swear by flats or those, lesbi-honest, masculine shoes, which is fine.  You do you, boo.  I did once see a teacher step into a hallway fight and literally take a student down in 4 inch-heals though.  That being said, falling in front of your class makes it difficult to maintain authority.  Whatever you can wear with the most ferocity and won’t make you cry by the end of the day.
  5. Practice that teacher stare
    Let’s be real, the most important part of a teacher’s “look” is the stare.  If you can’t silence a student instantly and silently with your stare, you need to work on it.

    I know you do, Ryan. I know.
    I know you do, Ryan. I know.
    What’s your dress code?  Sound off in the comments!


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