Fashion Crisis

Many teachers, parents, community members and business people would agree that the first element that an individual should be

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aware of when starting a new job is . . . their wardrobe.  A great deal of my colleagues would agree that looking the part can be 25% of playing the part.

There have been many conversations, blog posts and comments that I have read and made about the appropriate dress that is required, and at times expected, in relation to being an educator.  This belief carries even more weight if someone is an administrator.  There is an underlying belief that does hold some merit, that dressing appropriately brings a level of respect and authority.  You know the old cliché, “Look professional to be professional.”

I am a believer that a lot can be achieved if people see you in the role that you are playing.  Keeping this in mind, there is one element directly related to this that we may not remember or may not realize until we are faced with the situation.  I am sure many educators do what I am about to share, but it was in hindsight of experiencing the ordeal that I came to this conclusion.

In regards to attire I have only one piece of advice to teachers, and more importantly administrators, and my advice is this:  Have an extra pair of clothes.  Whether they are in your car, hanging behind your door or in a suit bag in the staff room closet.  TRUST me there are many things that one can prepare for, but you can never be completely prepared.  Yes, sometimes a fix can be easy, like throwing on a blazer to cover a stain, or removing your tie (for guys if you spill), but you can’t exactly tie your jacket around your waist if you rip your pants.

At this point you may be giggling or smirking to yourself – but just think for a moment.  You are helping the Kindergarten students and your pants rip or you spill paint on your shirt.  And of course you have a meeting in the afternoon.  Now, this is when that extra set of clothes comes in handy.

You can’t prepare for everything that can happen in a school day, so why leave it to chance.  Take an extra set of clothes to work with you and if at the end of the week you haven’t used them, you’ve got them for next week.  A simple idea, but something we don’t think about until it is too late.


3 thoughts on “Fashion Crisis

  1. Interesting suggestion – I only found myself in a situation where I needed to make a quick change once, I think. We were having a Family Spaghetti Dinner at the School. My Assistant Principal and I were the “entertainment” during one part of the evening. We had to dig into this huge tray of spaghetti sauce, face first, to retrieve something at the bottom. We got a little carried away and ended up dumping the spaghetti sauce on each other! At that time, I was grateful to have a school t-shirt on hand to change into as I was literally dripping in sauce. We sure got a lot of laughs from our parents and our students.

    I have never been a big believer in clothes being necessary to earn the respect of others. I think that respect is earned over time, by building trust through listening, keeping commitments, being consistent and always being supportive. Regardless of the clothes I wear, the “position” I hold in the school, or whether or not I have spaghetti sauce all over my clothes – people need to see the real me (flaws and all!) Don’t get me wrong…I do like to wear nice clothes; however, I am okay if I need to hold together a rip in the outfit with some safety pins, too:)

  2. I fully agree, but a persons opinion is there own, If given the choice i prefer being comfortable and this generally means being in a nice pair of jeans with a collared shirt. However, this is not how many see what a professional should wear. In this situation I would however recommend that whether you are in a pair of jeans, a track suit or in a shirt and tie. I would suggest that having a secondary outfit may have its uses or benefits.

  3. Interesting post Shawn.. I have to say that it has me encouraged me to keep an extra lab coat in my car!

    What I did find intriguing was your comment, “I am a believer that a lot can be achieved if people see you in the role that you are playing.” I believe this to be true. We all play a role in our professions no matter how integrated they are into our daily life. And I think we do it better if we dress the part. As well, we are perceived in a more positive light by those we serve which can only enhance our interactions and improve collaboration.

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