Reader Question

Reader Question: style for teacher

What to wear for an educator's dress code and budget

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Oct 13 2016

“I am a middle-aged, high school teacher. What are some style recommendations for someone on a budget. I do not have to wear a tie, but I do not want to look sloppy like many of my fellow male teachers. Also, what would be a good bag that can carry my cell phone, glasses, papers, etc, without looking like a woman’s purse.”

First of all, good for you for wanting to look put-together up in front of your classroom. In the education field, I think it’s easy to default to a more casual wardrobe – fellow teachers in jeans and sneakers, kids strutting around in sweats – so I applaud your efforts to dress up even when you don’t have to.

Moreover, a stylish wardrobe on a budget is totally doable. Look for neutral basics that you can easily add onto.

A few dress shirts that really fit you well (start with two or three white and one light blue). One pair of brown and one pair of black shoes in leather or suede – Oxfords dress up and down well, I’d go with a not-too-ornate style in both colors. It’s good to have a couple blazers on hand, but don’t discount the style inherent in a well-made sweater. A crewneck or v-neck cut is always in style, or maybe try a shawl-collar sweater or cardigan. All are good style options for fall, and can be made dressier by pairing with a collared shirt instead of a t-shirt underneath.

And as much as it pains me to tell you this, but your students will absolutely not notice if you wear the same pants three days in one week. So go for fewer items of higher quality rather than a bunch of less-expensive items that’ll have holes in the knees and elbows by the end of the season. They have more important things on their minds – like college, or..I don’t know, how the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games will compare to the books.

As for a bag that doesn’t look like a lady’s purse, you’ve got plenty of options. Check out my previous posts on man bags here and here.