Teachers often wonder what they should wear when turning up for a new teaching job. Here are a few fashion tips we have put together based on the feedback we have received from teachers working around the world.
Generally speaking, formal attire (such as suits) is not expected in private English schools. Smart casual is more common. Unless you are tutoring corporate students or are a professor at university, a suit is a bit of an overkill, sometimes even at interviews.
As a man you don't get the choice between a skirt (or dress) and trousers so you are fine there but as a woman a neat shirt and a pair of trousers will see you a long way. Sometimes, especially if you teach young children, you may need to sit on the floor for some of the activities or mess with crayons and glue so a skirt or dress might be awkward, however.
Regardless though of where in the world you are teaching, forget short skirts, tight tops or provocative décoltés!
Overall smart casual seems to be the dress code most teachers advise to wear, regardless of which country you are in. This is for three main reasons:
Business casual look also works for some.
But, aside form personal preferences, remember that different schools have different perspectives of how teachers should dress, so when in doubt ask your employer. And, of course, once you are at school be aware of what your colleagues wear and try and see what is the reaction of both the school staff and the students.
Care should be taken when it comes to what clothes to wear in an Islamic country. In general you need to cover yourself for fear or inciting/exciting the men. This means no bare arms or legs and certainly no cleavage or even lower neck. Of course there are many local variations (bigger cities tend to be more relaxed) but you should only start to relax your dress code once you have been living there a while and see how the locals handle it.
Although foreigners are generally given more leeway, certainly at the beginning do nothing to cause any upset. A lot of women carry a headscarf with them at all times just in case.
Don’t neglect to pay attention to your footwear which should be clean and comfortable - you’ll probably will have to do quite a lot of standing up and walking around the class. No flip flops (even if it is 40 degrees and muggy), no trainers and no open toed sandals (remember in some countries showing your foot is deemed offensive). In fact, you’ll find many schools include wearing closed shoes in their regulations.