By Mackenzie Morgan, SED 2016
When I wear high heels I feel empowered to take on the world and when I throw on a blazer, I know that I mean business that day; I mean business most days.
My extensive wardrobe of business clothes is one of my proudest accomplishments (I’ve been slowly working on it for years). I like dressing like a professional—wait, no—I like being a professional. I also like waking up on Sunday and throwing on leggings and my largest sweater, covering my hands with droopy sleeves and throwing my hair into a messy ponytail. Our outfit choices each day relay a message both to the world and to ourselves regarding how we are feeling that day, what we plan to accomplish, and how we want to be seen by those around us. So what do we mean when we say “dress to impress” or “dress for success” and how does that translate to teachers?
Teachers have very different wardrobe expectations than politicians or business people and I don’t think that this is a trend we should accept. We are being watched by young minds each and every day. Snazzy bowties and novelty ties are not only a great conversation starter, but they also provide a way to elevate the position of teachers and reach our students in new ways by showing them the power of emboldening yourself through an outfit that puts you in charge. Teachers who ditch the jeans and white sneakers in favor of more professional alternatives indicate to students, parents, and anyone with an eye on the world of education that they take their job seriously. Dressing to the same caliber as business people, lawyers, and politicians is one way of putting ourselves on their playing field; they are trained professionals and so are we. We are experts in our field and our knowledge should be respected. We need to be indicating to the world that what we are doing matters and we know that and we want others to know that too.
Many people think that dressing nice means dressing boring, but we don’t have to compromise our identities or expression of individuality in order to dress like professionals. Professional outfits have just as many, if not more, opportunities for customization, creativity and expression. You can wear purple heels on Tuesday and red flats on Friday. You can replace the tie with a bowtie or throw on a tweed blazer on the days you’re feeling extra quirky. Pair your favorite dress with a nice sweater, express yourself through the pattern on your shirt, or make your outfit shine with some choice jewelry. Whatever you do, show your students that you mean business when it comes to teaching them because you know that each and every one of them, if they so desire, has what it takes to one day rock a blazer and the responsibilities that come with it.
Mackenzie Morgan is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in History Education