What To Do With “MissusSmartyPants” In The Classroom!

The adage “dress for success” holds true for so many professions, but not as much as it does for a teacher. However, because of that other adage identifying teachers as underpaid and overworked”, and an even more odious cliché, “those who can’t, teach”, a teacher’s fashion sense has been compromised.  In the last decade, personal attire for teachers has appeared more like it was “bagged, borrowed or stolen” from the mismatched and messy closets of the world rather than from those of the professionally polished. This shift from dignified to embarrassing has been primarily due to many factors. First, our country’s own negative attitude toward teachers, and the system’s failure to provide teachers with a competitive salary, so they can afford decent looking clothes. Second, an increase in clothing costs making shopping for professional wear difficult to allot for in a teacher’s budget. And third, this fashion trend called “business casual”. Teachers by nature being creative have given their own spin to “business casual” substituting fashion for comfort. But who can blame us? Did I mention incurring an unavoidable dry cleaning expense to properly care for business clothes, being on our feet all day, and risking damage from all types of stains, spills, and spots also puts a strain on being fashionably conscious? Truly, these are simply excuses! When we’re not teaching, we’re more like our students than we think, rationalizing for why we look so poorly dressed.  Teachers are master bargain hunters when searching for classroom resources why not EMPOWER yourself discovering ways to dress for success without putting a strain on the wallet! Missussmartypants.com can help you!

Teachers are in essence “edu-tainers”; we are always “on”; we’re always in the spotlight and under such close scrutiny. Students do pay attention to what we wear, whether we care to admit that or not. Students may not always pay attention to what we say, but they are certainly paying attention to how we behave, and especially to how we look. Upon their first impression of us, our appearance is all they have to size us up and decide if we will be in control or not. How put together we look affects the tone and mood of our classroom.  A disheveled teacher fails to establish credibility and earn respect from his/her students. Our presentability factor directly impacts our teacher with-it-ness factor sending a message loud and clear to our colleagues, administrators and parents that we are in control of our classroom.   If our clothes are wrinkled, stained, mismatched or outdated, we appear incompetent. 

In today’s celebrity obsessed culture, we can actually learn a thing or two from those who depend on their looks for their livelihood. The Empowered Teacher needs to realize because we’re always “on”, we cannot afford to ignore our appearance and how educational stakeholders will perceive us by the way we dress.  This is not to say that teachers need to strive to be the “Branjelinas” of the teaching world; that would be nice, but unrealistic.  Whatever one’s shape and size, there is no excuse for being sloppy and poorly dressed.  Age, weight, and attractiveness do not need to detract from one’s appearance. No one is perfect! Just as the Empowered Teacher knows how to capitalize on a student’s academic strength and minimize his academic weaknesses, you too can learn how to accentuate your positive physical attributes to create a confident and competent image.  Missussmartypants.com can show you how!     

Disempowered Moment:
I have a friend who earned a master’s degree in administration to become an assistant principal. Once she graduated, she began to apply for administrative positions. However, whenever she interviewed, she never got the job. In my opinion, her appearance was working against her. My friend’s outfits alternated between sleeveless blouses paired with short pencil skirts, and blouses made from cheap looking fabrics mismatched with high waisted pants, which made her look older and heavier around the midsection. She was in her late 30s, slightly overweight, lacked serious muscle tone in her arms, and probably had 45 inch hips. She never wore an ounce of make up, and had fine hair that  always appeared greasy.

Now you might think I am being cruel describing her this way, but honestly, this is how she looked, and I can almost guarantee she was not being hired as an assistant principal because of her appearance.  I remember introducing her to another teacher friend who told me my friend was not being hired because she looked like a dirty dish rag!  That was just the brutal truth! My friend did not have to join a gym and improve her muscle tone, lose weight and go from a size 14 to a size 2 to be hired as an AP; my friend did have to capitalize on her positive attributes. She had beautiful green eyes she could have called attention to with a touch of make-up. As mean as this sounds, she could have washed her hair everyday if she knew she was prone to greasy locks, but most importantly, she could have found clothing that was more flattering to her body.  Sleeveless did not work well for her, but she insisted on showing off her un-toned arms, which brings Oprah to mind!

Now I know, Oprah is a billionaire, and teachers can only dream of affording to dress as beautifully as she does, but I want to use Oprah as an example that being overweight is not an excuse for dressing poorly.  Oprah is a perfect example that you can look fabulous at any age, with any shape or size, and even with un-toned arms! Hopefully, my friend will soon realize that her pencil skirts helped to write her off the list for the administrative job pool rather than pointing her toward a more lucrative job prospect.  Pun intended! Missussmartypants.com could have helped her! 

Empowered Potential:
An Empowered Teacher not only makes conscious decisions that are educationally sound to impact his/her students, the empowered teacher is fashionably conscious recognizing the impact his/her personal appearance has on all educational stakeholders: students, colleagues, parents and administrators.  Our appearance speaks louder than our words, and our clothes need to say: “I am a competent and confident teacher!” not, “I am certifiable!”

Missussmartypants.com EMPOWERS you to rethink and refresh your fashion choices for the classroom. Leslie, aka, missussmartypants, can help you choose a professional look that not only makes a fashion statement, but an EMPOWERED statement: “Yes, I teach because I can! I am a professional; I dress like one; I act like one, and I deserve respect!”

It’s not a popularity contest about who’s the best dressed teacher in the school; it’s about maintaining a look that displays confidence and implies you are in command of your appearance and your classroom, in essence you are EMPOWERED.  It’s not about spending thousands of dollars on retrofitting your wardrobe either, it’s about learning how to mix and match the pieces you already own to maximize wear ability and missussmartypants.com is an affordable service that can help you achieve this goal. 

Here are a few basic and affordable pieces every male or female Empowered Teacher should own:

  • a pair of dressy khaki pants
  • a pair of dressy black, brown or navy pants
  • a pair of casual black, brown or navy pants
  • a crisp white dress shirt
  • a comfortable, yet fashionable pair of shoes to complement your look
  • a light sweater in a flattering color that says I am innovative, not I am tired and outdated

Check out Missussmartypants.com for more friendly tips to EMPOWER your teacher look!

Empowered Potential:
While technology has retrofitted our classrooms transforming them into hip places to learn, Empowered teachers are clear about the fine line between dressing professionally trendy and dressing age and audience appropriately. Whether you’re a teacher in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s, you don’t have to abandon your “hipster” attitude, but your “look” must declare authority figure rather than “friend”.

Make-up is an essential for women of all ages. Students have to look at you for long periods of time. Why add to the torture they endure sitting on those hard plastic desks by forcing them to look at your tired face. Even if you do not like wearing make-up, powdering your nose during a break to rid your face of its shine, will give you a refreshed, composed look.  A little lipstick won’t hurt either!

Fashion guru, Tim Gunn, from Project Runway, always advises to find a sweat suit alternative. Sweat suits can betray the look you may be trying to achieve because they do not conform to all body shapes and sizes.  If sweating is not in your teaching repertoire, than a sweat suit has no place in your teaching wardrobe.  

Even physical education teachers have a dress code they should adhere to. Check out Missussmartypants.com for some fun and creative ways to exercise your right to be professionally polished in the classroom!

One final adage teachers live by is Necessity is the mother of invention.” While teachers did not invent jeans or flip-flops, although who knows if we did since we are by nature innovative individuals, it seems lately we did invent wearing them as business attire in the classroom. The pain we endure on our feet, and the sensory overload we experience affecting our minds and bodies has given rise to the flip-flops and jeans conundrum. But, we can’t blame our feet, and our students for making us take these drastic and desperate measures in our search for comfort.  Slapping on our flip-flops and zipping up our weekend jeans to stand before a classroom of students strips us of our legitimacy and worth as professionals. Would we dress this way to an interview? Flip-flops have no place in the classroom unless they’re on your students’ feet, and jeans need to be dressy and age appropriate for the teacher’s age, not the students’!  Explore all of your fashion options to replace flip-flops and jeans at Missussmartypants.com.  This is one “smart aleck” you will definitely appreciate influencing your degree of EMPOWERMENT in the classroom!

What other teacher fashion do’s and don’ts have you observed?
Share your thoughts on theempoweredteacher.blogspot.com and Missussmartypants.com

For those of you who are really bold, what teacher fashion faux pas are you guilty of?  Learn how to “purge your closet” at Missussmartypants.com!

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