If you’ve been looking for an international teaching role, and have had an offer, congratulations! It can be an exciting and daunting time for you, and we’d like to take some of that stress away by helping you with your new teacher wardrobe! Your trip will come around quickly, so it’s best to get prepared and ready to start your new job.
Creating a capsule wardrobe of 15-20 items will work wonders with getting you started in your new career. If you’re unfamiliar with a capsule wardrobe, it’s where you can use staple items with different colours that you can rotate and maximise the number of ways you can wear each piece, for more information have a look at how you can build your own capsule wardrobe.
Here are some ideas to help you get ready for your new job:
1. Check what you already own
You will more than likely have some key pieces in your wardrobe that you can wear to your new role. But dress codes can vary from school to school, and country to country, so it’s always safe to dress professionally and scope out what the other teachers are wearing when you’re there.
Firstly, aim to have a few pairs of black trousers or skirts that you can dress up with different blouses or shirts. Think about how you’d like to be perceived and dress accordingly. It’s best to stock up on those key staple items.
2. Dress for the weather and country
Many countries in the middle east require you to cover your arms and legs, so take this into consideration when packing your suitcase! Understandably it will be a lot warmer out there, so a good rule of thumb would be to purchase some looser fitting clothing, or lighter material. In some countries, like Saudi Arabia for example, require female teachers to cover their hair in addition to covering arms and legs, but it’s best to discuss with the school on their policies.
However, if you’re going somewhere colder or travelling during the winter, ensure to buy some additional layers for the colder months.
3. Comfort is key
Ensure the clothing you pick will be comfortable and think about your classroom environment. You’ll need to be able to move around, weaving in and out of desks and potentially being outside too, so make sure you take this into consideration when picking your outfit for the day.
Some schools will require business attire (shirt and tie or even a suit for men and a pant suit or skirt and dress shirt/jacket for women). On the other end of the spectrum, some schools will be perfectly fine with teachers wearing very casual clothes like a basic t-shirt and jeans.
4. Invest in comfortable shoes
Comfortable shoes are a must, so stick to flats or low heels depending on your schedule. As a teacher you’ll spend the majority or your day standing, walking around, and occasionally squatting or kneeling, so it’s best to avoid any shoe that will be hard on your feet.
You don’t need to spend too much if you already have some items that you can mix and match, but it’s worth thinking about your environment before you purchase more items.
Teachers tend to go through more clothes than other professions, if you’re teaching younger children you may be presented with sticky hands during an afternoon of arts and crafts, cleaning up spillages or glue and glitter! Your clothing will need to be durable and easy to clean in this instance or something cheap that you can replace!
However, if you’re teaching older kids where more of the arts and crafts are left to the art room, you can splurge a little bit more.
If you’re on a budget, check out teacher discounts – you may find more than just clothes. You can get discounts on days out, houseware, clothing, electronics and much more!
6. What to avoid
Avoid see-through or revealing clothing. As much as you’d like to stay comfortable you must make sure you stay professional with clothing that isn’t too see-through, too low, or too short. A great rule of three from Rachel at @agoodlittleteach is, ‘Make sure you can’t see up it, see down it, or see through it’.
In some countries like Japan, they tend to prohibit teachers from having visible tattoos due to cultural association, similar to other East Asian countries and the same goes for piercings. It’s best to check with the school before starting to ensure you’re prepared to cover them.
To jazz up your outfit, accessories are always a good way to showcase your personality a little bit more. Add some brightly coloured tights or socks, cardigans, jewellery or belts.
Before picking your accessories, think of the age range that you’ll be teaching and ensure it’s appropriate, and that it won’t get tangled with a lanyard if you’re required to wear one.