Do I really need to cut my hair and dress like a mama bear?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by StudentTeach, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I met with a professor from college a few weeks ago to discuss my new job and before we left she mentioned to me that my hair makes me look like I'm still in HS and need to cut it... and buy clothes that make me look way older. I'm a little bummed. I love my hair and I've only recently learned how to actually make interesting and nice outfits -- I don't want to suck all the creativity out of it! Anyone else get this advice? Speaking of clothes and her advice... what would be appropriate for a first day outfit that is pretty but comfortable, and where do you all shop for younger, affordable professional clothes? I'm on a budget! :p
     
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  3. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I agree about the professional wardrobe, but NOT about the hair. You can style your hair, or wear it up during the school day, if you need to look older, but there's no need to cut it. For the record, my own hair is very long...only a couple inches above my waist.

    Now, for the professional wardrobe issue. JCPenney's is a good place to start. You don't have to buy suits, but nice, solid colored pants and button down shirts in solid colors or conservative patterns, or modest knit tops would be a good place to start.

    It is possible to be stylish and professional all at the same time, but you must choose carefully. When trying on tops, twist and turn and bend over and squat while looking in the mirror to make sure that nothing shows that you don't want to show and that it doesn't ride up or do anything else that might cause embarrassment. Keep skirt lengths modest, or wear pants (though NOT tight pants).

    Start with a few pieces. Depending on what age you're teaching you could probably get away with only 3 pairs of pants to start, if you stick to "boring" cuts and solid, neutral colors. You can build your wardrobe slowly, adding more as the year goes on.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Having not seen your hair or your wardrobe:

    You're going to teach high school. From day 1, they will assume that they have the upper hand simply because they were there last year and you weren't. (No, it does NOT make sense. It doesn't have to. They're teenagers.)

    No, you don't have to cut your hair. But are you wearing it like a teenager? Scrunchies, headbands, all the rest??? If so, it's not going to help you assume an air of authority, and that air of authority is the only thing standing between you and bedlam. So pull it back in a nice clip.

    As to wardrobe, I wear a lot of suits, but I'm in the minority here. (And,darn it, I have 3 at the drycleaners that I forgot to pick up today :( )

    But think carefully about your wardrobe. If the weather permits, a blazer adds a lot in the way of professionalism.

    As to exactly where to shop, I assume that I'm one of the momma bears you're trying NOT to emulate, so I'll leave most of thatthat part of the answer to others.

    But in Kohls or Penneys or Macys or wherever, shop in the Misses department instead of Juniors if at all possible. You do NOT want to show up for work in the same outfit as the girl in the 2nd row!!
     
  5. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I wouldn't cut my hair. You got the job with your hair not cut.

    I shop the clearance racks at Ann Taylor Loft and Macys. First day a skirt below knees and button up blouse with out showing cleavage.
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Ugh. I remember one of my professors sharing that she was told when beginning as a teacher to trade her long hair for a "teacher cut". This was, though, many years ago. The advice about your hair specifically annoys me assuming it's not insanely out of control.

    What does your hair look like?
     
  7. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    For the questions on my hair... it's just below my shoulder dark brown with a few layers. Nothing overtly childish about it, but i was wearing it half-up that day and apparently it makes me look very young. I have about 3 dress pants, and two different colored and length kakhi capris. I suppose what I really need is a bunch of tops... professional looking sleeveless shirts and things of that nature.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Go for tops that aren't revealing.
    Jackets are great way to dress up (and professionalize) an outfit.
    I recently did a Kohl's run and found some great pieces.

    I've always worn my hair long, not a big deal.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I wouldn't wear the capris, but maybe buy one or two more pairs of dress pants and some tops that are fairly conservative. I also wouldn't wear anything sleeveless. I'm still fairly young (mid-30's), but even 10 years ago I would have never considered a sleeveless shirt in a professional environment, unless it was a shell underneath a suit jacket.

    I agree whole heartedly with Alice. There's something about putting on a blazer that just brings a look together and makes you look more "in charge". Buy one or two black blazers, and you'll be amazed at how much older you feel. :).
     
  10. StudentTeach

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    Thanks for all the advice everyone! I'll have to check out the Kohls by my house and see what they have. I've shopped there before but not with the purpose of finding professional clothes.
     
  11. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    Just be careful with sleeveless...don't wear that on the first day and don't wear them at all until you see others wearing them....in one building I worked out they were not allowed-no matter that it was 90 degrees in the building!
     
  12. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    ST, What state are you in?
     
  13. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Connecticut
     
  14. Mrs. K.

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    As an alternative to a blazer, look for nice cardigans--they've had some cute ones at Old Navy and even at Target. And when you get old enough, you can shop at Christopher and Banks like this old mama bear! :lol:
     
  15. Jem

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    I love the Anthropologist look, but pretty much just shop their clearance rack (unless I need serious retail therapy). I also look for their clothes on Craigslist and at local yard sales. I also love hunting at outlets and thrift shops. My style is eclectic mixed with vintage. The counselor on Glee has worn sweaters that I own...
     
  16. Jem

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    Ms. K reminded me-my style is all about laying. Cardigans, shrugs and fitted jackets over tank tops, blouses or long sleeve shirts paired with skirts, nice slacks or classy jeans.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Niether capris not sleeveless will cut it in my school.
     
  18. love2teach

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    Capris and sleevless are a must in my building....we don't have AC so the fall and spring are HOT, HOT, HOT!
    (mind you, nothing that shows too much!)
     
  19. teacherSMK

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    we are allowed capris at my school, but not sleeveless. My school has a faculty dress code, maybe see if your school does and go from there? :dunno: Good Luck!
     
  20. KateL

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    Aug 15, 2010

    Same here. I shop mostly at Kohls, and it was difficult to find shirts that weren't sleeveless this year! They did have a nice selection of professional pants, though.

    If you're worried about looking young, definitely don't wear capris or sleeveless shirts. Stick to blouses and dress pants and wear your hair professionally. You don't want to look too much like your students!
     
  21. Ms. I

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    I've never been told personally how to dress or style my hair. I assume your prof was just being honest & giving some genuine advice, not that it's her business how you should style your hair. I guess she felt that you won't be taken as seriously if you don't make a couple changes. Maybe it is time to make a change w/ your hair, especially if you've had it that way for the last 2+ yrs. You're starting the rest of your life in a new kind of position from student to ST, so it's definitely a more authoritative role. And usually, when people look different, they feel different. Hopefully, it's in a positive way for you!

    I think New York & Co. has nice casual business clothing at a good price. Also, check out Macy's SALE items...just because it's a dept store, doesn't mean it's out of your budget.
     
  22. FarFromHome

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    I agree with New York and Company. They have very good prices-and lots of sale racks-and the clothing is still young and professional looking. (I'm sad because the one by me closed down!) I also like JCPenneys. From JCPenneys I get mostly dresses though-I love wearing dresses.

    Oh, and I wouldn't cut your hair. My hair is very long. I'm not very good with it, and wear a ponytail a lot.
     
  23. eddygirl

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    We have a teacher at our school who is very petite and youthful-looking, even though she is in her late 30's. She has very long hair, a few tattoos, and would probably call herself a "biker chick" because she and her husband like to ride his Harley. At school, her hair is up in a bun, her tats are covered, and she wears the equivalent of a "lawyer" suit and high-heeled pumps each and every day. During her personal time, she expresses her individuality and style. At school, she looks professional and polished. She has chosen to project a professional image that is very different from her personal image, which is something I admire about her.

    I have seen many student teachers and young new hires come into our building who look as young as our students. The first thing the young male teachers do is grow a beard or mustache to distinguish themselves from the students (our guys are not allowed facial hair). The females, within a very short time, put away their youthful clothing and start dressing like the older female teachers. If you are a young or youthful-looking woman, you want to be sure that your clothing reflects your authority and sets you apart from your students . . . "mama bear" should look different than the "baby bears"! LOL!
     
  24. Peachyness

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    Hm, I'm pretty young looking. There's nothing much I can do about that (darn genes! :D). I'm not quite 30 yet and look like I'm still in high school, maybe 19. At work, I do dress up, but I refuse to dress like an old lady. My hair is long (growing it out) and I wear clothes from Gap and Ann Taylor with some Old Navy thrown in there. :)
     
  25. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    About your hair, look at the cut. Do you have long bangs, or a "trendy" cut? There are about three haircuts that are really trendy with high schoolers right now, and if you have one then you may blend in more than if you kept the length, but grew out the long bangs, etc.

    Personally, I never wear my hair in a ponytail to work because I don't think it's very professional. (The one day I did last year all of my students noticed...) I use headbands, clips, etc. if I'm having a bad hair day, but I feel like I look younger with my hair in a pony-tail. Or, that I look like I'm headed to the gym.

    As far as clothes, we are allowed to wear capris, but only the nicer ones, if that makes sense. I get most of my basics at JC Penney and GAP, and then supplement with Ross, Old Navy, and Dress Barn. I know many people swear by NY&Company, but I've never found a pair of pants that fits me there, and I go two or three times a year to try. I find that the fabric is too thin to be flattering, and the cuts are all weird. I'm a cardigan girl, and last time I counted I had over 20 in 14 different colors. They make anything look dressier! This year I'm really into skirts.
     
  26. Starista

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    Hi! Having only taught primary age kids, I never worried about looking younger than them!

    However, when I started teaching I was 21 and very young looking (and young acting!) When I glance back on some of the stuff I used to wear to teach Kindergarten... :eek::eek:

    Just make sure it's professional while still reflecting YOU! You're up in New England so those nifty "twin sets" or "sweater sets" can be your best friend. You can buy the shell with short sleeves or sleeveless depending on your school's rules about sleeves.

    Find out ASAP if you need to wear pantyhose when in a skirt or dress. I have some great websites that have them in bulk discount if you're like me and run every pair -- you'll save money!

    Regarding hair... there's a tiny voice in the back of my head that reminds me that I have had the same hair style since junior year of college... annnnnd I'll be 32 next month. :whistle:

    If you go for a ponytail, certainly use a clip rather than an elastic. They sell some really nice ones at Penneys and Macys. And do a low pontytail rather than a high one! If your hair is longish you can also do a french braid. Paired with the right clip that can look great too! One year at my former school they tried to disallow ponytails which would have sent me promptly to the salon to chop off my waist length hair! :lol: South Florida gets hot hot hot especially by dismissal time! :love:
     
  27. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Here all the HS girls wear their hair in french braids. I guess it really depends on where you are located. I tend to wear my hair in a pony often. I do because we seem to get headlice in my class every fall. This past year I was lucky and only one child had it. the year before 12 or 13 students had it.
     
  28. JustMe

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    Oh, please. So your hair is normal. Don't be swayed by your professor's advice to cut or otherwise modify your hair. Hair does not a teacher make. Boring, trendy, whatever. That's my advice. :)
     
  29. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    I agree that it's not the length of the hair, it's the style, and long hair does not need to look high-school-ish. Just be careful to look professional in your dress and your hair, and err on the side of over-professional until you see what the rest of the young teachers do at your school.

    But a word about that - some of our younger teachers have NO clue about professionalism, so if you're looking for someone to mimic, look for someone that the principal seems to hold in high regard. Now, you don't need to change your style to copy those people, but you can see if she wears capris, if she wears sleeveless tops, if she ever wears jeans, etc. And then make your own wardrobe fit.
     
  30. SunnyGal

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    I agree with the others about your hair. Don't worry about cutting it!

    I'm 25 and about to start my 4th year of teaching, so I'm fairly young, too. I shop at Kohl's, Ann Taylor (and A.T. Loft), J.Crew, and a little Old Navy. My usual wardrobe choices are skirts that fall just below the knee, dress slacks, cardigan sets, and nice looking tops. We're allowed to wear capri pants and sleeveless shirts, but I usually avoid that. It also helps if you know what stores your kids like to shop at...and avoid those. :)

    I may be young, but I do know what it means to dress professionally. We have many older teachers who try to get away with cotton stretch pants, ripped jeans, and sneakers. When you get to school, take a look around and see what others are wearing...younger teachers, older teachers, and the office staff (guidance, secretaries, etc). My P and APs are male, so that doesn't really help me out too much. Once you get a feel for the "wardrobe environment" of the school, you can get a better idea of where you fit in to that.
     
  31. CLESprtsFan

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    I agree with everyone who said do not cut your hair. I also look young, it runs in my family! I am in my mid 20's and do dress professional, but still "young and fun." I like to do a lot of bright colors in my tops or fun patterns with basic pants.

    My favorite places to shop are: The Limited, Express, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Store, Ann Taylor Loft and Old Navy. Those are usually the places I am the most successful at. I have also received compliments from others in my building about my attire and I was one of the youngest ones there. So, I guess you can still dress young, but be professional at the same time.

    Limited and Ann Taylor Loft both also give discounts to teachers! :thumb:
     
  32. Shanoo

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    I wouldn't worry about your hair. As long as it looks like it belongs in a professional setting, I would say you're fine.

    I think I'm one of those rare teachers who doesn't have a dress code. At all. On any given day, teachers in my school can be dressed in anything from jeans, a hoodie and flip flops to a suit and tie and anything in between. I will say this, those. On the days when I'm dressed professionally, the kids DO act differently. They act out less.

    Do you need to dress like an old lady? No. However, I would dress in business attire.
     
  33. SwOcean Gal

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    About the hair- I almost always do a high ponytail because of lice. No matter what at my ST school- my hair was up. It was not an issue, practically all of the teachers kept their hair up for the same reason. The few times I came in with my hair down I was warned. So it was up in an elastic- not an issue.
    For clothing, I agree that Kohl's is a great choice. Price works with coupons and JCP works too if you have coupons.

    Oops! Just noticed you are high school, but there might be lice there too.
     
  34. StudentTeach

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    I am AMAZED by all of the responses I've received to my question! I feel the consensus is to leave the hair, but bone up on more work clothes. Will do. It's funny what some people think looks professional and what doesn't -- last year I was packing my "student teaching" clothes getting ready for the semester and my mom grabbed a silk button down shirt I had and said, "You can't wear this! Shiny things aren't professional!" LOL.
     
  35. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    StudentTeach ... not related to this post, but something I meant to put in the email I just sent you ... HS students are AWESOME! Enjoy them!
     
  36. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree, ku, absolutely.

    Also, Student Teach, start thinking about shoes. You're going to spend a LOT of time on your feet, so comfort is key. But by the same token, you don't want to look too schleppy.

    Sears carries "I love comfort" shoes... pretty generic pumps, but they're comfortable.

    Also, I was in one of the Easy Spirit outlets upstate a few weeks ago, and got 4 pair of shoes for school for $72. (Good thing, since either wear and tear or the dog had pretty much destroyed every pair I had last spring.) They hold up well and are comfortable, and look professional as well.

    If you're going to be wearing pantyhose, check the Hanes/Bali outlet. You can either find one nearby or go online. They have probably the best prices around. http://www.onehanesplace.com/?ENTRY...42566:TGgcowqoEEMAAHDoxycAAQUX:20100815165811
     
  37. TeacherNY

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    That sounds like what people wear in my school. We have a dress code but it only limits things like flip flops, tank tops and doo rags. Everything else is fair game. The younger teachers tend to wear tight jeans, tight shirts and other types of revealing clothing. I don't know if this the new style (TIGHT EVERYTHING) but the teachers who have just started or have only been there for a year two just do not look professional.
    The last time I worked in a high school was about 10 years ago so I don't know what the trends are now. I do know that when I was in high school we noticed what the teachers were wearing (Mrs. S's shoes ALWAYS matched her outfits but Mrs. C wore the SAME shoes every day for the whole year, Miss P's skirts were always TOO SHORT). Kids are very observant and you just want to make sure you are dressing as appropriately as possible to be a good role model.
     
  38. Maryhf

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    Shoes are major! but I wouldn't buy more than 1 pair before seeing what the school atmosphere is like. Since you're young, I would just look at a comfy versatile ballet flat and then add to your wardrobe as the year goes on. I like aerosoles or clarks for comfort.
     
  39. SciTeacherNY

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    I am in my late 20s and work at a HS. I would definitely keep my hair as is. i have long, layered hair with side swept bangs. No one has ever said anything about my hair.

    As for clothes, I shop at Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Macy's, Express, Target, and Forever 21 (for trendier pieces). We have no dress code. So I follow my own dress code: no spaghetti straps, no low cut shirt, no mini skirts, and no jeans (except on Friday when they "allow" them)

    For shoes, it depends what you want to wear and find comfortable. I wear stiletto heels more or less everyday.
     
  40. Ima Teacher

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    I can't imagine that the length of your hair would matter. Of course, HOW you wear it could. I pay more attention to the style/color than the length.

    I was teaching 12th graders at age 22. I didn't change my hair all that much, but I always trusted my stylist to give me an age-appropriate style/color. As for clothes, I ended up adding some more "classic" pieces with the things I already owned. Often trendier/younger pieces can be paired with a classic piece to "tone down" a look.

    I have always shopped A LOT. Instead of going on big shopping trips with the purpose of getting lots of things, I'll pick up things here and there frequently. I never pay full price for anything, and I there aren't very many stores that I'll avoid either. I've picked up some of my favorite items from stores I though I didn't like.
     
  41. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    What exactly does dressing like a mama bear look like?
     

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