Despite the fact that it’s been a while since we’ve heard a class bell ring, with fall right around the corner, we can’t help but be reminded that school is about to get back in session. An even more fun (and immediate) prospect: back-to-school shopping. And though legions of students will no doubt be stocking up on backpacks and the latest trends to stand out on campus, we were curious to turn tables a bit and get teachers’ takes on what this means for them. So we surveyed educators from pre-school to college to find out how—and where—they shop for work, and what constitutes “dressing for success” in the classroom.
Turns out, teachers think they get a bad rap when it comes to style: “Teachers get unfairly grouped into the old lady teacher stereotype,” wrote a teacher from California. “We love to dress up …even if it’s just kids who are going to see us that day!”
While that may be true, a mere 16% of the teachers who responded to our survey identified “looking stylish” as their top priority when dressing for school. And only 17% of respondents said the teaching staff at their schools deserve high marks for style. Sounds like it may be time to add fashion as an extracurricular?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, “being comfortable all day” comes first and foremost. That seems to be especially important to pre-school and elementary school teachers (54%), perhaps, because, as one teacher told us: “teaching is a dirty job – literally.” Something about chalk dust and magic markers.
Meanwhile many of their high school counterparts are more concerned with maintaining “a mature and professional look”—maybe so they aren’t confused with their students? That said, an equal percent want clothes that are “young enough to look hip”. Which might explain why designer jeans are popular with 60% of teachers.
So what do teachers actually wear to school? The most popular brands and retailers among our teaching pool were J. Crew, Ann Taylor/LOFT, Banana Republic and The Gap, though some mentioned sleek contemporary lines like BCBG, Michael Kors, Theory and MaxMara.
In order to up their aesthetic ante, teachers have learned to be creative shoppers. One Chicago teacher told us: “I will never buy a Max Mara design straight from their store, but I have one or two pieces thanks to ‘best shopping practices‘!”
Tactics include clothing swaps, shopping parties and even outlet shopping en group. One teacher told us that she and some colleagues hold “fashion challenges”: they set a budget and shop the same store to see who can find the most stylish outfit in the allotted time.
And, of course, there’s always Salemail as a shortcut for stylish steals.
Methodology: Shop It To Me surveyed over 200 teachers all across the nation during the month of July 2010. See the complete results.