Sartorial advice for the flamboyant or foolhardy

19th October 2007 at 01:00

Sorting through some old files the other day, I came across a little snippet I had cut out of the education pages a few years back. (The idea was to throw stuff away; instead I ended up sorting it into new piles.)

The piece was titled: "Style for Teachers: Do's and Don'ts". It had, I recalled, been part of a wider feature on what teachers should or shouldn't wear to work. The article had been written by "an expert", so I thought I'd better take note.

There were five bullet points, as follows: 1) "Keep a smart jacket and a pair of heeled shoes ready to slip on for meetings with governors or parents." Aha! I thought, not sure just how it would go down if I appeared before the governors in a pair of high heels - although, in these politically correct days, perhaps they'd be obliged to simply note "interesting hobby" and add: "Like your jacket."

The next point was a bit easier to sign up for. 2) "Avoid see-through blouses, low necks or dangly bracelets." I seem to recall that I didn't do too well in the last wet T-shirt contest I entered, so I'd be happy to leave the see-through gear at home. And, luckily, bling simply isn't my style.

3) "Don't lug around a huge, bulging handbag." Mine is more of a shoulder- mounted item, but I could be at risk here. Watching the action-thriller The Bourne Ultimatum the other day, I couldn't help but notice that the "wet" Guardian journalist character who ended up being shot at Waterloo station carried a bag just like mine. As I too pass through Waterloo on most days, I'd better keep my head down.

4) "Men should steer clear of old tweed jackets, shorts and sandals." By the time I reached this one, I realised I just might have misinterpreted points one to three. You have to admit, though, it does present a wonderful picture: all those lecturers wandering around in tweed, shorts and sandals - particularly in winter. One more thing I think should be added to this particular list: remember not to let house martins nest in your beard.

5) "Try to express your personality through your clothes." Now, you don't need to be a genius to realise that this could end up contradicting the other four points. What if you're naturally a loud-mouthed, attention- seeking type who loves noise, dramatic gestures and parties? I can just picture the disciplinary hearing. "Well, Mr Jones, why did you appear before the NVQ2 jam and preserve-making class for the over-60s dressed only in Doc Martens and a gold lame jockstrap?" Answer: "I was simply letting my clothes reflect my personality."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today