Tell me what not to wear

4th August 2006 at 01:00
'Britain's worst dressed teacher' turned his website humiliation into a literacy project. Michael Shaw reports.

Jay Wright always admitted he dressed scruffily for lessons, preferring an old, oversized T-shirt to a jacket and tie. But he is unsure whether he deserved to win the title of worst dressed teacher in Britain.

Mr Wright was nominated for the dubious accolade by his Year 6 pupils at West Town Lane junior in Bristol, who wrote that he was a "scruffy student teacher who wears clothes in boring colours".

He then beat the four other shortlisted teachers, all male, after thousands of children voted on a website.

If the 32-year-old teacher felt insulted, he hides it well. He used his nomination as the basis for a literacy project in which his pupils designed posters pointing out the flaws in his dress sense. "I'm not the best of dressers but I thought there must be someone worse," he said. "I remember some of the teachers I had as a pupil, the ones who wore socks with sandals, clothes that revealed their varicose veins or the art teachers with weird beads."

The competition was organised by Kelkoo, the internet shopping search engine, which assigned Camilla Yonge, a professional stylist, to Mr Wright, giving her pound;1,000 to create a new wardrobe.

Ms Yonge was appalled by Mr Wright's combination of shapeless white T-shirts and tracksuit bottoms that had seen better days teamed with paint-spattered boots which, she said, "looked like they'd been through various wars".

The replacement clothes she chose came from a range of designer labels and included smart loafers, khaki chinos, corduroy trousers, a moleskin blazer, a lambswool sweater and shirts designed to match his blue eyes.

"A suit would not be appropriate for a primary teacher, but he does look more professional and slightly trendier now," she said.

Ms Yonge, who runs a personal shopping service called Y-Shop, said:

"Teachers need to find the balance so they look approachable but not too casual. So my 'nos' for men would include flip-flops, shorts, linen trousers, T-shirts and polo shirts. There are smart short-sleeved and long-sleeved cotton shirts they could wear instead. Blacks and greys don't say anything about the people who wear them, but loud colours might make the children too excitable."

Mr Wright was greeted with cheers from pupils when he stepped into the playground in one of his new outfits. "One of my pupils has already said it makes me look slimmer," he said.

leader 14

* michael.shaw@tes.co.uk

www.y-shop.co.ukwww.kelkoo.co.uk

Wardrobe makeover

Peter Werth men's pea coat, pound;100

MS silk jacket, pound;129

Great Universal blazer, pound;50? Saville Row linen jackets, one in cream one in navy, pound;87.50

MS cashmere jumper, pound;39

Duck and Cover sweater, pound;65

Fred Perry sweater, pound;65

Peter Werth pinstripes, pound;39.99

Diesel corduroys, pound;85

Ralph Lauren trousers, pound;64.99

Saville Row trousers, pound;37.50

Peter Werth shirt, pound;48

Capepoint printed shirt, pound;4.49

Ted Baker shirt, pound;69.99

Charles Tyrwhitt linen shirt, pound;35

Timberland trainers, pound;42

Timberland shoes, pound;49

Kickers shoes, pound;59.99

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