What to Wear

23rd January 2009 at 00:00
If you're an NQT applying for your first job, a sure way to make a good impression is to dress for the occasion. The TES, with a team of consultants from Colour Me Beautiful, asked three student teachers to dress for their first interview. Angi Jones, a colour and style consultant, was on hand to give our three teachers-to-be some advice. Georgia Laird reports. Photographs: Neil Turner

When Toby arrives, he is the most appropriately dressed for an interview and is given the thumbs up by Angi on his trousers, shirt and tie. "He looks comfortable, which is very important when going to an interview."

But . "For an interview, the beard has to go," she cries.

Angi says accessories are just as important for men as women. "Men need to wear a good belt, a polished pair of shoes and a dazzling tie."

The choice of tie is probably one of the most important decisions when putting an outfit together. "The tie makes the outfit. If it's a tie with big stripes, then it wears you. If the tie has small stripes, then you wear the it." And colours send different signals. Violet shows a creative side. "So what about my periodic table tie?" Toby asks. "That would be good for a Friday," says Angi, "to lighten the mood at the end of the week."

Angi's verdict: "I chose soft colours to complement his hair and skin colour. The tank top over his shirt adds a conventional twist to his outfit. He must be up-to-date as a teacher, it's good to always look for something that is imaginative and current."

Roisin loves charity shops and when the bubbly teacher-to-be arrives, she is wearing a Pounds 1 belt, boots costing Pounds 2.50 and a winter jacket for Pounds 5. Her outfit is relaxed and informal but Angi urges Roisin to try harder. She says that turning up to an interview in a mix-and-match outfit of charity shop buys is not the way to win the job.

"What you've got now is the perfect classroom look, and it is great you feel comfortable. But for an interview, if you are too relaxed, it may come across that you don't care enough for the job".

Statistics by Colour Me Beautiful show 80 per cent of directors think that women who do not take care of their looks and don't wear make-up to work could not be bothered. It is likely that headteachers, as an employer, would agree.

For Roisin's transformation, her face is lifted with a little make-up and she is dressed in a formal outfit. "She has some great curves," says Angi, "so we have dressed her to flatter them."

Her top tip for a successful look is smart shoes. "A smarter shoe always gives you the edge over other teachers." This doesn't mean killer heels or cowboy boots, but a nice practical pair of clean polished shoes sets off the outfit.

Angi's verdict: Roisin is spot on and knows what colours suits her but she is not dressed formally enough for an interview. "We have focused on the shape of her clothes to make her look smarter, incorporating princess-like cuts from the waist down to accentuate her curves."

"Everyone can wear colour. It's about the shade of the colour," says Angi. "Claire is crying out for contrast. Colour in her clothes will make her less drawn and tired looking." Angi whisks across the room to demonstrate this with pashmina scarves, holding different colours to Claire's face to emphasise the importance of colour.

But the mother of two shies away from it. "In the mornings I'm in such a rush and if I wear colour it could go wrong. I go for black and grey so I don't make a mistake."

Claire's outfit when she arrives is both practical and comfortable, but Angi insists that she should invest more time in how she looks. "I know you have two young children but you are tall and have great colouring, so you should prioritise yourself more."

Roisin, who has been studying with Claire for a year, is impressed with her colleague's new image. "Wow, I've never seen you in such bright colours before. Or heels."

Claire's confidence grows throughout the transformation and she is glowing by the end of the day: "I'm so glad I can wear colours, deep down I have always wanted to experiment with them."

Angi's verdict: To begin with, I thought Claire was going for an interview as a helper, or an administrator. She fades away into the background in black so I want to dress her in bright colours.

"I have encouraged Claire to wear charcoal greys, as opposed to black and white, along with contrasting vibrant colours such as teal, purple and royal blue.


- Shades

Dark colours: authoritative.

Medium shades: more approachable.

Pastels and light colours: ineffectual.

- Colours

Pink: on women demonstrates a fluffy side. It also shows gentleness and empathy, which is not good if you want to make a strong, authoritative impression.

Blues and dark colours: a better choice if you want to be taken seriously.

Red: a fiery energetic colour that people can't cope with. It creates confusion.

Burgundy and violets: creative, sensitive and peaceful.

Black: a lack of imagination.

Green: calm and reassuring.

Yellow and orange: cheerful and uplifting.


- You need to know the dress code of the school.

- Find out what the headteacher wears.

- You want to blend, so look at what other teachers wear when you visit the school.

- If you have an interview in the morning, make sure you don't have coffee or tea breath. Carry a packet of mints with you.

- Personal hygiene is very important, so make sure nasal hair and finger nails are kept short.

- It's a good idea to buy something new to wear for the interview. It helps to make you feel excited because you are not in your usual clothes.

- You want to be comfortable yet have an edge over others.

- Remember that colour gives you confidence.

- Anyone can wear black and look smart, but colour can make such a difference. Wear the colours that suit you and you will shine.

- Don't just dress for the interview but dress for the job you want, whether that be teacher, head of department or even headteacher. That way you never lose sight of your goals.

- Like any other job, do your homework.

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