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What to wear?

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by Istari, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Help! o_O I'm starting a job as a secondary school teaching assistant this September, and I'm not quite sure about what to wear!

    My instinct is to dress as smartly as possible, but I don't want to overdo it and look like I've tried to outshine the teachers! :confused:

    What would you suggest?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Black trousers, smart office type top, black cardi, flattish shoes or boots. Sainsbury's is your friend.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Istari

    As you say, you want to appear professional and dress appropriately, but at the same time, you don't want to go over the top and over do it. That is not to say, however, that you have to get into a rut and wear the same thing or what everyone else is wearing which is a huge problem since everyone shops at Sainsbury's, Peacocks, Asda, Morrisons etc. and the danger of having the same top on as someone else is real since that has happened to me on a couple of occasions. What you can do, is shop at charity shops - the ones that you know get good quality items donated to them. You could buy your trousers at shops but the tops, jackets, and cardigans you could get at a charity shop to avoid having what everyone else has on. There used to be an online shop called Everything £5.00 which might be a place to look I don't know if they still exist, but you could Google to see.

    Try to assemble a capsule wardrobe: have two pairs of trousers perhaps a black pair and grey pair for winter, 2 cardigans ( you can have black but perhaps a grey one and a red or wine coloured one), one or two blouses that you can wear thermal underwear under in the winter, 2 soft top roll neck jumpers that match the trousers perhaps in a cream or red. You can look in charity shops for a smart but casual jacket if you want to mix things up. Have different scarves and accessories that you can change the outfits with. When you buy things, ensure you examine the washing instructions and go for clothes with minimal ironing as you don't want to spend ages ironing on Saturday. The ironing label will have dots next to the ironing and one dot is minimal ironing, and as the dots go up, the amount of ironing increases or the temperature increases which means it is harder to iron.

    As meggd suggests, have a pair of comfortable flat shoes and a pair of boots.

    Avoid anything low cut, skirts above the knee since you will be bending, or elaborate makeup. Also avoid anything see through.

    Wear makeup but aim for a daytime look - something that makes you look like you thought about your appearance before you set out but not over the top. Good makeup buys are Essence brand makeup and Catrice makeup available at www.justmylook.com which offer free shipping and no minimum spend. Especially check out the Essence mascaras as they are under £5.00 and work as well as ones that cost four times that - especially the Lash Princess Mascara. The one in the green tube by Essence.

    Lastly, in your clothing budget, allow for a WARM coat. Aim for something warm and stylish and if you have to pay a bit more for it then do that as you will need warm clothing on if you are doing duty outside during the winter months. Also, have hat and gloves. A wool polyester car coat would be a good pick since you could wear that over a smart jacket if the need arises - but aim for warmth not necessarily style because you will need a VERY WARM coat. Make that a priority before the winter weather arises and do not get caught out because you will regret standing out in the howling wind freezing. Invest in some thermal underwear as well to wear under your clothes on really cold days in winter since some school buildings and classes can be FREEZING. Asda and Peacocks sell some good quality and stylish thermal underwear. You will need a couple of pair of the ones to wear under trousers and about 3 short or long sleeved ones. Believe me the money will be well spent and you will be warm and cosy while everyone else is freezing. Thank me later.

    Obviously, don't spend too much money on any one item apart from the coat as working in a school means paint, whiteboard markers, chewing gum, sticky drinks, sweets etc and don't buy anything that if it gets ruined you would cry over if it got ruined. That would be my number one rule while buying clothes for working in a secondary school.

    You will need a few extra things for summer, but you can worry about that later.

    All the very, very best for a wonderful start to the new term. If you are not too busy, pop over to My Horrible Day thread on the Supply Forum for a chat or some support if you have a challenging day or tell us about your day if it is a sparkling one as well.
    Istari, celago22 and sunshineneeded like this.
  4. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Fantastic advice from pepper (I think you should be a personal shopper, pepper!) The only thing I would add is to check the staff dress code - they can have the odd thing you might not have thought of, like no hoop earrings (health and safety).
    Congratulations on getting the job; enjoy your new adventure.
    Istari and pepper5 like this.
  5. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    pepper5 has pretty much given you your answer!
    Usually no flip flops or open toe shoes are allowed. I wouldn't recommend pumps because students do swing on their chairs and it's very painful when a chair lands on your foot!
    Make sure skirts are an appropriate length, usually knee length. Tops should not be revealing and make sure straps are not visible. If the school is really warm or cold then you'd need to dress appropriately, maybe consider short or long sleeve blouses depending on the temperature.
    Don't bother with a suit jacket.
    I only really dress up properly for the first few days (teacher) as I think it gives a good impression to parents so I do wear a suit jacket on the first day or so, after that I wear more smart casual attire.
    You could buy 1 or 2 outfits and then observe what other TAs wear at school but I'd properly dress as if you were going to interview, minus the jacket!
    Istari, pepper5 and freckle06 like this.
  6. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Yes do not buy a suit. Unnecessary. With plain trousers you can always find a cheap jacket that will go for formal occasions. If you are young you might find stuff in the back to school sections aimed at sixth formers
    Istari likes this.
  7. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Thanks so much for this wonderful advice! A warm coat is at the very top of my priority list, as are thermal undies! I'll certainly be grabbing both!

    Ensuring shirts are non-iron is a must! I think I would be utterly miserable spending my weekend ironing :confused: I will be sure to invest in some. I didn't know jumpers were an option! I certainly prefer them to shirts, especially in Autumn/Winter- a few good polo necks in neutral colours with smart trousers would work, right? :D

    Also: how about smart shirt dresses with tights? Any chance of that working? I'll certainly be stopping by your thread once term starts :)!
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Aha- I'll definitely review the policy, just in case! And thank you for your kind well wishes :D
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    It sounds like I need to invest in a pair of flat boots then! Especially since the weather is turning wet :oops:
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    OK- definitely no suit! I'm not going to get away with Sixth Form style clothes, though :p Thank you so much for your help!
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    Forgot to mention on my previous post, Dorothy perkins do some nice clothes especially cardigans.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, Dorothy Perkins is great.

    A shirt dress with tights would be appropriate as long as the dress is just above knee length.
  13. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Update: after much flapping about, I have finally bought a few basics to get me through the Autumn term! After hunting around for reasonable quality at low prices, I found that the place that served me best was actually...TK MAXX! I wholeheartedly recommend it :D
  14. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    Worth having a look on the school's website to see what other staff are wearing

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