For male teachers, looking fashionable while staying within budget can be challenging.  Kids aren’t the only ones shopping for school clothes—so are teachers! That all important first day sets the tone for the entire school year as students give you the once over.

Fashion tips for male teachers:

First impressions

Bite the bullet and wear an affordable suit—patterned if you have one (and you should). Why patterned? You’re taking charge of a classroom, not a boardroom so you don’t need to be as formal. Choose a colored dress shirt that’s subtle and picks up the less dominate color in the pattern. With or without a tie, this look commands everyone’s attention.

Mix and match

Teaching is a noble profession that unfortunately requires strict budgeting. That means a teacher’s wardrobe must be versatile. A navy blazer and a few sport coats are staples that go a long way to creating several outfits. Try a turtleneck, sweater or vest underneath for a classic look when cooler weather takes hold. Complementary colored dress or casual pants in neutral tones of blues, greys and browns will display the same leadership vibe associated with a suit.

The jean dilemma

Wondering if, as a teacher, wearing jeans is appropriate? It depends on a few things. First, does your district have a dress code? If jeans aren’t on the list, that answers the question. If they are deemed okay, give it a go. Dark jeans in pristine condition—as in no holes and not worn—are perfect, especially when worn with a sport jacket or dress shirt.

Top it off

As a primary grade teacher your size alone dictates who the teacher is in the room. When it comes to upper grades…not so much. T-shirts are fine for when you are at home and that’s where they should stay. Only wear your dress shirt untucked if it’s properly fitted to be worn that way. Read this article on untucked dress shirts to see if your fits the bill. Knit shirts with collars and tucked in button downs will distinguish you from most of your students. Who knows? You may get some to follow your lead!

Shoe shuffle

Guys love shoes just as much as women. Fortunately, a few basic styles are all they need. One pair of dress shoes—usually a black Oxford—is a definite necessity. As for casual shoes, a loafer style, boot or chukka will go with pretty much everything. Sneakers of all types are fashionable these days but as with any shoe, know how to clean them to keep them looking like new.

Remember, you’re not just an educator you’re a role model and your teaching attire should reflect that.

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