I am starting a secondary PGCE in a couple of weeks and am having a bit of a wardrobe panic. I have approx £300 to spend on clothes and shoes and want to get the basics to see me through my first teaching practice. I own no formal skirts or trousers and I don't have a suit. I do have several smart knee-length dresses (Boden jersey numbers or similar). Would they be appropriate? Also I live in flat knee-high boots in winter, and Converse the rest of the time. I cannot wear heels. I did a weeks teaching experience last term and was crippled after one day in quite moderate (2-inch) heels. Is there a way of wearing flat shoes and skirts that doesn't look too frumpy? Can anyone suggest a sensible way of putting together an appropriate work wardrobe? I guess I need a suit of some kind but I'm hopeless with separates. I'm 47, size 14-16 and hourglass shaped, so it is a bit of a struggle to find trousers that fit well and blouse buttons tend to strain over my amplitudinous norkage, which is never a good look for a teacher. All advice and suggestions much appreciated.
I think you could get away with a couple of pairs of smart trousers and some plain tops which you could accessorise with scarves, necklaces etc if you don't like jackets. Trousers would be fine with low heels. Or, wear your flat boots and some jumper type dresses in winter.
As the previous poster says, it does depend on the school and their dress code but, generally, IME, you can be fairly "casual" in most places. I have just bought a couple of White Stuff skirts in their outlet shop which I will team up with some tops (not yet bought!) and boots.
You probably won't need a suit but one school I work in insists on jackets for parents' evenings so one decent jacket in a neutral jacket should be fine - Debenhams classic usually a good bet.
Thanks Tethers. A pencil skirt is definitely on my list, although that £80 one would blow my budget a bit. That ASDA dress is an amazing price and the shoes are great. I am pretty sure the dress code at my first school is very formal from what I have heard about it. I think a suit will be a necessity, even if not every day.
My advice is - supermarkets! I know thus sounds daft but my trousers and skirts always get clicked just below my bum (have a habit of perching on desks!) and you need tops etc that you won't worry about if you get biro / White board marker / unexplained stains you don't wish to investigate on them.
I don't wear a suit for school (but that might depend on where you work). I wear one for interview but I can't teach in them . Smart tailored trousers or a skirt, with a blouse or v necked jumper will be fine, or dresses always look smart - tea dress style or wrap dress depending on what suits you.
Flat shoes will be fine - I have pointy flats from Dorothy Perkins (that I got in 3 colours!) which are really comfy and have been great.
I also have a (ahem) sizable bust. Vest tops under anything are your friend!
Good luck next year - it's an awesome job, you'll love it! What subject are you doing?
Yes, becky, I think the problem with being a trainee is that you are going to be aware that you are being judged all the time - and getting the dress code right is at least one small thing you can do to make a good impression.
I live in jersey or wrap-over dresses, tights and either flats or flat boots. Don't force yourself into heels if you'll be uncomfortable - I did on PGCE as I thought it would make me feel more 'grown up' ( was only 21 and scared of teaching 18 year olds!) but quickly realised being comfortable was far more important. Agree with the above poster who said have one smart jacket for parents' evenings/first day nerves.
I echo what has been said already - smart trousers with flat shoes and a variety of tops is a great way to start. Also worth bearing in mind that teaching is pretty energetic so thick knits will probably cause you to melt - I rarely dress for winter inside school - layers are best. But I am about to start work in a school with a separate 6th form block so am going to need a good coat, too! I wear knee-length dresses with tights and boots and feel pretty smart. All the best with your PGCE - it is a fantastic job, although it comes with many ups and downs!
I didn't wear a suit to my HoD interview even. I think a good dress looks just as smart and formal, plus I find them much more comfortable to wear and much, much easier to sort out in the morning! Plus I'm a bit of a natural scruff and I always feel that I'm coming "untucked" in a shirt and skirt or trousers!
I have this coat which I splurged on last winter. I think Tethers was genius for pointing me in the direction of the similarly styled jacket. Thank you all very much ladies. I am getting some great ideas here.