School management - what to wear?

(16 Posts)
PencilShaving Fri 18-Jun-21 14:48:21

Got a new job on the leadership team at a secondary school and desperately need to upgrade my wardrobe from my current look, which is on the casual side of smart-casual, to something that says ‘this woman is your boss!’ (without resorting to 80s power dressing).

I’m mid 40s, tall, 12-14, traditionally an hourglass but now with a bit of a tum.
I like dresses. Think I need a few trouser options, too, but have always struggled with putting separates together. I usually feel like a kid playing dress up in blazers. Really need something stylish but comfy on my feet.
Gah!!! Am clueless.

At interview, the head was my age and was wearing a Boden-esque colourful jersey dress and cropped cardi with heels. She looked bright, well put together and smart-casual. But this is SO NOT my style. The other woman on the leadership team is half my age and thin, and was wearing paper bag trousers, brogues and a blouse with an elaborate bow. Again, great, but NOT me.

What on Earth does one wear these days?

OP’s posts: |
AOwlAOwlAOwl Fri 18-Jun-21 20:59:35

A dress and a contrasting jacket for me (school trust role)

I'm very low maintenance - all my work dresses are variations of navy blue or are navy base with a pattern and I have 2 jackets I keep on my chair at work. A white one that doesn't have buttons and is a lighter fabric and a buttoned wool one that's a bit more structured.

As long as you have nice shoes and clean smart hair it all works!

hedgehogger1 Fri 18-Jun-21 21:06:48

Don't wear heels too high for you to walk in. One of our deputies randomly started this after the new female head started. Head wears high heels and we reckon the deputy is feeling the need to fit in, she can barely walk and it's really noticeable

FourTurnings Fri 18-Jun-21 22:16:43

I’m an AHT and wear all kinds of things, wide legged trousers with a blazer and Vejas, maxi dresses, black or grey jeans with polo necks and blazers and ankle boots, pinafores over a blouse, linen trousers, you name it.

BeingATwatItsABingThing Fri 18-Jun-21 22:24:05

Primary here but, apart from our head, no one dresses that formally in our school. Our Deputy wears leggings and long tops. Our non-teaching assistant head and one of the teaching AHs wears black trousers and tops. Our other teaching AHs wear black jeans/leggings/casual skirts/harem pants and smartish tops.

We all know who is SLT in our school and it’s nothing to do with what they wear.

MadameMinimes Fri 18-Jun-21 23:05:27

Our team is mostly women and there’s a fairly wide range of styles.

Our HT favours looser fitting dresses with court shoes and quirky chunky jewellery.

The DH wears skirt suits for the most part with shell tops and low heels.

I mostly wear pencil dresses in plain bright colours or pleated midi skirts with patterned shirts. I only wear flat shoes.

One of the other AHTs wears Bodenesque jersey dresses with flats.

The other 2 female AHTs wear mostly trousers with smart-casual tops and flats or low heels.

Our SENCO wears a lot of pencil dresses that are similar to the sort of thing I like but with heels and always far better accessorised than me.

StCharlotte Sat 19-Jun-21 11:29:15

The DH wears skirt suits for the most part with shell tops and low heels.

Taken out of context... grin

<lowers eyebrow>


BeingATwatItsABingThing Sat 19-Jun-21 11:46:28


*The DH wears skirt suits for the most part with shell tops and low heels.*

Taken out of context... grin

<lowers eyebrow>

That’s how I read it too grin

MadameMinimes Sat 19-Jun-21 11:49:09


LadyMonicaBaddingham Sat 19-Jun-21 11:55:42

My DH wouldn't be seen decomposing in a ditch in that outfit 😁

supersuds Sat 19-Jun-21 11:59:17

I find trousers/ jumpsuits and woven t shirts in neutral
Colours (lots of navy, black, grey), cropped (fitted or wide leg for summer in a lighter fabric). I think accessorise with chunky jewellery and coloured or patterned blazers. Occasionally a shirt dress or A line dress.

I have lots of blouses, which I wear less as they frankly require more maintenance and co-ordination of outfits.

Cos, Hobbs, m and s and John Lewis are my friends

Low heal or flat courts or slip ons from Hobbs, j crew etc or brogues.

It would not be unusual for me to wear basically the same / same style trousers and top for a month, with different blazers/ cardigans / jewellery.

Blissful Sat 19-Jun-21 13:01:10

My advice would be look to your leadership colleagues. I was a deputy head in a large city primary. All the leadership wore fairly smart, trousers and jackets, shift dresses with jackets or cardigans, mid heel ankle boots in winter (no stilettos or high heels!), brogues, loafers... Funky jewellery and 'indoor' scarves didn't really feature amongst the leadership team but were definitely worn by some of the teachers. Ditto leggings and dresses.

Now I am a teacher in a small rural primary (long story!) and the leadership team, just a head and a deputy, wear black jeans, casual cotton or jersey tops, biker boots, Birkenstocks in the summer. I wear black jeans as well, tops, midi dresses (but not the floral buffet kind - tried and so not my thing!) and cardigans from places like Cos, Whistles, John Lewis. Also just discovered some lovely shirt dresses from Albaray - wafty enough for summer but can be worn in winter with boots, cardigans, roll necks, etc. I wear flat ankle boots (Blundstones, AllSaints) and brogues in the winter and Tevas and Arizona Love sandals and Birkenstocks in the summer. It's such a different environment!

Obviously, primary is generally less formal than secondary.

justaweeone Sat 19-Jun-21 14:30:03

Have a look at Hobbs for some inspiration, lots in the sale at the mo
Congrats on your job!

justaweeone Sat 19-Jun-21 14:32:47

Oh Clarks for shoes! Never thought l would be saying that when I hated Clarks shoes when I was a pupilgrin

SarBear1980 Sat 19-Jun-21 20:22:14

Look on eBay for Hobbs stuff - so much on there being sold at the moment with lots not going back to office - bargains to be had 😊

I have a neutral pallet work wardrobe with very few patterns as very easy to mix and match from a capsule. I’m secondary where everyone makes an effort…men in suits in classroom, women in nice smart outfits and we seem to all wear heels.

Recommendations are Hobbs blazers, Boden low heels, M&S wide leg trousers, Next for good classic black tailored dresses, H&M for good smart tops and blazers, I love Pretty Ballerina flats but the pointy ones I like best and at my school we all seem to have a thing for tailored jumpsuits - &Other Stories, Mango. Colleagues love Ted Baker but too patterns for me.

SarBear1980 Sat 19-Jun-21 20:25:43

Oh and don’t forget you’ll likely need a duty coat…I have a school one for the bus stop but a warm and waterproof one will be essential if anything like where I’ve worked and you have lots of before/after outside duties and lots of playground duties or duty checks to do. I have an Arket long puff coat - smart and warm and in winter keep my ugly but warm Ugg’s under my desk and change as I walk the school outside!

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in