When my oldest was little relatives bought my child a new Barbie Doll. Not just any Barbie Doll, but Art Teacher Barbie. We had a good laugh at Art Teacher Barbie! First of all, she was wearing heels! Strike one, art teachers are on their feet all day. Barbie was also wearing a tight skirt, strike two. How is she going to reach, bend and move? This is not what the typical middle or high school teacher is wearing today, guaranteed! Even Art Teacher Barbie sold in stores today has rethought the look and now sports a more casual and practical attire.
Make it practical
What are teachers wearing? A typical day would find me in khaki pants, a blouse or sweater, and sensible low-heeled shoes. After walking around with a dusty handprint on my rump for the better part of a day before a colleague delighted in pointing it out, I made an effort to stay away from black pants. Yet, black is a staple of a lot of art teachers. For a ceramic teacher, black shows all the ceramic dust (especially if you quickly wipe a damp dusty hand across your backside). The handprint was not the only faux pas of my career when it comes to outfits. When I was a new teacher and trying to dress to impress I wore a long black skirt. Well, in my dash to the bathroom between classes, it became tucked up into my pantyhose (also not something I would wear these days) in the back, and I had a very awkward 3rd-period class until a student let me in on the problem. I just beg you, if you have a tête-à-tête at the door with a colleague and see a wardrobe malfunction as she walks away, please tell her!
There was also the time I bobbled a gallon of clay being recycled. The wet slip-like clay hit the floor and splashed up at me. I had wet clay in my hair, eyelashes, clothes, and even shoes. Nothing was spared. It was my good fortune I had a bag of giveaway clothes in my car to change into. That lead to me always keeping an extra set of clothes in my classroom at all times. It’s stashed with my kit of personal products (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, stain stick, tampons, etc) I keep handy in my desk drawer.
All teachers must balance professionalism with practicality and school culture when choosing their work attire. Jeans might be OK in one school system but not allowed in another. Some teachers may enjoy getting dressed every morning while some see it as another chore. One trend I am seeing in my art teacher online groups is that art teachers love nothing better than finding clothing items that showcase artists. It’s the t-shirt you discovered at TJ Maxx with a Keith Haring image on the front that becomes your favorite. In addition to discount stores like TJ Maxx, I am also a fan of consignment stores, thrift stores, and even yard sales. When you are in danger of being splattered with paint, there is little point to sinking a lot of money into your clothes. I also like to have a little fun with my wardrobe too and here are some ideas to add a little artistic touch to your wardrobe.
All the images below are clickable and will bring you to the product. It’s often the little details that people love the most. I also want to call out the apron. Every art teacher needs an apron, it’ll save your clothes for sure. Buy a sturdy apron with pockets, like the one below from
If you can’t get away with a t shirt in your school, add a cardigan or blazer to the look! (Images are clickable!)
Dresses and skirts
Again. add a cardigan to the Kusama dress, or black tights and a turtleneck top to the comic book mini skirt and you have some memorable pieces. (Images are clickable!)