Ask Laia: I'm A High School Teacher, What Do I Wear To Keep Kids From F**ing With Me?

The whole thing immediately gave me flashbacks to one "Dangerous Minds," the most epic movie about kids that are crazy and teachers who are boss
Publish date:
September 1, 2011
shoppables, teachers, ask laia, back to school, blazers, chelsea boots, trousers

Hi Laia,

Love your posts! And I was thinking, and have been thinking for the last two weeks, about what to wear on my first day of school. Here's the thing: I'm a high school teacher, mostly juniors and seniors. So, something slightly trendy gets me a little street cred... However, and most importantly I need something that screams DON'T FUCK WITH ME... but that I will relax in a month or so... This is always such a dilemma for me! So authority/ coolness... Got any ideas? I usually wear a suit but it's hot in my classroom and well, I'm on my feet all day, so heels? Flats? What kinda suit? Or should I just throw the whole suit idea out because it's too stuffy and boring. Waaah!

I love your advice. Please help. Thank you!


Hi Keri, thanks for writing in! This is a totally understandble conundrum, kids are crazy! You want to be cool, but still be the boss. The whole thing immediately gave me flashbacks to one "Dangerous Minds," the most epic movie about kids that are crazy and teachers who are boss ("Dead Poets Society" doesn't count).

Michelle Pfeiffer rules the roost in jeans, heavy boots and leather jackets. Now obviously if this isn't your style, this is not something that you need to go running after, but maybe she could be your secret muse for getting the "vibe" right.

Let's start right at the core of the matter: What is your favorite outfit to wear when you need to look decent but not necessarily "dressed up"? This is your core comfort outfit, and since you have to be comfortable, it is the best thing to "birth" your first-day outfit. I don't know what the dress code at your school is so I'm going to err on the side of "formal" rather than "casual."

Silence & Noise Boyfriend Blazer $78 & Comune Stephanie Trouser $78, Urban Outfitters

A suit seems like the best idea, but I wouldn't wear a normal, matchy, business-type suit. Instead go with a pair of nice trousers -- I'm really into a slim, cropped style at the moment, but go with whatever fit you prefer -- and pair it with a relaxed blazer.

Depending on how fun/serious you want to be, the blazer could even be a cool contrasting color, but go all black if you want to be more authoritative than fun on the first day. What you wear under the jacket will more or less depend on how "business" you want to look; a button-down would probably be the most professional option, and maybe as the semester progresses you can switch it up with nice soft tees with cardigans or super soft sweaters in the winter.

Ecote Flat Chelsea Boot $69 & Cooperative Suede Chelsea Wedge Boot $69, Urban Outfitters

As for shoes, I would stick to flats for sure, and go with a cool oxford or ankle boot. I love this chelsea boot from Urban Outfitters because it's a little tough without being over the top, but above all it's very practical. If you're comfortable in heels and feel more powerful when you've got a bit of height on you, then a wedge is the best option.

Keep it understated and low to the ground, you don't wanna clomp around and accidentally twist an ankle on the first day. Not because you can't walk in heels or anything, but just to be on the safe side. I'm pretty good with heels and I'm CERTAIN that if I was a teacher and wore them to class I would be eating it CONSTANTLY and thus would be the laughingstock of my students. Like a Ms. Geist but with less lipstick on my teeth.

Have a great school year!

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