Monday, February 8, 2010

The Decline of Professionalism.....

I'm only speaking of my own professionalism here, not that of anyone else.

And I'm not really talking about professional behavior so much as dress. This occurred to me as I was dressing for school on Friday.

Friday has become jeans day for most high schools around here, except for one county where I used to work, where the former superintendent said that blue jeans were never acceptable.

Back when I first started teaching, I wore mostly dresses and skirts. And pantyhose. And relatively high heels. Not stilettos, mind you, but pumps. I don't think I EVER wore sandals. We were allowed to wear jeans on Fridays then too, as long as we wore school colors. The only thing I hated was that particular school's colors were red and gold. Yuck. I was embarrassed if I had to stop at the store on the way to school and I was wearing spirit wear. It looked like someone's color-blind mother was dressing me. And she was mad at me.

Sometimes I wore suits to school, and I didn't look out of place at all. I remember a couple in particular. One was a green plaid jacket and solid green skirt. My aunt gave me that suit, and I loved it. I wore it with a frilly white blouse and the obligatory pumps. On a shopping trip with my mother when she was feeling generous, I fell in love with a navy blue suede leather skirt and vest. I remember wearing that suit poolside one afternoon when I was coaching swimming. When I lost 50 pounds, I went through my rayon pantsuit phase. I had a navy blue one, a red one, and a gorgeous coral colored one. That was the one I was wearing one morning when our school was experiencing a rash of bomb threats and resultant evacuations (nine in two weeks; two in one day) and it started to pour rain. Bye-bye coral pantsuit.

I used to accessorize, too, mainly due to the influence of my ex-friend Angela. She shopped with me, advised me on what to wear, and had no qualms whatsoever about telling me that something I had on was tacky. I wore scarves with some outfits, pins with others. I remember one of my favorite dresses from that time period. It was red linen, with a tiny pleated panel at the bottom. It also had a black-and-white-polka-dotted ribbon between the pleated part and the skirt part. I found a pin of a clown riding a bicycle, and the clown's outfit was red and white polka dots. That's how much into matching my accessories I was back then.

At another high school, there was a lady who participated in the 3-day walk to raise money for breast cancer research. She was a breast cancer survivor herself, so the principal allowed anyone who donated money to her "buy" the privilege of wearing jeans. A certain amount bought you ten days of jeans on any day you wanted to wear them, a higher amount twenty days, and so forth. I donated the amount that would allow me to wear jeans any day of the week I wanted to, unlimited, for the whole school year. All I had to do was wear my pink ribbon that day to indicate that I had earned the privilege. Man, that was freedom. Having those random days when I just didn't feel like dressing up, just to be able to put on jeans and sneakers. I miss those days.

I have discarded every single dress and skirt in my closet, except for one denim skirt and a couple of dresses that I may (or may not) wear to formal night on a cruise. I haven't worn pantyhose since my friend's funeral six years ago (except to my teacher-of-the-year banquet), and I may never wear them again. Pantyhose are OF. THE. DEVIL.

I still try to dress somewhat professionally, though. I wear black slacks with a mock turtleneck or a shirt and jacket at least once a week. I have an awesome pair of sort-of-big-legged black-with-white-pinstripe Ralph Lauren pants that I would wear every day, but I try to limit them to about every other week. They are so comfortable, and they feel almost like heavy denim, so when I wear them I feel like I'm getting away with something. I have a pair of almost-but-not-quite herringbone slacks, a dark gray, a couple pairs of brown (all of which I hate and detest), and a couple of requisite khakis.

I'll be glad when spring is here, so I can go back to wearing capris. Please, God, don't ever let capris and crop pants go out of style. I have a much larger selection of those than I do slacks in my closet. And as long as you pair them with something mostly professional looking (as opposed to, say, a t-shirt), at our school we can get away with capris, crop pants, or walking shorts. I'm getting too old to wear shorts above the knee, however. Damn it.

I need to go through my dresser drawers and throw away all those pantyhose (and some tights) that I've had for years. If an occasion arises on which I MUST wear pantyhose, I will fake a coma or something. I also need to purge my shoes, but that's for another post.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Purge your SHOES!?! Okay that's taking it a bit too far!

But I've noticed the same thing at the school where I am and the way the teachers dress- casual is just short of jeans and with pants that are as comfortable as jeans, it's no wonder the days of "professional" dress have gone by the wayside.

I will say, though, my building principal and the head principal wear a tie every day, usually a suit, too. (except on Spirit Fridays when they wear the docker style pants with a School polo shirt...)