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.