Magazine topic: 
Fashion

The 'smart casual' dilemma

by : 
RosemaryM

Dress codes are usually fairly straightforward. If you're going to a wedding (or similar occasion), then you know that you should wear something smart - usually a suit for men, a dress for women. Likewise, if you're going out with friends you can dress casually, in jeans and a top. It's the area in the middle - referred to as "smart casual" - that presents me with a dilemma. This can be interpreted in so many different ways! One person might veer towards the smart side, whilst another might opt for more casual attire. For many of us, myself included, this is a difficult dress code to get right.

I currently work in France as a language assistant. I had no idea what I would be expected to wear to school. You see, in British schools teachers dress smartly. Most male teachers will wear a suit; most female teachers will wear a dress, skirt or suit. On the whole, teachers will wear similar clothing to those who work in office jobs. Even the language assistants I had at school conformed to this (rather strict) dress code. Was I supposed to do the same in France?

Packing was a slightly stressful affair. I was only taking one suitcase, so my choice of clothing was limited. In the end, I decided to take mostly casual clothes, with a few items which I would look relatively smart in. When I arrived in France, I realised there was no need to have worried. Here, the teachers wear jeans to school! I followed their lead: if they wore jeans, it was clearly not an issue if I did too. In fact, I have only seen a handful of teachers wearing suits! 

Having spoken to several other assistants, it was clear they also had the same dilemma as me. Perhaps it is because of cultural differences. In Britain and the US, education is a more formal affair and uniforms are important. Here on the continent, it seems to be far more laid back; uniforms don't exist for students, and there is no set dress code for teachers either. Luckily it made my life a lot easier!

Language level: 
Discussion

How do the teachers in your school dress? Do you prefer to wear smart or casual clothes? 

Comments

iva10's picture
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iva10 29 July, 2015 - 10:24

In my school teachers dress up nice.The teachers are always looking wonderful and properly.

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Ken's picture
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Ken 7 April, 2015 - 13:03

In our school, students wear a school uniform and teachers usually wear suits or dress in a jacket except P.E. teacher who is clothed in a sweat suit almost all the time. We also have a woman teacher who usually wears a wig. Our school educates us to be well-groomed, but it's not cool!
To me, 'smart casual' means simple. It's a choice between the two: plus casual or minus casual. That's what 'smart casual' is all about, depending on the place people gather. ;-)

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hadia 2 April, 2015 - 07:33

In our schools teachers usually wear smart and traditional clothes as to maintain a discipline among the school environment some also wear casual but very less! And I can wear the both but usually when i go out I wear traditional clothes!

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Lavender 22 March, 2015 - 17:00

My teachers wear smart to school. Traditional clothes are compulsory for female teachers in some shool. I love it beacause the "ao dai" is pretty and graceful. The minus is it is a little bit inconvenient. So many schools teachers wear modern clothes instead, but smart like dress or skirt. Male teachers always go for suit, but simple. I seldome see them in jeans.

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Silvermist 21 March, 2015 - 14:22

Our teachers where smart, everyone wears sarees...which is our country's teacher's dress code as well as most female office workers.
I prefer wearing both smart and casual.

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Lavender 22 March, 2015 - 17:07

I always thought just Indian women wear sari. Now I know they wear it in Sri lanka. Thanks Silvermist. Sari is beautiful, and unique.

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HollyJolly775's picture
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HollyJolly775 17 March, 2015 - 18:19

As far as i'm concerned, the teachers in my school dress smartly. Not because they eager to, they are forced to. It's kind of an obligation, which is supposed to support disciplined atmosphere throughout the lesson and make the educational process more formal. And it does work. Frankly speaking, i prefer wearing casual clothes to smart one. Smart is obviously not my cup of tea, 'cause whilst i'm wearing it, i feel uncomfortable and embarassed.

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