Teacher Fashion Through the Years

The year was 1987 and I was starting my first teaching position. No more college sweatshirts and sweatpants for me; I was ready to be a professional!  I replaced my scrunchie with a rather large bow (hot glue-gunned onto a barrette) clipped onto my long hair with giant, teased bangs. I donned my new white boots with a mini-skirt and long sweater, complete with shoulder pads.
I shudder now to think about that! LOL. Another favorite outfit in the early 90's was a linen lime green shorts suit (not a pantsuit, but a matching double-breasted top & SHORTS), complete with large shoulder pads that I wore with black pumps!! Huh?! I quickly learned that one does NOT teach primary grades wearing high heels! I think I must have been dressing "fancy" for Picture Day! I can think of no other explanation. . .
One year I had a sweet student whose father manufactured "teacher jewelry". What is teacher jewelry, you may ask? Think LARGE plastic school supply shapes strung together with beads. For every holiday, this child gave me themed jewelry, apple necklaces, pencil earrings, crayon bracelets, you name it! I was decked out!
Back in the 80's and 90's, the bigger and gaudier the jewelry, the better! A friend and I had the brilliant idea to make some money by drilling a hole in our pattern blocks, threading them with ribbon and selling them as necklaces at a math conference. They were a success (never mind how impractical and heavy hanging wood blocks around your neck was. . .)
The 90's brought out the creativity in me. I finally learned (admittedly the hard way) that teachers need to dress comfortably, especially since I was teaching first and second grades! I was always sitting on the floor and needing to move. No more pumps or high heels. In came cute flats and white Keds.  I started designing matching t-shirt and stretchy pants (this was pre-stirrup pants and pre-leggings days) with "modern" designs, many of them a la Jackson Pollock. I custom made them for all the teachers at my school!
In the late 90's, early 2000's, I began giving a lot of presentations at conferences and teaching "teacher classes".  I thought I had better look more "grown up".  I bought suits in every color (skirts and pants, bu not shorts anymore, thank goodness) . . . but still complete with shoulder pads. When did shoulder pads go out of style anyway?! And big hair was gone by then. 
And true story, but it was only two years ago that I "thanked" all those suits I hadn't worn in 15 years and finally donated them. Although I have nightmares of teenagers finding them in a thrift shop, laughing and wearing them to a vintage or retro party.

If you're in the mood for a good laugh, be sure to check out our podcast as we take a trip down teacher fashion memory lane! This week's episode is all about teacher fashions throughout the years. We laughed until we cried recording it! Click HERE or on the image below to listen to our latest podcast!
Be sure to check out my podcast besties' teacher fashion blog posts below! Tracy, Retta & Deann will keep you smiling!
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  1. I was just showing a photo of me as a new teacher in 1983 to other teachers at a recent conference in Denver. None of us could believed I used to teach in professional looking skirts and HEELS!

    1. I know! How did we do that? I remember when I realized a mini-skirt was not ideal for sitting on the rug with my kiddo; LOL