"Dress for the job you want...not the job you have." You've heard that, right? What if you have the job want? What then?
As SLPs, we were taught in school to dress as a professional. But, there are times when some of us are rolling around on the floor with little ones. Can we find a happy medium?
I like jeans day as much as the next person. I love being able to put on my jeans and sweatshirt when the weather is yucky outside. I love being....comfortable. But...I also love walking into the school and feeling professional. There are times when I feel like I do my best work when I'm dressed up.
I'm not talking heels and a dress. I'm talking about wearing slacks and a decent, professional shirt. I'm talking about being able to get on the floor with little ones without wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
Most of the schools where I've worked have had a dress code: no jeans except on designated days. You never, ever walked into the Central Office in jeans.
Like it or not, education is a business. If you walked into a business, and the person you were dealing with had on jeans, a t-shirt, and sandals, how much confidence would you have in his/her ability to properly conduct your business? That person may be the best person in the business, but if he/she didn't look professional, my first impression wouldn't be that great. I would question their ability to do their job well.
Meetings are your time to make that first impression. If I look professional, I feel professional. I want the parents to have confidence that I know what I'm doing and that I'll do the best I can to help their child. As I said before, I'm not talking heels and a dress. I'm 5'9", and I've never worn anything more than a quarter inch heel in my life. And dresses??? Rarely will you see me in a dress; it's pretty hard to sit at a therapy table all day long and conduct sessions while worrying about if you're decent.
I don't claim to know a lot about fashion (I have a hard time putting an outfit together & could really use my own personal stylist!), but it doesn't take a fashionista to know how to dress professionally. Here are just a few tips:
👗First and foremost: Watch how low the neckline is.
You don't want to show more of yourself than is necessary, if you know what I mean. Even when you have meetings, watch the neckline. Your cute little top may look great, even with a jacket, but if you reveal a lot of yourself, it's a no-go.
Do you want to wear a plain t-shirt with your slacks? Throw on a jacket and ¡voila! Instant professional outfit! Or, with scarves coming back in popularity, wrap one around your neck with your t-shirt. Same effect!
Heels? Not for me. If you're the kind of person who can wear heels all day, go for it. Do you have to kick them off so you can get down on the floor and conduct therapy with the littles? You may want to rethink the heels.
👗 Do you love to wear dresses?
Sometimes a dress (or a skirt) can be more comfortable than slacks. Just make sure it's not too short. (See "Watch how low the neckline is"!)
Wear what you think is professional, comfortable, and practical. You want to be taken seriously; you want the rest of the faculty and the parents to know you mean business. Don't overdo it, though. There's a fine line between looking professional and looking like you're better than everyone else.
It may depend on your school. If you have a very laid-back school, then you won't want to wear heels. Even if you wear jeans, you can add a jacket and look laid-back, yet professional. On the flip-side, if your school adheres to a strict dress code (or appears to), then don't come in looking like a slouch.
What are your tips for looking professional, yet being able to get on the floor or sit at a table that you can't put your knees under?