The bell is about to ring for the first day of school. But though parents have forked out to ensure their kids arrive at the gates looking smart, the same can’t always be said of their teachers.
While some get top marks for style and set their pupils a stylish example, others deserve a D for their dowdy dress sense.
Teachers were deemed the nation’s worst dressed profession in a recent survey, followed closely by IT analysts and sales executives. And when Meadowhall decided to stage a Tailor Your Teacher competition, offering pupils the chance to nominate school staff in dire need of a makeover, more than 100 entries poured in.
Organisers were staggered at the descriptions of scruffy, unkempt mathematicians and historians, English masters and games mistresses.
“Back to school is a hugely important time for parents, kids and teachers. But it seems while some staff put a lot of effort into their own classroom ‘uniform, many don’t,” says Jayne Carr, personal shopper at Meadowhall House Of Fraser and one of the panel of Tailor Your Teacher judges. “From what kids told us, there were many across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire who definitely ‘could try harder’ when it comes to paying attention to their looks.
Assisted by a team from Meadowhall’s management and a panel of kids recently voted Yorkshire’s Most Fashionable Children, stylist Jayne decided
King Egbert’s Spanish teacher Charlotte Wrigley was the most deserving case for a hair, beauty and fashion revamp in time for the new school term.
Charlotte was urged to smarten up in a nomination from pupil Eve Campbell, 15.
“She is a great teacher and very friendly and easy to talk to. We discovered we are both very passionate about running so we always had lots to talk about,” says the young Sheffield Harrier from Beauchief.
“But I thought she looked a bit of a mess in class. She looked like a stereotypical untidy teacher in a film. She was always in baggy grey jogging bottoms, old T-shirts and a huge cardigan, which didn’t match her personality.
“I think it’s important that teachers dress smartly and with good fashion sense. It gives us pupils a good example to follow.”
The judges agreed and picked Charlotte for a lesson in style – plus new hair do, beauty makeover and £175 to spend on a new classroom ‘uniform’ so she can stride into her new classroom at Rawmarsh Community School today with a professional new look.
A personal shopper and stylist for seven years, Jayne Carr was unphased by her latest challenge.
“I’m not surprised teachers have been marked down for the way they dress. They lead such busy lives it’s easy for their appearance to end up the last thing on their list. They create a practical and easy uniform, clamber swiftly into it every morning and shrug off any thought of looking stylish,” Jane explained.
“Charlotte hates shopping and is happiest in sports clothes. I knew if I’d brought jogging bottoms in to the changing rooms her face would have lit up, but I wanted to show her that how her pupil Eve imagined she should look was pretty accurate.
“She told me her dress rules before we started; comfort was vital, she needed practical, easy-care fabrics plus layers so she could adjust her clothes to suit the different temperatures she experienced at school – and she never did bright colours for work.”
Believing some rules are made to be broken, Jayne scoured House of Fraser’s extensive fashion floor for items that would build a practical, versatile uniform for Charlotte, but which were fresh, young and colourful enough to be an extension of Charlotte’s personality – and would get her top marks for smartness and fashion sense.
A pair of burgundy soft cotton jeans-cut trousers, £55 from Linea, won approval. Out went the cardigan – Charlotte’s ‘comfort blanket’ – and in came a collarless jacket in shell pink by Ted Baker (£149).
A brightly-patterned peplum top from Therapy, £32, was a daring choice, but Charlotte went for it. Fast leaving her fashion D-grade behind her, she particularly liked the way peplum covered her hips and bum. “Showing too much shape and curve is a no-no in the classroom,” she confided.
Her school shoe of choice had always been a comfy trainer, but she declared the mid-heeled Linea taupe suede courts another hit. “Comfortable, not too high, smart, in a practical colour – and I love the zip detail on the heels,” she declared.
Now on course for an A-grade, Charlotte was sent to Meadowhall salon Alan Paul to have her shapeless blonde hair, so often worn scraped back into a severe but unflattering ponytail, sculpted into a lightly shaped bob. The cut gave her hair body and swing and a blow-dry plus jumbo rollers gave her glamorous root lift and bouncing curls.
A beauty lesson at the Bobbi Brown counter in House Of Fraser taught Charlotte how to make the most of her pretty features with natural-looking, sheer foundation and nude tones with a dash of emphasis for lips and eyes.
And finally, Miss was an A-star hit!