Excuse me, does my clothing offend you?  

So this week, teachers who are employed by the NSW DEC, received a rather interesting email.

A new dress code comes into play at the start of term 2.




 This is not me…  Source.


In short, we have an obligation to do the following:


  • maintain respect
  • establish credibility
  • uphold the reputation of the Department





The dress code goes on to say that we must be clean and tidy.  We must also wear professional attire at any formal engagements such as meetings with parents and at assemblies etc.






This is the part that’s annoyed me…


“Employees must not wear revealing clothes such as those exposing bare midriffs, strapless tops or dresses, or clothes that may be construed as suggestive and/or offensive.

Employees must not wear inappropriate clothes such as singlets, t-shirts, tracksuits or rubber thongs (except for sport and organised physical activities), ripped or dirty clothes, or clothes with inappropriate slogans (e.g. advertising for tobacco and alcohol).”


Oh, and men must wear collared shirts.



Good people of the world, I haven’t exposed my midriff since the mid-nineties, believe me.  But I do wear singlet tops and t-shirts to work and I make no attempt to be revealing or inappropriate.


My general school style is a nice cotton t-shirt and a pair of pants.  Sometimes a skirt with a sleeveless tank top.  At times, a singlet top (never spaghetti straps), with a pair of jeans.  I shop at places like Sussan for work, just to further illustrate my point.



Am I missing something?  Since when is a singlet top ‘revealing’, or a t-shirt ‘inappropriate’?

Would you be offended if I wore something like what I’ve described to a parent/teacher meeting?

Do you think that this type of clothing would make your child think that I’m an unprofessional teacher when I stand up in front of their class?



Unreasonable?  Your thoughts as always, are welcome.




Robo X


P.S.  Us Teachers are, on the whole, a pretty jovial bunch.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of the takes on ‘appropriateness’ next term…

About Robomum

I blog after my kids go to sleep. It takes a while. View all posts by Robomum

17 responses to “Excuse me, does my clothing offend you?  

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    It’s crazy really as teachers at my school wear singlets, not spag ones but other ones, it’s too hot up here really – I hope some rock up with beer guzzling, fag sucking t-shirts!

  • Twinkle in the Eye

    You obviously do the right thing. I imagine not all do and they are giving themselves a ground from which to respond. In hospitality, armpits are regarded as unprofessional (and kind of gross if there is hair) so as a general rule no singlet tops. Most professionals have a dress code of some sort, nothing to be too bothered about.

  • mumabulous

    DET have to remember that teaching is NOT an office job. Its physical work wrangling all those kids. T-shirts and smart casual pants are perfectly appropriate. However – if teachers rocked up looking like Miley Cyrus I might take issue 😉

  • mumabulous

    PS: Loving the new look Robo.

  • Renee

    Especially in areas where it is stinking hot, I see no problem whatsoever with wearing a nice tee or tank top. This really does seem over the top. We have notices all over our work at the moment (DETE) telling us to dress up and not down ..

  • Emily

    I hate things like this. I mostly hate that there are obviously some people SOMEWHERE that dress so inappropriately as to warrant these sorts of things. And that those in charge are too uncomfortable to pull that one person aside, so you all get told.

    If it was a sleeveless dress, you’d have no problem, so I don’t see the difference between a wide-strapped tank and skirt and, say, a sleeveless wrap dress. But I also understand the notice not going into specifics. It’s easier to say ‘no singlets’ than to specify exceptions.

  • Mark Downey (@fullhalfglass1)

    They have to be kidding!

    Is this just another case of bureaucratic self serving protectionism? Surely a missive such as this has been sent purely so that some nuff nut sitting in an ivory tower can say, (if the dept is sued by someone), that our expectations were in writing and we cannot not be responsible for the actions of others.

    Far more important is that teachers receive quality resources so that our children can receive a solid educational experience.

  • becc03

    I don’t even see the problem with spaghetti straps if the top is appropriate or dressy. What is wrong with a bit of shoulder?
    I wonder if wearing too tight a collared shirt would be a no no for men?

  • Lydia C. Lee

    I had a bit of an issue with this, when you consider teachers have to risk getting paint on their clothes and other craft stuff. Also, I fail to see the point of male teachers having to wear a tie for parent-teacher interviews. If they don’t already, it seems a bit odd.
    Also, are their guidelines for parent volunteers and tuckshop people? Can I wear my Birkenstocks to kindy reading?
    Lets not give the schools adequate funding, but outline what the teachers have to wear…Makes sense to me! (Smoke and mirrors, no?)

  • Caitlin

    As a teacher at a private school, I’m used to strict dress codes. I wasn’t even able to wear jeans, but at the end of the day, I just accepted it even though you do need to adjust the wardrobe a little. What I did like was that there was more of a clear distinction between work and home clothes. I don’t think what you wear would be offensive at all, I should add, and if you feel you can help adjust the conditions so they are more practical for your school, good luck with speaking out about it!

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    My husband and I had a chuckle about this as he is a teacher and we were both bemused that this sort of guideline had to be issued in the first place. I do agree the no sleeveless rule for women is rough – I work in an office and smart sleeveless dresses and tops are not revealing at all and are acceptable in a professional office environment – why not then in a professional education capacity?

  • floodproofmum

    I don’t know what it is about singlet tops either…arms certainly are not offensive? The dress code is the same for our kids on free dress days at school…and actually their new school doesn’t have free dress days because it causes too much trouble 🙂

  • Pinky Poinker

    I’m a teacher too and the main thing at our school is sun safety and basically we’re expected to lead by example. No jeans though. I did get bright pink foils in my dark hair the other day but I haven’t been told to get rid of them so I guess it must be okay. If you shop at Sussan for work I’m sure you won’t go wrong:)

  • Tegan Churchill

    I think by singlets they mean Bonds ones that really should only be worn under clothes. Maybe my highschool science teacher has moved to NSW and that’s why you have the guidelines…she used to wear black g-strings under white cotton dresses, would wear low cut tops and lean over the boys desks (at 13 anyone above the age is 21 is gross so it was kind of pointless) and wore bikinis during our whole school sports day (every Wednesday we had sports that the whole school were involved in, at the start of each term you would sign up for a sport).

  • Psych Babbler

    I do think it’s a bit stupid but when I worked in an independent school, all staff had a dress code — no jeans/casual wear (unless you were PE staff) but at the end of the day, you’d think adults would be able to make their own decisions…

  • Elise (@mummyhearts)

    It sounds like our normal office dress code. We can wear shirts, but only if they are collared (females or males). It sounds like maybe there are instances of some people who take casual a little too far resulting in a clearer dress code for all

  • Grace

    The attire that you mention definitely doesn’t sound risqué at all!
    What was interesting was when I was working at the office, I noticed that the younger girls (under 25) were wearing – what I thought in my opinion – was inappropriate for the office.
    Lots of cleavage, skimpy, low-waist jeans where they showed their g-bangers when leaning over. I’m sure I’m not being a conservative prude when I say…that, my friends, is unacceptable.

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