As a child, I always looked forward to seeing fashionable teachers and noticed if they changed their hair or got a new necklace. Students here do the same. Of course they would notice… Korea is a country that puts a lot of emphasis on beauty. They notice when I change my earrings, hair color, and even the color of my eyeliner. They compliment me when I have prettier or more professional looking clothes. They encourage me to present myself better every day.
In Korea, what is considered acceptable depends on each school and principal. In some cases, your principal may ask you to wear professional suits to school every day. There are a lot of taboos, but from what I hear from other English teachers in Korea, it seems like it is much more laid back than I had expected.
- Showing too much of the neck area. It is better to not show any cleavage. So a simple tank top would be not the best choice. If you do, a co-worker may warn you or just talk behind your back.
- Wearing the same clothes every day. Everyone will notice it, and will judge you…
- Showing your tattoos. Many of my friends have to be careful about their choice of clothes because tattoos are considered inappropriate in schools in Korea.
- Piercings beyond your ears. Similar to tattoos. But many teachers have their ears pierced and enjoy wearing cute earrings. Sometimes students are not allowed to wear them depending on their homeroom teacher.
- Underwear showing. Never wear bright colored underwear underneath a thin white shirt or something. It’s probably not acceptable anywhere as a teacher…
*This one depends on your school, so you’ll have to observe your co-workers before taking risks.
- Short skirts above your knee. But it is better to wear some kind of shorts underneath to make sure that nothing is visible at the stairs.
- Shorts. As long as they aren’t jeans material with holes in it or something, it should be fine during the hot summer.
- Sleeveless blouse. According to my co-teacher, this was not acceptable a few years ago, but now it is.
- Nail polish. Some teachers say it’s better to not wear any, and some say that it’s okay to enjoy nail art.
- T-shirt and jeans. I rarely wear a t-shirt because I want to look more professional, but it’s acceptable as long as it looks neat. I wear jeans 1-2 times a week.
Public school teachers, what kind of clothes are considered appropriate in your school?