How Dressing Professionally Correlates with Respect and Learning

How Dressing Professionally Correlates with Respect and Learning


Motivating students to be on their best behavior and to complete their class assignments start with a leader’s professional dress. While there may be other important points to consider when motivating students to learn, the professional dress is perhaps the best defense against students’ neglect of class assignments.

To fight a war (motivating soldiers/students to learn) warriors need to dress in armor to protect themselves from harm and to place themselves in a position of authority, one that is worthy of respect.

Therefore, to illustrate their authority, leaders and teachers—where appropriate— should dress in professional attire–coat and tie; dress and jacket–polished, comfortable shoes, to reveal they are in charge of the professional learning environment.

Seminal research reports that students are less likely to misbehave (neglect lessons) if they perceive their superiors as worthy of respect and warns that casual dress in a professional setting is a trap of confusion.

The report “Dress for Success” by Effective reveals that students do not learn because they like you, they learn because they respect you.”

The report reminds readers that since the 1980’s, data have shown that teachers who dress professionally produce higher test scores than teachers who dress casually.

Some research explained that when asked of students their preference for learning based on a teacher’s dress, students reported that a teacher who dressed professionally appeared smart and dependable and that they believed learning from teachers who were smart made them believe the lessons they learned were valid.

Supportive of the casual dress, the research also revealed that teachers who dressed casually made students believe the teacher was friendly and easy to approach.

This outcome is important because teachers should be approachable. Yet, common sense alerts people that a professional dress worn by leaders in a learning environment manifests “respect.”

People may not focus intently on the dress, necessarily, yet subconsciously, they have already decided that a professional appearance is preferable to that of a casual appearance, especially when learning from professionals.

Consider soldiers dressed in uniforms; they readily garner respect from other people because they represent honor: They are learned soldiers who fight to protect their people: Soldiers’ uniforms are reminders that persons wearing armor (professional clothing) should be respected.

Similarly, persons dressed in suits and ties or in dresses and coats garner obedience from others because the leaders’ dress-attire represents authority.

People may not readily realize individuals’ dress attire is reason for their respect of others, yet common sense allows truth to ring loud and clear. Leaders are recognized as persons who help others while others learn under their influence, and leaders’ uniforms, their professional dress, help bring about the respect for others to sit straight to listen, to learn.

“The Effect of Teachers’ Dress on Students’ Attitude and Students’ Learning” (Kashem 2019) agrees that the outlook of teachers’ professional appearance creates a learning impression into the minds of students.

The research finalized that teachers’ dress has a positive effect on students’ attitude in classroom learning and that dress reinforces an existing powerful hierarchy of teachers on the minds of others but also on the effectiveness of [instructional] delivery.  Https://

Suffice it to say, professional dress is the proactive shield against students’ possible apathy that prevents them from receiving  instruction. When a teacher arrives dressed in uniform (professional attire) for “instructional delivery,” the students succumb to the influence and abide respectfully, accordingly.

To help enhance instruction and to influence students to respect authority, below are ideas for maintaining a professional dress when teaching and leading others:

  1. Keep makeup to a minimal, and avoid false lashes unless professionally applied.
  2. Keep nails clean and medium or short in length.
  3. Wear a coat and tie every day. Take off coat when appropriate yet always keep on the tie.
  4. Wear a dress with sleeves and wear a coat with a dress without sleeves.
  5. Wear closed in shoes, never sandals or sling backs or tennis shoes.
  6. Keep hair medium to short length.
  7. Keep after shave and perfume to a minimal.
  8. Walk briskly while wearing a suit and tie or a dress and coat.
  9. Keep mints, not gum, in the mouth.
  10. Wear safe colors–black or navy or brown or grey and a touch of red.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.


Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction

Presenter of Professional Development

“Professionalism is the key to effective classroom instruction.

Thank you. Let me hear from you.

Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.

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