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People who don't dress up deserve a dressing down... After Ofsted criticises scruffy teachers.

Byline: MARK HEYES ITV Daybreak's fashion guru

The moment we see someone we judge them on what they are wearing. Sad, maybe, but true nonetheless. It is one of life's most important lessons and one we all ought to learn.

This week staff at a school were criticised by inspectors for dressing too scruffily.

In a letter to the headteacher of Acland Burghley School in Camden, North London, Ofsted said teachers' attire was "too casual and did not promote high professional standards or expectations".

Not everyone can wear their clothes with flair. Like the old song says: you either have or you haven't got style.

But everyone can be smart if they try and there is no excuse not too - clothes are so much cheaper than they were when I was at school.

All you need is a pair of trousers or chinos, a shirt and a blazer to be dressed appropriately. Even a smart pair of jeans can be acceptable with the right outfit. Now you can go to a store like Primark and buy a blazer for PS29.99. I know this because my jobs means I am on the high street every single day.

I can remember when I was at school all the teachers dressed well, in a suit - or at least smart trousers - with a shirt and tie. Quite a few geography teachers were lost fashion causes and probably still are. But they looked the part.

And that's important because teaching is a profession which is based, to a large degree, on trust. Not just trust between the teacher and pupil, either. It's also about trust between the teacher and the mums and dads.

Go to a parents' evening and if you find your child's teacher is sitting there in a pair of dirty jeans and a scruffy T-shirt you're going lose confidence in that teacher, no matter how good they are at their job.

I wouldn't want any child I know to be taught by a teacher dressed like a slob because what does that say about them as a person? If they were unkempt and not clean-shaven, I would be cautious about even letting them into a classroom.

Of course it's also important what they do and say in the classroom. But how good they are at their job depends, to some degree, on how good they look.

Teachers should set a good example to pupils and instill them with a sense of style from as early an age as possible.

Is style - or at least smartness -as important a lesson as science or maths? I would say yes, because when you've left school and looking for a job you need it to succeed. If you're fortunate enough to get an interview you probably won't get the post if you don't match up to their expectations in terms of dress and general appearance.

It's not just what a future employer thinks about you. It's also about instilling confidence in young people in an increasingly competitive and complex world. When I went for an interview at the Glasgow School of Art at the age of 16 my schoolteacher told me to brush up on my art knowledge in advance, which I did. But I also went out and bought a new shirt and got a haircut.

Why? Because it made me feel a lot better about myself and, as a result, I also came across better in the interview.

Perhaps because of that I got on to the course I wanted and became one of the youngest people to ever get into the school.

And when a profession doesn't have a distinct uniform it's even more important that people dress in a way which gives them an air of authority.

If you went to see a lawyer, for example, you'd expect him or her to be smartly suited and booted.

You might not have faith in your doctor if you turned up to the surgery and saw them in ripped jeans and a T-shirt. The same rule applies to any occupation where someone has to believe in you.

The whole fad of dressing down at work has grown steadily over the last 25 years after beginning the 1990s when the grunge style of dressing become fashionable.

It was given a big boost when more and more companies started to have dress-down days, which seemed like a good idea at first.

But the trouble was you'd have a dress-down Friday that then continued through the weekend and ended up with a "I can't be bothered to make an effort Monday".

Now there has been a real blurring of lines between what you wear to work and you wear outside. Over the last decade or so you've seen people wearing baggier T-shirts and jeans hanging off their backsides like rap artists. At the same time a popular celebrity like Russell Brand points people back to the hippy era of the Sixties and Seventies with his carefully cultivated scruffy chic.

But I hope that's all changing now. Rap artists like Tinie Tempah are incredibly smart in the way they present themselves. That means people who dress down are shown in unflattering contrast to the style emerging among many young people, which is closer to the traditonal Savile Row kind of tailoring.

As a result I think the whole dressdown look might just disappear completely over the next five years.

Nowadays we are all more styleconscious, particularly in Britain, where we do have an eye for fashion.

If someone is dressed badly we notice - and it matters.

Of course, almost as important as what you wear is how you wear it. The biggest style crimes often are not about the clothes someone puts on but with other issues.

Even if they have a shirt on, they might have the tails hanging out. Or their trousers are creased or they have spilt something down their jacket lapel.

We all have accidents and bad days. But when it happens time and time again it's just not acceptable.

Nobody has to look like a slob.

Rap artists like Tinie Tempah are incredibly smart... so I hope it's all changing I wouldn't let a teacher who looks unkept or unshaved into the classroom


SLEEK OR ANTIQUE Tinie Tempah and Russell Brand are opposite faces of fashion
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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 14, 2014
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