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Dress code for female teachers
« on: January 01, 2013, 06:02:33 am »
As a future EPIK teacher (Feb, 2013) I want to make sure that I pack appropriately for my teaching position.  I Know Korea tends to be a more conservative country than the U.S. so the clothing I wear to work here may not be appropriate in Korea.  I never wear skirts or dresses to work and I need to know if that is an "unwritten" expectation for female teachers in public schools.  Currently, I only wear pants (no jeans) and a nice blouse or collared shirts with casual "comfortable" shoes (no sneakers) to work.  I want to make sure that I am conforming to the norm of what is appropriate for teachers.  I would like some good feedback on the do's and don'ts of dressing.


Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2013, 08:10:07 am »
I work at a pretty casual school but the vast majority of the teachers wear what you describe. Many teachers wear jeans and a nice-ish shirt like button down shirts or sweaters etc. Don't over think the shoes because you won't be wearing them in school. The way people dress seems pretty much the same as at home just nothing too tight or low cut. A lot of people don't wear skirts ever so don't worry about it. I obsessed over this while I was packing but if what you wear is not sloppy or immodest then you're fine. Some of the younger teachers even wear hoodies here.


  • miss_cho
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2013, 10:46:19 am »
Pants/trousers and a button down shirt or something similar are appropriate attire for schools here. I know a few elementary school teachers who wear jeans and their schools seem to have no problem with it. I wear dresses and skirts every day but it is a personal choice.

I've worked at a few different schools - my female co-workers have worn pants with dressy shirts, dresses, jeans and even fleece tights with fleece shorts and a sweatshirt. Tops should be more modest than what is commonly accepted in the US - nothing low-cut, tight or sleeveless. However, skirts can be worn significantly shorter than what is deemed appropriate back home. From my perspective it seems the younger female teachers dress more casually than their older counterparts. Many of the teachers - male and female - wear the same clothes every day.

As for shoes - I think changing shoes might depend on what grade level you teach. I've taught at 3 high schools and an elementary school and only had to change shoes at the elementary school.


  • Darkeru
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2013, 10:13:07 pm »
I've worked at two different schools;

Middle school: Younger female co-workers wore jeans, short-ish skirts, tight shirts. Older wore more conservative clothes but still casual like jumpers, trousers, long skirts. In this school shoes were worn everywhere.

Elementary school: Younger female co-workers wore jeans, trousers, jumpers, shirts, t-shirts. Older wore jeans, trousers, jumpers, shirts. In this schools only indoor shoes were worn inside.
[In Korea once more - Working in Pyeongtaek]


Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 10:53:00 am »
What you've descibed will be fine. My school has mostly older teachers so they are not very causal. They wear pants/skirts and blouses. They never wear jeans. I prefer skirts and dresses, I just make sure they have sleeves and no bare back or low cuts. I usually cover up with a cardigan. As for shoes, don't bring lots of fancy shoes as you will probably have to take them off. You will probably also walk to and from school. I have to wear indoor shoes all the time, I got a comfy pair from crocs and  I wear them indoors every day.


  • gwangsan
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 11:29:17 am »
I work at a middle school and it's fairly casual. I'd suggest dressing up a little for your first couple days and just scope out what the other teachers are wearing. If everyone is wearing jeans, you can start to dress down a little or if you end up working at a super fancy school (which I doubt) you can make adjustments.
As long as the clothes are well fitted, relatively conservative, and don't have any holes or tears, I think you'll do fine.


  • lee233
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 11:40:58 am »
One thing that I didn't noticed mentioned is how low your shirt  should be. What we consider conservative is still considered too relieving here. Just a warning, if it shows your collar bones, it might be too scanty for your co teachers. I have a couple female friends who had to wear a lot of scarves the first couple of weeks until they found more Korean appropriate shirts to wear. Now both of these friends of mine work in a more rural school, so if you live in a city that might not be as big a deal. On the flip side of that, in the rural school I work at, many of my female coworkers always wear jeans and other casual Friday type clothing every day of the week, so it kind of depends on where you are going. My advice is see if you can get a hold of who you are replacing and see what they can tell you.
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  • Sandies
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 12:47:36 pm »
I work at a public highschool most of the female teachers here dress pretty casual, jeans and hoodies at times. The safest bet is to do business casual, you can't go wrong with that. Dress pants, or pants (not jeans) with a nice shirt will do fine. Like many others have say stay away from low cut, anything that shows any sort of cleavage is no good. Sleeveless is also a bit edgy for the Koreans. I would also stay away from shorts, even in the summer. Skirts are always better, or skorts (shorts that look like skirts). My school is casual (after the first 2 weeks I started going to work in jeans and hoodies) but my co-teacher said no to shorts when I asked. She said it wasn't "professional" (yeah apparently jeans and hoodies are, go figure). I am not a big fan of skirts either, but you may change your mind in the summer (it gets pretty hot)

Shoes like someone said you change into slippers so not much to worry about there. I work at a highschool and I change into slippers, I think that's the norm rather than the exception.
"You may strategically place your wonderful lips upon my posterior and kiss it repeatedly! "


Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2013, 02:23:12 pm »
Hi

One thing also-many Korean teachers wear the same clothes over and over again, up to twice a week the same outfits-so you can get away with the same stuff-A LOT. I wear the same things to work as you described and sometimes a bit more causal than that. Skirts are your friends because of the summer heat, which is crazy.

Don't forget to bring-deodorant(none), vitamins(expensive), and western toothpaste (weird here).





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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 01:28:23 am »
Quote
Don't over think the shoes because you won't be wearing them in school.

This is not true. There are some hagwons that may enforce this rule, but with public it's beyond rare. In all my years I have never had to change shoes in Korea.

Now I won't speak for all  schools, and I'm sure within a day or two assumptions will be made.

My point is, do think about shoes.

Quote
Shoes like someone said you change into slippers so not much to worry about there. I work at a highschool and I change into slippers, I think that's the norm rather than the exception.

I am truthfully baffled. In all my years I have never met anyone of any race changing shoes in any school. I am flambuzzled.

You could bring indoor shoes and leave them at the school, so that when you get there you can change into those as opposed to slippers in the middle of winter.


Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2013, 06:38:59 am »
I work at two elementary schools and we change into indoor shoes at both. I'm not sure why though because a lot of delivery people and and some students who come from other schools for after school classes don't. Especially this time of year  my classroom floors look terrible.


And about the toothpaste, it's doesn't seem remarkably different. You might want to bring your own floss though. I haven't actively searched since one thing of floss goes a long way but I've heard it's hard to find.


Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2013, 07:57:11 am »
My co-teacher has told me that I can wear whatever as long as I wear socks.  ;D Of course, modest clothes which don't show too much cleavage or legs is implied. The women wear dresses/skirts at my school. Sometimes I see other teachers wear jeans, which I do at least twice a week. (But I only wear colored jeans). And of course, I uphold the ways of Casual Fridays.


  • Grimne_Lothos
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2013, 08:42:06 am »
I was told at my epik orientation that I would be expected to change into slippers at my school.   I have hung out with groups of public school teachers from various cities and I havn't met one yet that wore their own shoes into school.  I even had to bring an separate clean pair of sneakers in order to use the gym for some of my classes. I bought a pair of fuzzy slippers and i brought them in to wear during winter.


  • Sandies
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2013, 09:17:37 am »
Quote
Don't over think the shoes because you won't be wearing them in school.

This is not true. There are some hagwons that may enforce this rule, but with public it's beyond rare. In all my years I have never had to change shoes in Korea.

Now I won't speak for all  schools, and I'm sure within a day or two assumptions will be made.

My point is, do think about shoes.

Quote
Shoes like someone said you change into slippers so not much to worry about there. I work at a highschool and I change into slippers, I think that's the norm rather than the exception.

I am truthfully baffled. In all my years I have never met anyone of any race changing shoes in any school. I am flambuzzled.

You could bring indoor shoes and leave them at the school, so that when you get there you can change into those as opposed to slippers in the middle of winter.

When I say slippers I pretty much mean indoor shoes. Most of the teachers at my school do wear slippers though, not the house slippers like one would expect. I wear moccasins that have never been worn outside. Basically a pair of clean shoes will do, but in essence you are still changing into a different pair of shoes, and I don't think anyone is expecting people to have different slippers/indoor shoes everyday like normal shoes, so I stand by the point of not worrying about shoes.
"You may strategically place your wonderful lips upon my posterior and kiss it repeatedly! "


  • bts21
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2013, 09:23:42 am »
The slippers are no big deal. Truthfully, I didn't find out about them until the day I arrived in my new town and I bought them at a stationery store next to my school the day I started work. The type of slippers most wear at school are decidedly indoor slippers, and you can get them cheaper here than you can at home. Your co-teachers will let you know what is expected.

I was a little confused by the no visible clavicles rule at first, but here's the rule of thumb: if in some wild worst-case scenario someone could see cleavage, that shirt can't be worn to school. In the case of most clavicle-bearing shirts, bending over at a certain angle to, say, pick something up will reveal more than you intended. This also rules out button-downs that don't have buttons above the danger zone - can't rely even the stiffest fabric to stay in place 24/7. Just buy some conservative undershirts and camis and use them to adjust the neckline of blouses on the borderline. Do this BEFORE you leave unless you are a US XS/S. If you are a US M you will probably find things that fit, but they'll be in the L/XL size here and may not have a great fit. Above US L, stock up on clothes before you leave because it'll be hard to find them here. There are online big size shops, but I don't know anyone who's ever ordered from them.


  • Morticae
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2013, 01:09:38 pm »
Quote
Don't over think the shoes because you won't be wearing them in school.

This is not true. There are some hagwons that may enforce this rule, but with public it's beyond rare. In all my years I have never had to change shoes in Korea.

Now I won't speak for all  schools, and I'm sure within a day or two assumptions will be made.

My point is, do think about shoes.

Quote
Shoes like someone said you change into slippers so not much to worry about there. I work at a highschool and I change into slippers, I think that's the norm rather than the exception.

I am truthfully baffled. In all my years I have never met anyone of any race changing shoes in any school. I am flambuzzled.

You could bring indoor shoes and leave them at the school, so that when you get there you can change into those as opposed to slippers in the middle of winter.

I've traveled to about a dozen different public schools for various engagements. In every single school, people changed out of their street shoes into their slippers.


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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2013, 06:25:46 pm »
Don't forget to bring-deodorant(none), vitamins(expensive), and western toothpaste (weird here).

You can absolutely find deodorant here. Rather easily, in fact.
We teach EFL not ESL. Hagwon and "Private School" are not synonymous. Not everyone works in either a hagwon or public school. Immigration Question? Call 1345.


Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2013, 09:08:30 am »
Don't forget to bring-deodorant(none), vitamins(expensive), and western toothpaste (weird here).

You can absolutely find deodorant here. Rather easily, in fact.

You can also find "western" toothpaste here, too. Or rather if the poster was speaking of toothpaste with fluoride in it, they are here.


  • TeachaTeacha
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2013, 10:06:21 am »
The selection of deodorant for women here is horrendous. There's one kind that I have found, Nivea (not including foreign markets, where it'll cost you a pretty penny for other brands). Bring it from home. Also, razors seem more expensive here. I just went to Costco before I left and bought a couple of packages. If you are curvier than the average Korean woman, I would suggest bringing lots of undergarments. I brought a year supply of concealer with me because I have sensitive skin and everything here is either really high end and expensive or has some kind of whitening agent in it. Also, birth control. If you are at all sensitive when it comes to birth control, bring some. You most likely will not find "your brand" here. If your body reacts well to changing brands then don't - it's dirt cheap here. I also brought some medicine with me. I brought NyQuil and DayQuil for those times when Korean medicine just isn't cutting it, and heaven forbid I take a sick day; I brought ibuprofen because I prefer it to acetaminophen - plus it's easier on your liver when you're trying to remedy or prevent a hangover. There was some mention of toothpaste, above. I also prefer toothpaste brands such as Colgate our Crest, so I brought a supply of toothpaste with me. Also, bring a little something something that reminds you of home... maybe soup, tea, or your favourite candy (I brought Tim Hortons coffee and blueberry Bigelow green tea)... something to use as a 'pick-me-up' on those days when you can't think about anything but home.

I have never worked at a school where you don't change your shoes. They really just need to be a shoe with a non-making sole and pretty plain. I wear slip on Birkenstocks and layers of socks. The dress code at my current school is quite casual, but at my old school I was not able to wear jeans or casual tops (mostly because of the age of my coteacher, I assume). You'll want a nice jacket to wear in the classroom throughout the winter and some really thin sweaters for the summer (if any of your work clothes are sleeveless, you'll need to cover up and it's so darn hot in the summer). Really, I find the dress code for teachers to be almost identical to the dress code back home (Canada, if the Tim Hortons didn't give it away).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2013, 10:09:00 am by TeachaTeacha »


  • JeremyC
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Re: Dress code for female teachers
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2013, 01:57:43 pm »
I just quickly scanned and didn't notice anyone mention clothes for special occasions in school. It's not mandatory but worth bringing something that looks smart and is only worn a few times a year. If you have something you'd wear to an interview that would be fine. It also can double as clothes for an upmarket restaurant or wedding (or interview, actually).
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