Alex: How to prepare your prac wardrobe

Successful stylist, brilliant blogger and empowering educator, USQ alumnus Alex Paterson has built a social media following she never could have imagined. As the stylish face behind What the Teacher Wears, Alex shares her fashion-forward 9-5 style with women across the world.

Let’s be realistic, going on prac can be an overwhelming experience. For one, you are going somewhere you have probably never been before. You will have to learn a whole new set of policies and procedures very quickly. Not to mention the 25+ names you have to remember by the end of your first day. Oh and how could I forget the copious hours of lesson planning?!

Terrified yet? If the answer is yes, don’t worry. It truly is all worth it in the end.

Now with all this going on, the last thing you need to be worrying about is your prac wardrobe. I was fortunate enough to learn this early on when going out to prac. By having my ‘go-to’ prac pieces, I could focus on my lesson planning and assignments and know that my day-to-day classroom outfits were sorted. Here are the essential items for every prac student’s wardrobe.

1. The White Shirt 
The classic white shirt never goes out of fashion and there is so much you can do with it. You can start by adding layers on top - scarfs, jackets or accessories. Or you can add a shorter crop top over it to give it a bit more edge. Plus, it will go with any skirt or pants that you have in your wardrobe.


2. Black Pants/Pencil Skirt
Investing in a well- fitting pair of black pants or a black skirt is a must. Then, all you need to do is just add a top and out you go! Once again, these items never go out of date and will last you years. The best part is you can wear them to any prac at any school. Just keep in mind the length of your skirt and if it has a split at the back. If the cut and fit doesn’t allow you to bend, squat and go up or down stairs with ease, it’s not a winner for your prac wardrobe.    


3. Go-to Dress
Don’t have time to pull together an outfit because you slept in? Then quick, up you get, chuck on your ‘go-to dress’ and out you go. For those who struggle putting outfits together with multiple single items, dresses are perfect. You just put it on and you are done.


4. Comfy Flats
Because you will be on your feet all day, comfy flats are a MUST. When choosing your flats for prac, be picky with the material and cushioning. Yes, more natural materials such as leather will be pricey, but this is where I would be prioritising my money as comfort is your number one goal. I would buy a black or tan pair to start with as these colours will be able to go with a lot of different outfits.

5. Accessories
Haven’t you heard? ‘A statement necklace a day keeps the fashion police away’! Accessories can add real oomph to your outfit. Team them with your white shirt or go-to dress and you are ready to go. When you are starting your accessories collection, start with base colours such as gold, silver, black or white. These will go with lots of items in your wardrobe.

You may be thinking, ‘Great ideas, but how can I afford all of these key pieces?’ Easy. Here are some extra tips to help you build your staple prac wardrobe on a budget:

  • Invest in classic staples, not trends
  • Sign up to store loyalty programs so you are up to date with any sales that are happening
  • Buy clothes that fit you and your body shape now – you won’t have time to alter
  • Keep the length of skirts/pants in mind – aim for knee-length
  • Make sure the cut of your tops is prac-appropriate (not too low or a super short crop)
  • Try and buy pieces that you could mix into your normal wardrobe and won’t be just for prac

Investing in some quality basics will give you a great foundation wardrobe that you can build upon for your future pracs. With your style essentials sorted, now it’s time to focus on making a great first impression. Use these simple tips to get prepared for your first day on prac and make an unforgettable impression (for all the right reasons)!


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