Mistaken for a Student Again? 14 Ways Young Teachers Can Get That Professional Look

Are you continually mistaken for a student? You’re not alone.

14 Ways Teachers Can Look Older

Have you ever been mistaken for a student? While looking young might seem like a good dilemma to have, several teachers find this to be a professional problem. As teacher A.F. wrote on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE:

“Does anyone have tips on how to look older? I’m petite and have a baby face. I feel like I look like a student and am not taken seriously.”

Our helpful teachers come to the rescue with ways to appear more grown-up in the classroom—on the inside and out.

Looking Older on the Outside

Make yourself look years older by incorporating these tips from fellow teachers.

“If you have time in the morning, applying makeup might help you look and feel older. Try a burgundy lipstick. Something professional (and there is a fine line) but darker.”—Alexandrea A.

“Wear jackets or longer sweaters over your top. A shoulder length or shorter haircut may also help.”—Donna D.


“The number one thing is how you dress. I remember my first year going shopping with my mom for “grown up clothes” and I hated it. She made me get certain outfits, which I didn’t particularly like, but when I wore them to work I felt more professional and that translated into my demeanor in my classroom.” —Laura B.

“I got a more mature-looking haircut (that is still fresh and I like), and I try to wear more staples than trendy pieces.” –Kristine E.

“Try and dress professionally. It can be difficult finding clothes that fit petites. Try stores like The Loft, Ann Taylor, and Banana Republic. Accessories with outfits help, too.” –Victoria M.

“Jewelry. Take the time to pick out jewelry every day. Grown up, tasteful jewelry. It makes a difference. Not in looking older. Just in looking professional.” –Sharon C.

“Wear dress shoes. When I was student teaching a kid told me he knew I was a teacher by my shoes.” –Hope H.

Mature on the Inside

Sometimes it’s not so much what’s on the outside that counts. These teachers weigh in on ways to feel older, from the inside.

“Be yourself. Your personality and command of the classroom will shine through on its own. Don’t worry about how you look; however dressing as professionally as possible helps. Never let your insecurities stop you from being a strong educator. –Jeanna R.

“Carry yourself as a mature adult. Speak with authority. Definitely dress your age. I am a 30 year old who looks 15. I’m 4’9” but I’ve been told the way I carry myself shows my age. –Elizabeth S.

“Just be you. Get the kids attention and respect by giving attention and respect.” –Sharon C.

“I found dressing the way I thought I was supposed to during practicum made me feel stiff and inauthentic. Depends on the culture of the school, but I would rather be myself than sacrifice to look like a teacher. How you carry yourself and how you teach will be more important. You shouldn’t feel bad for how you look. –Emily C.

If All Else Fails

AND…if you still get asked for your hall pass, try these fast fixes.

“Wear keys around your neck and a badge.” –Eleanor W.

“Glasses help, even if you don’t need them.” —Libby S.

“Grow a beard!”—Graeme W. & Sean S.

Looking for more support? Check out our Facebook page, exclusively for new teachers!

Join our Facebook group WeAreTeachers—First Years! to connect with other new teachers, and learn more about how you can navigate your classroom and life.