Lesson 9: Appropriate Attire

Name(s) of student(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson: Determine appropriate attire for possible work experiences.

Materials needed: Internet search engine, variety of fabric (cotton, wool, linen, polyester, etc.), iron, ironing board. If possible, taking a group of students on a field trip to a superstore such as Wal-Mart or Target is ideal.


“Last time we discussed proper workplace etiquette. Today we will learn how to dress appropriately for work.”

Discussion: Why Appropriate Attire is Important

Facilitate lesson with a motivating discussion such as, “Suppose you introduce yourself to a new student in your high school. What forms your first impression of them?” Prompt students to consider friendliness, level of enthusiasm, whether or not the conversation is balanced with both participants asking and answering questions (just as a ball is thrown back and forth), etc. Talk about how a sighted person will also consider what the new student is wearing and how they look. Especially at a job site, appropriate clothing and grooming give others the impression of competence and professionalism. Inappropriate, mismatched, or wrinkly clothing might give someone the impression that you don’t take your job seriously or are as messy in your work as you are in your appearance.

Ask students to think about the jobs they will apply to. What would be too casual to wear to work? What would be too formal? Are the standards the same for someone moving boxes in a warehouse as someone working at a receptionist’s desk?

Teach students the importance of dressing to the standards of a particular workplace. Working in a warehouse may lend itself to jeans and t-shirts, a restaurant might require a specific uniform, and working in a hospital gift shop will require business casual such as khaki pants and a polo shirt, etc.

Explain that the formality of clothing can generally be detected by fabric choice. Denim and cotton are casual, polyester and linen are generally business casual, and silk or beaded clothing are generally very formal. Present examples.

Exercise: Researching Appropriate Apparel

Have students research specific dress codes, uniforms, or standards for their desired job(s) by using an online search engine, asking a mentor, and/or inquiring of any personal references.

Discussion: Caring for Clothing

Talk about how clothing selection is just one part of dressing appropriately for work. How you care for clothes also makes a difference. Discuss proper care for different fabrics (washing vs. dry cleaning, why wrinkle-free clothing is essential, etc.) Have a student demonstrate ironing a top and slacks. If the student has not learned to iron clothing, begin teaching it with the iron powdered off.

Discussion: Fit Makes a Difference

Emphasize the importance of well-fitting and modest clothing. Poorly fitting and/or immodest clothing (define immodest as shorts or skirts shorter than just above the knee and any clothing revealing undergarments) does not present a professional appearance.

Field Trip: Identifying Professional Clothing

If possible, take students to a superstore like Wal-Mart or Target and play a game like “What Not to Wear.” Motivate students to search for three outfits: appropriate office attire, inappropriate office attire, and an outfit worn when seeking employment (such as when obtaining and/or returning a job application).

Divide students into two groups and offer a reward to the winning team. Have students try on and describe outfit choices. Encourage students to share the reasons for their selections.

Exercise: Considering Your Wardrobe

Ask students how they perceive their current clothing style and whether what they wear is appropriate for seeking and working at a summer job. Ask students if they are prepared for dressing appropriately for all stages of the employment process. For students who are not ready or who are unsure, brainstorm basic clothing to purchase and locations that sell the items, including second-hand clothing stores.


“Today, we discussed proper attire for possible work experiences. Next time we will find out who is hiring, and you will begin applying for jobs.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, modifications:

Next steps/lesson: Applying for summer work experience.