What Not to Wear: The Dos and Dont's of Nanny Attire

by rachael lee.

Some days I wake up in the morning with enthusiasm and zest for my day and just can't wait to look my best! You know those days. We wear our favorite outfit, do our hair just right, and go all out with the accessories. High-heeled wedges, big jewelry, dangly earrings, the whole nine yards.

Then, there are the days I call my sloth days. I wear might yoga pants all day, skip the hair brushing, and possibly even continue to rock last night's PJ shirt. Hey, don't judge! We all secretly love our comfiest threads!

What you may not realize is that while both of those styles are wildly different, they have something in common. Both are wildly incorrect for being on the job as a nanny. Now-not every detail of those wardrobe choices were wrong. While it's important to take pride in our appearance and look professional while working, it’s crucial that we remain comfortable and ready for anything.

What Not To Wear

Red Carpet Attire: Leave your uncomfortable dresses at home. You're a nanny. You're not winning an Oscar today. Even if you're a girly girl and love to wear dresses, express your personality and unique style in a way that won't get in the way of your job. Long dresses (even if they are comfortable maxi dresses) can be hazardous while nannying.

High Heels: Even if you are super confident of your ability to walk in heels, they aren't made for the nanny lifestyle, where zigzagging through a playscape on the heels of a running toddler is part of the job description. As nannies, we need to be ready for anything, and unfortunately heels just aren't conducive to running, playing, or kicking a soccer ball. Most importantly, wearing heels on the job can be dangerous. All it takes is one heel stuck in a crack on the sidewalk for you (and possibly the little one) to go down. Does a twisted ankle or other injury related to heels sound fun? Save the stilettos for girls’ night out.

Your Favorite Outfit: Let's be real. While nannying is a very rewarding job, it's not always glamorous. One of my best friends was working with babies recently when one of the bundles of joy threw up on her nice blouse. I almost always come home with dirt, bathtub water, or apple sauce on my clothing. Don't wear your favorite outfit because it probably won't be in the same condition after only a few hours around the kids.

Dangly Earrings: Earrings are a fun way to show personal style. However, big dangly earrings might as well just be called big dangly toys for all young children care. What toddler wouldn’t be enchanted by something so shiny and pretty? Those suckers are just waiting to be tugged on. While you’re on the clock, leave your dangly ones in your jewelry box at home. Why not try some pretty studs for your workday instead?

Low-Cut Shirts: There are a few reasons why these tops are a bad choice for childcare work. First of all, kids crawl, pull, and tug. If your bra could show just by a light tug on your shirt, it means that shirt shouldn't be worn for your nanny days. Secondly, nannying means constantly bending over to pick things up, jumping, running, and other physical tasks. A serious wardrobe malfunction could traumatize the kids. Lastly, we aren't at work to be eye candy. It is completely inappropriate to dress sexy while nannying. You are in these children's lives to be a positive role model. You can help to address the negative stereotypes about image the media shoves in children’s faces by starting with your own personal appearance. Dress in a way that shows respect for the family you're working with.

Messages on the Booty: Tying in with the warning about low-cut shirts, we don't need to be drawing attention to our junk in the trunk while nannying. It's tacky, disrespectful, and just awkward, especially when words like “sexy” or “hottie” are scrawled across your butt. You don't need the kids asking you questions about the meaning of the words and there are certainly better places to conduct reading lessons than on your derriere.

Nanny Necessities

Now that you know what not to wear, here are some good ideas for practical yet stylish outfits for work.

Comfortable Shoes: As a nanny, you never know what's going to be thrown at you next! "Drive here, rush there, kick the soccer ball with my son!" We want to always be prepared to run around, do our best, and get the job done in comfort. Always wear sensible shoes. If your charges play sports often, it's a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes. It’s probably also a good idea to wear a pair of comfy, versatile flats, like TOMS, for running errands, and keep a pair of sneakers in the trunk of your car for those moments when you may have to demonstrate your athleticism in the back yard.

One Size Doesn't Fit All: Every nanny’s situation is unique, so every nanny’s wardrobe should be as well. You have to know the family and dress appropriately for each occasion. If you know you're taking the kids to the family's country club, don't wear yoga pants and a sweatshirt. You'll look sloppy and possibly embarrass the family. However, if you are playing basketball with the kids all day and doing physical activities at the park or in the back yard, yoga pants & a comfy tee shirt are perfectly appropriate. Always think about the family’s image and expectations as well as the kind of day you're going to have. Dress accordingly for each situation, and know that it won't always be the same. If you know you’re prone to forget calendar events, just keep a change of clothes that could work in any situation nearby.

Jeans Are Just Fine: Denim is comfy, easy, and are a step up from the sweatpant alternative. You can easily dress jeans up or down for any occasion, and I highly recommend them for the nanny life. Dark wash jeans are especially good at hiding baby food spills, and can look clean and polished (even when they’re really covered in goo) when paired with a nice sweater or blouse.

A Wrist Full of Hair Ties: Although this isn't technically a wardrobe tip, this has saved me so many times! If you have long hair, always have access to hair ties. You never know when your hair might get in your eyes and in the way of your job. Recently I got to work only to find out that the kids had lice. I swiftly swooped up my locks and kept them tied up and far from the bugs. Even something as simple as a walk on a windy day can become a situation if your hair is constantly flying in your face.

Weatherproof Clothing: I live in sunny California, and even here you never know when the weather will take a turn for the dreary. Once again, this is unique for each of us. Check the weather before heading to work, especially if your day with the kids involves a lot of outdoor activity. You’ll never regret bringing a jacket with you, especially if you live in an area with weird weather.

Whether you have been a nanny for years or are about to begin your first day, follow these helpful hints and always dress for success!