What to Wear as an Online ESL Teacher to Stay Cool and Comfortable

What to Wear as an Online ESL Teacher to Stay Cool and Comfy

One of the biggest perks of working from home as an online ESL teacher is the ability to wear anything you want on your bottom half. As for the top half, you’ve got a lot of leniencies as long as you appear decent on camera. Remember, whoever is looking at you from the other side of that screen can only see a small portion of you, so make sure to check yourself on your webcam so you know what they see. So, you’ve got an interview or mock class coming up, or you already got the job and you have no idea what to wear as an online ESL teacher. Here are a few inspirational ideas to get you started.

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Breathable fabrics

Breathable (AKA natural fabrics, in most cases,) are amazing. They’re lightweight and absolutely the best when you’re warm, and as an ESL teacher – you get warm. With all of the crazy TPR you’re going to be doing in each class, you want to wear fabrics that are going to be comfortable and forgiving when your body temperature starts to rise, and the sweat starts to drop (and it will.) Natural lightweight fabrics like viscose and cotton are the best, but certain synthetics (like rayon) can work well in a pinch, too. Check out this super comfy and cooling viscose cardigan. Bonus: cardigans are super handy to have when you’re rushing around in the morning. Just throw it over the back of your desk chair and toss it over any tank top or t-shirt.

Loose tops

T-shirts hanging from line

For the same reasons that you want your fabric to be forgiving, you also want your top to be loose. Your arms will be flailing around for pretty much the entire course of the class, in most cases. So, you don’t want to be wearing something that may rip, or that’s going to suffocate you. Tops with bat wings, or the ones that are specifically labeled as “loose” or “boyfriend fit” are perfect, as are plain old cotton unisex t-shirts.

Bright colors

Some companies will actually ask that you wear bright colors, but if they don’t, you still should. Why? Bright colors make you look better on camera. You look more vibrant, awake, and you stand out more against the background. Play with colors to see which one suits you best and makes you pop against your own wall colors (or whatever you have for your background. To read more about those, click here.) Orange can be flattering for a wide range of skin tones, so that’s a good place to start if you’re struggling.


Purple scarf

It’s a struggle to put together an outfit in the mornings, sometimes. Luckily as an online teacher, you only really have to worry about the top half of you. Scarves are a great way to instantly appear more put-together. Keep a few bright colored ones hanging around for those mornings when you’re too tired to change out of that t-shirt you slept in the night before. If there’s one thing you should have on hand when you’re worrying about what to wear as an online ESL teacher, it’s some nice scarves!


Ah yes, the polo shirt, also known as a collared t-shirt. These are standard uniform gear in a ton of different workplaces for a reason. They make you look polished and professional while being comfortable at the same time. Stock up on different brightly colored polo shirts in a material like cotton, and you’ll never have to rush to find something to wear early in the morning when you’re preparing for class.

Red lipstick

Woman smiling and wearing red lipstick

Any veteran in the industry will tell you that red lipstick is the single best tool to have in your belt as an online ESL instructor. No matter how tired you look at 7 (or 4) o’clock in the morning, red lipstick will always make you appear more put together. Plus, it really makes your mouth stand out on camera, which is very helpful for the kids who are trying to learn by both listening to you and reading your lips. Just make sure that you at least run a brush through your hair, too (or do whatever it is you do that makes your hair look presentable with as little effort as possible.) Check out this great cruelty-free red lipstick that you can get from Amazon.

Interested in becoming an online ESL teacher? Read our article about the benefits of tutoring with Cambly and apply today!

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