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Any College Professors here?

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 
Hello,

As a new faculty member used to dressing like a graduate student, I would like to dress more according to my new "authority" position. My colleagues dress very sloppily (jeans and t-shirts, sometimes dress pants), with the notable exception of women.

I do not know where to start.

Is there a happy middle? I would like to dress better than the students, but without alienating or making my colleagues look funny at me.

Any tips?
post #2 of 75
I'm a junior academic, and in pretty much the same situation as you. I have three basic getup patterns:

1: no meetings or teaching today : smart jeans/chinos, more informal shirt, cardigan or other knitwear

2: internal meeting or teaching today: smart jeans/chinos/slacks, dress shirt, sports coat, usually no tie

3: external meeting, conference or ceremony: suit

Also, the things that make you look different from students are as much about quality and fit as they are about the category of things you wear. A badly fitting suit will make you look bad always. Nice shoes are another kicker, and of course, open your mind to the world of tweed.
post #3 of 75
As a new faculty member, you should be focused on getting your tenure, not on how to look like "authority." I don't know where you are working, but people dress sloppy because what actually commands authority in academia is what you are actually able to accomplish, not just cause you look the part. Dress your age and you are by default you are not dressing like your students but try and dress well as a new faculty member and no one will take you seriously.
post #4 of 75
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Edited by Louis XIV - 10/12/11 at 12:54pm
post #5 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by lanbexx View Post

As a new faculty member, you should be focused on getting your tenure, not on how to look like "authority." I don't know where you are working, but people dress sloppy because what actually commands authority in academia is what you are actually able to accomplish, not just cause you look the part. Dress your age and you are by default you are not dressing like your students but try and dress well as a new faculty member and no one will take you seriously.

You need to do your job well, I agree, but as everywhere, looks matter. Your colleagues have a large input in your getting tenure, and looking cool and collected at all times will influence that.

Also, what do you mean by dressing your age? If I look around me, I don't see a lot of example's I'd care to emulate.
post #6 of 75
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lanbexx View Post

As a new faculty member, you should be focused on getting your tenure, not on how to look like "authority." I don't know where you are working, but people dress sloppy because what actually commands authority in academia is what you are actually able to accomplish, not just cause you look the part. Dress your age and you are by default you are not dressing like your students but try and dress well as a new faculty member and no one will take you seriously.

I'm sorry, probably the fact that I'm posting into a style forum that I used to frequent as a graduate student might sound like I'm being superficial and not dedicating every single minute of my life to my new station in life. I totally understand that. The only defense to that accusation I have is that I like to dot my i's and cross my t's. Attention to detail does not have to be confined to your work. It's a way of looking at things; a curse, if you will.

I was just looking for opinions on what constitutes under- and over-dressing in the ivory tower. How well can I dress before I stop being taken seriously?

All this does not mean I will be preoccupied with my dress every day; on the contrary, I will 'set it and forget it', and wear the same style for a decade or more. I just need to worry about it once.
post #7 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerC View Post

I'm a junior academic, and in pretty much the same situation as you. I have three basic getup patterns:

1: no meetings or teaching today : smart jeans/chinos, more informal shirt, cardigan or other knitwear

2: internal meeting or teaching today: smart jeans/chinos/slacks, dress shirt, sports coat, usually no tie

3: external meeting, conference or ceremony: suit

Also, the things that make you look different from students are as much about quality and fit as they are about the category of things you wear. A badly fitting suit will make you look bad always. Nice shoes are another kicker, and of course, open your mind to the world of tweed.

This isn't such bad advice. I think the key thing here is feeling comfortable and confident with yourself. This will come through in your conversations with your colleagues and also during your lectures. No amount of smartening up will correct for this; if you lack confidence or have a nervous disposition, this will come through. If you're wearing a coat and tie, you'll just be a slightly awkward, nervous lecturer/young prof. in a coat & tie.

With respect to promotion and getting tenure, the promotions panel will be looking at your outputs (publications, books, conference talks), grant income, measures of "esteem" (e.g. invited talks, awards, etc.), teaching, and service (e.g. committee work, etc.). They're not really going to care either way how you dress. I'm not advocating dressing poorly, but from a career perspective, I'm advocating getting your bearings right, rather than getting caught up in other distractions (e.g. dressing to impress and exert authority, etc.)...
post #8 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by copperx View Post


I'm sorry, probably the fact that I'm posting into a style forum that I used to frequent as a graduate student might sound like I'm being superficial and not dedicating every single minute of my life to my new station in life. I totally understand that. The only defense to that accusation I have is that I like to dot my i's and cross my t's. Attention to detail does not have to be confined to your work. It's a way of looking at things; a curse, if you will.

I was just looking for opinions on what constitutes under- and over-dressing in the ivory tower. How well can I dress before I stop being taken seriously?

All this does not mean I will be preoccupied with my dress every day; on the contrary, I will 'set it and forget it', and wear the same style for a decade or more. I just need to worry about it once.

No point in thinking about under- or over-dressing really; there are so many odd balls in academia that any given departmental or university-wide meeting will run the gamut from bowties+3-piece tweed suits to t-shirts, shorts and crocs... I would say dress for yourself first of all and enjoy it. I suppose it's one of the privileges of being in the academy; you can often do what the hell you want (for better or worse)!
post #9 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by lanbexx View Post

As a new faculty member, you should be focused on getting your tenure, not on how to look like "authority." I don't know where you are working, but people dress sloppy because what actually commands authority in academia is what you are actually able to accomplish, not just cause you look the part. Dress your age and you are by default you are not dressing like your students but try and dress well as a new faculty member and no one will take you seriously.


Could not agree more. Content not window dressing as my adviser used to say. That said, you set your own standard.
post #10 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerC View Post

I'm a junior academic, and in pretty much the same situation as you. I have three basic getup patterns:

1: no meetings or teaching today : smart jeans/chinos, more informal shirt, cardigan or other knitwear

2: internal meeting or teaching today: smart jeans/chinos/slacks, dress shirt, sports coat, usually no tie

3: external meeting, conference or ceremony: suit

Also, the things that make you look different from students are as much about quality and fit as they are about the category of things you wear. A badly fitting suit will make you look bad always. Nice shoes are another kicker, and of course, open your mind to the world of tweed.

As one who was a teacher of 16-19-year-olds (college but not university) for 36 years, I would go along with all the above except that in the case of 2 above I would always wear a tie.
post #11 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by lanbexx View Post

As a new faculty member, you should be focused on getting your tenure, not on how to look like "authority." I don't know where you are working, but people dress sloppy because what actually commands authority in academia is what you are actually able to accomplish, not just cause you look the part. Dress your age and you are by default you are not dressing like your students but try and dress well as a new faculty member and no one will take you seriously.

And how exactly is dressing well and doing well in your job mutually exclusive? Are you saying that that he should intentionally dress in a sloppy way?
post #12 of 75
I would suggest dark denim jeans, dress shirt and a tweed jacket. I have a cashmere tweed jacket I wear all the time. The softness of the cashmere doesn't seem to wrinkle when you sit in it. You'll be dressed up but not look like you take it too seriously. Then spend a lot of time on this site, and after about two years your going to end up dressing like the WAYWT crowd anyhow.
post #13 of 75
In my department, half of the profs wear sportcoats, some ties, and a few look like they blew in from the beach or supermarket. This is at a fairly conservative school in a social science department.

I am a 50 year old PhD student and I wear a sportcoat and nice chinos or wool pants and real shoes. This is how I like to dress and how I'm comfortable and it does show respect for the enterprise.

There is no strict correlation between dress and academic success, perhaps, but I have to believe that if you look organized and well put together, it must reflect well on your reputation--or at least it can't hurt.

It all depends to some degree on what those around you are doing.

I'd say look around you and dress as well as the best outfitted members of the faculty in your department, but don't go any further.
post #14 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTWilliams View Post

I would suggest dark denim jeans, dress shirt and a tweed jacket. I have a cashmere tweed jacket I wear all the time. The softness of the cashmere doesn't seem to wrinkle when you sit in it. You'll be dressed up but not look like you take it too seriously. Then spend a lot of time on this site, and after about two years your going to end up dressing like the WAYWT crowd anyhow.
I don't recall any of my profs ever wearing jeans to class, not one of them. Certainly not something I'd do myself.
post #15 of 75
I wear a suit and tie every day, but that's just because I love wearing suits and ties. If you think you'd be uncomfortable in a suit and tie, I think a SC and wool pants would work well, with or without a tie. But as academe mentioned, one of the wonderful things about the academy is that you can dress more or less as you please.

Also, making good progress toward tenure and dressing well are not mutually exclusive. I realize that might sound crazy, but it is true.
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