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Calling scientists/academics - need advise on suitable attire for an intership

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I recently got accepted to undertake an intership at a Government research facility that is affliated with my University. However, I'm not entirely sure about what to wear. I will obviously be wearing a labcoat whilst in the lab but I will also be spending time on the computer, reading papers and 'in the office' so to speak.

My problem isn't so much about what is appropriate (anyone involved in the science faculty will know that pretty much anything goes as far as dress standards) but more about what I can wear without looking like I'm some sort of elitist. When I first met my supervisor he was wearing jeans and an untucked, short-sleeved button up with lots of miniature pictures of The Beatles (in multi-colour) on it. While I'm sure he would be dressed differently had there been some sort of meeting schelduled, it looked as if this was his 'standard' work outfit.

Ideally, I would like to wear trousers, dress shoes, button ups with a sportcoat and the occasional tie but the last thing I want to do is make my supervisor/colleagues feel under-dressed and end up resenting me because of it. I'm a bit older than your typical intern (26) and my supervisor seems like a really nice guy but it's hard to say how he (and the other post-docs etc) would react to 'the new guy' wearing more formal clothes.

Any general advise/experiences (especially from Aussies in the field) would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 18
I have worked at government research labs and in the academy for many years... Academia and research are full of oddballs and "special" people. While most scientists dress pretty horribly, there are enough strange and non-conformist types such that I think your wanting to dress more formally would probably seen more as a personal idiosyncrasy rather than elitism. They're going to judge you more on how you behave and what you say than on the clothes you have on. Work hard, be friendly/sociable and you'll be all right...
post #3 of 18
There isn't much of a dress code in academic science. Most grad students/post-docs wear jeans/t-shirts.
post #4 of 18

I would go with what Academe says. It does vary by country, by the particular institution and by discipline, but I am never really come across a standard dress code, overt or tacit, in academia. I have colleagues who wear pinstripe suits and colleagues who wear shorts and flip-flops and everything in between. The only thing is the question of whether you want to be noticed or not. If you don't mind, then just dress in the way that you enjoy dressing. Academia one of the few work environments where this is possible, and it's one of the reasons I am quite happy being a university professor.

post #5 of 18
I'm not an Aussie but I am a molcular biologist and I feel confident saying that no one will have a problem with wearing a buttondown shirt and trousers, but you'll likely be mocked if you wear a tie. I would put some careful consideration into your footwear. You'll likely be on your feet all day so make sure your shoes are comfortable first and foremost. I wouldn't suggest wearing cordovan loafers as you may end up with some ethidium bromide (or worse) splashed on there.
post #6 of 18
The above commentary echoes my experiences in academia. AFAIK, I'm the only PhD student in my department who owns a suit or regularly wears a sportcoat. I have a colleague in another department who accepted an award from the principal of the university at a formal event wearing jeans, flip-flops, and a sweatshirt. There was a professor in my undergrad department who regularly lectured in 3-piece suits with bright orange ties... academics are a strange bunch. Wear what you're comfortable with and no-one will care.
Edited by GradSchooler - 11/4/11 at 5:38pm
post #7 of 18
Don't worry about standing out. Most people in academia don't care much about clothing, and thus, they don't care much about what you wear either. Of course, they will notice at first, but it stops right there. Been there, nothing to worry about.
post #8 of 18
Anything goes in this arena, they care more about your research, publications, and potential to attract research funding - thats your area of focus. Whether you achieve this dressed like a bushman in the Kalahari desert or dressed in a Tom Ford 3 piece, thats up to you. They wont care what you dress in.
post #9 of 18
I think sportscoats are totally fine, especially if in less dressy, rougher fabrics. I'd avoid a tie or a suit.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

I think sportscoats are totally fine, especially if in less dressy, rougher fabrics. I'd avoid a tie or a suit.

are you saying this from your experience or from the stereotype of professors in tweed jacket?
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by onix View Post

are you saying this from your experience or from the stereotype of professors in tweed jacket?

experience...i'm a professor now, besides being in undergrad for 4 years and then grad school for 6...to me, cords, woolens, and tweeds feel right at home on an academic campus...it's not that worsteds can't be good too, but they are more likely to seem too "business-y"...unless you're in a business or law school.
post #12 of 18
I'll add that all of what I'm saying applies mostly to the US (although there's a lot of variation within the US too) - in Europe people seem to be generally dressier on campus, as elsewhere.
post #13 of 18

I've known enough academics who wore tweed quite happily that I think the 'stereotype' has considerable validity.  Yes, I've also known some who lectured in pinstriped suits and others who dressed ethnically (jeans and cowboy boots with a ponytail for American Indians, in this case).  One political scientist I knew even smoked a briar pipe and drove a MG TC.  Talk about stereotype?  And then there was the independently wealthy and eminent art historian who wore Savile Row and drove a '29 Packard touring car.  Nothing you do will be too eccentric for your colleagues, I'm sure.

post #14 of 18
Unitards. You know you want to....
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post


experience...i'm a professor now, besides being in undergrad for 4 years and then grad school for 6...to me, cords, woolens, and tweeds feel right at home on an academic campus...it's not that worsteds can't be good too, but they are more likely to seem too "business-y"...unless you're in a business or law school.


It's true that law and business tend to have more CBDish (but not necessarily good) suits, but I am just about the only person I've noticed who wears tweeds or good shoes regularly on my campus and I'm a prof in a very Ivy League-y kind of place. As I've said on another thread, I was previously teaching in an Architecture and Planning school where the architects had a uniform (anything so long as it was black or near as dammit) and the planners didn't care at all. I used to do my best to play with and subvert both sets of expectations!

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