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Academic dress

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by stripes22, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. stripes22

    stripes22 Member

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    I've noticed that there are other members of the Style Forum that work in an academic setting.  Does anyone else find it difficult to dress nicely without being impugned for overdressing?  If I wear a suit, it spurs the comment 'Oh do you have a job interview to-day?' or if I wear a coat and tie it is 'Teaching to-day?'.

    I don't want to wear only an oxford cloth shirt and khakis.  I like to sport ties but would feel self-conscious if I didn't wear a jacket--a 'dressed-up look' for many.    Fall is easiest for me:  For example, Brooks Brothers Corduroy Jacket, wool trousers (textured fabrics, country english look type style).  Spring and summer are more problematic, complicated by the fact that air conditioning is not as generous as in, perhaps, a corporate setting.

    I would love to know how other academics dress? And do you get negative or positive comments?  Any suggestions (in or outside of academic settings)?
     
  2. Aaron

    Aaron Senior member

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    My university tends to be a little "dressier" than most but I find it perfectly acceptable when my professors dress in suits and ties.  In addition all the administration I work with dress like they were in a corporate setting. I think it lends a little bit of professionalism and shows that they care about themselves and what they are doing.

    That being said I study history, poitical science, and sociology so some of the academics I encounter bought their last blazer in about 1978 (this occurs especially in history and poli sci for some reason). I say pay those who question your suits and ties no mind. If you feel comfortable in what you're wearing go for it.

    As for suggestions for clothing I think wearing zippered cardigans and sweaters with a shirt and tie definitely "dresses down" a look and is good in the winter. Investing in some good quality checked pattern shirts in cotton and linen paired with light cotton pants and driving moc's (no socks please) is a good look for summer. Hope that gives you some ideas.

    Aaron
     
  3. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    People notice the unusual, the out of the norm. If you dressed everyday with a suit and tie, comments would die.

    At the universities where I was, there were all kinds, from the three piece suits to the jeans and untucked shirt, from the tenured professors who had been in the department for decades, to the newly hired ones fresh out of grad school.

    I'll describe two cases of male professors, same age and both associate professors at a state university: One changed constantly. One day it might be khakis and a white dress shirt, the next day a thick wool suit from Scotland (he had studied there), then jeans and a tight Shetland sweater, then back to khakis with an ecru cardigan, etc, etc, etc.
    The other one was quite predictable: always a neatly ironed shirt and pleated dress pants.
     
  4. The_Foxx

    The_Foxx Senior member

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    sounds like you need a classic tweed blazer-- no academic can do without one, I think. It's sort of funny, the number of times the main character's (Robert Langdon) tweed jacket is mentioned in both "the Davinci Code" and "Angels and Demons." Personally, I'd recommend one from the online shop at www.bensilver.com or from J. Press, if you can order one from the store. Perfect for a white shirt (or turtleneck) and khakis, with or without necktie.
     
  5. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

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    Some professors at my school wear shirts and ties, but most of them look like they got up out of bed wearing what they wore to class. If you wore a suit and tie to school every day (or no tie, to look more relaxed), eventually people would get used to you being a nice dresser and you wouldn't be bothered about it. Of course I may be misunderstanding what your post is concerning anyway.

    I wear a suit to school every once in awhile just for the hell of it and even if I get a few comments like "why are you so dressed up?" I dont think anyone considers it a bad thing to look nice.
     
  6. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    PS: I think the most fun I had every year year, when it comes to observing people's way of dressing, was during the MLA (Modern Language Association) conferences, usually held between Christmas and New Year. It's a vast meat market where you interview candidates from morning till night, and attend talks if you are lucky. Everyone has their own strategy when it comes to impressing their potential new colleagues, and since you have candidates of various nationalities, the results are quite, hmm,... colorful.
     
  7. gorgekko

    gorgekko Senior member

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    I have never quite understood that no matter which university I went to, those academics in history and political science were always the worst dressed. Could be that half of them were Marxists (where else could they be employed?) but that's a debate for another day.
     
  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    In mathematics and the hard sciences, professorial attire ranges from tweed jackets and wool pants to conference t-shirts and jeans. Suits are generally not worn except by administration guys, interviewees, and grad students at their thesis defense (you may as well wear your best suit to your execution.) There seems to be no correlation between attire and seniority. It seems to be purely a matter of personal preference.
     
  9. philosophe

    philosophe Senior member

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    Dress does seem to vary by discipline. I remember going to a new faculty meeting with the dean. The humanities and social science people were dressed up. The computer scientist and the biologist came in jeans and t-shirts.

    I think that class--socio-economic class that is, not whether we are teaching on a given day-- and the presence or absence of class anxieties are also big factors. When I taught at a large state university, everyone dressed very casually, except for the administrative types and the job candidates (so easy to pick them out in any setting). Now that I am at a private institution set in an affluent suburb, the look is much more corporate. But alas not especially well done by most particpants....
     
  10. kitonbrioni

    kitonbrioni Senior member

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    I agree with the above comments. Students seem to respond to the formality of prof in suit/tie dress. Students often comment on my clothes. The prof's attire can relax a class especially when the lecture is on difficult/demanding topics. Dressing against the conventional "dressing down" academic mode aways makes the day more interesting.
     
  11. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    I had a physics professor who wore the same thing everytime I saw him for the entire semester; same pants, same t-shirt, same button up shirt. Not ONCE varing from that ensamble. Needless to say he smelled too. However, I also had a history professor who was one of the most dapper dressers I've ever encountered. For sure he was a Paul Stuart devotee. He was a great guy as well who really cared about the students. He is the one on the right in this picture.
     
  12. gorgekko

    gorgekko Senior member

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    I had a prof too who dressed the exact same way every single day: white button-down oxford, brown khakis. Every day. It wasn't that he was wearing the same clothes every day, he seemed to have an endless supply of both the shirts and pants because his clothes were clean and pressed every day. Bloody odd. The polar opposite to the Marxists in the poli sci department was my psychology professor, Dr. Michael Persinger, a man of sufficient reputation that some of you may have heard of him (or seen him on television -- typically on the subject of how UFOs may be a manifestation of brain processes), who dressed every day in a three-piece suit. Needless to say he was treated more seriously then the other professors.
     
  13. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    We may need the help of a psychology major here. I knew professors who regulated their lives so that every day, every thing would be the same for the sake of their intense intellectual activity. This one comp. lit. guy I know never bought anything other than rice and beef frozen dinners for years. I think Einstein was a little like that. I was told by the owner he always wanted the same table at Lahiere's, in Princeton.
     
  14. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    In his latest book, Tom Wolfe dresses the one professor he likes (Starling) in natty houndstooth suits and ginger suede shoes.  The others, especially Quat, all dress like hell.

    In my life, I have spent time on four campuses, and nearly every professor dressed like hell.  Berkeley had a little tweedy remnant of American/Trad devotees.  They were like a secret society that survived the 60s.  I'm sure they're all dead or retired by now.
     
  15. BarePaw

    BarePaw Active Member

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    When I was an undergrad at a large State university, the dress was extremely informal. The instructors' dress ranged from suits to jeans and t-shirts. Among the students, jeans and t-shirts were the norm with some students showing up to early morning classes literally in their pajamas (I kid you not). Now that I'm in pharmacy school, the dress is definately more professional. A tie is actually required for some of our classes. However, those who are pursuing a research doctorate (pharmacology/toxicology students share a few classes with us) tend to dress less formally than those of us who will see the public one day.
     
  16. gorgekko

    gorgekko Senior member

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    Unfortunately I made the mistake of being a pysch grad -- I however have no real insight outside of what you said. Perhaps they believe that they need to save all their creativity for their work and feel it's wasted on 'mundane' details.

    The professor in question was an Austrian socialist who taught labour theory...yeah, a lot of creativity needed for promoting decades old theories.
     
  17. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    When I started teaching at a Midwestern university, secretaries would mistake me for a student, [​IMG] so I wore a coat and tie to class so the students wouldn't mistake me for another student. Two or three students immediately told me in written course evaluations, "lose the tie". So now I wear a herringbone or glen plaid coat, no tie. Recently decided to upgrade my image, but I know I'll get teased by faculty colleagues at first (administrators wear coat/tie or suit, but few faculty wear even business casual, even in class). So I figure it'll be good shoes first, then I'll sneak in a pocket square every now and then until it becomes standard. It'll happen, I'll just be sneaky [​IMG] (I doubt I'll ever go back to the tie, though. Students seem intimidated by it).
     
  18. stripes22

    stripes22 Member

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    Got my class evaluations back to-day. According to the anonymous comments, me or the tie being intimidating is not the problem. ("He's nice, the course suuucked"). Oh well. [​IMG] Thanks for the advice guys. To-day I have a zippered sweater vest, paisley tie (subdued), and I got a 'looking dapper to-day'. There's a great tweed made in Italy I have my eye on; I'll check to see if it is on sale this week.
     
  19. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    (gorgekko @ Jan. 23 2005,01:10) I had a prof too who dressed the exact same way every single day: white button-down oxford, brown khakis. Every day. It wasn't that he was wearing the same clothes every day, he seemed to have an endless supply of both the shirts and pants because his clothes were clean and pressed every day. Bloody odd.
    We may need the help of a psychology major here. Â I knew professors who regulated their lives so that every day, every thing would be the same for the sake of their intense intellectual activity. Â This one comp. lit. guy I know never bought anything other than rice and beef frozen dinners for years. Â I think Einstein was a little like that. Â I was told by the owner he always wanted the same table at Lahiere's, in Princeton.
    I might be wrong, but I seem to remember that all of Einstien's clothing, at the later part of his life, was identical - a collection of identical pants, shirts, sweaters, shoes and various undergarments. the supposed reason for this was so that he wouldn't have to think about what he was wearing. but this may be a legend.
     
  20. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    (Fabienne @ Jan. 23 2005,07:29)
    I had a prof too who dressed the exact same way every single day: white button-down oxford, brown khakis. Every day. It wasn't that he was wearing the same clothes every day, he seemed to have an endless supply of both the shirts and pants because his clothes were clean and pressed every day. Bloody odd.
    We may need the help of a psychology major here. Â I knew professors who regulated their lives so that every day, every thing would be the same for the sake of their intense intellectual activity. Â This one comp. lit. guy I know never bought anything other than rice and beef frozen dinners for years. Â I think Einstein was a little like that. Â I was told by the owner he always wanted the same table at Lahiere's, in Princeton.
    I might be wrong, but I seem to remember that all of Einstien's clothing, at the later part of his life, was identical - a collection of identical pants, shirts, sweaters, shoes and various undergarments. Â the supposed reason for this was so that he wouldn't have to think about what he was wearing. but this may be a legend.
    I did a quick minute of research on this, and found that it is in fact, true. 2 other intersting points: 1. there is a bank called "einstien's wardrobe" 2. there is a performance artist who has 31 identical shirts and wears a different one every day, inspired by Einstien (I wonder what Einstien would say? I wonder what matisse would say?)
     

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