Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Big Thirsty. Clothes.

Hi. You can call me Fauna the Fashionable. I teach at a decent B-school in California, and occasionally get to visit other parts of the country. It astounds me how differently we dress as professors.

Some of my departmental colleagues dress like F500 CEOs. Some non-departmental colleagues look like they just wandered onto campus from a Juggalo gathering.

Q: What about your clothing, people? What do you normally wear? What's your discipline? Do you have an opinion about the best dressed department? The worst? (It's English, right?)

46 comments:

  1. I normally wear clothes somewhere between business casual and lumberjack. Which end of the spectrum I fall into depends largely on (a) how dressy I'm feeling and (b) how corrosive today's lab chemicals are.

    I used to be much more of a clotheshorse, but I've outgrown all my suits.

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    1. I love the idea of "somewhere between business casual and lumberjack." That sounds about right. Is it wrong that the days I'm closer to the lumberjack end of the spectrum that I feel guilty?

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  2. I'd say the business dept wins. We do have a silverback in education who's suits daily. I am "sporty" since I have to do physical demos in exercise science. My other science colleagues look like normal folk. I have Asperger's, so it's important for me to feel comfortable in soft clothes or else I'm terribly distracted.

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  3. Business casual. A proper suit for the first and last weeks of class and any exams or major presentations, or when I attend a job talk or department meetings. I wear skirts and low heels whenever it's not too cold outside.

    I'm a relatively young adjunct slave instructor teaching political science at a completely irrelevant community college. Dressing to impress salves my wounded dignity. I'd like to think it also encourages my students to fear or respect me, but that is probably wishful thinking on my part.

    The worst-dressed disciplines: philosophy, public administration, and math. It's not even close.

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  4. Business on teaching days, jeans/khakis and comfy shirts the other days. The idea is to project the idea that I care more about teaching (and showing my respect to my students) than to anything else. When colleagues comment I tell them that I am dressing the part of my next job, dean (even if I'd actually catch leprosy than become one).
    Teaching French at urban satellite college in flyover state.

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  5. Short sleeve button up shirts in dark solid colors and non-khaki colored pants.
    Too hot most of the year to wear a suit or sports coat (which Is why dark shirts, never let 'me see you sweat). Why should I dress up for a majority of students in frat or sorority t-shirts, shorts, and sandals or flip flops down in the Deep South? I made a joke once during the winter when I wore a tweed sports coat and a student notice the wardrobe change: "I'm giving you he traditional college professor wardrobe experience." (Crickets and blank stares).

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  6. Though I am in one of those disciplines that throws up the hobo-professor and the beachbum-professor and so on, I feel that I own my students a minimum of effort.

    Slacks, closed-toe shoes and a shirt with buttons and a collar. Often the shirt is a polo, because there is no point in getting carried away. Suit and tie for finals. But it's a bow tie and may sport jolly-rogers or a stars-and-stripes pattern.

    Some of the theorists in my discipline duke it out with the mathematicians for the least attention to dress. Not sure if that's the "worst", but they certainly look like they just wandered in after either getting out of bed or doing lawn-care all day.

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  7. Teaching days: Khaki pants, Tommy Bahama shirt, black canvas skateboard shoes (they're really comfy)
    Dept. Meeting Days: Khaki shorts, Tommy Bahama shirt, Birkenstocks
    Weekends: Nothing

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  8. It's whatever looks clean and not too crumpled when I look in my closet half-asleep in the morning. Slacks early in the semester, black jeans after that. Dressy long-sleeve shirt (collar and everything, no tie) on teaching days, t-shirt (no holes) otherwise. The desired effect is "so unremarkable, nobody remembers what you're wearing." I can't remember anything in particular about how my colleagues in the (math) dept dress, which means they care just as much.

    My PhD adviser has a good method. He buys a lot of identical white shirts and dark pants on his yearly visits to his home country, and then just picks a clean set in the morning. Why waste a microsecond of thinking on irrelevant matters like attire choices? Something to be said for that, but I haven't dared to go that far.

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  9. I tend to go for very feminine, kind of dressy casual. Skirts and boots, dresses with cardigans, slacks and sweaters in winter, etc. And always with some kind of sparkly jewelry, usually earrings. In my department, I'm a bit of an outlier, since everyone else usually wears khakis or okay jeans and button down shirts. But I'm one of two women in my department (the other is determinedly not feminine) and I teach intro physics to mostly male engineering students. And since my engineering boys are usually misogynist little fucks, I like to femme it up a little when I'm teaching, just to mess with their heads.

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    1. I do this to the misogynist little fucks in my seminars, too! WHEEEEE! In my Ph.D. program I had a seminar with some sexist jerks in the Econ Department who were my ideological opposites. I was obsessed with discrediting their research (this was just before the economy tanked in 08...they were will riding high). Every day before class, I'd dress in feminine sun dresses and wear pearls and makeup. HA!

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  10. Like I'm homeless. But really clean in addition. I don't know how to explain it. Ragged Sabbath t-shirt and hole-in-the-knees jeans. But I wear CK One!

    Education has the worst dressed proffies where I am. The Poli Sci guys rock the style.

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  11. Dress shirt and tie, usually a suit. These little fucks sometimes wonder who's in charge, then I show up.

    My science colleagues dress like slobs for the most part. They imagine that Einstein didn't care about his appearance either. Geniuses might show off their brains by not caring how they look but not caring how you look doesn't make you a genius. It makes students wonder if we run a campus homeless shelter.

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    1. From "Bull Durham" "Your shower shoes have fungus on them. ... If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob."

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    2. Damn right, BB. But we usually express it as "you may be wearing Banana Republic/Ralph Lauren/Hugo Boss/Lacoste/Diesel/Guess/Calvin Klein/Nautica/Perry Ellis, but what you are saying is still wrong and you are still stupid."

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  12. Whilst gettin' my teach on, I wear various shades of Dockers and a long-sleeved Arrow or Chaps button-down shirt (the meat locker in which I work is too damn cold for short sleeves, and those brands have tall sizes). For office hours, it's either cargo pants or yesterday's not-too-rumpled Dockers paired with whatever t-shirt is next in the rotation. It may or may not have a band logo; I believe last week's selection featured Napalm Death and the previous week's shirt advertised They Might Be Giants.

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  13. Art Dept. Anything from shorts and flip flops to tuxedos. Just like art show openings.

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    1. Same here. I wear, like, slacks and a shirt with buttons or a t-shirt without cartoon characters or swearing on it so I look a bit overdressed. 'These are my formal, teaching Converse. School colors, see?'

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    2. Art here too, but at a high school. We have a faculty dress code (blargh) of business casual. I push it by wearing cheap slacks and nice-ish soft shirts. I can't even count how many pairs of slacks and shirts I've ruined, which is why I stopped paying more than $20 for them many years ago.

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    3. Art here, too. Black slacks and long sleeved shirt/sweater/jacket on lecture days. Jeans and something I don't care about too much on studio days. I work with things that stain, burn, and cut. And that's just the students.

      The male faculty in our English dept seem to take great pains to look as though they've just crawled from dumpsters.

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  14. I dress in business casual, and that makes me one of the very few men on campus to wear a tie. I just don't feel as if I am dressed in a professional manner otherwise. But I HATE dress jackets, so I just keep one hanging in my office for emergencies.

    FWIW, the art department profs dress most casually, but that makes sense given the hands-on messy nature of some of their classes.

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  15. I tend to dress professional (because I like fashion and it makes me feel better to look good) but some people around here look like they just painted their basement before coming in to teach. Other colleagues are stuck int eh 80s. When I taught more animal labs I was careful not to wear anything too nice. Rat pee and "dry clean only" don't mix well.

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  16. Jeans, button up shirt (tucked in). I used to wear cut off jeans, tee shirt, and sandals, but my fiance has been on me to dress better.

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  17. I feel strongly that female-identified humanities grad students should wear scarves and Frye boots. Alas, I can only afford the former.

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    1. Ebay. Found a pair of Frye campus (worn once by former owner) for $80.

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  18. Late spring/Early fall when it's hot here in Cheeseheadland: dresses and skirts. Open-toed shoes (toes painted, feet are in good shape). Or if it's on the cool side, nice khakis. Clean shirt. Cotton scarf.

    Late fall/winter: Jeans, Frye boots, sweater, scarf, corduroy or velvet blazer (yes, I'm in the humanities. Shut up.) or Dockers and a sweater and Danskos (I have a bad back). Occasionally a sweaterdress and boots. Cardigans.

    Key is looking put-together, which I would argue is possible on a tight budget. I get many of my nicer clothes from Goodwill (why pay $120 for a dress I can get for $5 next season, even in this shitty little town?) and eBay carries a LOT of designer clothes for a fraction of the price you'd pay in a store. Shop smart.

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  19. ...like I'm going to a Dylan concert.

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    1. ...although I wish I could just wear a yellow Hazmat suit like on Breaking Bad. You see how roomy those things are?

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    2. Cal, would it be impolite to mention your Skype joke, the one you always make, about how you're not wearing pants. You know my husband thought that joke was funny...when you said it the FIRST time...

      XOXO
      LK

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  20. On teaching days, khakis, slacks, or dark-washed jeans with a nice shirt and maybe a cardigan if it's chilly. On non-teaching days when I'm in the office, jeans and a tee. Otherwise, tees and yoga pants or really stretchy jeans.

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    1. I do most of my nice-clothes shopping at Coldwater Creek, if that gives you a better idea of what my outfits look like. My casual clothes tend to come from Think Geek and/or WalMart.

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  21. Jeans. Floaty shirts. Comfortable shoes.

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  22. Suits cover the beer gut. If I wear jeans, I look like I should be pushing a shopping cart of empties.

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  23. Jeans and a t-shirt. If I'm feeling dressy, I iron the jeans.

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  24. The slobs on our campus are the Fine Arts people. They all look like they have rolled down a hill backwards and then dipped themselves in nacho cheese sauce with a quirky scarf thrown over the whole mess regardless of gender.

    I unfailingly wear chinos and a tshirt with a blazer and Chuck Taylors. In winter I might throw a coat over my blazer, depending on how far away my parking spot is from my classroom.

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    1. Given that the art people are probably slinging clay and paint all over, it probably makes sense that they dress accordingly. :)

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  25. Skirts and a nice shirt or plain T-shirt dressed-up with a necklace. On messy lab days I wear clothes I don't care about, but still a skirt. Now I tend to wear heels, but when it's hot out I sport my Birks (except in the lab where I need close toed shoes). I should buy some nice pants, but so far a skirt everyday I have taught for the last 3 years :-)

    Other science folk wear jeans or shorts, but I want the kiddos to know I am in charge!

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  27. It depends. Early in the term I wear a suit so everyone knows who's in charge. Later in the term, or when I'm not teaching, whatever's clean in my closet. Often this is jeans and a t-shirt.

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  28. I wear dress shirts and polo shirts and chino slacks, mainly from L. L. Bean's. I picked up this habit at Dartmouth because of the New Hampshire climate, but they are well suited for damper climates such as England and warmer, drier climates such as California, too.

    It's pretty much what my Dad wore to be a volunteer K-6 teacher in Florida in the '80s. Before he retired in 1970, he'd often wear a tie as a high-school teacher, often with a jacket.

    Once, when serving as Chair of the Department of Physics, my Dean told me during a college party that I should add a tie. I have several ties with astronomy patterns so I did this during a recent reception to meet our new university president. I found I was the only proffie there wearing a tie.

    Other physics proffies are notoriously scruffy. One quantum field theorist (the same sub-discipline as Sheldon Cooper) is a real dirtbag, often coming to class unshaven and in athletic attire. He may not smell too good either, but I never get close enough to notice. Computer scientists are even worse dressed than physicists and astronomers, though.

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    1. P.S. I've heard it said that one can spot an academic since one will be wearing running shoes with a dress shirt and slacks. I stopped wearing running shoes to class years ago. One reason is that I've never been particularly athletic. Another is that real leather slip-on shoes don't have laces to come undone during class. It's also easier to slip them off when about to be molested at the airport, again.

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    2. I find that running/walking shoes are easier on the feet, but y're right, they do look odd with business casual.

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  29. English/composition proffie. Somewhere in the business casual range, I think, including shoes that are definitely more comfortable/walkable than stylish -- walking shoe support/padding/toe room in a marginally more formal style. Whatever the genre, my style could also accurately be described as frumpy and repetitive -- so much so that one of my colleagues nearly didn't recognize me when I wore a slightly different combination of clothes to a campus event recently (I've got a pretty standard "uniform" -- similar combinations of very similar pieces. I'm one of those people who doesn't really want to have to think too much about what she's putting on in the morning -- one of several ways in which, although I'm quite happy being female, and present unambiguously as such, I come closer to some of the cultural norms for males).

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  30. Skins from moose I've killed myself, bowhunting. There's a strict dress code here in the frozen North.

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