proper attire

C. Boake cboake at
Thu Aug 13 01:13:18 EST 1998

In article <35CFC578.5C7E at>, bjag at wrote:

> So, what do people consider appropriate clothing for female faculty
> member in the following activities?
> 1) interviewing for a junior faculty position
> 2) teaching classes
> 3) interviewing for a post-doc
> 4) working in the lab
> 5) attending a meeting
> 6) giving a presentation at a meeting
> 7) giving a presentation at a university
> 8) giving a presentation at a K-12 school.

> Bharathi

For the most part, I think that we have a good idea what a successful man
would wear in each situation, plus how we would judge variation from the
standard ("too formal" "too casual" etc.).  So the trick is to figure out
what the match is with women's clothes, calibrated for your field. 
Generally, the degree of tailoring on women's pants can serve as an
indicator of formality, and in many cases, tailored slacks are as
acceptable as a skirt or dress.  The big advantage of wearing slacks is
that you can wear comfortable shoes.  

For each activity on the list you need to figure out also whether it
matters whether people care how you look.  (It may be irritating to be
mistaken for a secretary or a student, but do you really care about the
first impression of somebody who has no influence over you and whom you
may never meet again?)  As long as you are productive in the lab, and
covered according to safety requirements, there is no reason that you
should care how people react to your clothes.  However, when you need to
interact with people above you in the heirarchy, you need to consider "the
dignity of the occasion" (can't remember where I heard that phrase but
it's useful); you show respect to a person or an occasion in your
clothing.  Similarly, when you lecture (to grads, undergrads, or K-12),
you need to keep some professional distance because you are there to
instruct, not to be their playmate or buddy; clothing is a major
contributor to that distance.  If you go to a meeting of a society that is
unfamiliar to you, take clothes that can be dressed down or up and take
your cue from the first day.

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