(Closed) What should a professor wear?

posted 4 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 16
1915 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - backyard in the woods

I think it also depends on the subject you teach. I teach lectures and labs, and for safety reasons everyone (students and professor) is required to wear long pants and closed toe shoes. No dresses/skirts/most dress shoes allowed.

Also, as an example, in the lab I taught today we dissected Nematodes (round worms, parasites) and observed earthworm behavior. Days like this it’s easy to ruin my nice clothes with dissection juices/preservatives. Other labs I use chemicals which can burn/stain clothing. In general I dress business casual, but within the restrictions of my labs. I dress more casually than I would if I didn’t teach labs because of the safety and sheer expense of how often I potentially could ruin my clothes.

For what it’s worth, I let students call me by their choice of title or first name and I have not had issues with disrespect/agression from my students. I find if you’re firm and set clear boundaries in the beginning, and stick to them I don’t have issues. Don’t be a pushover and you’ll get a rep for being fair but not being a pushover and students will test your boundaries less. I strive to be approchable and fair but not neccesarily nice, as I find that equates to being a pushover.

Post # 17
14492 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Part of it depends on your subject, I had polisci professors who wore suits and anthropology profs wear jeans and a sweater. I liked and respected them all. The only one I couldn’t tolerate and ended up dropping her class, was a prof that dressed like an old bag lady and stuffed her big sausage feet into shoes three sizes too small, her outfits expressed her personality and not many people from my course were left after drop day. I still remember her ridiculous sausage shoes 25 years later. 

Post # 19
4187 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2016 - Manhattan, NY

View original reply
Carolsays :  My husband is an adjunct instructor at a liberal arts college in both the English and Education departments. Most days he wears a suit and tie because he often goes to his office job before or after teaching. He occasionally dresses down in jeans and a nice sweater, but that’s pretty rare. I think as you get to know instructors, their personality tends to be a reflection of how they dress. 

Post # 20
203 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2008

My husband has been a at rofessor for 15 years. He wears slacks and a nice button up shirt or polo. Sometimes he wears a tshirt and jeans.

Post # 21
5082 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

I taught lab courses in grad school and I always wore jeans and sneakers. Part of that is the safety/practicality aspect. Professors that are also going into labs need to wear long pants and closed shoes (that also excludes flats that expose the top of your foot). Heels are just not practical. Most male professors wore polos or casual button downs with khakis or jeans. Most female professors wore khakis or jeans with a blouse. In science, people don’t tend to be super concerned with fashion. I’m at a conference now and people run from full suits to cargo shorts and t shirts. 

I feel like I would find it more odd if a business professor was dressed down though. But I’ve also never taken a business course, so I can’t speak from experience. I kind of feel like professors dress as they would for a job in the field that they are teaching a lot of the time.

Post # 22
9399 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2016

I taught economics and policy at the college level a couple years back.. I wore jeans, a nice shirt and a blazer generally.  Flats or rain boots if it was rainy..

The female professors in my department had a range.. one wore jeans and a sweater every day no matter what (she got tenure decades ago though), one generally wore jeans, a nice shirt and a cardigan, the other wore a sleeveless sheath dress every single day.

I think how you dress really only matters if you otherwise look like you’re the right age to be a student.

Post # 24
3439 posts
Sugar bee

I was an adjunct lecturer last Spring. I typically wore black pants and an office-type shirt and black flats. I taught an undergrad business class, though. I didn’t see what any other lecturers or professors wore because my class was at night after all other classes were over.

Post # 25
7892 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

ditto on business casual

Post # 26
575 posts
Busy bee

Who do you teach? MBA or Law school – obviously a suit. Math / Physics – feel free to come in jeans and sneakers. Econ / Government – business casual if you are a junior, but a suit is probably more appropriate if you are senior. Literature / art / music – show off your artistic side.

And speaking of heels – if you are not very tall, but have to write on a board, heels are a must 🙂


Post # 27
2141 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2017

its interesting people are saying full trousers in the lab… I always thought that but it wasnt a rule in our lab and some of our leacturers always wore skirts, seemed wierd to HAVE to wear closed toe but be able to have bare legs lol

I also use to get uncomfortable at the amount of people wearing thin cloth shoes, they offer no protection really as any liquid would seep right through them but as long as they where ‘closed’ their was no rules on what they where made out of… I always wore thick leather or plastic leather combat boots, try getting through that acid lol

Post # 28
949 posts
Busy bee

When I was in undergrad (studying languages, law and politics), most of the lecturers would wear business casual stuff and a few lecturers were very fond of tweed. Most of them let us use their first names and I can’t remember that people were disrespectful towards them. The native speaker tutors also let us use their first names.

When I started my Master’s (in the political sciences), my lecturers dressed much more casually and we all used their first names and it worked perfectly well.

Post # 29
4227 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2015 - Hotel Ballroom

Canadian Bee who went to college. I went to two different colleges in the mid to late 2000’s. All my professors at both schools wore business casual, and we called them by their first names. My then boyfriend went to university, and it was the same story.

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