Post # 31
I actually agree with them, although at least in our department, that also applies to the guys. All of them dress with distinctively more care than the undergrads do, and I don’t think I have ever seen one guy in a t-shirt at work.
I wear what probably counts as business casual but what I tend to describe as “Bernadette from the Big Bang Theory”. I also make sure to wear make-up when I teach a new class and usually stop doing so halfway through the term (I love make-up but my skin thinks differently), best of both worlds: Women who wear make-up are perceived as more competent and I am happy to take that short-cut, but after a few weeks, I just don’t think it gives me advantage anymore – way too much hassle.
As long as your clothes are clean etc though, I think it largely depends on how you carry and present yourself. If you have your students under control and keep a professional distance, things tend to be fine. I am perfectly happy to stay behind and listen to a student’s problems, but if they choose to address me by my last name, they better use the “Ms” listed on the website – my relationship status is none of their business. They know my other half is a lawyer because it came up at some point but that is it.
Post # 32
I’m a lecturer in the English department at a large public university and my colleagues’ levels of dress range wildly, from trousers/button-downs/ties to combat boots and hoodies. Personally, my uniform is a brightly patterned fit and flare dress (think Modcloth—my taste in prints is on the bold side), cardigan and ballet flats. I think clothes make more of a difference when you’re a young-looking instructor; they can help set your tone on the first day. But 99% of your ethos as an instructor depends on your actions and attitude. I dressed this way even when I was a grad student only a handful of years older than my students and I’ve never had a respect problem in my classroom because I set clear boundaries and set the tone for my relationship with students. Dress to your personality! My first teaching mentor told me that the only way to teach wrong is to try to teach like someone else, and that advice has served me well in every aspect of teaching!
Post # 33
But you should also take cues from your colleagues, because some departments have different cultures. I do a lot of work with other campus departments and some are incredibly formal—suits every day even for adjuncts. My boss compulsively wears shorts even to conferences and cross-campus admin events, so I took his cue. But when I give presentations to more formal departments, I begrudgingly bust out the heels and blazer.