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Dressing for Class

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Sunday, August 15th, 2010 in Q&As

What should I wear as a University student to class?

I hate always saying this, but it depends.

First off, let’s be honest: most people going to classes, at least at an undergraduate level, are incredibly poorly dressed. Even at upper tier schools, most people prance around in what amounts to glorified pajamas or sportswear, usually excusing themselves because they want to be “comfortable”. The sheer fact that you want to dress for class generally indicates you intend to do better than this, and anything is better than pajamas or basketball shorts.

In my opinion, in most disciplines, you can really get away with clothing that is informal, but not lazy. Jeans are, of course, generally appropriate, as are t-shirts and the like. If you want to dress better and look more professional, casual dress shirts, informal dress pants, and similar clothing is really the best you’ll want to dress. Don’t go into class wearing a suit or anything, but don’t be afraid to wear a casual tie or a blazer. As I think I’ve mentioned before on here, dressing well in class has its own benefits — you are treated much better by professors and classmates and tend to look more prepared for study — so feel free to err on the side of style.

For some reason, some people I know swear by wearing suits in professional schools, like wearing a suit to law school classes and/or business school classes. I recommend avoiding this, if you can help it. For one thing, wearing a suit constantly smacks of an attempt to try too hard — kinda like an awkward game of dress-up. In either context, you will be in a suit a lot outside of class, so don’t waste your time trying to show off in class. Again, ties and blazers are probably okay, full suits are not.

If you are studying in a science department, especially if you routinely do experiments, try to wear good clothing, but washable/cheap clothing, for obvious reasons. The same naturally would apply if you were in a cooking school or art school.

Oh, and a final note — don’t brand whore. I knew a lot of people in undergrad who specifically wore brands (especially Gucci and Louis Vuitton, for some reason) as blatantly as possible in order to garner attention. Don’t bother doing so, it appears tacky and spoiled.

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