Lately, we’ve been talking about applying to jobs, having the best resume, and learning and implementing successful interview strategies. While the importance of these topics cannot be emphasized enough, there is another topic that is often overlooked while focusing on these details – style and dress.

I know, it’s a topic that academics often feel is superficial – but that doesn’t make it any less important when presenting yourself professionally. Last week I joined a really fun Twitter chat led by Jen Polk of From PhD to Life discussing style and clothing for academics.

Some of the overarching issues tend to focus on balancing the line between personal style and professional expectations, and procuring quality garments on a reasonable budget. Here are some of the clothing conundrums and related advice your colleagues talked about during the #wiithaPhD chat:

What advice would you give for people wanting to up their style?

  • Find your limits (i.e. no heels), go for things you *love*, give yourself permission to spend some $ at first.
  • I experiment with color (esp. w/nail polish) but mostly dress business casual with vintage touches &  funky earrings

I don’t feel like I have any good role models about how to dress well as a newly 40 person. Who do I emulate?

  • One of my favorite, alternative, academic style role models: Carrie Brownstein 
  • For me, Pinterest is helpful, as is finding a celebrity or fashion blogger whose style I like/can adapt.

I’d love to hear how people balance quality clothes & budget?

  • I like to spend $ basics in neutral colors (grey pants) then buy less expensive for other stuff.
  • Find your limits (i.e. no heels), go for things you *love*, give yourself permission to spend some $ at first.

It can be difficult to find your own professional style, and maintain your individuality and budget — but I assure you it is possible! This is a particular favorite topic of mine, as I come from a line of professional seamstresses. As a kid, I worked in my mom’s sewing business and spent lots of Saturdays browsing around fabric shops.

Because of this, I’m drawn to tailored garments and natural fiber fabrics like wools, cottons and linens. Use your style to your advantage, to give yourself confidence and give yourself a competitive edge. Just use your discretion in patterns and fabrics, and build your wardrobe around a few classic pieces.  

Click to Enlarge Image

Office Wardrobe Essentials

Office Wardrobe Essentials to Look Great (and Professional) Every Season
Infographic by Quill

Well, there you have it – while it may not be the expected topic to discuss, clothing and dress certainly have their place in the transition from academia. Dressing well not only leaves an impression on interviewers and future employers, it gives you confidence to claim the success you’ve worked so hard to achieve.


Facebook Comments