Lessons in practical fashion

Kristen Phillips


Stereotypically, instructors aren’t known for their fashion sense.

Those constant hours in front of the classroom lecturing and leading discussions while surrounded by dry erase markers that no longer work and frustrating technology that won’t cooperate make fashion the least of their priorities.

Their busy schedules and demands for grading exams, attending monotonous meetings and presenting at conferences leaves limited time for an instructor to take a step back to see if their practical and affordable clothing is relevant to the 21st century.

Some re-occurring trends are particularly associated with professors at the Puyallup campus.

A few professors have been known to dress in accordance with the class they’re teaching.

For example, an environmental science instructor is known to wear clothing that has been made with sustainable, environmental friendly products.

An oceanography instructor is recognizable when seen in Hawaiian and nautical print shirts complimented with boat shoes.

Other instructors are distinguished in sweaters that are similar to those of children aboard the Polar Express on Christmas morning. Sometimes they mix it up a bit with argyle patterns or sweater vests instead of a simple sweater, but they tend to stick to what they know.

There’s anything wrong with this, but these are just a few notable trends on campus.

Now, other instructors have forgotten that as time goes on trends fade and new styles emerge. They just don’t keep up on what’s current.

However, a few staples in a wardrobe will always be classy.

Solid, earth tone colors are most often seen as practical and acceptable. Professionalism and modesty are generally seen as ideal and adequate dress standards for instructors.

Students are supportive of their instructors embracing new trends, just as long as they look age appropriate.

They just don’t want to come to class with the same outfit as their instructors.

There has to be a balance between the simplicity and the sensibility of an instructor’s attire.

Sometimes the way an instructor dresses also can be what sets the tone of the classroom. If an instructor is dressed casually and relaxed, then their students will feel comfortable.

However, instructors should dress with professionalism and confidence. Although fashion does not by any means make the instructor, sometimes it’s a way to earn subtle respect from students.

Personal preference and comfort all play critical roles in the clothing that one chooses to wear. If an instructor demonstrates a professional, mature, capable and competent persona, then they’ll earn the respect they deserve.

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Lessons in practical fashion

by Kristen Phillips time to read: 2 min