Thursday, October 01, 2009

Guest Post: Grad School Style

I really wanted to follow up my undergraduate fashion tutorial/exposé, What To Wear To College, with something aimed at all the lovely and brilliant grad students out there, but as the owner of a lowly Bachelor's degree, I felt wholly unqualified. What to do? Call in the help of the stylin' PhD candidates over at Academic Chic, of course! What follows is their practical guide to dressing for your 500-level classes (hint: pajama pants are not recommended), in the form of a syllabus, naturally:

GSF 560: Graduate Student Fashion and Its Applications

Course Description:

This course will explore the practical application of graduate student attire, examining the way self-representation intersects with set standards of professionalism and business-attire.


Completion of Undergraduate Style 101 and at least one Fashion 101 Color Module. Additionally, each student must be well acquainted with his or her own Proportions or request special permission from the instructor.

Course Objectives:

This course will steer students toward a better understanding of his or her own best features and attributes and will explore ways to emphasize and celebrate those aspects of his or her self. By the end of the course, students should be well versed in proportions, color combinations, and use of accessories to present a professional and stylish work persona that still adheres to each student’s personality and sense of aesthetic.

Fall Semester Schedule:

Plan on acquiring at least three of the five graduate student essentials for the semester ahead. Extra credit to students who acquire the below items at thrift stores or consignment shops.

1. Fall fitted jacket – our choices: brown corduroy or navy cotton

2. Dark wash straight leg – not necessarily a skinny jean, but a figure flattering straight leg dark wash denim

3. Boots - Great for skirts, dresses, or pants. Think of your campus commute when choosing a heel height! We love a dark chocolate brown or a cognac color.

4. Black wool dress - The winter version of the LBD, can be remixed endlessly and dressed up for drinks after class or made professional for conference presentations.

5. Well fitting dress pants – As winter approaches, you’re less likely to teach in skirts and sometimes you just don’t want to fuss with tights. No need to reach for those jeans if you have a great fitting flat-front pair of trousers.

See you in class!

Any other recommendations from grad students past or present? Any cautionary tales? Did you make an effort to upgrade your style for this next phase of your education, or just stick with your old formula? How did it go?


Karen said...

Great post, ladies!!

Academichic said...

Thanks, again, Wynona, for inviting us to post! - Chics

Ashe Mischief said...

Let's not forget grad school hair styles! Those sloppy top knots and messy ponytails do not reek of professionalism....

Unknown said...

Cardigans-- they make things you wouldn't otherwise wear to school appropriate, thus expanding your work wardrobe drastically.

Mademoiselle Chloe said...

Hi, ive just started 'blogging' and love your blog. Ive only just discovered that theres a different kind of fashion world and its right here on the web! Great work :D

Amadna M. said...

Hilarious, as usual!

I do know that if you're going for a research-based degree (especially if you're working in a particularly messy lab setting), professionalism isn't as important. Generally speaking, in labs they're looking for closed-toed shoes and long pants. And tops that allow for sliding the lab coat on and off repeatedly as you're switching between trials and paperwork.

But yeah, if your day-to-day work involves getting blood or creepy chemicals on you, cute/expensive clothes are sort of a bad thing, actually. Sad.

Jam said...

OMG, my two favorite blogs. This post is chocolate plus peanut butter :)

My usual order of operations / sequence of tenses on campus days is:

tank top or cami
collared / woven shirt
jacket / coat

Layer top to bottom; remove layers bottom to top as necessary according to season and temperature. Guaranteed to make you look appropriately eccentric and academic while keeping you comfortable regardless of whether Facilities has caught up to the climate!

becca said...

Cardigans! I must second the cardigans! During my one day teaching prep, all the new English 101 teachers were reassured by the head of the department that as long as we dressed a bit nicer than our students, we'd be fine. So, with an 8:30 AM class last semester, wearing anything other than pajamas qualified as dressing up. This semester, with an 11:30 crowd to teach, this is an excellent guide!

ps. Winona!!! I miss you!!! Hello from grad student land!! I am going to be in Portland NEXT WEEK!

nadarine said...

I am raising my fist in solidarity!
When in my first year of grad school, I tired very quickly of being mistaken for an undergrad (tech help desk guy: "oh, are you a freshman?" me: "I AM OLD ENOUGH TO BE OFFENDED AT THAT.") and started a project to Stop Dressing Like An Undergrad. The wardrobe staples here are excellent: especially the dress and boots. I also concur with the addition of a cardigan. Cardigans make (almost) anything presentable.
I didn't have to teach during my grad school, so I had a lot more leeway with attire, but I lived in wool shift dresses, wrap dresses, and shirtdresses with a belted cardigan over them. After all, if you're slightly dressed up, people will assume you have your act together, even if you've spent the last 18 hours frantically typing up proposals for your advisors.

My additions from my own experience? A trench coat, a messenger bag/tote bag that's a step up from neon colored nylon (if you're toting around an island of stuff all day- laptop, lunch, books, papers, cardigan- it helps to look put-together with a nice bag rather than an overstuffed pack), and a friend who works at a campus-adjacent coffee shop who can provide you with much-needed triple shots of espresso for lunch when your loan money runs out and you've got to stay awake for two days writing papers.

Gloria V. said...

Winona, I got wind of your blog from the Academic Chics. This is the bestest fashion/snarky-commenting blog ever! I especially appreciate the "Don't Show-Ya Cho-Cha" feature. Seems like covering your "special parts" is the most basic of functions for clothing... but I guess some people have lost sight of that. Looking forward to reading future posts. :)

Me said...

my best features kind of intinidate me,a dn i'm a little afraid to accentuate them. is that weird?

Sarah Jane said...

My goal in grad school was a quick-and-dirty formula; some way to look put-together and professional with a minimum of time, effort, and money. For me, that was a big, vaguely-European scarf and a fitted denim jacket. And I agree with all the posters above who suggested cardigans as a way to quickly "upgrade" a t-shirt and jeans. A nice piece of statement jewelry works well for that when it's too warm for a sweater.

cognitivesiren said...

And keep a neutral/black jacket or blazer in your office for those days when something comes up and you need to look grown-up -- unexpected meeting, changed your mind about attending a professional event, or suddenly you just need that extra burst of confidence -- it makes even a t-shirt and jeans look more polished (if in a quirky sort of way.)

la petite fashionista said...

great guest post-- it's honestly true what they say about dressing for the job you'd like to have. a well dressed grad student speaks volumes!

Leia said...

I'm just starting as a grad student and these tips are great!

Elizabeth said...

Being only a mere college graduate (something post-grads insist on calling "undergrad,") I am entirely unqualified to comment on this.

Oops, I think I just commented.


Rosie Unknown said...

Great post! I may be several levels below grad student, but I will be keeping these tips in mind!

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