What professors think of what students wear

Tedi Mathis

Most people don’t get dressed in the morning thinking of what their professors want them to wear to class, but that doesn’t mean professors don’t pay attention — whether it’s last night’s sweats after some late night study cramming, or your nicest pant suit, professors take notice of student’s clothing.

Jay Newell, associate professor of advertising, said he’s just glad to see people in his 9 a.m. class. It matters very little to him what people wear.

“Students express themselves at 9 in the morning with how they dress,” Newell said.

He notices whether students look “rumpled or not rumpled.”

“As a professor, as we’re doing lectures we’re in the world of our discipline,” Newell said. “The only time I notice things is when we go into times where we are doing formal presentations.”

Newell also said there are some students who might not be able to afford to put money into dressing to impress in class.

“We have students who don’t even have places to live,” Newell said. “Do I really want to call them out on that?”

Ellen Mullen, senior lecturer of management, said she really doesn’t pay attention to how her students dress. 

“I can recall sometimes a few shocking things,” Mullen said. “Too much skin, or something like that.”

Mullen said the trend of sagging pants with men and low cut shirts on women are examples of this. She also said she understands those students who might not always dress at their prime for class.

“It would be easy to roll out of bed and come to class in your sweats,” Mullen agreed.

Katherine Bruna, associate professor in the School of Education, said she pays attention to what students wear, often more of the women than the men.

She said this is mainly due to being a professor in the School of Education, knowing students will be working in classrooms themselves.

“It’s what they’re wearing to my class … it’s also what they might wear to teach in a classroom,” Bruna said. 

She also said she tends to notice clothing that strikes in a negative way more than clothing that strikes in a positive way.

“I probably notice more when clothing is inappropriate in a way,” Bruna said.

She cited students who look like they came right out of their bed to class and those who look like they are going to “roll out of class and onto Welch Avenue” as examples.

This doesn’t mean that she only notices the negatives, however.

“Whenever students, men or women, come to class formally dressed, I notice that too,” Bruna said.

When originally asked what they think of what students wear to class, all three professors immediately giggled, chuckled, laughed and had to collect their thoughts. In general, the consensus seemed to be to keep the dress clean and appropriate, and academics will shine more than your new skinny jeans.