Sartorial style and the law

I was reading a post at Pete Black’s Freedom to Differ on the dress of law professors. It did make me laugh. Certainly, when I went to teach, I consulted a friend on what she thought I should wear. I was somewhat anxious.

My initial plan had just been to wear the same suits as I had worn in private practice.

“Oh no, no, no!” said my friend. “That’s a bit off-putting and will make you seem older than you are. But it’s important to look less shabby than a student, just to differentiate yourself.”

Anyway, I’ve taken my guide from the advice of my friend – not too formal, but not too shabby either. I wear suit pants, but not a jacket.



Filed under academia

3 responses to “Sartorial style and the law

  1. Hmm. “less shabby than a student” – does this mean you need to vary if your students are all commercial law types, or types more likely to work for the “little guy”?
    Pete Black’s internet law suggests a compromise: white shirt and jeans. (A clean white shirt can let you get away with lots!).

    You’re not doing science like biochem, where wearing the lab coat was an implication “I’m busy and have just rushed from the lab”, and the more a coat looked like it had been washed a thousand times (and none of the stains completely gone), the greater the credibility the wearer could assume. With such subjects, the lecturer/tutor had to have a shabbier uniform than the students!

  2. Apparently the first time my mother met my father, he was wearing a lab coat full of acid holes. It caught on a gas tap and he fell over. Oh well, at least he had all the hallmarks of a ertsatz science tutor.

    I probably would dress differently for a different audience – if I were teaching to practitioners, I’d probably wear the full suit, to a small relaxed group of students, I’d probably wear jeans.

  3. It’s interesting that they told you a full suit would scare the students, LE!

    I went to careers fair last week (as part of the new job) and we were explicitly instructed to wear casual clothes so that we would seem ‘more approachable’.

    It was an interesting take but it ended up being correct. The students saw us as being ‘one of them’ and we were swamped, whilst those in business suits were left alone.

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