On Teaching Fashion: Looking Like a Professor

Picture a professor for a moment, if you will.  Have it?  Good. 


Now picture a fashion professor.  Different than the first?  Or the same?


One of the biggest things on my mind as a relatively new instructor is presentation of self.  Like any professional, or any professor, I want to appear knowledgeable (think consumer confidence).  If I don’t look like I know something about fashion, I fear my appearance may undermine my authority.   


There are three main forces that go into my fashion instructor wardrobe:  1)  Wanting to fit in with my peers, and show them that I know something about my subject; 2)  Giving my students the impression that I know something about fashion; and 3)  Conveying both points 1 and 2 without being overly trendy.  I wouldn’t want to look like a slave to fashion, now would I?  As I move along the spectrum of self-confidence in my teaching abilities, my classroom attire has transitioned from khaki-pants-wearing-business-casual, to cookie cutter polyester suits, to the cliched fashionista all-black, to vanilla-vintage-goth-rockabilly, and I get the feeling that my look will always be in evolution.


If you are interested in learning more about college and university professors and their ideas of fashion, I recommend two articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Allison Schneider’s “Frumpy or Chic?” addresses job-hunting strategy.  “Frump and Circumstance” is an interview with former Parson’s The New School professor, Tim Gunn, of Project Runway fame.   

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  • Worn Through » On Teaching Fashion: Back to School Shopping
    September 4, 2009 - 9:22 am

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