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How do grad students dress?


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Yoga Pants mad da ass look amazing!! No complaints about da yoga pant wearers!!!

I'm in CS, and its pretty much jeans/t-shirt/hoodie for most people.   So long as you "match" with the dress level of other students you should be fine.   Sweats/yoga pants probably aren't going t

I think it varies by program.  I'm in the hard sciences and I can say that most people wear jeans daily.  I never see any in sweatpants or yoga pants.  I think the safe bet is the think, "would I be w

Have you heard of the term "smart casual"? It's pretty much looking put together and still being able to wear jeans (not baggy). I'd recommend maybe some flats or boots and avoid tennis shoes. If you have an important meeting or if you're teaching then business casual would probably be a better option.

 

Just make sure to look clean and look like you care and appreciate the place where you are at. I'm sure you'll also be able to get an idea of how to dress when you see the professors and the other grad students.

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Err on the side of overdressing- you never know when a dean or administrator is going to come around.

 

I wear nice pants and a collared shirt when I teach or am in committees or meetings, but am far more casual if I'm only on campus to study, write, or grade. Our department is clear that we can wear just about anything we'd like (within reason, of course). I think it will be pretty apparent in your department during your first week.

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For the most part I stick to leggings with an oversized long-sleeved sweater, or solid colour skinny jeans with a long sleeved sweater-like top. Sometimes I might wear a short sleeved sweater dress/top that's not particularly long with my leggings, or a top that's super bright...but it tends not be on days when I have to do my TA duties. Granted, I live somewhere where there is snow on the ground from October to very early May...but I'll just switch to some nice button up tops at that point.

 

Oh and I generally stay away from graphics or super-bold patterns. I too look and come off about 7 years younger than I actually am so I try to dress with that in mind. 

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  • 3 months later...

Oh, good, my plan was to go with "smart casual" (jeans that fit, flats, a blouse of some kind, add scarves or cardigans), with t-shirts on Fridays (I only have my German class, which is undergrad). I will not be a TA, though occasional presentations will happen (and that's easy to dress up a bit more). Yay, I don't have to replace most of my wardrobe!

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I teach and I look young. So I tend to dress up a little more than my classmates. Most of my classmates (both females and males) tend to wear jeans to class. Nothing too formal. I like to follow the above advice and dress up just a bit more in case I run into someone important. It doesn't have to be dressed up but I own some business-y dresses and about 3 pairs of black pants. I am a HUGE fan of Express' Portofino shirts because you can wear them with skirts, pants or jeans, throw on a pair of flats and look pulled together. Plus Express always has sales and coupons.

 

Yoga pants are a definite no no where I am. The undergraduates there dress VERY casually because it's really warm and sunny most of the time. It's not uncommon for you to see undergrad girls show up to class with bandeaus, yoga pants, short shorts, etc. but I would strongly suggest against that in graduate school. You want to be taken seriously and as a female, I want to be known for my work and professionalism, not what I wear to class.

 

That said, if I know I'm not presenting and it is finals week, I will wear a tunic and some leggings, a nice top and dark wash jeans or something comfortable like that if I am taking exams all day.

 

It's not vastly different from undergrad, but I highly suggest in investing in a few good pairs of well fitting dress pants, at least one business-y dress, a pencil skirt and a few dressier tops. It helps a lot. 

Edited by harrisonfjord
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Now that school is also my job (TA), I definitely feel it is necessary to represent myself and my department well. I've started searching for cute blouses on sale, as well as some nice shorts (bye, bye denim). It's definitely easier to look nice in the Fall in the South, because it is ridiculously hot in the summer. Sweater, skinny jeans, and Doc Martens is my favorite outfit.  :P

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I'm moving to the deep south and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to dress for the hotter months when it will be super humid and hot outside walking to classes, but frigid inside with the AC blasting. I also don't know if shorts are appropriate for grad school but I don't think I can do jeans in Alabama August 

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I don't do denim, cargo anything, sandals, t-shirts, or sneakers (gym only, imo).  That means that I am fit for most anything that doesn't require a tie.  

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I'm moving to the deep south and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to dress for the hotter months when it will be super humid and hot outside walking to classes, but frigid inside with the AC blasting. I also don't know if shorts are appropriate for grad school but I don't think I can do jeans in Alabama August 

 

I'm looking into some 5" (or longer) inseam shorts with patterns or pleasant solids. I think as long as the top looks nice and the shorts are appropriate it's completely OK to wear them in the Alabama summer. Perhaps carry a cardigan to pull on in class?

 

I don't even bother with jeans until late Fall down here. It's brutal!

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I would add that at the universities I've attended, the women have dressed better than the men (I'll alert the times).  Many of the men in the grad programs dressed as if they were $75 from abject poverty: aging jeans, t-shirt, converse shoes about to sport a hole, and a beard.  This also goes for the profs.  Women fall into the appearance "trap" that faces most working women.  Cue Jezebel magazine for an article that goes into greater detail.

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I would say that the "jeans and a nice sweater" combo is probably going to become your new "yoga pants and a sweatshirt." I think it's advisable to look a little more put together in grad school. You'll want to distinguish yourself from the undergrads on campus and as someone mentioned up thread you never know when you'll run into someone important. In terms of shoes, flats and casual boots are probably good to start off with.

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Do you all think carrying an extra outfit in my bag would be appropriate?

 

For example, my campus is on a mountain. My apartment is just a 15 minute walk from sociology HQ, but I don't want to walk in the hotter months in nice pants and a nice shirt and get all sweaty! Is it feasible to wear something more casual (I'm thinking a t-shirt and "boyfriend" shorts (although my boyfriend would never wear shorts that short; that's a stupid name for mid-thigh-length shorts)) and some sneakers) just to walk to campus, change real quick into my nicer clothes, and then go about my TA duties, or would that be weird?  Same in the winter, just with jeans and boots!

 

And the consensus seems to be that professional clothing while teaching is most appropriate, whereas slightly more casual clothes while in class or around campus is appropriate, right?

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I turned 30 this year but am commonly mistaken for a junior or a senior undergraduate just by face and stature alone. Since I have a baby face, I try to dress in what was mentioned as "smart casual" but not overly trendy ('cept shoes) - it is the style I'm most comfortable with and suits the atmosphere of the department. There is a lot of winter in my city - so I've also stepped up my layering essentials, coats, and boots collection. With all that said, I pay most attention to hair and makeup...which actually most of my cohort does not care about. I'm not sure if most people are as self-conscious as I am, but if you are reading and participating in this thread, you are at least conscious of the image you want to project. I know plenty of people who care less and tell me that I care too much (I don't care). 

 

I 'd carry an extra outfit to the gym. I only wear yoga pants to the gym. Mainly because I don't like to replace my gym clothes that often - so I only wear them for exercise. Otherwise, I think a change of shoes is about as far as I'd go and not so much a total outfit change. 

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gingin, carrying an extra outfit would be fine. People did this in my grad program due to bike commuting.

 

As far as what's appropriate attire, this does vary by where you are and the type of department you're in. People in my field tend to do a lot of outdoorsy stuff, which is reflected in much of their attire. My MA program was in a warm area of the country where people were expected to dress more formally. We basically weren't allowed to TA in tank tops or shorts (or flip-flops), though people could and did attend class in those and it wasn't a big deal at all. In my PhD program, there were no such expectations. People TA'd in shorts, flip-flops, jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, and whatever else. I generally went nicer than that, though still less formal than business casual.

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Once was notified of a lab meeting with our paymasters. I came in to the lab prior to the meeting wearing khaki's, a graphic t-shirt, and a zip-up jacket. My boss was flabbergasted by my attire. I countered by stating appropriate attire was not mandated in the e-mail. Luckily, I had my jacket and I wore that all day to cover up the t-shirt. Long meeting, fun times though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Most of the people that have posted in this thread thus far are in humanities/arts (except the first two posters), is there anyone else that works in the "hard" sciences (chem/bio) that can give some advice on what graduate students typically wear? Working with chemicals and rats makes dressing well a little harder :(

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Most of the people that have posted in this thread thus far are in humanities/arts (except the first two posters), is there anyone else that works in the "hard" sciences (chem/bio) that can give some advice on what graduate students typically wear? Working with chemicals and rats makes dressing well a little harder :(

Yep...no open toed shoes/dresses/skirts/shorts here.  Basically, everyone wears jeans and sneakers/Uggs/boots.  Now, above-the-waist fashion varies.  Some are "smart casual" (as described in previous posts).  Others rock the roll-out-of-bed, "college style" (i.e. sweatshirts).  I think it depends on the tenor of your department/region of the country and what you're comfortable with.  Go with smart casual until you get a feel for your school/dept.  

Also, you probably don't want to wear sweatshirts on TA days.  

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I'm in CS, and its pretty much jeans/t-shirt/hoodie for most people.

 

So long as you "match" with the dress level of other students you should be fine.

 

Sweats/yoga pants probably aren't going to cut it.

 

However, IMPORTANT NOTE:

 

Keep some slightly dressier clothes (business causal or better) within easy access at all times.  Or you may find yourself in a super awkward situation. I had to attend the reception for one of my committee members who was receiving an endowed professorship... in jeans and a bright green hoodie.

I find this interesting. Never had that issue. Most of the profs in my department wear Jeans and a shirt/tee to every event except the HoD.

 

Most of the people that have posted in this thread thus far are in humanities/arts (except the first two posters), is there anyone else that works in the "hard" sciences (chem/bio) that can give some advice on what graduate students typically wear? Working with chemicals and rats makes dressing well a little harder :(

Well, most of my friends are in the Hard Sciences as you call them. I'm in CS. They wear Jeans, sneakers and whatever they can scoop out of the closet for a top. Some tend to dress extra creatively, most just wear a t-shirt with a funny message or something. Most people don't care what you wear to school, as long as you don't stink. Many people don't leave the lab for days and being around their stench can be quite a challenge! 

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Do you all think carrying an extra outfit in my bag would be appropriate?

 

For example, my campus is on a mountain. My apartment is just a 15 minute walk from sociology HQ, but I don't want to walk in the hotter months in nice pants and a nice shirt and get all sweaty! Is it feasible to wear something more casual (I'm thinking a t-shirt and "boyfriend" shorts (although my boyfriend would never wear shorts that short; that's a stupid name for mid-thigh-length shorts)) and some sneakers) just to walk to campus, change real quick into my nicer clothes, and then go about my TA duties, or would that be weird?  Same in the winter, just with jeans and boots!

 

And the consensus seems to be that professional clothing while teaching is most appropriate, whereas slightly more casual clothes while in class or around campus is appropriate, right?

I actually spent a summer at the school you'll be attending. I can understand about walking up and down the crazy amount of stairs they have in the heat. I don't think it'd be that weird to bring a change of clothes. One of the grad students I worked under biked and would wear one of those biker spandex shirt and shorts. He'd come in, drop his bag off, and then go change.

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Most of the people that have posted in this thread thus far are in humanities/arts (except the first two posters), is there anyone else that works in the "hard" sciences (chem/bio) that can give some advice on what graduate students typically wear? Working with chemicals and rats makes dressing well a little harder :(

I posted earlier about what I wear when I teach, TA, or am just around the department, but didn't think about the rest of the time.

 

I wear scrubs when I'm in the lab or dissecting, and put them in a bag with some shoes to put at my desk. Some labs have lockers that you can use/rent, so I'd look in to that if you don't want a pile of stuff at your desk. I'm teaching a summer course right now, and change into slacks/polo or collared shirt to teach.

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