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How to dress for school visit (Madison, MI)

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I will be visiting the University of Wisconsin, Madison for a school visit (not an interview). I have never really been in the cold or the snow so I don't really know how to dress for it. I assume that long johns are necessary but I don't really know what else. The email I was sent says to dress casual and comfortable. Thank you for your help.

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Unless you're going to be spending an extended period of time outside, you don't need to worry about long johns. (I'm from Wisconsin and I'd usually only ever wear them going to Packers games or winter hiking.) A warm coat, hat, and mittens are plenty. If you're female, only wear a skirt with warm tights. (From the casual dress code, I'd say not to bother with a skirt anyways. I avoid them in the winter if I can.) Make sure you have sensible shoes - something with tread that won't slip on ice! Dress shoes generally fail on this front. I have a pair of nice-looking leather boots for precisely such occasions.

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I'd actually disagree somewhat with @pterosaur. If you're really not used to the cold, you may want to bring long johns because the temperatures everyone else considers comfortable may result in you being cold. You don't want to be shivering or uncomfortable so pack and wear layers of clothing so you can add or subtract layers as needed. 

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Thank you two for your replies. I am not used to the cold at all(it was 85 today where I live) so I am probably not as comfortable with the cold as you are @pterosaur. Do you think jeans are acceptable given tha the invitation says to dress cassually? I am not female so I probably wont be wearing a skirt and tights.

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This might just be me but I find jeans harder to layer under than other kinds of business casual pants. Slacks tend to have more room, which makes it easier to wear long johns without anything bunching up.

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To start, it was well below zero where I live yesterday, so I know cold. I interviewed somewhere slightly less, uh, terrifyingly frozen. Also I hate the cold!

If wearing pants: leggings (such as under-armor type) under slacks OR jeans are a great way to keep warm without looking lumpy! A good coat goes a long way, and as long as it's clean no one will really care what it looks like. It's cold. People know that. Have a scarf and a pair of gloves that could be stuffed into pockets for storage. Hats almost always look unprofessional, but if it's cold enough to need a hat, for goodness sake wear a hat. 
If you're going to wear jeans, make sure they're not frayed at the bottom and have no holes. I'd go for a darker wash because I personally think it looks a little more professional. Thick socks are SUPER important when trying to keep warm! I'm obsessed with SmartWool brand socks, but anything similar will do. Other replies are right about shoes-- you'll need something more substantial than the normal dress shoe. 

I know OP isn't going to wear a skirt, but for anyone else who may be reading this:
If wearing a dress/skirt: thick tights and/or leggings are wonderful. I wore a very professional dress with nylons, but had leggings and thick socks+boots on over it all for the outdoor campus tour. Other people wearing skirts were shivering, I was fine. I just threw my leggings and socks into a backpack and slipped my heels on when we got settled into our waiting room for interviews. Tights + knee socks + riding boots is a great and warm style for dresses and skirts, and can definitely look professional if done right. 

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Aha, I am going to Wisconsin this weekend too. I am interviewing though. Since you said you are on a visit instead of interview. I would assume that you are already admitted. If that is the case, dress as much as you can to feel warm and comfortable. Wisconsin winters can be brutal for someone from California. If you are not yet admitted, I would go with business casual. Wool suits with wool top coats and all the gloves, cashmere scarf, and hat for male. For female? I do not know:unsure:

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@Bugaboo thanks for the tip about the SmartWool socks. I saw they had good reviews so I just picked up a couple. I have no experience with the cold at all. Currently it is 90 degrees out where I am living which is going to make the transition to Madison very difficult.

@mohanji I have been recommended for admission but not yet admitted. I think it is likely that I will be officially admitted before I visit. Good luck with your interview. Fortunately  they seem to be uncommon in engineering.

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I went to school in upstate NY and have lived in the northeast for most of my life. The two pieces of advice I would give are: wear comfortable shoes, bring sneakers/boots if you have them. Visits usually involve a lot of walking, if you can get away with dressing down a bit you're better off since slipping on ice can ruin your day. The second piece of advice is to dress in layers. If you're going business casual then an undershirt+dress shirt+sweater or vest give you three layers on top already. Hat, glove, and scarf are a good idea too if it's going to be windy. 

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I second the advice to dress in layers because it WILL be really warm inside and having removable pieces allows you to adjust to overenthusiastic heaters. You'll also be colder after dark so keep that in mind if there are evening events. There're also these things called HotHands hand warmers that you can throw in boots and mittens and that helps a lot.

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I spent the last month freaking out. After my first interview weekend I got the idea of it. Ironically I found this site after the fact, which I think is pretty spot on. 

Good luck in Madison--I'd err on the side of less formal if I were you. Jacket with jeans is always appropriate!

http://www.howtogetintograduateschool.com/what-to-wear-to-a-graduate-school-interview/

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@hilbertmonkey Thanks for that great guide! I'm headed to Madison this weekend and was definitely planning nice jeans and jacket, but then some other threads made me second guess myself. Glad to know I don't have to break out my iron anytime soon.

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