Saturday, November 1, 2008

I always wear a corduroy suit, cause it's made of a hundred gutters

Oh, glorious commenters! You never manage to fail me. I've been waiting for a discussion to come up on what is appropriate dress for the APA and, lo and behold, like clockwork, the true believers fire one up. Not only can I express my opinions on ties (Why in the hell would you not want to wear one? Personally, my tie collection resembles the stereotypical vision we have of a women's shoe closet: there's a lot of them and I don't need more than three. Though, that's not exactly true, if you have plenty of ties to rotate through, no one will ever notice you're wearing the same shirt over and over. Just remember: wear the right one to your interviews.), but I can also link to this (year old) interview (from the Chronicle) with fashion guru Tim Gunn.

I must say, he really hits the nail on the head here:
Q: Why do you think academics are so poorly dressed?

A: I really do think it's derived from a kind of intellectual snobbery that says, I'm above this. This is a phrase I hear all the time: Fashion is so ephemeral. And I do say to these people who are published and publishing more, What's more ephemeral than the written word? And I hate to get defensive about it, but within the design arena, let alone the wider academic world, fashion really is the F word. There's this unwillingness to engage in any kind of fashion dialogue. It's beneath them.
--STBJD

37 comments:

mr zero said...

Whoa. I saw the stolen-lyric title and though PGS was back.

mr zero said...

FWIW, I'm the same way. My tie rack is full of unnecessary ties. There's something about them. (I know it's weird.)

Here's a question, though. Shooting straight past the issue of whether to wear a suit, what do people think of wearing brown shoes with a navy blue suit? Sometimes I find it really hard to choose between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes.

Asstro said...

Zero: Depends on the suit and on the shoes. Pinstripes would be fine. Grey would be great. Seersucker would be wacky. Wall Street navy would require at least some kickass shoes and a nice belt, but probably wouldn't be such a good idea. If you have really dark brown, that's a maybe. If they're scuffed to fuckall, don't do it.

Anonymous said...

I'm liking brown with blue. Black with blue is too much of something, I'm not sure what. Reminds me of something, maybe some forgotten 80s thing. But then I don't like the whole black dress shoes with jeans and a sports jacket thing either. Sports jacket don't go with blue jeans, but I think I'm the only one who sees the truth on this matter.

Alias Smith and Jones said...

Gents: Brown shoes are fine with navy suits and grey suits (the latter being a more British look). Aim for comfort over style here. Your brand new, shiny $300 Cole Haans may look spiffy, but your blood-soaked socks and pained-limping say otherwise. Just for the love of all that is holy, make sure your shoes match your belt (no brown/black attack). And yes, you must wear a belt. Or braces. Not both! Yikes! Also, if you choose to wear braces, they should not be the same pattern as your tie (or even come packaged together). Bow ties are also a nice look, though as with any tie, they shouldn't be a clip-on or giant, 70s clown-sized. Tie clips and cufflinks should match the metal of the belt (silver/silver not silver/gold).

Try to be dressed for the weather as well as indoors. Your stylish and thick wool blazer may be great for popping outside for a smoke, but you may make you sweat like Patrick Ewing during an interview. Your paper-thin linen sport jacket looks great...if your on safari or at a mid-July Hamptons party.

Finally, undershirts, people. Undershirts. No one can focus on your brilliance if your pits look like Rorschach ink blots.

Good luck!

Casually tenured said...

Do you really think it's intellectual snobbery? I don't.

I don't want to wear a suit. I don't want to wear a tie. They are uncomfortable and stuffy. To me, this is one of the great advantages of my job over, say, Wall St. Of course, there are lots of other ways to be fashionable, but it just doesn't interest me.

I don't look down on fashion or fashionable people, in any way. It's just not something that I care about and I'm very happy that it doesn't matter much in academia.

When I'm on a search committee (which I'm not this year), I seriously don't care what you wear to your interview. Well, if you wore a bathing suit I guess that would be distracting, and if you wore a Halloween mask or a tuxedo I'd wonder what you were trying to convey. But jeans and a t-shirt, no problem. Brooks Brothers charcoal, no problem.

But I don't advise the jeans, because, as is obvious from other comments, some people will think you are being disrespectful. So this comment isn't really very useful, I'm sorry. I felt like commenting.

fashion backward said...

My sartorial preferences are the precise reverse of Anon 5:38: I hate brown and navy together and would say to wear black. (And don't get me started on brown shoes with grey or black....) If I ran the world, brown shoes would only go with brown pants. "When in doubt, wear the black shoes" is my motto for life.

Anonymous said...

mr zero, I don't like black shoes with navy blue suits because it looks kind of like you got dressed in the dark. Brown shoes, however, are a go.

Anonymous said...

Definitely brown shoes with a navy suit. Preferably dark brown shoes.

Unless you're wearing navy with black somewhere already (e.g., in the stripe in the suit, or in the tie, or even if the shirt's black), then wear brown. And make sure not to wear black socks with brown shoes--an even bigger no-no.

Anonymous said...

But for reals, what about corduroy suits? Hot or not?

Anonymous said...

I definitely think you should wear the brown shoes with the navy suit. Black with navy looks too much like someone tried to match colors and failed.

Tenured-prof said...

Just look put together. That means not sloppy and comfortable. Going overboard is expensive and pointless. I've gone to countless APA/campus interviews, suit, no suit. Just look put together.

More important that how you dress? How you interview.

Anonymous said...

This post is stupid.

Napoleon Dynamite said...

A rust-colored, three-piece corduroy suit is ... S W E E T!

Anonymous said...

Your stupid.

Anonymous said...

Corduroy jacket? Yes. Pants? Yes. Together? Not so much.

doctaj said...

women would wear navy shoes with a navy suit (and navy or skin-tone stockings or socks too). take a cue from all those flight attendants, who have to wear navy every day.

the brown/black problem seems to be relevant only for menswear...

Anonymous said...

Why in the world are we having this discussion? Apart from a tiny bit of common sense that was injected in a single comment both this year and last, what do these posts tell us about ourselves?

Could someone please change the topic, or start a new thread so people so inclinded can continue to post on this one while a different one figures more prominently on the webpage?

spanky wants a job said...

Can someone please post something about how the bad financial markets are affecting this years' Fall job market? I know that Univ. of San Fran, VMI, and Worcester have cancelled their searches. Anywhere else? Might the Spring market be better? Any speculation that the number of VAPs will rise?

Let's get back to worthwhile posts.

mr. zero said...

Thanks for the brown-shoe love. I really like the look, but I always thought people didn't like it.

I really like corduroy suits in theory, but not so much in practice. Occasions for which a suit is appropriate are normally too formal for a corduroy suit; if the occasion is informal enough that a suit isn't required, a corduroy suit is still a suit. It's hard to find the middle ground.

Re: the economy. There seem to be three canceled searches due to the economy. The economy is very bad right now. The spring probably won't be better, since the jobs advertised in the spring tend not to be permanent positions. It might be "better", since schools that aren't going to hire TT faculty will still need their classes covered.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone here have any bloody idea what they're talking about? Never, ever wear flesh colored stockings. EVER. Do not wear brown shoes with a grey suit. Corduroy suits are never, ever appropriate, and on top of that, they are always ugly.

Anonymous said...

Never, ever wear flesh colored stockings.

I'd agree given my own experience, but what about a "colored" person (brown, black, yellow, green, whatever): does the rule still hold true? If so, then these folks may wear white socks with their dark suits??

Anonymous said...

Never, ever wear flesh colored stockings. EVER.

She probably just meant the sheer ones, which are always flesh-tinted. Sometimes you have to wear them, if you need stockings and don't want to wear colored ones.

(And yes, there are times when you need stockings.)

Anonymous said...

1) Newsflash--there are shades of brown. Think not in terms of black or brown when it comes to shoes, but in terms of what shade of brown one should be wearing. I would only ever wear black shoes with black pants. Anything else lacks style. For a more conservative and/or standard look, wear a darker brown (oxblood, for instance) with grey or navy. If you want to look rakish (which you probably don't in an interview), wear lighter shades of brown with darker suits.

2. If your suit actually fits (which it should) no belt or braces are necessary. They are fine, but not necessary. For suits purchased on a grad student's budget, a belt might be advisable...

3. Alias Smith and Jones: If you really have good leather lace-ups, they are as comfortable as sneakers. This is one area where you actually do get what you pay for.

4. A useful tip for the financially challenged grad student--Target actually sells cheap, good looking suits. If you are of average size, this could be a great option. They might fall apart after several wearings, but they should get you through the APA and call-backs...


5. I am going to be interviewing at the APA, and I would prefer that men I am interviewing wear a tie, jacket, and reasonable pants. If you are not, I am not going to want to give you a call back. People of both genders should avoid sportswear, and being a general slob. But otherwise, I am not really going to be sweating your style. And I will be way better dressed than you, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but corduroy suites and anything else that strays too far from the APA sartorial norm for job candidates (and overly casual wear counts as so straying) screams, "I'm really hot shit", which is fine if that's what you are, but if you're anything less, you come across as someone who is "pretty good, but obviously thinks they are hot shit", which is bad way to come across. Unless you've got good reason to believe that your one of those people who are going to be having 15+ APA interviews, I'd stay away from the corduroy suits or sweatpants & T-shirts ensembles.

Casually tenured said...

I am going to be interviewing at the APA, and I would prefer that men I am interviewing wear a tie, jacket, and reasonable pants. If you are not, I am not going to want to give you a call back.

Wow.
It doesn't surprise me a whole lot that this is true, but it surprises me that anybody would admit it.

I have a follow-up question. Suppose the only African American on your interview list is wearing unreasonable pants (or maybe irrational socks), and he has what is obviously the best dissertation and best letters of anyone you interview. What exactly are you going to tell your administration when they ask why you didn't fly him out?

Anonymous said...

^^ I refer to 'flesh colored' stockings because that's what this particular shade is often labelled; other names for the same color are 'nude', 'taupe', etc. Such stockings are rarely ever a perfect match for anyone's bare legs. Moreover, they are almost always shiny, which is just horrid. Please, never try to emulate a flight attendant.

Anonymous said...

Casually tenured--get over yourself. Wearing a tie and a jacket, and not looking like a slob, is not hard. And it shows a modicum of respect for the people you are dealing with and for the situation you are in. I would advise interviewees that they try not to look like crap, but they know that anyway, I am sure...

Anonymous said...

Right, in some ways it's like the question of whether you can come to the interview in your underwear. Look, maybe the guy who came to the interview in his underwear is the best philosopher of the bunch, and maybe he'll get hired anyway (maybe he's the only one of his race and it will be awkward to explain to the administration why you didn't call him back). Granted, whether you put pants on over your underwear is unrelated to your philosophical ability. But it's still a strike against a pants-less candidate that he was either too clueless or too stubborn to obey a simply social convention.

Ditto with other violations of etiquette: scratching your crotch during the interview, not showering beforehand, addressing the interviewers as "dudes."

Kirk H. said...

And it shows a modicum of respect for the people you are dealing with and for the situation you are in.

FWIW: I've had several interviews over the past few years. Only one of the people who interviewed me wore a suit (one of the old guys). Almost all of the other men wore dockers/slacks and polos. Two men that I remember wore jeans and t-shirts. Some had sportscoats on, but an equal number didn't. The women were generally better dressed than the men (suit guy being the exception), wearing nice blouses and slacks.

This doesn't mean you can be a slob, of course, but I think you've got to keep this in perspective. Look like you want the job, but be comfortable, both physically and with the way you decide to present yourself.

Oh, and just to make things a bit more confusing: an acquaintance had an interview with an R1 with a great rep and great grad program. He wore his best suit. He got to the suite and knocked on the door. It was answered by a philosopher you've all heard of. This famous philosopher looked at my acquaintance and, before even inviting him into the room, said, "oh, a suit? do you really teach in a suit?"

Casually tenured said...

Casually tenured--get over yourself. Wearing a tie and a jacket, and not looking like a slob, is not hard.

I didn't say it was hard. I said I don't want to do it. It's uncomfortable and stuffy.

What do you mean, "Get over yourself"? Did my comment suggest that I have a high opinion of myself? I don't think it did.

I think far too many commenters here are trying to pass off their own aesthetic judgments for sound professional advice. I just wanted to let readers know that some (and I suspect plenty) of interviewers really don't care what you wear.

Anonymous said...

Casually tenured--Uh, yeah, all you were saying was that you don't want to dress up--except for in your previous post, where you expressed righteous indignation (your moralism is obviously what you need to get over) at the idea that an interviewer would want interviewees to not be slobs, and then backed up your point with an awkward version of "playing the race card" (which also seemed to tacitly imply that African-Americans aren't as likely to dress nicely).

And, you need to actually read the post to which you were replying, the main point of which was to say that the interviewer won't really care that much about about the interviewees' style (things like shoe color, which had been discussed above), as long as you are dressed in a very normal fashion for such occasions (God forbid!).

Casually tenured said...

Casually tenured--Uh, yeah, all you were saying was that you don't want to dress up--except for in your previous post, where you expressed righteous indignation (your moralism is obviously what you need to get over) at the idea that an interviewer would want interviewees to not be slobs,

There was no indignation; the idea I was responding to was not the idea that an interviewer would want interviewees to not be slobs. The idea was that the explanation for why academics are "poorly dressed" is intellectual snobbery. My response was that it isn't any kind of snobbery, but a preference for comfort and lack of interest in (rather than looking-down-nose-at) fashion.

and then backed up your point with an awkward version of "playing the race card" (which also seemed to tacitly imply that African-Americans aren't as likely to dress nicely).

There was no such implication. Let's see you give an argument that there was one. Philosophers are supposed to give arguments. But if you don't have one, hey, at least you'll be much better dressed than the philosophers who do give arguments.

I used an example of an African American candidate because a search committee often has to provide a justification for leaving protected minorities off short lists, whereas they don't need to make their bad reasons explicit for most candidates. I wanted to know whether you would be willing to state for an administrator the reason: did not wear a jacket and tie and reasonable pants. I think that would be a ludicrous and embarrassing thing to say.


And, you need to actually read the post to which you were replying, the main point of which was to say that the interviewer won't really care that much about about the interviewees' style (things like shoe color, which had been discussed above), as long as you are dressed in a very normal fashion for such occasions (God forbid!).

I read it. It contained five numbered points. I responded to the one I thought was objectionable.

So, would you, or would you not, be willing to state in some official document that the reason you decided to leave the only African American in your pool off your short list was that he didn't wear a jacket and tie? Would you be willing to add that he was in all other respects at least as qualified as the candidates you did put on your short list?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:17, I'll be dressed nice at the APA. Can I have an interview, please?

Anonymous said...

Are philosophers supposed to respond to red herrings?

Anonymous said...

Question: If a guy has a nice, conservative, suit, shoes, belt, and dress shirt, can he get away without the tie for an APA interview? What about for a campus visit? I just don't like wearing them. Would anyone really think I wasn't taking it seriously because of the lack of a tie?

trainers shoes said...

Well I do agree with this but too some extent that interviewer won't really care that much about about the interviewees' style (things like shoe color, which had been discussed above).