Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Campus visit attire

All right, now that I have a campus visit coming up, let's talk about what really matters: clothes.  Last year, Historiann had a post on this subject in regard to academic conferences, and the comments together with the post seem as close to an authoritative treatise on the topic as you will ever see.

But hark: this is no conference, but a short-list interview for a non-tenure-track position.  My gut instinct is that the temporality of this job suggests a slightly more casual dress standard than tenure-track, since you're trying to convince people to set in motion the process of hiring you forever.  On the other hand, I imagine that it would be inappropriate for me to show up in truly casual teaching clothes — in my case, jeans, a polo or button-down, and maybe a sport coat if the weather isn't too warm.

All right, theory section concluded, and on to praxis: should I wear a suit, or should I wear a sport coat-and-slacks combo?  I hope very much to hear from my friendly neighborhood bloggers who have served on hiring committees, since they will have been through this process on both sides of the table.  Let me give you an idea of my thoughts on the matter.

The bad:
  • Not as comfortable.
  • Makes me feel like I'm at a wedding or funeral.
  • Despite my best attempts to seem debonair, the suit probably doesn't flatter me as much as I would like.  (I'll never be able to afford a tailored suit.)
 The good:
  • Indexes respect for audience and people encountered more certainly than any other clothing choice.
  • If the weather is warm, a suit might actually be a little less sweat-inducing than any of my sport coats.
The bad:
  • Less formal — does that mean less respectful?
  • May index casualness of attitude toward job?
  • If the weather is warm, I will be a sweaty mess.
The good:
  • Generally more comfortable.
  • Makes me feel like a professor, rather than a job applicant; I often teach in these clothes anyway.
  • Feels more natural to me, and will make me feel more at ease.
  • I think that these clothes drape a little better on me, and look at least a trifle more fashionable than my undertaker-on-holiday suit.
Hmm.  I guess my question is ultimately, "Oh, pleasepleaseplease, can I pleeeeeease wear a sport coat and trousers instead of a suit?  Pretty please?"


  1. Sport coat and slacks seem fine, at least they would be at my campus. If you have a good tie and interesting shirt, all the better. (By interesting, I mean a color other than white, but that may just be my strange preference.)

    Good luck with your interview!

  2. I think sport coat, slacks, shirt and tie are fine. If you have a sweat problem, keep your coat on. Unfortunately, sweat rings will leave a bad impression.

  3. Yes, sport coat/slacks...hopefully you have some summer-weight ones and won't have to deal with being all sweaty.

  4. Clinical strength deodorant, dude. It works. Above all, you should feel good about how you look. It will help you to project confidence, which is an incredibly good thing.

  5. Either one would work, though you might want to bring both to have a choice when you're there. If it turns out to be super warm, you'll be glad to have the suit coat.

    You're going to KICK it!

  6. Agreeing on clinical strength deodorant, if they make it in dude versions. Or just smell like girl deodorant.

    I've been on a search committee. I have one distinct memory having to do with a male candidate's attire. He was wearing a traditional dark suit and red tie. He gave his job talk sitting down. I spent the entire job talk being distracted by how his suit sleeves were so much shorter than his shirt sleeves, such that I could see pretty much the whole cuff sticking out. Is it supposed to be like that? I don't think so. I don't think men's suits are tailored like that. Why didn't he buy a suit that fit his arms? Why didn't he get it tailored? That can't possibly be on purpose, can it? Oh, also, he yelled at people during Q&A. That's what I remember.

    So, don't wear a suit that doesn't fit. (One that does fit, but isn't perfectly tailored, is probably OK. This one was egregious.) I think sport coat/slacks should be fine, esp. with a tie.

    ROCK STAAAAAAAAR plus, like, it doesn't matter if you don't get this job, right? Because you have another possibility. So this is all gravy + free airplane rides.

    -ajnabieh, via gmail. because open ID hates me today.