Building a Professional Wardrobe
If you're finishing up grad school, you may have become habituated to the practice of donning an elevated version of pajamas to work. It's no secret that academia is not a stye-savvy place, but just because you can show up to work in pajamas does not mean you should. I've heard many an academic justify their sloppy attire by saying they do not have time to shop and peers will look down on them for caring about clothing.
Here at Modflux, we think that if you're an adult who is working (yes, grad school counts as working), you should be dressed like an adult. Full stop. No excuses, just dress like an adult. Failing to do so sends the message that you are either lazy, sloppy, or clueless. You may be none of these things, but dressing shabbily sends that message.
What's that? You're trying to stay in academia so you're extra sure your wardrobe doesn't matter? Au contraire, my stubborn scholar. If you want to be the head of your own research group one day as a PI, you will need to interview for said position. You will also need to attend and present at conferences. You will also likely need to beg rich donors for money (thanks, NIH budget cuts!). In all of these situations, you will need to be dressed like an authoritative, professional adult who has their sh*t together.
Dressing presentably needn't be too difficult or expensive, but it certainly benefits from smart planning. We'll be rolling out some useful tips to build a professional wardrobe in the coming months, so stay tuned. We'll also be posting tips for maintaining it because no one wants (or can afford) to buy this stuff twice.
For now, here's one of my favorite formulas for interviews*, conferences, or teaching:
- dark denim skinny jeans (not distressed, not too tight)
- dark colored blouse with a modest neckline (dark colors hide nervous pit sweat)
- perfect-fitting blazer (we'll address the acquisition of this item soon)
- neutral and walkable heels, flats, or oxfords
*This outfit is perfect to interview for grad school, postdoc, or adjunct positions. If you're interviewing for a faculty or corporate position, swap the jeans for some tailored slacks, and wear closed-toe shoes.
If you're not into dressing in women's clothing, fear not, we've got you covered with less gendered style recommendations in the works.
All photos by Lauren Shipp