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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

School Attire 

At Purdue I’d often see students trudge towards classes in pajamas, with tousled bed hair, and smelling of unshowered bodies. At other places, I’ve seen that, too. Never here, though. Out students are always very decently attired. No needless parts of their physique are thrust into my field of vision. 

And we are not a commuter campus, so that’s not the reason. I think are students tend to be more mature in character. 

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23 thoughts on “School Attire 

  1. Unrelated. What would you recommend someone doing if they’re on a waitlist for a class and their car breaks down on the way to the very first lecture of that class and they’re stranded? I called the professor and emailed him to let him know what happened and ask if I can still get into the class, but I’m still panicking. Is there something else I can do? Or do I just wait?

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    • I’d just wait. On the very first day of class professors are very busy and they will only be antagonized if you contact them too insistently. Don’t panic! Everybody on my wait list got in, and they were all very panicked for weeks. You’ll be fine!

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  2. Shakti on said:

    And we are not a commuter campus, so that’s not the reason. I think are students tend to be more mature in character.
    Maturity? I have literally never gone to class or out of doors in pyjamas, not even as a college freshman. It never occurred to me as an option. It bothers me to lounge around in night clothes after I wake. People complaining they don’t have the “privilege” of going to the doctors or flying on a plane in sweatpants makes zero sense to me.

    You’ve said before your students are not wealthy. Are they also young? The more sloppy the fashion trend, the worse it looks on older people.

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  3. IIRC a large part of your student body is African American and dressing well in public (as part of being respectable) has long been a stronger value in the AA community than for white Americans (who often prize the ability to look like a slob in public).

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    • Yes, that’s what I suspected. African American students always look very put together and stylish reminding me of me. ☺

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    • I read a very good post a few months ago how the ability to look like a slob is a province of the privileged, as in you are educated and affluent, you don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone through the way you dress or the way your home looks inside. In contrast, many hard-working but poor people worry a great deal about looking well put together and having a tidy home, because they feel they always need to communicate loudly and clearly that they are respectable.

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      • “look like a slob is a province of the privileged, as in you are educated and affluent, you don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone through the way you dress or the way your home looks inside”

        Except for the privileged and affluent part, that’s a lot of my upbringing “We’re smart, we’re loners, we don’t have to pay attention to trivial stuff like clothes that fit and aren’t falling apart….”

        “many hard-working but poor people worry a great deal about looking well put together … they feel they always need to communicate loudly and clearly that they are respectable”

        A large majority of Poland is like that except that ‘poor’ isn’t really a good descriptor. I suspect a lot of it came from communism where decent clothes (like everything else) took ungodly efforts to achieve. Things are changing now with an emerging slob class (though this is most definitely not educated or affluent).

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        • “A large majority of Poland is like that except that ‘poor’ isn’t really a good descriptor. I suspect a lot of it came from communism where decent clothes (like everything else) took ungodly efforts to achieve. ”

          • Absolutely. Oh, the first time when I popped out to the convenience store in America without putting on full makeup! The strange feeling of unusual freedom! It felt like everybody was staring at me although the streets were empty.

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      • “In contrast, many hard-working but poor people worry a great deal about looking well put together and having a tidy home, because they feel they always need to communicate loudly and clearly that they are respectable.”

        • Good point.

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      • Stringer Bell on said:

        “as in you are educated and affluent, you don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone through the way you dress or the way your home looks inside. In contrast, many hard-working but poor people worry a great deal about looking well put together and having a tidy home”

        Paul Fussell discussed this in his hilarious, though slightly outdated ‘Class: A Guide Through the American Status System’. A fun read. He gives this example of people who are not used to flying. And you can recognize them by how formally dressed they are. It is status anxiety.

        “Things are changing now with an emerging slob class (though this is most definitely not educated or affluent).”

        Not sure about that. With the changes in the workplace, even rich executives don’t have to wear formal clothes (i.e. suits, sportcoats) in the office anymore. It’s all about understated, casual garments now. For the rich you have ‘stealth wealth’ brands like Loro Piana or Brunello Cucinelli, and the same aesthetic trickles down to the masses, with mixed success.

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        • Stringer Bell on said:

          “Not sure about that.”

          Oops, sorry, I thought you were talking about the US. There’s a lot of this ‘slob class’ talk in the US too, and I responded without noticing you were talking about Poland.

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        • I remember when I was going to take an airplane with a friend and she showed up at the airport in a track suit while I arrived in heels and my best suit. We made the weirdest pair ever.

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      • Shakti on said:

        Voila, GSL in his terrible ill-fitting suits constantly judging everyone on their looks and attire.
        😷

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  4. Is this possibly just changing styles or a greater interest in fashion? I’ve been at the same campus for 15 years. We’re not a commuter school and our students are mostly traditional aged, many live in dorms or very close to campus. I used to have students show up in pajamas looking like they just crawled out of bed on a regular basis, but that has faded away over the years and doesn’t seem to happen very often anymore, even when I teach early morning classes.

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    • I also hated seeing male students in tiny little shorts and wife beaters. Too annoying.

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      • “I also hated seeing male students in tiny little shorts and wife beaters”

        Then never even think about going to a campus in Florida from around April to October….

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        • I hate the hot weather, too, and I suffer. But I never even come to campus with uncovered shoulders, let alone letting my stuff hang out for all to see.

          Back at Yale we used to have this TA in Latin who’d let it all hang out of his weird shorts when he sat. Eek.

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  5. Dreidel on said:

    How people choose to appear in public is also a matter of self-respect. If you can afford soap, a razor, and a comb and proper street clothes, why would anyone choose to present himself/herself to the world as a goddamn slob?

    Such behavior basically shows contempt for yourself and the world. It’s not admirable or “cool” or expressive of a psychologically healthy “I don’t have to prove anything” attitude at all.

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    • And rolling out of bed and just heading over to class without washing oneself is also quite disgusting. And then they ask why they are so depressed. Not washing one’s face for a week might be a contributing factor.

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