"Fashion Disasters of Academe"
(Probably Not Relevant for Distance Learning Faculty)

"Ditch the beret. Throw out that corduroy vest. And the sweater
in your closet that's older than your students? You shouldn't
even have to ask.

"Professors are unconscious of fashion, according to Regina
Barreca, a professor of English at the University of
Connecticut. 'Glance around a room at a professional meeting,'
she writes. 'We look like refugees. And not refugees from an
interesting culture. Refugees from Scarsdale in 1983 or Boise in

"'Men and women in academe are equally inept at choosing clothes,
she says. Female professors 'look like circus ponies, wearing
feathers, tassels, and suits designed by the folks who make
clothes for drum majorettes,' she writes, and 'our men look like
inmates only recently released from federal penitentiaries,
forced to wear clothing 30 years out of style.'

"Perhaps professors feel that what was good enough to get them
tenure must still be good, whether that means a pet theory or a
ratty tweed jacket, she says. Or their attire may reflect a
lifetime of identifying more closely with their literary heroes
than with the real people around them.

"On the whole, it may not matter much that those who are 'busy
with texts, not with textiles,' do not look like runway models,
Ms. Barreca writes, but every sartorial choice makes a
statement. She hopes her clothes do not say: 'I dress this way
because I am an academic and do not know any better. Please be

The article, "Why We Look So Bad," is online at
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Gene Kerstiens
Andragogy Associates

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