Posted tagged ‘clothes’

Men in suits

June 26, 2008

Do you ever attend gatherings at which you wonder whether you are appropriately dressed? Well, you’re not alone in this.

To the best of my recollection, I have attended six meetings this week at which I was the only person not wearing a suit. That may tell you – though it needn’t be so – that at these meetings no women were present. But it also tells you that, in Ireland at certain meetings, we are all still very traditional in our tastes. As it happens, I very rarely wear a suit; it’s not that I disapprove of them, but I don’t like the air of formality they tend to convey. I do usually wear a tie – though not always – but I don’t tend to put on a suit more than about once or twice a month.

But actually, why are men in senior academic positions still so attached to such formal wear? In the business community it is now increasingly common to see men wearing informal clothes (albeit often very expensive ones). What is it that we feel we need to prove that makes us buck this trend? It is perhaps part of the outward formality that tends to mark out academic life: formal clothing (or if not formal, then usually remarkably old-fashioned) accompanying formal procedures and visible hierarchies.

One of DCU’s most successful student societies is the Style Society. I think I need to get in touch with them to get some advice on how universities can shed some of the excessively traditional image. Or maybe I need some advice just for myself, so that I can confidently start to discard the tie as well as the suit.

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