University Open Days- what do you expect staff to wear?

(180 Posts)
PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 15:45:54

Completely random question prompted by a discussion with a colleague.

I've just taken over the running of my department's open days. I'm leading one this Saturday.

Do you expect/want the academics leading open days to be dressed smart? I normally dress very casual for work and was planning to wear the same type of thing as usual for the open day (jeans, leather jacket, top, boots). But my colleague who ran open days where she used to work was of the opinion that staff should dress up a bit smart.

So, what do you think?

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PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:08:29


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LittleHo Thu 21-Sep-17 16:18:35

It wouldn't bother me too much. I've been to loads and some academics were smart and others were more casual.

Maybe go for something in between? Not really scruffy but still comfortable / semi smart.

I don't think the students would be too bothered and they are the ones choosing.

RockyRoadster Thu 21-Sep-17 16:21:18

As far as I can remember, staff were more smart casual than jeans, but it depended who they were exactly. More senior staff dressed more towards the smart end of the spectrum.

PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:25:46

I'm a senior lecturer so not particularly senior by university standards but probably the most senior level that's going to tramp into work on Saturdays grin

I was going to wear jeggings, a black T-shirt, oversized necklace and tan coloured boots that've got a fat heel (look like walking boots but with a heel really bad decsription )

By colleague reckoned I'd look too casual and should dig out a "nice shirt". I don't own a nice shirt" confused

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titchy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:31:11

Yeah agree something a bit smarter than leggings sorry! You are the face of your department, you're selling your department, your course, your university. The kids may not care particularly care, but their parents will.

titchy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:32:12

Unless you're Science then lab coats look impressive weirdly.


PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:33:21

titchy Ha! Me and my colleague then got into a debate about who we're trying to impress more at open days- kids or parents!!

When I go into schools I'm always very casual. I went to one school once in my sports kit as I was going to a dance class immediately afterwards. It was a great talking point actually but glad no parents were there grin

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bigbluebus Thu 21-Sep-17 16:34:17

I've been to many Uni open days and i honestly can't remember what the staff were wearing. Having said that, what you describe you intend to wear may well make you look like one of the students! I think I'd be inclined to agree with your colleague and wear something other than a t-shirt on top.

Evelynismyspyname Thu 21-Sep-17 16:35:02

Surely you are dressing to appeal mainly to young adults in their late teens and early 20s, so your normal casual style is perfect.

Unless everyone has given up completely on the idea open days are primarily for prospective students now?

chemenger Thu 21-Sep-17 16:37:19

I think it probably depends on the subject. In engineering I think we are generally at the smart casual end of dressing, I can't think of any colleague on the teaching staff who routinely wears jeans to work and we wear the same or slightly smarter for open days. I wear dresses and cardigans every day and would choose one of my more tailored dresses for an open day to give a professional look. We share a room with ecology on open days and they are much more casual dressers, for example.

anonymice Thu 21-Sep-17 16:37:42

I would wear what you said. I am sure that looks smart enough.

BoffinMum Thu 21-Sep-17 16:38:16

I tend to wear smart trousers and a smart business shirt. I think a jacket can look a bit too power dressed.

PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:39:13

chemenger I'm a social scientist- we're scruffy, liberal types grin

Evelyn Sadly as more parents are forced to fund their children's way through university because of increased fees, we are increasingly appealing to the parents sad

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IHeartDodo Thu 21-Sep-17 16:39:43

I'd go for slightly smarter - smart casual!?
If only to distinguish you from the parents/students.
I'd probably wear what I do to teach, either suit trousers and top and cardi, or a smart jersey dress with leggings, leather calf-length boots and cardi I have cardis in every colour of the rainbow, love the things

SasBel Thu 21-Sep-17 16:39:55

Clothes grin
Really have only been to a few open days, all to science departments, most staff were smartly dressed, no lab coats!

PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:44:25

SasBel Lab coats aren't allowed outside of the labs, hence why no lab coats grin

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Evelynismyspyname Thu 21-Sep-17 16:48:47

That is sad Ivy , another reason I am thankful to live in a country where undergraduate education is still free at the point of use. I'm thankful my kids will get to have a university experience more like my own.

I must say as an "outsider" to the UK system now (though I was a UK home student myself decades ago) I don't totally understand the argument that parents are funding their children's degrees now - aren't the students taking out enormous student loans to pay the fees in most cases. Parents actually stumping up 9k a year upfront must be in a small minority surely?

PoisonedIvy Thu 21-Sep-17 16:53:27

Yes, students are taking out enormous loans but where I teach the loan doesn't even cover their halls of residence rent. They need extra money from somewhere and most get it from mum and dad.

I teach at a very elite university where actually a large number of parents do stump up £9,000 a year in cash so students don't have to take out loans. A lot have been paying about £30,000 a year for posh school fees since their kids were about 4 so £9,000 a year is a bargain. It's certainly a sizeable minority that do this.

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user918273645 Thu 21-Sep-17 17:25:41

In my university, social scientists would be quite smart: men often in jackets, women in trousers/blouse/jacket.

As a senior academic (yes, we do show up for open days!), I wear "business dress" because this is what most parents would expect from me. Mind you, I also wear "business dress" most work days due to meetings.

BubblesBuddy Thu 21-Sep-17 18:42:42

I think we expected smart casual. Jeggings and a t shirt would not be what we would expect and neither did we see it at a mainstream university. You would have to be in an art school fashion dept and ultra slim to rock this look. Preferably with an edgy haircut and cool shoes.

Doesn't look professional anywhere else and in fact says sloppy. I think appearance does matter and I'm not sure my children would have felt at home in your Department as students because the lecturers look like the students. It may depend on whether you are a recruiting or a highly oversubscribed department. In the latter, the students and parents will be falling over themselves to get a place so won't look at you.

BoonDucks Thu 21-Sep-17 19:43:46

Your outfit sounds unprofessional whatever the job role and I think you need to be identifiable as staff rather than student.
Chances are students in their green (or whatever) T shirts will look smarter than you.
Would the prospective students be put off by your clothes? No, they'll judge you on what you say.

cowgirlsareforever Thu 21-Sep-17 19:45:32

I would have no expectations about what the staff would wear.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 21-Sep-17 21:14:19

I am a junior academic. The last open day I went to, I wore exactly what I wear to teach, which happened to be a grey wrap dress. I've previously worn a bright yellow dress with budgies on it, and a black dress with a kahlo print. Colleagues often wear jeans.

I think if students or their parents judged me as 'unprofessional' for what I wore, then perhaps they should look elsewhere. This is a university, not your local branch of lettings agents.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 21-Sep-17 21:17:25

Oh, and I am so fed up to the back teeth with this, but there is quite a bit of evidence to indicate that students judge their female lecturers on what they wear, and also that they judge female lecturers more harshly than male ones, even when their criticisms can be demonstrated to be unfounded.

This has implications both for students' learning, and for women's equality in employment. It is not a trivial thing to guilt-trip women about what they wear.

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