How Philosophers Dress

How Philosophers Dress


“Academics dress badly because we are so fulfilled in our work,” says Jonathan Wolff (UCL) in his column in The Guardian. Maybe. Or perhaps it is the pay? Or perhaps academics don’t dress particularly badly? Or perhaps local norms override profession-wide ones? Or gender norms? Wolff adds: “a colleague told me it probably takes her as long to decide what to wear to project her ‘I don’t care’ look, as it does others who dress to impress. This, possibly, does mark a gender split. Men can just put on the same clothes every day until the trousers run away on their own in protest when you try to pick them up off the floor.”

Are there disciplinary norms? In philosophy, at least for men, there seems to be some correlation between professional esteem and dressing as if you don’t care, either going the t-shirt route, like a rock star:

chalmers t shirt

or, like Superman, having a kind of uniform you wear all the time:

parfit uniform

or, of course, choosing the ubiquitous blue button-down:

blue shirt philosophers

I am less qualified to comment on the situation for women, except to say that, as usual, it seems more complicated. I would be happy for readers to fill in the gap on that, and raise any other philosophy and clothing related concerns, in the comments.

(Since people have asked, the sandal pictured above is available here.)

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