Although it got out of hand, I think my year of dressing formally was a worthwhile experiment. In general, professors at liberal-art colleges are encouraged to be nurturing. But I found that a higher level of formality improved my students’ learning. My larger classes ran more smoothly. I had fewer disruptions, less chatter, more note-taking. I had fewer grade appeals, even though I graded more rigorously and made larger demands. I saw fewer bare feet, boxer shorts, bed hair, and pajama pants in my classrooms. E-mail messages to me almost invariably began with “Dear Professor” instead of “Hey.”
This is a really interesting article, which is not just about style, as much as it is about the effects that dressing formally can have on your life. I’ve personally found that I just get a lot better service, and more importantly, listened to more closely when I dress more formally. That’s relevant to me as I am seen as a bit young for my profession at times.