Hey, love the blog! I'm studying in Taiwan right now, but when I return I'll be at a top grad school. I'll be a TA/TF, and I've heard that a big challenge (especially in humanities departments, vs. business or law) will be distinguishing myself from the undergrads. I need to dress like a grown-up, but at the same time I don't want to look like my 60-something year old professors. What would you recommend? I'm on the "ramen budget", and as long as the clothes will see me through school I'm OK.

- Asked by Anonymous

Here’s what I would do:

Wear nice shoes: Get a quality pair of brown wingtips, suede wingtips and brogue boots. Florsheim should be within your budget, although you can maybe find stuff on Charles Tyrwhitt when they hit the deep discounts or Allen Edmonds off of eBay. Don’t wear ratty sneakers and gym shoes.

Wear a tie: College kids hate ties — unless it’s a job fair. Lots of affordable options between The Tie Bar and The Knottery. Of course, you can hit up eBay and try to snag some really dope stuff at cut-rate prices. Since you’re in academia, I’d suggest going with textured, seasonal neckwear: wools and tweeds for the cold; madras, linen and chambray for the heat. Silk knits also look good, too.

Wear a jacket: Try to find something slimmer-fitting and youthful and make sure it’s altered by a tailor to fit properly. I’d again go with casual fabrics like chino, linen or chino-linen blends in the warmer months and tweed and flannel in the colder months. L.L.Bean signature has some nice stuff as does Lands’ End (and plenty of sales if you get on their email list). You probably only need one for each season and I’d supplement it with a navy wool blazer with half lining.

Denim: Get a dark selvedge denim pair that fits slim. Maybe get a white pair of 501s and have them tapered in the leg for summer.

Get a good briefcase: I imagine you’ll be carrying a lot of papers or at least a laptop around. Get a nice briefcase in either canvas (more casual) or leather (more professional). Don’t be the dork who wears a backpack — or worse, has a roller backpack.

Get fitted: The most important thing that will distinguish you from most college kids and most professors (heck, most men) will be that you clothing fits properly. As long as that’s good, you should be able to separate yourself from the kids and the old men.

ADDING dieworkwear replied: 

Though it depends on the school you’re going to and the program you will be in, I would urge you to reconsider wearing ties as a grad student. Quickest way to look like a douche, IMO. And I’m a grad student that writes about ties.

Dissenting opinion! I just don’t see how wearing a tie as a grad student makes you look like a douche though.

18 Notes

  1. evolvingstyle said: It might depend on the culture of the grad school and department. I started wearing a tie part way through grad school, and never worried about looking like a douche. Grad school is a transition point in academia. It makes sense to dress like it.
  2. thesilentist posted this

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A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

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