Science fiction writer John Scalzi's post on what he wears to work (pictured at left) reminds me of the debate that occasionally pops up in law school blogs over whether law prfoessors ought to wear suits and ties to work. Scalzi writes:
What I am wearing today is generally representative of what I wear on any day, both for work (writing and also making appearances) and for just existing. Occasionally I will swap out the polo for a henley or a t-shirt (if I am at a convention and/or not planning to leave my house that day the latter is more likely), but the Levi’s tend to be a staple, and I tend to wear jeans for more than any other type of trouser. I do have suits and other more formal clothes, but I wear them rarely.
My sartorial choices are virtually identical, except that I usually wear khakis instead of jeans (but not always). What's interesting to me about Scalzi's post is that none of reasons for wearing what he does really apply to me. But his bottom line does:
My systematic and personal advantages mean that nearly all disadvantages posed by someone judging me on my appearance are temporary and light. This is also why I find it amusing to post deeply unflattering pictures of myself online (see the one to the right as an example); I don’t have to worry about the negative side-effects of doing so. People who actually are judged on their appearance, and for whom that judgment will have a material effect on their life, don’t have the same luxury to be unconcerned as I do. What’s interesting and amusing to me is a matter of stress and anxiety for others.
A much shorter version of all the above is that I can put on $120 worth of clothes and shoes and be taken seriously almost anywhere I might want to go. So that’s what I do.
Being able to be taken seriously without having to wear a suit and tie is one of the many things that make being a law professor such a truly wonderful job.