Dress to Impress?


By Angelique Arintok, Staff Writer

College is one of the best places to network with other students, instructors, and even potential employers. On a regular weekday, should students be concerned about how they dress for class? Will a mindset of “dressing to impress” land students the job or career they want? Various students tackled this subject as they gather consensus from personal experiences while at Mason.

The typical go-to look for a college student is best classified as casual and comfortable. Airelle Thornhill, a junior Communication major, describes her usual outfit as a “t-shirt, jeans, and some sort of sneakers.” Similarly, senior Communication major, Fareeha Rehman says that she goes for “leggings, sneakers or sandals, and a sweatshirt or loose top.”

Another student, Angie Meredith, a sophomore Information Systems & Operations Management major, expresses that she simply “dresses to impress herself,” and feels that her professors do not pay attention to what she wears to class.

Feeling comfortable is a top priority for these students. Rehman elaborates that she “[has] not considered professors when dressing in her three and a half years [at Mason].” There is a certain stigma associated with attending class in more casual, lax, or even pajama-like clothing. Rehman’s mindset proves a sounding disconnect between intellectual behavior and fashion sense.

Additionally, junior Criminology major Sasha Toophanie adds that “[her] professors have been more concerned about participation rather than [her] outfit.” A student’s engagement ultimately dominates his or her whole look, whether he or she chooses to dress in casual or formal clothing.

Some students believe their style or fashion can allow them a “leg up” in setting a good impression to their professors. For example, Chris Byrne, a junior Marketing major, finds that “overdressing is better than underdressing in most situations,” additionally stating that “there’s a time and place for all outfits.” Byrne demonstrates a general caution for what he wears to class, but still likes to keep it casual for the most part out of awareness of the college environment.

Other students like Sosan Malik, a senior Communication major, have different guidelines for picking outfits. She shares that she “always choose[s] [her] outfits according to the event taking place.” Instead of focusing on a specific professor or instructor’s perception, Malik selects her outfits depending on her social or extracurricular activities that day. She says that she cannot speak for professors or teaching assistants. To play it safe, Malik opts to dress modestly on a day-to-day basis.

Professor Lisa Lister, an English professor here at Mason, says she has already seen pajamas, sports & athletic wear come through the classroom door—nevertheless, her main focus lies on “students [who] are listening, working hard, collaborating with their peers, and learning.” She adds that “what they want to wear…just shouldn’t matter.” From an instructor’s point of view, Lister reassures students that despite their attire, an effort to engage in the classroom will prove beneficial.

Every student has a different sense of style and approach to fashion. All students’ choices and opinions deserve respect. What someone chooses to wear to class can definitely catch an instructor’s attention, but the lasting impression comes from a student’s attentiveness and investment in the class. Don’t dress to impress, dress for success!  

Photos by Angelique Arintok