Getting the most out of class: does clothing matter?

Monday morning, 7:30 a.m. class – what do you wear?  What about for your Wednesday Noon class?  For many students at St. John’s, the answer is simple. Jeans and a T-shirt normally, and sweatpants or pajamas for particularly lazy days.  Just sit out in front of the library and watch the people walking to class; at least one out of every 10 people will be in sweats, around six or seven in jeans, and two or three people will be wearing something fancier like a dress  or skirt, with the occasional business major in a suit.

This is not unusual.  St. John’s prides itself on diversity, and wardrobe is no exception.  Of five students randomly interviewed, three said they almost always wear jeans to class, with the occasional sweatpants or pajamas thrown in. Only one said he never wore sweatpants or pajamas to class, and only one said she always wears sweatpants to her 7:30 a.m. class.  

Time makes a big difference in attire. Nine out of the 20 students in one of a 9 a.m. classes wore sweats or pajama’s to class almost every day, while only two out of 27 students wore sweats or pajamas to a 1:30 p.m. ?class.

Interestingly, the only people who notice or care what you’re wearing may only be the hottie across the hall or a fashionista friend. In a random survey, most professors claimed they were unaffected by their students’ attire.

When asked whether a student’s attire affects their opinion of them, Professor Robert Stanton of the mathematics department said, “Absolutely not. I can tell you how a student impressed me with remarks in class, but I couldn’t tell you how he or she was dressed. It just doesn’t register for me.”

Professor Steve Llano of the speech and rhetoric department felt that students at St. John’s were better dressed than many of the students in his graduate classes a few years ago. Professor John Fitzgerald of the theology department had similar views. He said he “doesn’t notice” what students wear to class, though he feels there is a lot of diversity in attire. Rev. Flanagan says, “little distracts me from teaching a good lesson.”

No professor remembered any inappropriate or distracting clothing at St. John’s. Professor Octavia Davis of the English department went so far as to say that she is sometimes bothered by students who do not have time to do their homework, but have time for elaborate outfits.

Shocking as this ambivalence to attire is, it is even more surprising how few professors cared about posture.  Only one professor, Professor Myrna Fuentes, felt that students should sit up straight and dress somewhat appropriately because she wanted to “prepare them for the ?real world.”  

Even Professor Fuentes, however, felt that far more than attire or posture, texting or sleeping in class is what shows disrespect or lack of interest an opinion every ?professor shared.

“Don’t dress up in an attempt to impress me,” said Professor Stanton. “Impress me by being up to date on the material of the course.”

So go ahead and wear those sweats, slouch in your chair, sit in whatever position makes you comfortable – most teachers don’t care. None of it is going to affect your teacher if you continue to work hard and ?pay attention.