Fashion Friday Thursday: PhD Wardrobe

I have a busy day and this post is ready to go so let’s have a Fashion Thursday this week!

Christina says: I was recently accepted into the Ph.D. program and will be returning to school this Fall.  My wardrobe has been strictly ‘mommy’ for five years and pretty much includes, jeans, tee shirts, capris, and yoga pants.  I need to update my wardrobe from top to bottom.  I certainly need to have comfort at the top of the list because I’ll still be chasing after three kids while going to school, but I need to look professional and a bit stylish at the same time.   What can you come up with for me?

I say: Well now.  I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice on this matter, but that has never stopped me before.  The furthest I went in school was my undergrad.  I attended college in New England in the early ’90s when duck boots and over-sized flannel button-down shirts reigned supreme.  It’s no small wonder I had 2 dates in 4 years.

At any rate, I’m assuming that a Ph.D. program may require a slightly higher level of professionalism than the typical undergrad.

I would think that a mom attending Ph.D. classes would be able to wear nice jeans with a t-shirt and a fitted jacket.  OR.  How about khaki pants with a blouse and denim or leather jacket?  One fashion trend I’m becoming quite fond of is the short-sleeved cardigan or sweater wrap over a layering T or tank.  A sweater is more comfortable than a jacket, I think.  In fact, today I am wearing that meadow green tie-front shrug I just linked to over a white tank with dark jeans and my new orange shoes.  (Silver ballet flats are also cute and very versitile.)  My handbag pulls all the colors together.  FUN!  (I’m off to a Mother’s Day Tea at my daughter’s preschool.)

I’m not sure about skirts as I’m not much of a skirt girl myself, but if you’re in a warmer climate, you may want a denim skirt to add to the mix.

Get a few cute pairs of ballet flats that are comfy enough for walking around campus.  Or a pair of Privos.  (I just ordered this pair with my 20%-off coupon code AND free shipping and free returns from Piperlime.)

If you’re in a cooler climate, you may want a pair of comfortable boots like these or these.  I love boots with jeans and pants for cooler weather.

And what about a double-breasted jacket like this??  LOVE that color.  Perfect for fall.

Then go to Forever21 of H&M for some inexpensive, fun accessories.

Finally, get yourself a stylin’ book bag (my friend who has recently gone back to nursing school got an Orla Kiely bookbag to take to classes) and you’re all set.

What do YOU say? How should Christina stock her wardrobe so she’s professsional enough to attend to her Ph.D. classes and comfortable enough to chase after three kids?

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12 Responses

  1. Nice advice.

    I saw a super nice white blouse in the newest Nordstroms flyer. 3/4 length sleeves with a classy ruffle collar. It seemed like a comfy and very adult like top to wear with skirts/trousers/leggings. I might have to purchase it now after talking about it so much. 🙂

    Good luck and congrats on your new adventure!

  2. I’m a mom (of two kids, ages 9 and 6) and I’m starting a Ph.D. program in the fall, too! Who-Hoo.

    I’d tell Christina not to sweat her clothes too much. Sure she’ll be a doctoral student, but she’s still a student, so no one will expect much in terms of clothes for everyday classes. (Plus most doctoral students are on fellowship, meaning they have no money, so no profs will fault you for not buying a whole new wardrobe.)

    Here’s my planned wardrobe:

    I’ll be dressing down a bit from my current wardrobe (I now work as newspaper editor.)

    For classes: I’ll be wearing nice jeans, clean T-shirts or sweaters. Capri pants or even shorts if it’s hot. (Christina, I’d skip stained shirts or sweats but really don’t feel like you need to dress up for everyday classes.)

    I’d recommend you have a few (three) casual business outfits (dress pants or skirt with nice top, but not to the level of a suit.) These will be good for presentations in class.

    If you’ll be teaching as part of your program (I will), you might want a few more biz casual to set you apart from the students when you teach.

    Suits: I have two interview suits, which I plan to use to wear when I present papers at conferences. People tend to dress up a bit more at academic conferences, so a basic black interview suit is a good choice. You could also wear nicer business wear. (Black pants or skirt and a blouse to present at conferences.)

    Don’t need to get these immediately, though, because if you’re starting in fall, you won’t be presenting until at least winter. You’ll get a good gauge of what you need by asking other doc students.

    Good luck doc-to-be!

  3. My husband is in a management-y Ph.D. program now, and the fanciest any of them has gotten is tucking their polos into their khakis before a meeting. Just for the record. : ) If the other students in her program are anything like Ph.D. students I know, I suspect that Christina will easily be the trendiest and most professional-looking simply because she IS worried about what to wear.

  4. Well, I’m finishing up my Masters degree and I can say I see a variety of different wardwrobes among the professional academia. Our classes meet once every two weeks or so and a few will show up in jeans and sweats but the majority of us have on nicer dressier jeans with a nice blouse or t-shirt and a cute jacket. Faculty members in our program are almost all pursuing their PhD/DNP and they usually have on a casual skirt or slacks and a nice top.

    I think the number one thing you can do to feel “more professional” is to get a new book/laptop bag. Make sure you dump the old backpack!

  5. I don’t have a PhD but I did go back to law school and for a MBA. My advice is to wear dressier jeans – dark wash – and ballet flats. These could be paired with a cute button down or wrap shirt and a cute jacket (not a blazer but a versitile jacket). I would also recommend some colorful cardigans. I’m not really into the whole “twin set” but a cardigan over a dressier tee or tank or even with a more fitted button-down is really cute.

    A bag is really important – and really hard! It’ll depend on your schedule. During my first year of law school, I had class all day, five days per week. I had no choice but to carry a back pack. Those books were HEAVY and I took public transportation to school. If you can get away with it, carry a cute over the shoulder bag. One with a fun pattern would be great!

    Congratulations on being accepted to a PhD program. It’s quite an accomplishment…

  6. I say that I would like to go back and get my PhD because it sounds like the wardrobe is ADORABLE.

    Also, when I was getting my Masters, the attire was, um, pajamas. Well, almost. It was at the height of the velour sweatsuit rage and we were working all day and going to school at night and on weekends, so you can guess what we looked like. Probably not the look you want to emulate.

  7. I think it depends on the time of the class. I just finished up a master’s class and we came dressed all different ways depending on where we were coming from. Some straight from the gym and some from school and some just from home. Our prof was also causal never in jeans. My hub is in dr. classes and he said that people come dressed all ways. I would say jeans are the norm unless you are coming straight from work.

  8. What great advice. Thanks, everyone! I’m already eyeing some rather cute bags and I’ll certainly be putting some of your ideas to good use.

  9. I was wondering what the PhD is in? I think it depends somewhat on the PhD she’s going for. Art History would be different than Business. Art History might be more wraps while Business would be more jackets.

  10. First of all, congrats to Christina! Getting into a PhD program is no small thing.

    Second, can I just say that I much prefer it when you post pictures of the clothes in the post itself rather than just linking over to clothing store sites? I may be lazy or time-deprived or both, but I don’t like to have to click through all of those links. Just a suggestion. 🙂

    Third, I’m also loving the short-sleeved cardigans and sweaters that can be found in stores as of late. They’re especially ideal for a nursing mama like me. I’d like to see more zip-up options too.

    Fourth, I think that’s about it…Oh, I LOVE your fashion posts. That’s what I wanted to say. Keep up the fantastic work…Thursday, Friday, or otherwise.

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