One of my favorite and more inspirational sessions at this year’s NACA conference was presented by Meghan Harr and Becca Obergefell, about conceiving and instituting a professional development series on a programming board. One of the biggest questions that it raised for me, however, was about professional dress. Both ODU and UNC Pembroke asked students attending the event to dress professionally for the sessions. That said, I’ve learned at the past few student “formal events”… a lot of our students don’t know what that looks like.

So I’m drawing up a list of fashion commandments for our students, to help them be more presentable at formal events. Please, feel free to contribute as you see fit, covering any ground I may have missed.

  1. Thou shalt not treat the following as a formal shoe: flat sandals, ballet flats, platform heels, or boat shoes.
  2. Thou shalt ensure that bra straps are appropriate for the outfit, or otherwise hidden with a shawl or cardigan.
  3. Gentlemen: thou shalt not consider a blazer and chinos an acceptable substitute for a suit. They are not the same.
  4. Ladies: thou shalt not consider club wear an acceptable substitute for formal event wear. They are not the same.
  5. Thou shalt wear a properly fitting shoe- no toes poking out and over, no shoes that won’t stay on.
  6. Thou shalt ensure that dresses or skirts are of a fingertip length, lest we look like streetwalkers at a formal gathering.
  7. Thou shalt wear dress socks with dress shoes, or no socks. Athletic socks with a loafer or lace up fancy shoe is horrifying.

What other student formal fashion faux pas have you witnessed? How have you creatively or effectively imparted wisdom on this topic to students?

One thought on “What Not to Wear…to a University Sanctioned Event

  1. Ladies: Thou shalt not wear a stiletto heel, platform heel or heel higher than 3" lest we look like streetwalkers at a formal gathering.Members of Greek Letter organizations: Your crossing/line/chapter jackets are not appropriate overcoats for a formal event and should not be worn in lieu of a jacket, shawl, rain jacket, proper overcoat

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