The Fashionable College Administrator – Tips for the Professional Woman

The Fashionable College Administrator – Tips for the Professional Woman

Fashion is always a touchy subject for women in professional roles because too little time has passed since it has been ‘acceptable’ to hire female administrators. Over the years there has been a great deal of controversy over whether or not women should wear pants in the workplace when reaching a position of leadership, or does that make her seem like she is working overtime to ‘appear’ equal to her male counterparts? The debate continues to go on, but one thing is emerging and that is the fact that even stodgy college school marms can be fashionable college administrators with a few well-placed fashion tips for the professional woman.

Getting Your Wardrobe Together After an Online Degree Program

One of the real issues that many of today’s women face is in getting a professional wardrobe together after having completed graduate work online. As more and more universities like Maryville University are offering online doctor of higher education in higher education leadership degrees, it is becoming easier for women to get graduate degrees without worrying about what they will wear to class or to other meetings that all happen in cyberspace. So why bother?

What You Shouldn’t Wear as a Professional Woman in Academia

While there are some styles that can work in the professional world in corporate America, those things probably won’t work as a college administrator because it puts you on some sort of ‘same level’ as the students you are supposed to be leading. A leader is not a friend and to give the impression that you are on a friendly basis with undergrads or grads takes something from your position as the person in authority. That being said, it is best to stay away from any fashions that portray a counter-culture mentality. You may want to wear them on the outside, but never when in the office acting in the capacity that your higher education leadership degree qualified you to work in.

Fashions Acceptable as an Administrator

As an example of what not to wear, several years ago young female lawyers were wearing miniskirts in the court room, thinking it made them look stylish and professional in a 21st Century way. Unfortunately, those styles gave them anything but a professional appeal and many a jury went towards the opposing side because that counselor dressed more businesslike and appropriately for the setting. Knee length or lower skirts and dresses are acceptable and pants suits which are tailored are also acceptable. Leggings and skinny jeans are not. In other words, even though there may be no real dress code for your professors and associate professors, what is acceptable on that level is not acceptable in upper levels of administration.

You can be a fashionable college administrator, but the key is to temper style with a bit of elegance and class. Your role as an administrator could be compromised if you are seen as ‘one of the gang’ and that is not at all what you need to exhibit. Trendy styles are fine, but wear them with care. You don’t need to dress like a Victorian lady of culture, but you don’t want to dress like you’re ready to hit the local grunge scene either. A healthy cross between trendy fashions and subdued professional distinctive apparel is perfect for the appearance you want to portray.


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