University of Denver students dress for success to exercise self-expression


University of Denver students expose some skin to soak up the sun and take advantage of unusually warm temperatures on a mild winter day.

University of Denver students are dressing for the occasion as a typical winter of bipolar Colorado weather endures.

From a low of 5 degrees Fahrenheit to a high the next week of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, students must prepare themselves for every possible scenario. Students go from bundling up in their favorite pair of PJ’s on one day to pulling out their shortest shorts to take advantage of the blazing Colorado sunshine the next.

While these clothes may make sense under these ever-changing weather conditions, they may not always be entirely appropriate for the classroom environment.

Professors’ Perception

As DU professor Derigan Silver states, when students show up sloppily or inappropriately dressed “I wonder if they just woke up and if they are really ready for class and a no holds barred discussion of important issues.”

The same goes for professors. What they choose to wear in their own classroom sends a message not just about their outer appearance, but also who they are on the inside and perhaps what their teaching personality will be like.

While some professors wear a suit in order to demand attention and respect from their students, others prefer to dress down and create a more open and relaxed classroom atmosphere.

“I think it helps them realize I mean business in the classroom and they should be prepared for an engaging and sometimes heated atmosphere. It lets them know what we are doing in the classroom is serious,” says Mr. Silver about dressing professionally to work.

College serves many as a transitional period between their juvenile years and the introduction into the adult working world. By beginning to dress professionally early on, it may provide an easier shift into this professional atmosphere.

Student’s weigh in

Some students, on the other hand, disagree completely. University of Denver junior, Rhianna Dow, argues a different perspective.

“College is a time for exploration and discovery. It is one of the last opportunities I will have to really express myself through clothing before I enter the work-force, so I always try to make the most of it,” she says. “The University of Denver creates an open environment where I can show every side of myself without judgment or restrictions.”

While many agree with Rhianna’s synopsis, some other students weighed in a bit differently. Fellow University of Denver Junior, Deanna Metropolous, admits to dressing up a bit when the occasion calls for it.

“If I have a debate or presentation in class I will do my best to look a bit nicer to win some brownie points with the professor,” she confesses.

University of Denver Junior, Deanna Metropoulos, dresses up for an in-class debate.

University of Denver Junior, Deanna Metropoulos, dresses up for an in-class debate.

She also offers explanation for her peers’—and her own—clothing choices. “When it’s below freezing outside no one wants to put on a nice outfit just to cover it up with layers of coats and scarves.” She continues, “but the second the temperature shoots above 60 degrees Fahrenheit everyone will be wearing shorts and tank tops; we have to make the most of it because we have no idea how long it will last!

Summing it up

This begs the question, what is considered inappropriate? Everyone’s definition will differ, but the same understanding of basic decency and professionalism will remain static for most within our society.

Students must balance the line between looking like they’ve just come from a party and looking like they’ve just rolled out of bed. There are days when it isn’t always easy, but students and professors have to be mindful that their appearance reflects upon not only their own reputation, but also that of the university as a whole.

That being said, the majority of DU students do not dress inappropriately for classes.
They dress professionally and don’t wear clothes that are inappropriately tight, revealing or sloppy. They seem to follow an unspoken code of dress, and are at an age mature enough to show respect to their professors and peers within the classroom. At this time, a formal dress code does not seem to be a necessity.

One Response to University of Denver students dress for success to exercise self-expression

  • Brenda Velasquez
    Brenda Velasquez says:

    This article’s layout is simple and easy to follow. It’s great that you acquired opinions from both sides of the issue: professors and students; it provided a balanced view. Each side presented thought-provoking points concerning professionalism and personal exploration. You also placed the issue within the context of Colorado weather which gave the story more complexity and site-specific background, infusing the issue with a sense of uniqueness.

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