I am not known for my fashion sense as a professor (or any other area of my life, for that matter). Actually, I am known for it, just not in a way that makes people want to emulate it in any way. Thus, it probably seems odd that I’m linking to an essay by a professor who talks about the difference her clothes made in her teaching. What interests me about it, more than the fashion angle, is the idea that being comfortable with who we are in the classroom (and, I think, who we are, in general) makes us better professors.
For my first couple of years, I could teach a class well enough, and I got good evaluations, but they were centered largely on my personality (comments about my jokes and my fashion sense, now that I think about it). Over the years, though, as I’ve figured out who I am and how I am, those comments have shifted toward the substance of the class rather than the surface of me. As my knowledge of my self deepened, the focus shifted from the persona I felt I had to create to guide the class to the content and structure of the course. Fashion isn’t the answer for everyone, but knowing one’s self is. It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes in the classroom, and, if fashion helps, great. We all have to find our own way there.