What to wear to your advisory group

Hello all you fashion forward philosophers, psychologists and physicists, you stylish sociologists and statisticians, you trendy taxonomists! Welcome to another researchic blog post, writing about academic fashion to make sure that you turn heads as well as endless pages of journal papers (Thanks Jemma). Today we’re going to have a cosy chat about what to wear to your advisory group. This advice can also be applied to any sort of academic presentation, or just daily life.

What is an advisory group? I understand that some people don’t get to experience the excitement/panic of having to talk present their research to a group of academics so I’ll explain. An advisory group takes place early on in your project and is a chance for you to blow your entire first year research budget on flying a handful of academics up to your department so that they can give you feedback on your research design. It’s best if these academics know something about your area of research but they can also be people whose papers you have fan-girl-ed over or people that you got chatting to because you didn’t know anyone at a conference. (I will never cease to be amazed at how many collaborations come about in academia because two people were feeling awkward at a conference and happened to be next to one another in the queue for the buffet.) The experience of hosting the advisory group itself is a lot like inviting the cool kids to your lame party, complete with university mass catering, and being really scared that they won’t turn up or about what you’re going to say to them when they do. I should probably say that everyone who came to my advisory group was delightful, we had a great discussion and it all went off without a hitch.

Style tip #1: Stand up straight. No, straighter! Head up, shoulders back, tailbone down. There, you look much better already.

Style tip #2: Start from the bottom up. I am a biG fan of the “power underwear”. Nobody else will know that my bra and pants match, but I do and that makes a difference. No, there is not a picture! How rude!

Style tip #3: Wear whatever you want. As long as you feel comfortable and confident then wear whatever makes you happy (unless it’s hillwalking trousers that zip off that the knee. These are never appropriate for giving an academic presentation.) I like to wear dresses but I try to go for more Mad Men and less discotheque.


(This is what I wore. I’m pretty sure it’s from H&M and was somewhere around the £25 mark. Yes, this photo was taken in the pub shortly after my advisory group had finished.)

Style tip #4: Wear shoes. Wear fabulous shoes if you own some but shoes in some form are a must. People will think you are strange if you don’t wear any.

Image(These are my shoes. They cost me £4 about 6 years ago. Bargain.)

Style tip #5: You are mid-presentation. Your confidence starts to wane. You notice that your hands are shaking and your throat starts to close up. Then you look down and notice the little thing about your outfit that makes you feel great. It’s the little things, gang. Some people might think that it’s weird to match your nail varnish to the projector clicker or your poster or to subtly co-ordinate your outfit with your slides but they are stupid and unstylish. Ignore them!

Image(My navy blue nail varnish with matt top coat matched my outfit perfectly and looked great with the clicker!)

Style tip #6: You look great! Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you what to wear, including me (unless it’s hillwalking trousers. Those are not OK).

Happy presenting, beautiful PhD people!

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