Is that a trophy tie?

Sep 08 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers], [Et Al]

Yesterday I was making a half-assed attempt to clean my office a bit before the new academic year and for some reason the tie on my coat rack caught my attention. There's no reason it should have, since it has been in that same spot ever since I moved into this office, but the fact that it has not been touched was part of why I noticed it.

I am not some one who dresses up much. I'll do it when I have to and not look like your 18-year-old cousin wearing his dad's clothes, but ties and I have never really seen eye to eye. Trying to figure out if that was part of the allure of a career in academia or if that career path led me to my tie-distain is a bit of a chicken and egg issue not really worth pursuing, however, the fact that I once thought it would be a good idea to keep a tie in my office is mildly amusing. I mean, how often are you surprised by a high-level meeting with people in suits where jeans and a button down shirt would be deemed insufficient? My guess is that if I ever am in that position, my wardrobe will be the least of my concerns.

Eying that tie sitting around made me wonder if I don't keep it there to subtly remind myself that I don't have to wear one. That for as much as this job can be overwhelming and frustrating, there is also a lot to like - part of which is that no one cares what I wear to work, as long as I have pants on.

Am I the only one with languishing clothing artifacts in my office, or do other people actually use the "dress up" items they adorn their space with?

13 responses so far

  • Natalie says:

    I have a pair of black strappy heels that I removed one day while working with liquid nitrogen, and they never made it home. They've been sitting under my desk for six months.

    Given my "Isis Mindset" when it comes to appropriate lab shoes, they aren't languishing so much as waiting for their turn in my rotation.

  • Glfadkt says:

    Just in case I need to look professional on the spur of the moment, I keep a spiffy, nearly new, lightly starched and neatly ironed lab coat on a hanger (protected by a clear plastic dry cleaning bag) behind my office door.

  • Anon2 says:

    I was thinking about this just the other day, in reverse. I came to work dressed in jeans and a T-shirt because I was planning a rare venture into the lab to do some benchwork (although this is a common outfit for me even if I'm not working in the lab). On my way to the office, I ran into the College secretary who mentioned that she was worried about filling all of the seats for the "topping off"ceremony for our new building that day, a big event where we give the donors lots of love for helping us to build this fabulous building, etc. I told her I'd bring my research group down and instantly wished I was dressed more professionally. However, it would have taken more than a tie to make me look presentable (and I'm a woman, so ties are not my thing). I've been wondering if I have a spare outfit I could bring - maybe tan pants and a jacket - to keep on hand for this sort of occasion. But then I'd also need a pair of shoes, and socks, and a shirt, and... and... and... Don't think it's worth it since this happens so rarely. And as you say, if I am ever caught off guard by a meeting with the suits in which it would be inappropriate for me to be casually dressed, I'd have bigger things to worry about.

  • Dr. O says:

    Sitting at my desk are gym clothes that haven't been worn in ages. That's about it.

  • Yael says:

    My lab coat (which is too big, fitted for a male, and is too loose to provide any type of protection, and is probably a safety hazard because of its length) is hanging on the back of my lab stool. Perhaps if people start taking Pascale's advice (admitting that there are many women scientists and engineers) and make labcoats and PPE for petite women and stuff, I will have a labcoat that is more functional than ornamental. Right now my nonfunctional labcoat is a reminder that science is still very patriarchal.

  • Namnezia says:

    You have a wardrobe in your office?

  • proflikesubstance says:

    I have a tie and a coat rack. Neither qualify as a wardrobe (clothing or furniture).

  • HFM says:

    @Yael: they do make them. You may have to poke your ordering people. I had a very small colleague once - well under 5' - who had to resort to kiddie-cancer-patient PPE, but even she could find something that worked.

    Even in my industry days, I didn't keep dress clothes. I did start cutting my hair short after a glamorous encounter with our VCs - I was upside down, heels over arse, dangling myself behind a large, broken, and faintly smoldering robot, when my colleague decided to introduce me. (Pixie cuts are awesome; you basically can't mess them up, which is key when you want to look like a grownup on short notice.)

  • Yael says:

    HFM: When 50% of the bench scientists in your department are female, the department should not be ordering ALL male lab coats by default, neither should we have to specially order them...

  • rs says:

    I keep an additional sweater and rain jacket in my office wardrobe. Chicago has such unpredictable change of weather, that it has been useful to me. But never though about keeping a dress item...

  • scienceprofessormum says:

    I have trousers, jumpers, a waterproof jacket and a flying suit hanging in my office. The trousers are there because I walk in to work and drop off two small children at nursery so having clean and dry trousers waiting in the office is useful. The flying suit is less obvious, but I do sometimes work on a research aircraft and I think I keep the flying suit there just to remind myself that I do occasionally get out of the office.....

  • Ink says:

    I have an umbrella in my office. Does it count as accessory?

    The thing is, I always forget it's there. So it serves no functional purpose and I am always rained upon. It's just sort of decorative.

  • HFM says:

    @Yael: Well, yes...but sometimes the cause is obliviousness. I did the stocking for a large, majority-female lab for a few years, and while I tried hard to make the supplies and equipment work for smaller people, there were things I would never have noticed without a direct request. (I'm female, but short I ain't.) For instance, I had no idea they made footrests to go under desks - in my world, "standard" desks are small, and those of us who aren't so small use a keyboard stand or risers. But when somebody asked for one, she got it on the lab's dollar...and when I asked around, a few others got one too. Some people are jerks, but others will work with you if you've got a reasonable request, and wanting PPE that fits is reasonable IMO.

    (Yes, my lab coat is a men's large, and it fits...but if it helps, go to any shoe store and ask for a women's 13-wide.)

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