What Your Professor’s Style Says About Them

Your professor’s sense of style can reveal a lot about their teaching style. Whether your instructor wears sweater vests or flashy cowboy boots, we’ve compiled a list to help you navigate their classes based on their style choices.

Story by Natalie Heineman

Illustrations by Sonia Margolin


The Hippie

As this professor glides into the lecture hall, her long, thrifted floral skirt glides over her  students’ backpacks. In another classroom, a male professor wears a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt every day. You tend to title your notes with the headings “green fish,” “blue crocodiles” or “purple parakeets,” to match his shirt pattern that day, instead the date. This type of professor takes song requests before class, but somehow always ends up playing Jimmy Buffet or John Mellencamp. If it is raining or cold, class will be cancelled.


The Straight-Laced Professor

This professor wants to be taken seriously. They were most likely overachievers in high school, but that’s okay because they are now overachievers in their chosen field of study. His sweater vest and bowtie scream, “I know what I’m talking about,” just as much as her pencil skirt and button-down blouse does. You will be required to buy a book they wrote, and every time you have to pull it out for class, the professor will comment, “I put the royalties from this book into my own children’s college fund.”


The Hillary Clinton

Three classic power suits and a leather briefcase are all this professor needs in their work wardrobe. This class is almost as structured as the fit of their expensive suit. He or she enters the classroom exactly five minutes early and begins teaching promptly on the hour. If a student comes in late, the professor glares or sarcastically says, “nice of you to join us.” This type of instructor is a fan of asking questions in class, and will always tell students to “speak up,” no matter how loud they are talking.


The Unhappy Camper

Jeans all day, every day is this teacher’s style mantra. She enjoys buttoned-up cotton blouses paired with a three-quarter-sleeved sweater. He is a big fan of button-up short-sleeve shirts that he purchased in bulk from Men’s Warehouse. Often, this instructor is a graduate student, but insists that you call them “professor.” Although their clothes may suggest a laid-back attitude, this professor takes their job seriously. They like to talk about politics, even if the class they’re teaching has nothing to do with the government. Surprise pop quizzes are an integral part of the class, yet the professor always wonders out loud why 65 percent of the class is failing.


The Indiana Jones

He or she starts off the semester as a “straight-laced” or a “Hillary Clinton,” but just as Indiana Jones made the transition from three-piece suits to cargo pants, this professor gradually sheds pieces of clothing until they are left wearing only a dress shirt, slacks and a look of exasperation. They accessorize with a cup of coffee in one hand and a laser pointer in the other. This professor, with their top button undone and sleeves rolled up to their elbows, always looks ready to spring into action, whether that means raiding the lost ark or standing on a chair to restart the projector.


The Statement Shoe

The instructor could almost teach naked and you would not notice. Your eyes are too focused on their glamorous shoes. It is a mystery how this professor even walks, much less stands for over an hour, in these fashion statements. Their heels are high or their cowboys boots are pointy. Just like their shoes, this class generally offers more fluff than content. This professor likes to be “cool” and not hold office hours in their actual office. If you have a question about your grade, be prepared to meet them during “Margarita Monday” at a Mexican restaurant near campus.