I’m worried about dressing casually outside of work?

In January I started teaching at a community college. Although there is no dress code, I do dress somewhat formally while on campus. Every day I wear a short-sleeve polo shirt, black dockers, and black dress shoes. Even though I could dress more casually then that and not be in violation of any rules, I don’t primarily because I am young (28 years old) and I don’t want to be mistaken for a student, and also because I want my students to take me seriously, respect me, and see me as an authority figure. I also do it to look professional to my colleagues.

But I am truly a casual dressed at heart. VERY casual. Outside of work, I prefer to just wear a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops (nice leather flip-flops, not the cheap rubber kind) while out and about. Right now, that’s no problem for me as I live about 45 minutes away from the city that I work in, so I never have to worry about running into either a colleague or a student while dressed very casually.

But next semester, I will most likely be living in the same city that I work in. What worries me is that I will inevitably run into colleagues and students while out and about. I guess what bothers me about it is that it would just be awkward for me to run into a colleague or a student while I’m dressed very casually (T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops), as that may affect their perception of me. Is this an unreasonable concern? Should I simply keep my work life separate from the rest of my life, and dress as casually as I’d like outside of work without worrying about what effect it may have on how colleagues and/or students perceive me?

I just feel really torn on this, because on the one hand I don’t want to dress formally 24/7, but on the other hand I don’t want my casual dress to have a possible negative influence on how students and colleagues perceive me. Please share your thoughts on this!


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What Girls Said 2

  • I wouldn't think itd be anything to worry about. Everyone has a life outside of work. Your students should realize that.

  • At work we have our dress code, and it is a must in my perspective to dress according to it, we need to display a professional image. however, when it is your personal time, you can do whatever you want. My teachers, my colleagues dont dress to the night, one of them even worn a pant that had a hole in it (that was what someone told me).

    you need to feel relaxed in your own space.


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