Take a class in style
Neal Tognazzini – philosophy professor
A button-up shirt and jeans are the go-to outfit for Neal Tognazzini.
He grew up in Seattle and was an undergrad at Western in the 90s.
“It’s the West Coast, and it’s Bellingham, so I feel like I almost never wear anything other than jeans to teach in. Shorts maybe seem a little too casual even for professors on the West Coast, but slacks seem a little too formal,” Tognazzini said. “I used to teach in Virginia and it’s a little different over there. I once went to a party where they said, ‘Dress casually,’ and everybody was wearing slacks and a blazer, so I was the only person in jeans.”
While teaching in Virginia, Tognazzini would dress up more. He was more likely to wear a tie, darker jeans and stiffer shirts.
He will occasionally throw on a brown coat which hangs on his office door.
“When I started teaching as full time professor I was 28, and some of my students were only a few years younger than I was,” Tognazzini said. “I felt like I needed some way to distinguish myself from being a student in part because I was afraid my students wouldn’t take me seriously.”
As he’s gotten older, Tognazzini feels like there’s enough of an age difference between himself and the students where he can afford to not dress up as much.
Paula Airth – graphic design professor
Paula Airth wears a dress over leggings to make riding her bike to work comfortable and practical.
Airth said along with being comfortable, she wants to dress slightly more formal than her students.
“I don’t feel like it’s a big deal, but I like to look a little bit more professional than the students, so it seems like I’m teaching,” Airth said.
To some degree, Airth’s choice of clothes depends on what the students in her classes are wearing.
One time she had a class that dressed especially nice and felt some pressure to wear better shoes and more jewelry.
“If I have a group of students that all dress a little bit more formal, then I have to dress even more formal,” Airth said.
Airth wants her clothes to express that she takes teaching seriously, but also enjoys adding her own flair and funk.
“I want people to see that you can combine things in a little bit different way or that you’ve got some courage and you’re not afraid to stand out,” Airth said.
Miller Krause – classical studies and Latin professor
Miller Krause picked up the habit of wearing a bow tie while he was an undergraduate in Virginia.
“All the classics professors wore bow ties, so I picked it up from them. And it was a thing in Virginia, people wear ties all the time anyway,” Krause said.
Krause feels like he conformed to his peers around him when he was on the East Coast and hasn’t yet switched his ways to the West Coast after two years of living here.
He wore regular ties when he was younger because he had a job working as a page in the general assembly.
“I had a job, savings, responsibilities and a tie. Some of the other guys in school did the same thing. So every now and then we’d just show up to school wearing ties,” Krause said. “At the end of my undergrad years, I learned how to tie a bowtie, which is different from a regular tie, and it’s a skill that takes effort.”