Get set for wardrobe assessing exercise

February 16, 2007

Academics have suffered jokes about their fashion sense, or the lack of it, for a long time, but a TV makeover show is now taking the matter seriously, writes Anthea Lipsett.

The BBC's What Not to Wear makeover programme is looking for academics or mature students "lacking some serious style" to take part in its next series.

There are fewer academics wearing cords and leather elbow patches than there used to be, but stylish academics are still a rarity in a profession where intellectual prowess is rated above style.

The programme's producers say they are keen to revamp "stuffy professors" who are "clueless about clothes" and whose students "slate" their dress sense.

Mature students who will fit the bill are those who feel like they are the "old fogey" among younger fellow students, or those who dress to keep up with teenage trends and need help with their style.

Irene Dee, tutor technician in fashion at the University of Wales, Newport, who is studying for a masters in clothing, said they were the "worst dressed bunch" but clothing was an expression of personality. "

There's a very visual lecturer here who wears lots of accessories and her teaching style is very visual, whereas another lecturer who wears jeans and trainers has a laid-back style."

Susan Bassnett, pro vice-chancellor at Warwick University, has long called for academics to smarten up. "In an increasingly fashion-conscious age, scruffy academics are out of step. Other professions are smart, so why should some academics opt out?"

The deadline for applications is March 1.


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