What is the name for this level of formality in clothing?

I have (somewhat miraculously) acquired full time gainful employment as an educator at a university. This is awesome.

At the job interview, it was explained to me that all professors at this institution are to wear a tie. Very unusual for an academic setting, but there is much that is unusual about the place–unusual, for the most part, in a good way, but I’m getting away from the point.

Based on the way these guys were all dressed, I would not have called the level of formality “business dress.” Surely, they were all wearing ties, but to my understanding (possibly quite incorrect) “business dress” means suit jacket with matching slacks, monochrome shirt, shiny black shoes and a tie. That’s not how these guys were dressed. One was wearing a sweater vest. Many had shirts with grids or (if I recall correctly) pinstripes on them. Many were wearing khakis. Shoes were often brown and not particularly shiny. Colors of outfits ran the gamut.

In my vocabulary, the next step down from business is business casual, and this does not entail the wearing of a tie.

It looks like these guys are somewhere between the two categories I’ve named. What’s the name for the way these folks were dressed?

I’ve completely and pitifully exposed my ignorance in these matters. In my defense, having been in grad school for nearly ten years, I haven’t had to think about this in a very very long time. I dressed up a bit–to the level of business causal I’d say–for my prospectus meeting, and for the conference I went to to present a paper. I was overdressed on the latter occasion, and though I was not overdressed for the former, realistically, it can be said with certainty that underdressing would have had no effect on the outcome. Very different from real life, I’m given to understand.

Anyway, help me in my ignorance, please. What’s the name for this formality level between what I think of as “business” and “business casual”? (And in what ways have I exhibited a complete misunderstanding of the levels of formality I have discussed?) I ask so I can go look up some pictures and then go out and buy a new wardrobe.

My first thought upon reading the OP was “academic.”

IMNSHO, Sklad is right.
In my university days, we were supposed to wear a tie, but that was pretty much the only thing that was ‘formal’. Considering most of us had long hair, wearing a dress suit was somewhat silly. Tweed jacket and khakis with docksiders and no socks and, of course, a tie.
Oh yeah… and a shirt.

You know, you might be onto something. It might be that there’s a de facto special formality specification for an academic environment. (I don’t think this is “official” is it?) You’d definitely suspect you’d walked into a room fool of academics if you’d walked into this room.

It’s not typical for academics to feel obligated to wear a tie, but maybe I should just think of this as “academic plus tie.” And then figure out just exactly what “academic” amounts to.

If this wikipedia article is accurate, it looks like maybe what I’m talking about is a version of “smart casual” laying somewhere on the more formal end of that category.


You’re right that this dress code seems to fall somewhere in between international standard business attire and business casual.

Some people, especially academics, apparently recognize a category called smart casual which might be a little more formal than business casual. It doesn’t meet the mandatory-tie condition, but in other respects it sounds like what you’re encountering here.

It sounds like the Country Club rules, to me. Jacket and tie, but they can be worn over chinos with docksiders or loafers. The occasional wag will try to get away with a golf shirt, tie and jacket - it looks silly, but as long as at least one item is kelly green and one other is navy blue, they get away with it.

In an academic setting I would expect to replace kelly with forest, and navy with brown.

This dress code might be found exclusively in academia, but “academic attire” isn’t the right word for it, since that means caps and gowns, and is a specialized sort of “formal”.

Academics seem to really like jackets with patches on the elbows.

Indeed, as the above-linked smart casual article notes,

But I don’t think Frylock should get one just now, or at least he shouldn’t go to work in one until he’s worn it around the house for a couple of years. A newly-hired faculty member in a new tweed jacket with elbow patches is an archetypal example of Trying Too Hard.

By the way, Frylock, congratulations on the job! :slight_smile:

The trouble with dress codes is that they rarely mean anything unequivocally. Now if you had a word and needed help dressing appropriately we could make our best efforts to steer you clear of any faux pas. But doing it in reverse - coming up with a name for a set of attire standard - is going to be fruitless. You’re not going to come up with a word because informal dress codes are necessarily vague and blurred. It’s not like you’re saying “everyone was wearing a black bow tie with patent leather shoes and their jacket lapels were faced in satin”.

For what it’s worth, from my perspective, a tie and a casual jacket or sweater to me is clearly still business casual, albeit the dressy end. Ties aren’t really all that dressy, they’re just the first thing to go because people hate wearing them so much.

I’d definitely call it “academic”, as distinguished from “academic dress” which is caps and gowns. Ties, elbow patches, sport coats. Sweater vests. See also: All Creatures Great and Small Yorkshire vet-wear. If you’d wear it with a tie while sticking your hand up a cow’s ass to the elbow, there you go. That’s what they wore at my alma mater - almost always ties, suit coats only if it was cold.

(Yeah, I know, I’ve mentioned that show, like, twenty times in the past month. We’re addicts.)

This is what used to be called “semi-casual” attire (in most semi-casual settings, a tie is optional, but is certainly not uncommon). The “business suit” that some people are calling “formal” is in fact technically called “informal” (though a very conservative ensemble is now being called “pseudo-formal” in some circles). “Semi-formal” means what most people wear to a wedding or prom, also called “black tie,” and “formal” refers to a tailed coat with white tie. The same people who invented “pseudo-formal” also call black tie “formal” and white tie “ultra-formal.” “Casual,” which is barely definable any more, can almost definitely be said not to include ties.

“Amish Mechanic Formal”?

I think I’d call it “preppy.” What do the women wear? Please tell me the women don’t have to wear ties. Please don’t tell me there ARE no women.

I’ve seen female waitstaff in ties. It doesn’t look that bad, although I’m not sure it’s really that formal, either. It’s more business attire.

I would call it “business technical”. That is, satisfy whatever technical requirements are literally required by the University (or whatever job), and feel free to have free reign on whatever qualifications aren’t specifically limited.

Otherwise known as “job interview technical” - satisfying some minimum metaphorical requirement for a job interview while otherwise satisfying one’s own fashion desires.

That means no buttons or zippers. Hardcore.

Waitresses wearing ties = hawt :wink:

A few years out of grad school, I stopped in to my car dealer to drop my car off for service. I was wearing a yellow Oxford cloth shirt, a plaid wool tie in earth tones, khaki pants, and a corduroy jacket, with leather patches on the elbows.

The guy behind the counter, while writing up my vehicle, asked, “Where do you teach?”

I’d go more direct and call it “tie requested,” as opposed to “jacket and tie,” and all the other conventions that are more popularly known.