I’m currently facing a bit of a dilemma. I’m just starting my senior year in college, and while I’ve always enjoyed classic men's style and dressing nicely, I’ve been wondering lately if there’s such a thing as dressing too well. I’m not talking about wearing a suit every day. My usual outfit consists of nice, dark wash jeans, a button up shirt, brown leather boots and belt, and a sweater and/or sportcoat depending on the weather. The thing is, that makes me better dressed than probably 90% of the guys on campus. It doesn’t help that I live in CA, a notoriously casual state, and am majoring in wildlife biology, an equally notoriously casual field. Most guys I know wear jeans or shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops most days. Even most of my professors dress pretty casually!

I'm especially wanting to start improving my wardrobe since I'm getting close to graduating and entering the professional world. So should I just wear what I want, or should I tone it down a little and save the nicer clothes for nights downtown and special occasions? Obviously being a slob makes you stand out, but being too overdressed can also make you stand out, and not necessarily in a good way. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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I've never found being dressed a bit better than everyone around me is a problem. On the contrary, it's been an advantage to me a number of times. If you are already dressing like this, just keep it up.

Trust me, in a couple of years all your friends are going to lose the flip-flops and ask your advice on what they should wear.  Your professors dress casually because they don't need to get real jobs.

No offense intended to professors, but seriously they just don't need to try as hard.

I suggest you make nights out more special by dressing better then than during the day.  Not because anybody will care, but, well, dressing well and informally is also a skill, and you may find it interesting.

But, ultimately, wear what you want.  It's California.  Nobody will care.

If nothing else, dressing well when almost everyone else in your field and peer group is dressing much more casually will make you memorable.  It may not necessarily give you an advantage professionally, but you will be noticed and remembered.

No, you will be dressing better then 90% and you will be noticed.  That is a good thing.  I have a friend who is an undergrad in business.  He wears a tie every day, not a suit but nice clothing and a tie.  At the start of this term he had a professor hunt him down and ask him if he would like a scholarship for a masters.  How did this come about, good hard work and looking like the person the professor would want to stand for.  

Dress as you do and enjoy it.  You will find people will take you seriously and women will (most likely) be more interested.

What you're describing is less dressy than "business casual." 

Don't sweat it.  It's small stuff.

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” - Oscar Wilde

When I'm dressed nicely, I tend to feel more confident and have a better attitude toward the day (i.e. I don't feel I look like a slob and worry about that all day). I say keep it up.

Thanks everyone for your replies! Like some of you said, I guess I just need to quit worrying about what others think and just do what I feel comfortable with. Which is kinda the way I was leaning anyways. I've made some nice finds at thrift stores and am looking forward to them getting more use!

Probably a redundant answer, but the most important thing by a wide margin, is for you to embrace what makes you yourself, and wear it with swagger--not just literally wearing your clothing--but everything else as well. I am a professional music in Nashville, and everyone dresses like wannabe garage rockers, sloppy, open shirts, all that. I like to call myself the "rock and roll gentleman" because I left that behind in favor of great clothes. And what's more, I LOVE standing out from these folks. I take care of myself and wear exactly what I want. And when I catch flack--which I definitely do!--I laugh it off with them and show them that I am supremely comfortable with myself, and impervious to their opinions. In other words, what I'm doing with myself is not open for discussion among them. I'm doing my thing with authority : ) that's my two cents. Do you thing and do it with confidence! Nothing wears better than confidence.

This look:

Timeless, collegiate.

And several steps above what most undergrads wear today.

I see a lot of sweatpants from my students (in fairness, quite a few are athletes and have morning practices), along with some pajamas.  I don't really expect anything beyond a clean t-shirt and jeans, and would be astounded to see a tie or sport coat.  Male/female breakdown seems pretty even to me.

Still, I'm there to teach, not critique their fashion choices.  And I was pretty scruffy as an undergrad myself.

The current fashion seems to be a bag over shirt on the women and t-shirt and jeans for the guys during the day.

The PJ Look is probably a morning class thing.  

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