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Peasants: Dress for Success or Avoid My Well-Bred Gaze


Photo by Paolo Vercesi / CC BY-NC 2.0 

“Please sir, can I have some more?” “Aye, m’lord, I’ll take better care not to reek.” 

Surely, you’ve heard these lines before— I know I have.  

Think how often your boorish classmates trod around in their shit-stained smocks, ill-fitting caps, and all-black Tevas. In math class, it’s not rare to see a fly zipping around the unkempt skull of a classmate.

Despite all of us gaining admission to the same university, it’s become apparent that some have strayed from the tenet that got us here in the first place: being well dressed at every occasion. So I implore you, reader: please look presentable, or flee from my sight. 

At prep school we had to wear a uniform every single day. And guess what? Everyone in my year went on to study at either an Ivy or UVA. That's got to be a correlation. Just look through photographs taken at Penn in years past: every white man featured is wearing a suit and tie. These men were future doctors and lawyers, and it seems they knew something we often forget: how you dress is the only prerequisite for advancing in society.

Whether you wear All-birds and want to work in Silicon Valley, or Golden Geese and will work for your mom's company, how you present yourself is essential if I am to make an accurate value judgement about you. And really, there are many obstacles we face here at Penn, but being forced to watch you shuffling to class in pajamas shouldn’t be one of them.

Come graduation day, I hope all of you wayward souls will have embraced the sartorial spirit. When we collect our diplomas on Franklin Field, the focus should not be the years of hard work we’ve put in to get here, but rather on the fact that the pumps or dress shoes we’ve chosen look, well, rather smart for the occasion.