If you’ve been to a single undergraduate class, you’ve inevitably witnessed at least a few dozen female students donning the ultra-casual look. They’re sporting all the classics: a frizzy top-of-the-head bun, flip flops or, a worn-in T-shirt, and to round out the ensemble, a pair of cozy sweatpants. One of the great things about college is that classroom dress code is usually fairly relaxed; it’s the one time in your life when you can literally roll out of bed and start your day without changing your clothes.
There are limits to this seemingly paradisiacal college culture, however. Coming to class in sweatpants may be acceptable, but it doesn’t mean your professors won’t lay secret judgment. And there are certain academic scenarios in which the pajama look is strictly taboo. The following are some guidelines to follow when you’re not quite sure of proper sweatpants procedure:
Do wear sweatpants to run errands. If your destination most likely won’t involve running into any professors—say a quick run or dash to print something at the library—there’s no reason you shouldn’t just leave the comfort of your futon as-is, pajamas and all. You certainly won’t be the only one.
Don’t wear sweatpants when you’ll be out for an indefinite amount of time. If you’re not sure when you’re going to be back in your room again, throw on a pair of jeans just in case. You may end up at a restaurant with friends or having an impromptu club meeting, so be prepared.
Do when you feel gross. If you’re coming down with whatever illness is currently circulating through campus, be kind to yourself and dress down. Some people find that dressing up helps them feel more alive, but if that’s too much of an effort for you, don’t bother. Even if you end up going to class in your PJ’s, your be-kind-to-me-I’m-sick look should ward off any harshness from your professor.
Don’t make it a regular wardrobe choice for class. It’s perfectly fine to show up to your 8:15 in sweats from time to time, especially if you’re feeling under the weather, but constantly looking like you made the walk of shame straight to class isn’t a good choice. You don’t have to dress professionally to make a good impression, but at least choosing pants over sweatpants gives the impression that class matters to you.
Do when the weather is disgusting. There’s no reason to wear jeans when they’re just going to get soaked by the end of your minute-long walk to class. If your sweats are warmer and dryer than any alternatives, they’re a wise decision.
Don’t when you have someone to impress. Be smart and review what your activities for the day are before selecting a super-casual ensemble. If you have a class presentation or meeting with your advisor, professionalism trumps comfort every time.