dressed for writing? make mine daggy

Every now and then I come across writing about academics and clothing. I’ve seen ‘stuff’ about: the stereotype of corduroy and leather patches, how we women academics resent being judged on what we wear, and advice on what to wear to suit your academic position. There’s also some fashion oriented writing for academics too.

However, I have yet to see anyone discuss what they wear while writing.

This might be because it just isn’t an interesting topic. But I wonder, would a revelation of what we all wear when writing be as interesting as the pictures of where we write – our various offices and desks? I know I’ve never looked at one of my colleagues the same way again after his confession that he always writes wearing his Superman pyjamas.

I always write in old trackies, a tshirt, a jumper if it’s cold, and a pair of slippers.  I put this salubrious outfit on as soon as I get up, generally pre-shower. Cup of tea in hand, I go up the stairs to my office loft. Putting on public-work-appropriate clothes marks the break between writing and the rest of the day. Trackies by then a distant memory,  I head off to work or go back to the loft office to do less creative academic tasks …


I know that I am completely unsightly and unfashionable when writing, as anyone who has skyped in the morning with me knows. I am however very, very comfortable.

And I’ve been wearing much the same combination of writing clothes for a long time. Since my PhD. Getting up and dragging on the trackies in the morning is a clear signal that I am now going to write for a couple of hours.

The writing clothes signal to me that this is what I’m going to do and they signal to others in my house too.  If I’m in my trackies and slippers don’t expect me to stop and get into a long conversation – I’m in writing mode. And do not interrupt me on the way upstairs, the thinking is already happening.

And I do put on the daggy writing clobber most mornings. This is not an occasional outfit of choice, but a regular habit. (A poor pun, apologies.)  I can write in other clothes of course, but the trackie-slippers combo are my first choice.

To my mind – and body – writing requires this level of daggy. So what is this daggy? Daggy is an Australian term which means definitely and absolutely not stylish, unfashionable, untidy, not cool. Daggy can be used as a term of abuse – but is perhaps more often used affectionately, as in She’s a bit of a dag in her writing clothes. #antistyle. #dag. Resolutely #scruffy and #downmarket.

But I am seriously interested – what do other people wear when writing? Are you daggy when you write too? Or are you …. ???



About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in academic writing clothes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to dressed for writing? make mine daggy

  1. Is there an underlying theme here i.e. no underwear to match the superman pyjamas/daggy trackies/before showers etc? Has anyone done any research on the link between cognitive capability and underwear? Loved the posting. It came in at the end of a long day writing.


  2. Fawzia says:

    So after spending a large part of the first year of my PhD pretty much moving from one pair of pyjamas into another, I realised I was cultivating a relationship with my work whereby I associated writing a tad too much with bed (didn’t help that my office pretty much was my bed!). Given the tendency for feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome to pervade academia, I decided that perhaps if I started looking like less of a tellytubby when working, I’d start taking my own abilities more seriously. So, although sometimes it’s tempting to stay in the stripey flannel, I force myself to wear ‘proper clothes’ when working, as well as attempting to keep ‘proper’ working hours. That said, the slipper remain. One can’t take oneself tooooo seriously…

    Thanks for your post, made me smile.


    • Business academic says:

      I do proper clothes when teaching, to allay imposter syndrome, but at home writing I don’t bother quite so much. I do, however, and did for my entire PhD treat it as a job. Dropped the kids at school at 8am, went to the office (20 min drive) and worked consistently until 3pm (unless using expensive after school care) and then collected kids from school and pretended to be a good parent for a few hours.
      That discipline really helped keep me focused (as well as a book which I drew a lightbulb on the front cover of and wrote down every good idea for a research project, or thesis extension, that I thought of) so I was not distracted by the latest shiny thing. I keep remembering the words of one of my supervisors – it doesn’t have to be brilliant; it just has to be done.


  3. Business academic says:

    Subtropical climate. Daggy = elastic waist shorts, oversize cotton tee shirt and thongs

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting to discuss this. I heard similar stories more often, but I need a shower before I can write. And after I have showered I like to put on regular, casual clothes. These are comfortable, but not daggy sweats. Something that I could wear to the mall so to say. Then I need to read a bit before I can start writing. Your getting into writing mode ritual sounds more efficient! I am usually only writing at working-at-home days, with your approach one could do this every morning before heading off to work. I am not sure though if this could work for me.


  5. kargraham says:

    I have two different ones, and it’s a product of when the writing is going on. If it’s mid-week I write when I get home from work (I’m the administrator for a PhD programme, so support staff not academic) and therefore were whatever I’ve had on that day plus a couple of layers because wherever we live, our office at home is always colder than the rest of the house.

    If it’s the weekend, it is usually my pajamas. I get up and go straight to the office to write. If I’m keeping at it the whole day I’ll put on joggies or leggings after I’ve been in the shower to signal that I’m not leaving the house.

    One of my academic friends wears a t-shirt and pants (UK=underwear) and nothing else. Their office is clearly much warmer than mine.


  6. Simon Bailey says:

    Daggy and proud – some serious bed hair usually accompanies, which is good for thinking/scrunching.


  7. Jane S says:

    “I put this salubrious outfit on as soon as I get up, generally pre-shower.”
    Oh, yes …
    The problem is, sometimes it gets to 4pm and I’m still sitting here, welded to a keyboard, in throes of thesis revision. I even resent leaving the house at present.
    Does this happen to everyone? Time doesn’t appear to stretch to the ordinary and mundane. Are there really efficient and *organised* researchers out there, whose lives run like clockwork and whose nearest and dearest don’t mutter imprecations when subjected to late dinners and a vague mother or wife who seems to have gone mentally AWOL?
    Oddly, it seems we women are more prone to the trackies and slippers mode of writing than our male counterparts are. This may well be a skewed assumption: it’s only based in personal experience. On the other hand, I know of men who have little routines they simply *must* observe before sitting down at their desks, so I guess the honours are about even! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Simon Bailey says:

      If there are gender norms concerning the wearing of slobbies then they are begging to be transgressed!


    • Audrey says:

      To the outside world, I probably looked/look like one of these clockwork researchers – but it is more borne of the fact that a 4 and 1 year old don’t really do ‘vague’ mama. Any hint of vagueness is severely punished! I applaud all researchers who get somewhat lost in the work and can go for long stretches without looking up. Good luck with the revisions 🙂


  8. Turandot says:

    I don’t have a fixed “writing outfit”. However I’ve noticed that I write more easily when I feel “contained”: so, no, nothing too comfy for me, thanks. I need my hair&my shoes tied up. Even when writing from home.


  9. Judith says:

    Wow. I am amazed. I write in slippers exactly the same- I call them the half sister ugh boot. I also have beside my bed right now my track pants which when cold, which it will be soon in CBR, go over the pjs. I have the kettle in the ‘den’ and there I write until one young person needs attention. This had been my PhD routine – as well! Nearly there. So heartening to read your writing journey Pat – I feel part of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great topics. I’m living in my gym clothes when I work from home because I’ve taken on a fitness programme at the same time as my PhD write-up (countdown is 8-9 months) so I’m (trying) to split up my non-writing time/food in the healthiest way possible (knowing I have a past history of depression/anxiety and spending all this time on my own, as much as I enjoy my own/the dogs company, I’m being careful with self care as ‘lying about in my pyjamas = darker times’ for me especially) – it sounds great when I type that but in reality, I just had to force myself to shower there and put fresh gym clothes on (and I’m now online looking for more ‘smarter’ gym clothes as I’m running out as the intensity increases) as I want to write for 2-3 hours before the next gym session I have planned (so I actually leave the house and do something other than sit at my computer) so in that limbo of “I’m having a shower only to put back on comfies again” – my partner works 9-5, m-f and has to wear a suit, so when he comes home, I’m like the wild woman of the kitchen during PhD days.

    At work (p/t lecturer), I’m all fun makeup, hair, leopard print and trainers, ain’t got no time for business wear – and I’m not putting myself through all of this academic nonsense to wear clothes that don’t make me feel good about myself. I own one suit jacket and I look like Simon Le Bon. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Writing often means sitting still for long periods of time and then I get cold. Hence, the daggy clothes are step one, followed by a dinosaur onesie if things get really cold. You can imagine the sight…


  12. Miss PT says:

    Ha! Australians have a certain way with euphemisms that avoids the distasteful! While New Zealanders will certainly refer to funny or characterful folk as ‘a bit of a dag’, the idea of talking about clothing or ways of dressing as ‘daggy’ would be going a little too far, I think. Given the relationship of dags to the nether regions of sheep that have not been ‘dagged’ (i.e. relieved of the residue that sticks to the wool in that region), ‘daggy’ for us would just not do to describe those wonderfully comfortable, often pilled, and worn-in writing clothes that many seem to find so conducive to writing. Now I cannot get the picture out of my head!
    But, I agree with the sentiments. When I was writing up my PhD I got up at 5, took a cup of tea into the library and wrote in my pyjamas for about 3 hours. Then I started the rest of the day (on the days when I didn’t have to go to work) changing into a set of clothes that were indistinguishable from the pyjamas and carried on.


  13. Pingback: Dressed for writing? A reply to Pat Thomson of Patter – The Artist & The Academic

  14. Carroll says:

    I have a pair of bright fuchsia-coloured knitted “study slippers” that I wore during my doctoral studies – and I still like to wear when I want to focus on my work. They’re a great signal to others that I shouldn’t be interrupted 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Blue hoodie, grey trackies, socks …
    I love reading your posts by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Love the idea of a certain outfit or item of clothing as a signal — especially to others — that serious writing is about to ensue! My PhD was squeezed in alongside work, on days off or at weekends, so there was no real need to look smart and presentable. Sometimes, I got stuck into writing shortly after getting up, which was of course great, but by late morning I’d be wracked with guilt at being such a slob, to the extent that feelings of self-reproach became a barrier to any further work. Other times, on those days when the writing didn’t come so easily, the best solution was to take the dog for a long walk (he was a fantastic listener), but there was always the danger of running into someone I knew on the way. So the usual dress code was casual but definitely nothing that would necessitate hiding from people.


  17. sherranclarence says:

    I love this post! I write in slippers or socks depending on the weather, and either pyjamas or a tracksuit pants/hoodie combo. If I am in ‘work’ clothes I struggle to write – those clothes are for email, meetings, feedback to students and so on. Slouchy clothes are writing clothes. 🙂


  18. leannemcane says:

    Definitely a pyjama writer. One of the things I love about my PhD is being able to sit around in ludicrously comfy clothes with no judgement from anyone while I work. After two years as a Secondary school TA, I really appreciate being able to work in comfy, non-business clothes! Sometimes I wear normal clothes if I have somewhere to be later on and don’t want to break my flow early just to get ready, usually long skirts as they’re at the comfy end of the normal clothes spectrum for me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s