Differing Styles Across College Majors

Matthew Collins, Tahlaya Hardin, Abby McNeal, Landon Schwab, Alyssa Winkler

College students around the country come from a variety of different backgrounds and motivations. This leads to a diverse number of people learning in a small community, but the subject matter that they are learning is often unrelated. These different backgrounds and interests can lead to different clothing stereotypes. At other colleges, there are examples of similar studies, but for different reasons, for example: “The purpose of this study was to determine the rationale behind football game day attire and to establish whether organizational identification, perceived organizational prestige, and game day participation influenced clothing choice.” (Crosby) This study focused on more than one college, but the premise of clothing as a way to determine something about a person remains the same. Specifically, at LSU different majors tend to have different styles, for example, biology majors tend to Whatever the cause of these stereotypes it is most important about if they are actually true and if they are not is there another way to identify a person by their major.

ag students
Figure 1: Photo of Agriculture students at Lucas Oil Stadium being applauded for their work at Billings University

Agriculture majors have a tendency to dress towards what they need to be wearing to work with animals or on a farm.  As the article states “students may desire a career in agriculture because they are interested in working outdoors” (Stair et. al, 2016). As many students are interested in working outdoors, it requires a certain form of dress. They are often seen wearing jeans, a button up work shirt, and boots fit for the outdoor work their major entails. When working with cattle a sturdy shoe is essential because the animals are large and have the possibility of stepping on the feet of their handler. Also, the shoes should have the ability to be easily cleaned due to the dirty environment that agriculture majors spend most of their time. This environment comes from constant working with animals or the soil from farming. Agriculture students will often wear long pants and long sleeves. Wearing long clothing helps to protect from cuts and burns that can come from tasks needed to raise animals. Cuts can come from barb wire fences which the animals live within.


The stereotype of art majors is that they tend to stand out when it comes to their fashion choices. They like to follow different fashion trends that arise and fluctuate. Art majors have an ever-changing style. Some tend to stand out with flamboyant colors and designs, while others are more casual and just follow seasonal trends. Art students choices in fashion are more personal to them. Each art student will have a different style based on what they like or what they think looks good. Some like to predict fashion trends and anticipate. Others like to carve their own fashion path and stand out from the crowd. There are the trendy art majors that follow seasonal trends and have accessories such as hats and boots for different occasions and times of the year. Then, there are the more eccentric art majors that express themselves through their clothes. This expression can come in many different forms such as hair coloring, eccentric designs, and the mixing of different fashion trends to make their own.

art major
Figure 2: Photo taken of Lindsey Setton by Landon SchwabEnter a caption

Art majors do tend to be more fashionable outside of school than other majors, but they are still college students that will usually rather comfortability over style. Many undergraduate art students have to wear inexpensive clothing that they can get dirty working in their studios. This is not to say that they will not show off their fashion sense if they know what type of work they will be getting into that day. I was able to interview Lindsey Settoon, an art major, where she explained her daily fashion choice by saying, “I usually wear what is most comfortable on that day, but I do not mind spicing it up on occasion.” (Settoon) This shows art majors dress just as any other undergraduate would dress, but depending on the person, will allow some of their style to show.

Typically when anyone thinks of someone’s choice of clothing, in the science major or profession they have a particular stigma that goes along with this major. Most may think guys of this major wear nerdy t-shirts and cargo shorts or pants, if it’s cold, while the gals also wear nerdy t-shirts with shorts or leggings if it’s cold. This could mean the student is just going for fun and comfort, but some might just think they are weird. Others may have the perception that they are only allowed to go to class and work in scrubs and lab jackets, but some of their courses do require them to wear scrubs in some labs. They could also be carrying around a textbook about biology or other courses they are studying during the day. They are typically always studying for a test with their backpack overflowing with loose papers and random notes on them, just overall looking discombobulated.

After doing some research, some successful scientists and biologist really focus on the idea that they hope their work is not being judged on the clothing on their bodies (Parachnowitsch).  While the focal point of the student or prospect is on the actual research and the work they have put forth to conduct their research. Leather states that there is not a so-called “dress code” but during some of the lab courses they are required to wear scrubs because it is a safety hazard. Overall, the dress code is whatever the student wants to wear. Below is an actual picture of an LSU biology major student, Grace Anna Perkins. She is currently studying biology and does not wear the stereotypical idea of a biology major as stated above. Of course, there are some people that wear the stereotypical outfits otherwise there wouldn’t be any stereotypes about these majors. I was also able to talk to, Grace Anna Perkins, a freshman biology major at LSU about her clothing on a daily basis to her biology and general education courses. She mainly spoke about just “throwing something on after rolling out of bed, so I make it to class on time.” (Perkins)

anna perkins
Figure 3: Photo of Grace Anna Perkins by Alyssa Winkler

There are two stereotypical views of engineering students. Those who dress well and professionally and those who embrace their long lab hours and tedious homework who dress as casually as possible. Often times these two different stereotypes can apply to the same person at different times of the semester. Depending on if it is career week and they have to be careful as to who they meet so they must be presentable at all times. Then during finals week when their exasperating schedule has driven them to the edge of a mental breakdown they break down and wear whatever they can find because after studying through the night, the last thing someone is worried about is how they look. These stigmas follow engineers throughout not only their college careers but also once they get a professional job, it still Figure 3: Photo of Grace Anna Perkins by Alyssa Winklerhaunts them. In the workforce, an engineer is supposed to look presentable at all times, but when working in the field it is hard to find that balance of professionality, balanced with comfort so at to not seem self-righteous to those plant workers.

The reason that this convention came to me is that of how engineers were portrayed in mass media in mast decades. Over the years engineers have switched from nerdy, antisocial men, to a more diverse field. “You thought that the math people were nerds? No, these guys are the most hardcore of all the nerds. These nerds are so nerdy they build things with their nerd skills and that’s pretty cool.” (Gennaro) The field is still primarily run by men, but there are more women than in past decades. Also, the demand for more engineers has increased exponentially, bringing with it a more diverse group of engineers than ever. The field is no longer only those people that can deal with machines and numbers, but now includes more sociable members of society as well including athletes, sweet talkers, and those willing to do whatever it takes to make money. This increase in demand for engineers opened the field to a larger variety of people. At many colleges, the engineering major, or majors depending on the college, is now flooded with first years trying to make money. Most of whom realize how difficult the major is and quickly switch, but a decent number persevere through and do graduate.

Figure 4: Photo of Steve Wozniak

These factors have greatly changed the once stale environment regarding the engineering major. An example of the older view of engineers is viewed below. A picture of Steve Wozniak in his over-sized glasses and awkward composure are evident in this photo.

Theater majors, Music Theater in particular mainly take classes such as acting, stage movement and dance, music theatre/opera workshop, and variety of other theatre and music classes. People assume since these students are always involved in a musical or play that these students are always wearing different costumes all the time, or are constantly dressed for rehearsals (a time when all the people in a play, musical, concert, practice it before giving a public performance) with wild crazy wigs and hairstyles. Like, this fall, LSU had Logos ‘String Quartet, Michelangelo String Quartet, Chamber Singers, A Cappella Choir, Jazz Showcase, Wind Ensemble, LSU Tiger Glee CLub & Women’s Chorale, Eugene Onegin, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Diary of Anne Frank, and many other events for theater and music’ (Queen) just this fall. Even though they do wear costumes during their plays or musical performances, they do not wear the costumes to class every day, just on dress rehearsal days. You would typically notable see a theatre student major, wearing black or another dark color leggings, comfortable tennis shoes, and a basic shirt. Sometimes instead of a shirt, they would wear a bright strikingly colored leotard. They actually wear bright colored leotards generally for certain classes because they want to stand out and bring the professor or director’s attention to them, which is significant when trying out for a role or position that everyone wants. This goes for both men and women. These students rarely wear cute sandals or slides to class because they basically are always walking, dancing, and moving around every minute of the day so staying fairly comfortable is their main objective so they can focus on what they are really learning that day instead of the pain they are essentially feeling in their legs or feet. Also, you would definitely see a theatre major in a different outfit when you see them later on that day.

Usually because for the most part, they keep a crew neck sweatshirts, button-up sweater, or pullover, something that is particularly comfortable they can throw on over their dance leotard or shirt, so they do not have to walk around and go to their other classes in their dance clothes. They also don’t always have their hair and crazy hairstyles or wearing different wigs every day, this is also only their days they are performing. Women will keep their hair in a messy bun, two ponytails, one high ponytail, or just leave it hanging straight or curly. In reality, theatre majors dress just like other students in different majors dress. Even when they have a dance class on a certain day they can still pass for another major because a lot of people typically wear yoga pants or leggings with a t-shirt to class. They dress like they definitely rolled out of bed and freshened up a bit to look decent.

theater majors
Figure 5: Photo by Stephen Rogan

These stereotypes discussed above all have their own reasons for existing. Stereotypes are not inherently a bad thing but are used as an oversimplification of a group of people. Some, like those of “nerdy scientists” did come from a feeling of contempt by society to a group of people who were only trying to advance the world. The same applies to other fields as well. “A lot can be determined by students on whether or not the teacher is serious about their job, purely by their dress.” (Sebastian) This was said about business students judging their professors about how much they care about how seriously they take their job. Others, like that seen in agriculture, developed because of the clothing that was most efficient for their desired career. Regardless of how these stereotypes form, the manner in which they are used to describe people is what matters most.

Works Cited

Crosby, Melanie, et al. “College Students’ Perceptions of University Identification and Football Game Day Attire.” College Student Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, Dec. 2006, pp. 740–749.

Figure 1: Billing University Students, Photo. MyAGventures 2014. Web. 29 November 2018.

Figure 2: Lindsey Setton, Landon Schwab. Photo 2018.

Figure 3: Grace Anna Perkins, Alyssa Winkler. Photo. 2018.

Figure 4: Wozniak, Steve. Apple 1976. Chegg, 2016. Photo. Web. 26 November 2018.

Figure 5: Rogan, Stephen. Yogo Art & Poetry, 2017. Photo. Book. 19 November 2018.

Gennaro, Caroline. “College Majors and Stereotypes, What Does Your Major Say About You?” Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness A Personalized Program 12th Edition | Rent9781111990015 | Chegg.com, CENGAGE Learning, 12 Dec. 2015, www.chegg.com/play/student-life/college-majors-and-stereotypes-what-does-your-major\-say-about-you/.

Queen, Todd. 2018 Fall Performance Guide. 8 Aug. 2018.

Schwab, Landon. Lindsey Settoon. 20 Nov., 2018.

Sebastian, Richard J., and Dennis Bristow. “Formal or Informal? The Impact of Style of Dress and Forms of Address on Business Students’ Perceptions of Professors.” Journal of Education for Business, vol. 83, no. 4, Jan. 2008, pp. 196–201.

Stair Kristin, et al. “A Major Decision: Identifying Factors That Influence Agriculture Students’ Choice of Academic Major.” Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, Vol 4, Iss 2,  no. 2, 2016, 111-16.

Winkler, Alyssa. Grace Anna Perkins. 21 Nov,. 2018.