Move over Vogue: Best-dressed professors give lessons in style

By Emily Larkin, Managing and Online Editor

Many college students roll out of bed to get to class in sweatpants and a t-shirt only to find themselves faced with a meticulously well-dressed professor that puts them to shame. We recently took a survey to determine the best-dressed professors at Newman. Check out the top five.

Dr. Audrey Hane, Retro Chic

With her turquoise bell bottoms, neutral sweater, leopard print shoes and dangly beaded earrings, professor of communication Dr. Audrey Hane calls her style “playful, colorful and inappropriately youthful.”

Students say her cheetah- print Apple watch stands out only second to the click-clack of her ever-present heels. Hane, whose office is on the third floor of McNeil, said her obsession with heels runs in the family.

“They tell me that on the second floor… they can hear me walking because of my heels...They are actually more comfortable on my feet,” Hane said. “My grandmother used to play tennis in heels because they were comfortable on her feet.”

Hane said her sense of style goes back decades. She said when she saw her green-blue pair of bell bottoms in the store, it took her back to the pair she had in middle school in the 80s.

“The other ones were corduroy and baby blue, and I wore them all the time,” she said. “I had to rubberband them when I rode on my bike so that they wouldn’t get caught in my bike chain.”

Junior Jose Rojas- Montero described Hane’s style in three words: “Furry coat queen.”

“I’m tactile, so the way things feel is really important to me,” she said. “It’s almost a self-soothing mechanism.”

Hane says her best advice for students who want to boost their confidence when shopping is to bring along a friend who they “trust both in their style and in their willingness to be honest.”

Dr. Wendy Sahatjian, Comfortable Business

Dr. Wendy Sahatjian, professor of business, describes her style as “classic.” From structured skirts to black boots, she says she tries to dress as comfortable as she can for each occasion.

Junior Martina Viale said Sahatjian has a particular style that she admires.

“It always stands out to me that she has a ton of boots. She can rock them with any outfit.”

Sahatjian said boots have become her go-to style piece.

“I love boots. You know when you’re younger and you sometimes sacrifice comfort for style?” she said. “I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that boots are more comfortable. They are warmer, and I think they look good with everything.”

Sahatjian said that students should feel confident that what they’re wearing is right.

“Be comfortable,” Sahatjian said. “Have faith in the choices that you’ve made that it’s appropriate for the situation and most importantly that it’s appropriate to you.”

Sahatjian, who is the mom of twin 23-year-old girls, said she can always tell how her outfits really look by her daughters’ reactions.

“Their whole life, I never had to look in a mirror; I just had to look at their faces, so that was easy.”

Sahatjian said that no matter what students wear, positivity is key.

“I do think that your smile is your best accessory.”

Carole Pracht, Classic and Elegant

Students have described piano and organ instructor Carole Pracht’s style as “timeless.”

“It has to be something that is going to be a lasting style, not too trendy,” he said. “You can have trendy accessories but it’s got to be something that’s going to last for a while.”

Junior Kirsten Sanders described Pracht’s style as “phenomenal” and said her heels also are her most prominent accessory.

Pracht said heels will go with “just about anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s denim or a dress.”

Pracht said wearing heels has always been an easy fit.

“When I was a little girl I remember walking around barefoot with walking on my toes, so it just seems so natural to wear heels.”

Pracht says music has always been a huge part of every aspect of her life, including fashion.

“I have a huge respect and love of music and you have to work with that same respect and love with each and every person that walks in your door,” she said, “so then you just try to find the clothes that fit that realm of work.”

Dr. Christopher Fox, Loud and Vintage

From his comic book inspired suit jacket that is covered in phrases like “Bam!” and “Boom!” to his glasses that cover over a third of his face, professor of philosophy Dr. Christopher Fox says he will “make things work that no one else will wear.”

Sophomore Elena Cummings said Fox’s “infamous square glasses” are what really sets him apart.

Being a glasses wearer since the age of 14, Fox says he went through many phases before settling of the gigantic style he has now.

“I am a big fan of 70s rock, especially a songwriter named Bob Welch,” he said. “He always had huge glasses. I saw them and I realized, ‘You have to go big or go home.’”

After his expensive Cazal 607 glasses fell off his face and broke, Fox said he bought a similar pair with a metal bar over the bridge of the nose.

“My father saw them and said I looked like Swifty Lazar,” he said. “My wife approved, and so I’ve gone big ever since.”

Fox said his style was first inspired by a man he saw in Memphis who was proudly wearing a full denim outfit with a straw hat.

“It was an awesome outfit, and he knew he was awesome. I thought ‘I will totally appropriate that,’ and I did,” he said. “I will wear anything with a loud, bold pattern.”

Fox, who calls himself a thrift shop connoisseur, said his favorite patterns are ‘muted plaid textures with complexities to them.”

Through his international travels, Fox has found his hot spots for “great finds.”

“I love to go clothes buying in Malaysia… There’s this neighborhood called Chow Kit where all the used clothing merchants are,” he said. “They get these huge bales of vintage shirts from all over the world.”

Fox said that the best advice he could give to students who are struggling to wear something bold is to just be themselves.

“For every person who wants to try to embarrass you or shame you, there are many other people who love that you wore that thing because life is fun, and you should dress like life is fun,” he said. “Anything loud you can make work. You just have to be daring enough to carry it off.”

Dr. Umbarger, Simple and Sophisticated

Dr. Matthew Umbarger, professor of theology, is color blind, which he says makes finding clothes an adventure. Umbarger, who can’t tell green from brown, credits his wife for most of his fashion.  

“I have to confess... Robin dresses me. I’d be a fashion disaster without her.”

Umbarger said the inspiration for his style comes from Mike Austin, who was the provost when Umbarger started at Newman.

“[He] told me that there should be some professional distance between the faculty and the students. ‘For some people like Professor McFall,’ he said, ‘their height provides the necessary gravitas.’ Then, he looked down at me and said, ‘You’re going to need a tie.’”

Freshman Brenden Schwartz said Umbarger’s accessories go farther than just necklaces and rings.

“The man has a wicked beard,” Schwartz said.

Umbarger said that his beard has really begun to grow on him - literally.

“I have always wanted to grow out my beard. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe because I really love the character of Gandalf?” he said. “Robin recommended that I give it a try a few years ago. Now I spend more time grooming my beard than she does on her hair. It’s embarrassing.”

PHOTO: NEWMAN'S BEST DRESSED PROFESSORS have favorite clothing pieces ranging from eccentric earrings to loud T-shirts and stylish jackets. Emily Larkin, Managing and Online Editor.