Augustana’s next top model: tenured fashion icons span departments

Styles come and go, but professor fashion remains the same — at least it does at Augustana, where professors find a style they like and never let go.

After receiving many suggestions from students on social media, The Augustana Mirror  has uncovered campus’s greatest fashion icons.

This week, we’ll start with two, and bring you more lovable fashions as online classes begin (we know you’ll miss seeing these icons each day, so we’ll make sure and bring them to you).

First up? Journalism professor Jeffrey Miller and biology professor Amy Lewis. 

Jeffrey Miller, a professor best known for his purple sweaters and pens, has been sporting the color for over 35 years. Photo by Beau Bordewyk.

Jeffrey Miller

Known for: All purple, all the time

Jeffrey Miller has been wearing purple every day since 1985 and owes it to music legend Prince.

“I would say Prince created the possibility for purple to exist as a color in men’s fashion because he broke the mold,” Miller said. “And who’s going to argue with Prince? Not me.”

While orange used to be Miller’s purple, he said there are certain days when purple is just not an option.

“There are exception days, and those are days when it’s really hot in the summer. Purple is dark,” Miller said.

These “exception” days, however, do not include special events like graduations or weddings. Miller has a multitude of purple ties and purple socks to complete each outfit.

Despite 35 years of parading purple, Miller said he does not feel required to wear purple even though the expectation is there.

“There are occasionally days when it’s like ‘people expect it, so I should.’” Miller said. “It’s like Obama (who, by the way, I’m very much alike in other ways). Obama had blue and gray suits and made choosing not that big of a deal. For me, there’s reddish purple and violet purple, so I have to coordinate according to those.”

According to Miller, his closet is not a sea of purple. He does, however, find joy in wearing it every day, writing exclusively with purple pens and being reminded of it every time he goes onto Twitter. His username includes the word purple. (Yes, it really does: @purplemiller.)

“There’s no deep, hidden psychological deal with this,” Miller said. “I just like the color.”

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 8.58.55 PM
During Halloween, the biology faculty stunted as the crew from Harry Potter. Second from the left, Amy Lewis makes a convincing Professor Snape. Submitted.

Amy Lewis

Known for: Hawaiian shirts & loud patterns

Amy Lewis starts every new school year by wearing a fun, Hawaiian shirt on the first day of classes. She does this, not for herself, but for her students — specifically, the freshmen.

“I have a face that is not friendly, and I know that,” Lewis said. “In order to contradict that, I have to loosen up with my wardrobe a little. I want the freshmen to see that we’re not all serious and scary.”

While the Hawaiian shirt trend started within the past few years, Lewis was known before that to wear “loud vests.”

“I just like shirts that attract attention even though I’m not really an attention seeker,” Lewis said.

Her favorite patterns are ones with big leaves and birds. This is fitting given her profession as an ornithologist.

To answer two very important questions: No, Lewis has never been to Hawaii, and yes, she does wear her Hawaiian shirts to weddings and other special events.

“I have a couple Hawaiian shirts that I think are quite nice,” Lewis said. “The last time I wore fancy, professional clothes was when I interviewed for this job, which was in 2004. That was the last time I wore a skirt.”

Lewis’s wardrobe also functions practically, as she often works in the lab where dress clothes simply won’t work.

The lab does, however, allow for Halloween, which is an important holiday for Froiland Science Complex professors. Last Halloween, the biology department dressed up as characters from Harry Potter. Lewis dressed as Professor Snape, who she said she bared an eerily similar resemblance to.

Amid her eye-catching patterns and impressive costumes, Lewis finds humor in being recognized as an Augie fashion icon by students.

“When I was in college, my roommate called me a ‘fashion tragedy,’” Lewis said. “She was very stylish, and I wore camouflage and plaid together.”

From tragedy to icon, Lewis now lives by one simple fashion rule: “Wear what you feel good in.”

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