I have been invited to give a talk at a university in Canada, with a view to getting a postdoc job there (although there won't be a formal job interview at this stage). I'm female and in biomedical sciences. I'm currently based in the UK, and based on the dress code I'm used to I would go for business-casual: blouse and jumper, smart black jeans, maybe a blazer as well. Is this what would be expected in Canada? In the UK I wouldn't dream of wearing a suit, but I'm not sure if there's a cultural difference in what is normal to wear for this kind of thing, so I would appreciate any tips!

  • Have you looked for any pictures or videos of people presenting in Canada for similar things recently? Or have you thought of contacting the secretary of the department and asking them?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:08
  • Thanks for your reply. I haven't had any contact with the department secretary. Looking for pictures and videos is a good idea - I've checked the department's Twitter feed for clues, but speakers tend to be hidden behind lecturns!
    – user106569
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:37
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    I think that what you said will perfectly fits.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:46
  • 3
    An amauti with mukluks
    – SChalice
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:21
  • 1
    Depends on the city. If it's Winnipeg, I'd wear a Nashville Predators jersey. :P
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 22:12

4 Answers 4


Female, Canadian postdoc at a Canadian university here who was recently hired into a biomedicine lab after a job talk. I wore dress pants and a trendy button up shirt with trendy flats for my interview. FWIW, I would have felt very underdressed in jeans, but not overdressed with an additional blazer. What you've described fits perfectly with the academic culture I've experienced at three different institutions in Southern and Eastern Ontario. Good luck!


Note: I am not Canadian, so this may be a bit off. However, I do hire post-docs fairly regularly into a research group at a US National Lab.

First - for an official post-doc interview your proposed attire seems appropriate. Dress slacks rather than jeans would be an upgrade, but probably not necessary. (Note that standards in the US can vary regionally, I'd assume similar in Canada. What is needed in Toronto might be different than Vancouver or Saskatchewan. An interview in New York City is different than Denver.)

As an added comment, you should treat this as a job interview because it definitely is one. While it may not be the formal interview, they have asked you are going out to give a talk. Any impressions from this visit will apply to a more formal interview. If it goes well, there may not even be a separate formal interview. Good luck.


I am Canadian and am at a Canadian university. However, I am in engineering, so your field may be different.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Business casual is usually acceptable for giving talks here, and I am in full agreement with Jon Custer's answer. I have been to many talks from visiting academics and other than when they are being formally interviewed I have never seen anyone wearing a suit.

  2. Your chosen attire is perfectly fine, given (1) above.

  3. It has been my experience that no one really pays attention to the speaker's dress. As long as the talk is engaging, business casual will be fine.

  4. The vast majority of professors I've interacted with dress business casual, with some being more casual than business. Only very rarely do I work with someone who wears a tie, and then it is even more rare to see someone in a full suit.

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    Your answer is nice, but #3 is usually not true for women. I've heard several person saying they don't pay attention to how someone's dress but making comments on the looks of speakers.
    – Emilie
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 17:37
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    Yes, #3 is definitely a biased view - mostly people don't pay attention to the speaker's dress precisely because academics generally dress in a casual, inconspicuous manner that blends with the dress of the audience and their expectations. If you don't dress correctly, however, which in this context means the proper "academic camouflage", then the standout dresser will certainly be noticed for it, I'd bet by yourself and others.
    – J...
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 17:46
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    Glad to hear some Canadians' views. I agree that what you wear does leave an impression on an audience, whether conscious or unconscious, and I think this is truer for women because there are more possible ways to dress. I'll stick to business casual :)
    – user106569
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:57
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    I'm not in academia, nor in Canada, but I'll bet there's a double standard (mostly due to unconscious biases) and men can get away with more casual attire than women. But business casual will almost certainly be adequate for anyone.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 23:53
  • @Barmar I wouldn't say so, certainly not generally. My feeling is that academics will tend to pay more notice to the person who is conspicuously overdressed more than under (from industry? trying to impress?), although an invited speaker would certainly have more leeway to dress a bit better. I wouldn't think women would be held to any higher standard as far as casual attire goes. I'd say, if you would wear it to lecture in it's fine to give a talk in as well.
    – J...
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 18:03

This topic reminds me of a local news story I saw last week:

speaker issues update of dress code at bc legislature sleeveless dresses ok

There are still some sectors here that do, in fact, have out dated dress codes, but when they are talked about it's usually a shock to the rest of us.

I would assume that you're good to go with your usual dress, but I still wanted to share that article anyhow.

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    That is the dress code for the provincial legislature whose customs are rooted in the court dress of the commonwealth. It has no bearing on public casual dress.
    – J...
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:17
  • @J... yes, of course, but this is the only place I've seen that discusses a setting where this would be a concern. Just contributing to the conversation. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:31
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    Fortunately the weather will be too cold to go sleeveless anyway! Glad to know these kinds of requirements are uncommon.
    – user106569
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:59
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    It's really not applicable to the question -- might as well talk about court staff wearing tabs and a powdered wig.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 0:00

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