Outfit of the day account teaches professional dress for students


Screenshot courtesy of Mark Ballam's Instagram

Ballam’s posts often feature surprise appearances by his dog Cocoa, who shows his head in the lower left corner.

by Eugènie Budnik, Staff Writer

When clicking on the Instagram account named ‘Mark@SDSUFowler,’ which has posts of a professionally dressed middle-aged man sharing the details of his ‘outfit of the day,’ one might be wondering exactly what connection to SDSU the account actually has.

The account actually belongs to Mark J. Ballam, the managing director for San Diego State’s Center for Advancing Global Business (SDSU CAGB). In this role, Ballam works with professors to incorporate international perspectives into their business curriculum and creates opportunities for students to include international experiences into their studies. 

However, when Ballam is not building bridges between major global companies and SDSU, he is running a brand-new professional clothing Instagram account. 

The account was not Ballam’s idea, but the idea of his colleague Zena Yang who serves as the center coordinator for SDSU CAGB. Yang encouraged Ballam to create the account following the comfy and unstructured fashion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I came in and I told Zena that I had found a pair of shoes at the back of my closet. I even had to dust them off, as they had been in there for so long,” Ballam said.

Yang introduced Ballam to the term ‘outfit of the day’ or ‘OOTD,’ in which influencers will post pictures and details of their daily attire on social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. 

Ballam said he reluctantly agreed to start the account, but came to think of it as a fun post-pandemic activity. 

“It took me a while to agree, as I’m pretty naive with social media. But Zena, as well as other colleagues were so excited at the idea so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try it’ and so far it’s been okay,” Ballam said.

The account features pictures of Ballam sitting in the same spot every day, with details of the day’s outfit tagged in the post’s caption. The posts also feature a second picture which focuses on his shoes, which Ballam believes to be one of the most important elements of a professional outfit. Ballam’s most tagged shoe brands are Allen Edmonds, Mark Nason Los Angeles and Cole Haan.

Those with a keen eye can even spot Ballam’s rescue dog Cocoa sneaking into the pictures. 

Ballam’s Instagram account is not without influences, however. Ballam’s own father was always professionally dressed, and Ballam has been inspired to incorporate his dad’s beliefs into his own career and hobbies.

“My dad always used to say that you needed to make sure your shoes were shined and your wrinkles were ironed out,” Ballam said.

Ballam said he hopes to continue uploading content to his Instagram account, and hopes it will inspire the students of SDSU to dress their best when in the realm of professionals.

“My advice to students, especially when interviewing [for a job] is to dress one step up from your daily dress. It doesn’t have to be super fancy! A simple button up shirt and sport jacket will work fine,” Ballam said.

Those interested in keeping up with Mark Ballam and his professional outfits can follow him on Instagram @markatsdsufowler.