Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Fond Farewell

Hello, Scholar Style Guide readers!  We have enjoyed contributing to this blog so much that it's bittersweet to announce we are bringing it to its conclusion.  We started the blog because, as our abstract says, we wanted to participate in conversations about the cultural construction of fashion, the semiotics of clothing, and how we can take these theoretical approaches to thinking about clothing and apply them to our daily dressing choices.   It has been a pleasure getting to know you all and discussing these issues with you.  Your comments have continued to assure us that intelligent, thoughtful, and stylish women abound within academia and beyond.  You've also become interested in and supportive of our personal lives and obstacles, and we have enjoyed interacting with you and each other through our collaborative blog project.  It has also been a fun creative outlet for us that has contributed to the life of the mind for each of us.

When we began last March, we didn't know how long we'd keep up the blog.  We figured we'd write until we felt like we had run out of things to add to the conversation.  We're stepping away now because we feel like we've shared just about everything we have to contribute to the online style blog community.  We look forward to keeping up with those of you who maintain your own blogs and we are confident that the thoughtful style blogging conversation is in very capable hands despite our departure.

For our final post, we put together some of our most popular, memorable, and favorite posts over the past 9 months.  We hope this will serve as a fun reminder to our longtime readers, encourage our newer readers to click back through the archives, and give future readers who stumble across our blog a good point of entry for navigating our ideas.

left to right:
Hair Metamorphosis
Thoughts on Fur
Let's Talk About Lace, Baby!
Gingham Getup and Bygone Girliness
Grass is Always Greener
Hired or (Gulp!) Fired?
Dressing Simply With Patterns
Search all of Anne-Marie's posts.

left to right:
Embracing Color 
Katie No Feet
Body Insecurities
Shorts and Summer
Curves, Calves, Coloring
Generic Categories
Dressing "Ladylike"
Search all of Katie's posts.

left to right:
Rut Ditching; or, Pattern Mixing
Dresses as Skirts
Dressed-Up Comfort
Comfort Levels
Possible Summer Trend Overload
Textual Analysis: Henry James
Adrienne Rich and Heels
Search all of Liz's posts.

Wardrobe Workhorse Week

In September, we hosted a collaborative blog project to celebrate the items in our closets that we wear most frequently.  You can see the introductory post here, the wrap-up post and list of participants here, and all of our own posts here.

Thanks again, everybody, for reading along and sharing your ideas.  If you're finding us for the first time sometime in the future, we hope you'll still feel free to join the conversation!  At some point our url will bounce back to, but we're happy to leave these nine months and many, many interesting conversations out there on the internet for us and our readers to consult in the future.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Last Day of Classes!


Earlier Drafts: 
I debuted these boots on Tuesday, and I've worn this dress differently here and here.

faux turquoise beaded necklace (Kohl's)
brown and white print dress (Target)
long oatmeal cardigan (Target)
cognac faux-leather wide stretch belt (Charlotte Russe)
brown tights layered over gray tights (NY&Co)
cognac leather riding boots (Steve Madden, gifted)

Today's the last day of classes for me this semester!  This means I'm collecting final research papers from my students, attending my final grad class of the term, and heading to our end-of-semester graduate student potluck.

I wore this outfit on Tuesday, though, for the second to last day with my students.  I know it's not too innovative to wear my new cognac boots with a brown ensemble, but a long cardigan is a step into new territory for me.  I was a big fan of this look from S. at Narrowly Tailored, so when I saw these long cardigans on sale at Target for $15, I finally picked one up and promptly ripped off her styling techniques to put together my own outfit.  I liked how the long cardi gave the outfit a bit of a "wrapped in a blanket" type feeling, and though it's a lot of brown, I liked how the cognac belt and boots complemented the chocolate brown of the dress and the tights.  I put the turquoise necklace on to serve as a pop of color, but I'm not that thrilled with what it adds to the outfit.  I kind of think I should have just embraced the brown and worn some brown beads instead.

My students are expected to evaluate their participation at several points throughout the semester, so they submitted their last self-evaluations on Tuesday.  There is a space to add "comments," and normally, if they write anything at all, they use this space to explain why they don't talk much in class, to ask if coming to office hours counts as participation, etc.  Most of them leave it blank.  Yesterday, one of my quieter male students wrote "This class taught me a lot about writing," and one of my quieter female students wrote 2 or 3 sentences telling me she really appreciated my teaching style.  Neither of them has ever complained about a grade, or asked for extra credit, or done anything to suggest they might be fishing for favoritism, so their unexpected notes were nice to read.  During my office hours, the three students who'd scheduled appointments to talk about last minute questions for the final papers stopped in, and I was so pleased with how much work they're putting in.  I am genuinely looking forward to reading their papers after chatting with them briefly yesterday.

These interactions reminded me that while it's so easy to get frustrated by the handful of students who demand a lot of attention by sending unnecessary emails, complaining about grades, etc., it's important to keep in mind that those students don't speak for everyone.  Teaching this semester has been a constant struggle to try to re-learn some of the things I first learned as a high school teacher.  I remember now that oftentimes student silence is a sign that everything is going fine.  I generally aim for my courses to be ones in which students get out of them what they put in, so it is rewarding to hear that those students who are making the effort are learning.  I tend to begin to feel like my work is futile when one or two students want to pass the blame off on me for their underperformance.  Yesterday served as an important reminder:  If the students who wanted to learn from my class feel like they did, the class has been a success.

Since many of you teach in different capacities, I wanted to share this reminder with you as you gear up to grade final assignments or final exams.  Your students probably learned a lot more than you realize.  I think we can all remember a class we took in which our instructor would have had no idea how much we loved it or how much we learned from it.  I'm hoping I can keep that in mind as I grade their final papers and as I reflect back on my first semester with undergrads.


  • How do you wear long cardigans?  Please share links!
  • If you teach, what are some ways that you work toward keeping a healthy perspective on your success as an instructor?  Any other tips for keeping those critical students from getting to you?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shifting Boot Signification


Earlier Drafts: 
These distressed skinnies have gotten plenty of mileage this fall.

chunky cream sweater (Old Navy clearance)
polish (OPI Can You Tapas This?)
distressed skinnies (American Eagle)
cognac leather riding boots (Steve Madden, gifted)

How great are these boots?!  Last winter I bought the pair of affordable Steve Madden slouch boots which have featured prominently on the blog because I wanted to experiment with tall boots for the first time in ages.  I had sworn off tall boots in 2004 when I wore (what I thought were) a tasteful pair to teach and one of my co-workers informed me that my high school students were calling them "dominatrix boots."  They had a round toe and a thick heel, but apparently a boot didn't need a pointy toe or a stiletto heel to classify as "dominatrix" so long as it was a knee high leather one.

Boots have come a long way since then, no?  There are so many options available now!  It seems like they've moved out of "trend" territory and have established themselves over the past few winters as a women's wardrobe staple.  The attitude toward them seems to have changed as they've become more widespread, and they seem to signify differently, too.  When I wore mine to teach in 2004, I thought it was acceptable because all the businesswomen in Chicago, near where I went to undergrad, wore them to work in the winter.  Apparently they were still unusual in my more rural school district in an area with a more moderate climate.  Now they're so ubiquitous that unless a teacher's boots have an especially pointy toe or skinny, tall heel, I don't think students even blink.  Though I guess that wearing them with short skirts still gives tall boots a different connotation.

I found myself reaching for those gray boots more and more, and one of my favorite features of wearing them was how they could turn a cozy, casual outfit into a chic look.  I wore them so often, in fact, that I decided to ask for a nice, high quality pair of cognac riding boots from my husband for Christmas.  I love everything about this pair.  They fit my fairly slender calves, the hardware details make them unique, the leather is buttery but sturdy, and I love how the zipper up the back is incorporated in the design of the boot-- it gives them just a touch of a bada** feel.  It also makes them super easy to get on and off.

I also think the boots might have super powers.  My husband has been encouraging me along and picking up the slack as I try to get through my hectic end-of-semester, and strapping these beauties on for the last few days of sitting in front of my computer helped me push through and finish a really complex thought experiment.  We joked about putting their box under the Christmas tree, but being able to wear them for these next few weeks is a great gift!


  • Do you agree that tall boots signify differently now than they did even a few years ago? What factors do you think contribute to this change?
  • Have you adopted boots as a wardrobe staple?  If so, how many pairs do you own? And which colors do you favor?  I've been surprised to find that my gray pair seem even more versatile than a black pair might have been.
  • What do you pair with cognac leather?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Please Share Your Leather Care Advice!

Hi All!  I've just received these boots as an early Christmas present from my husband, and I can't wait to show you how fantastic they are in an outfit post.

However, I'm hoping you'll share your leather care advice so I can properly treat the leather before I take them out in the elements.  I've read online that some people use beeswax, and there are a lot of different treatments you can purchase at the store, so I am curious what method of weatherproofing has worked best for you.

If you have a treatment or a product that you've had good success with, please share it in the comments!  Thanks, and I hope you all have a great weekend!


image via Piperlime (or as I like to call them, "Definitely Not Zappos")

Friday, December 3, 2010

Putting on my Game Face


Earlier Drafts:
These high-heeled Mary Janes are my go-to when I need a boost (literally and figuratively).
I own a lot of items with big floral prints, including this skirt.
To "fall up" my favorite summer dress, I paired it was a purple cardigan and these grape tights.
The seahorse necklace is one of my three sea creature necklaces.

purple top (Marshalls)
black and white skirt (The Limited)
purple tights (Hue)
high-heeled Mary Janes (Michael by Michael Kors)
seahorse necklace (gift from boyfriend)

The end of the semester - aka insanity - is upon us!  I'm in the midst of seminar papers right now, and my writing attire is pretty similar to Liz's.  However, last week, I had a (forced) lull in the writing frenzy for two big meetings, one with a professor to discuss my paper in a field that I am not super familiar with and one with my advisor to discuss exams, reading lists, committees, etc. - you know, just my entire life for the next few years.  I wanted to bring my game face to both of these meetings, especially the second one, and I wanted to up the style factor in order to do so.

Anne-Marie talked about this issue before, though her "game face" was for slightly different circumstances.  Since I wasn't planning on writing or reading for long periods of time that day, comfort wasn't as much of an issue since my schedule didn't allow enough time to hunker down in a cozy work spot.  So I pulled on a skirt, tights, and high heels.

I really like the color purple (the hue and the book, actually), and I thought it would be fun to go with a purple-themed outfit.  Colorful tights aways make me happy, and I like the contrast they make with this neutral skirt.  The outfit served its purpose, and I felt great that day.  And my professors noted that she liked my tights (and my paper's thesis - whew!). 

As I look at this outfit again, I think a belt would look good here.  I'm not a big belter, though I think with Liz's influence, I'm increasingly drawn to them.

Apologies for my somewhat scattered post; my thoughts are in another word document.  Good luck to all of you at this busy time of year!

  • What's your "game face" (game outfit?) look like? (yes, I realize that Liz asked a similar question recently, but really, that's the theme of this time of year)
  • When do you need to put on your "game face"?  When you write?  For big meetings?  For big departmental benchmarks?  For all of the above?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skirts on a Plane


Earlier Drafts:
I've worn this skirt with these boots before.
I like pairing this simple black turtleneck with colorful accessories.

black short-sleeved turtleneck (H&M)
burgandy skirt (American Eagle)
black opaque tights (Target)
boots (Dingo via Zappos)
military style jacket (Macys)

After having a blast at my cousin's wedding, I had to fly back home - a trip I blame for my recent cold.  I usually opt for a minimalist, simple look while flying, though I've tried switching it up a bit.  I'm always freezing on planes, so I normally wear jeans, long-sleeved shirts, flats, and I usually tuck socks and a cardigan in my carry-on.  This time, though, I took a cue from La Historiadora de Moda from Fashionable Academics and from Anne-Marie on trying a non-pants outfit with boots on a plane.

This skirt is comfortable, and the opaque tights are surprisingly warm.  Anne-Marie was right about the boots with socks keeping you warm - worked like a charm.  I was shocked to find that this outfit kept me warm enough to take off my jacket for almost the entire flight.  I bought it in September but hadn't had an occasion to post it before.  Though this raincoat is one of my favorite items ever - and probably garnered the most comments of any piece of clothing I've ever owned - I really wanted a simple fall jacket to just throw on for a little extra warmth.  This military style jacket is versatile, on-trend (though that's never really a selling point for me, just a coincidence), and inexpensive.  Perhaps its key selling point is that it's made of sweatshirt-type material, making it comfortable enough to fall asleep in on a plane.

Prior to my trip, I thought that this outfit would be a fine travelling ensemble, but not a great one.  However, I found it to be a comfortable, cute alternative to my normal jeans-and-a-t-shirt look.  Also, getting a sweet compliment on it from my boyfriend when he picked me up also helped convince me to consider furthering my styling choices for air travel (though I suspect he would have said it no matter what I was wearing).

  • Do you wear skirts on planes?  Boots?
  • What do you look for when purchasing jackets?
  • How important are current trends to you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blogging Break Needed


gray long sleever (Target)
red open cardigan (Express, gifted by my sister)
distressed skinnies (American Eagle)
gray slouch boots (Steve Madden)
gold lame skinny belt (Charlotte Russe-- to be debuted in sincerity soon)

You guys, I really need to take a blogging break.  So I'm posting this outfit even though I don't think it is bloggable at all.

I hope all of you stateside enjoyed a restful, relaxing, and/or productive Thanksgiving weekend with plenty of good food and good company.  I don't feel rested or relaxed, but I've gotten a lot of work done, so I don't feel panicked, either, which is an improvement over my state of mind two days ago.  After spending a nice Thanksgiving with my sister and my husband's extended family, I began a marathon paper writing session.  This means there hasn't been a lot of fashion going on in this house, but I thought you might be interested in how I dress for an extended period of mental heavy lifting.  (Or maybe, even if you don't care, you're just begging for a new post to pop up your reader so you can take a break for 2-3 minutes, as I've been doing for the past few days.)

While I sometimes find that dressing up helps me "bring my A game" to my work, this particular paper has felt more like slogging along than showing off.  So I've been wearing comfortable clothes that allow me to settle in for the duration.  I get cold easily, so layers are important.  For some reason, I also insist on writing in really long sleeves.  One of my favorite things about this sweater my sister gave me is the length of the sleeves.  Its drapey, open fit also makes it feel a little bit like a blanket.  And while writing in boots might seem strange, my feet get cold really easily, and this look is definitely preferable to the puffy striped socks/red flats look I was rocking yesterday.

I also employ some other profoundly nonsensical practices when trying to get through a really difficult thought experiment.  I eat a lot of gummy peach rings and drink a lot of wild cherry diet pepsi (because the two balance each other out?).  Thankfully, this glucose/aspartame cocktail has been supplemented this time by several heapings of my grandmother-in-law's delicious stuffing.  When I get stuck, I ask iTunes to play me a random song, take a break while it plays, and then get back to work once it's finished.  Sometimes my mind is blank during these 3-4 minute breaks, and sometimes I have important thoughts.  Yesterday I had a great idea while I listened to "Toes" by the Zac Brown Band with my forehead resting on the table.  (Have you seen the movie trailer where Paul Rudd smashes his head on a table after getting bad news on the phone-- starting at 0:45?  I can't tell you how many times I have imagined myself doing that these past few days.)  Sometimes the song iTunes chooses makes me laugh, like when "(I've Got To) Stop Thinking About That" by James Taylor cued up.  I wish I could, James.

Since I fear I might have disappointed you with my uninspiring outfit or my random babbling about my paper writing, I'll leave you with a photo of Oscar acting like life is hard.


  • What do you wear when it's time to settle in and get down to business?
  • Do you have any tricks of your own that help you get through a difficult task?