Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Look Like a Professor


eyeglasses (Kate Spade)
nail polish (OPI Over the Taupe)

My presentation went well!  Thanks to those of you who weighed in on my conference presentation look via comments, email, facebook, and in person.  Your perspectives were definitely on target! I felt perfectly attired for my presentation, and that helped me feel confident about delivering my paper, too.

My professor stopped in during the Q&A because he knew I was nervous about fielding questions.  He is generally encouraging and enthusiastic, and afterwards, he said I did a good job answering the questions. He also told me "You looked like a professor up there!"  I think he meant to imply that I had handled myself well, which I certainly appreciated.  Since I'm a scholar interested in style, though, I couldn't help but notice that he said I looked like a professor rather than seemed like one.

Since you already know what I wore, I thought I would address two "accessories" issues that were particularly important to me for this important styling moment and which I think may have helped me "look like a professor": polish and eyeglasses.

I confess to possessing an incurable nail biting habit.  I'm aware, though, that nothing says "amateur" like badly bitten nails.  I keep my nails polished at all times because I cannot stop myself from biting them otherwise.  I generally pick at my nails most when I am thinking, reading, and/or writing, so as you can imagine, graduate school is a recipe for disaster.  After destroying them during my second semester, I decided that polish was a necessary answer.  I spent a lot of (read: too much) time thinking about which polish to choose for this conference. I have been obsessed with OPI's You Don't Know Jacques for the past six months, but I thought it was a little too dark for this event.  I went with YDKJ's lighter sister, Over the Taupe, because it felt like "me," slightly trendy, and yet fairly neutral.  A few women complimented my nails at the conference, which surely would not have been the case if they'd been chewed up.  All but one of these women were European; are they more nail savvy across the pond?

I consider eyeglasses a serious style choice because I only have one pair and I wear them about half the time.  I like these frames because their brown hue is not too severe for my complexion, the branding detail is interesting but subtle, and the frameless bottom keeps them from overpowering my small face.  Unlike my polish decision, though, I didn't have to spend any time thinking about whether to wear glasses or contacts for the conference.  Anytime I feel like I'm going to be under academic pressure, I'm wearing glasses.  The reason for this is two-fold.

The first reason I wore glasses is that I believe glasses and academics go hand in hand.  About half of the attendants at the conference were bespectacled, and this ratio is about the same amongst my professors and classmates.  We tend to favor serious frames, too, which I think must be a way of owning our status as "four eyed" nerds who like to read books.  It seems like glasses have projected an image of intelligence, bookishness, and seriousness for time immemorial.

The second reason I wore glasses is more personal: I feel a lot more comfortable in them.  I have mentally constructed my glasses as a mediation between me and the people who are staring at me.  I think of them as a sort of separation between my interior thoughts and the way others perceive me exteriorly.  It's not that I'm trying to hide behind my glasses, but having them on helps me feel a little bit protected from the intellectual prowess and possible criticisms of the people out there, beyond my glasses.  Sometimes I think this is a little bit crazy, but nonetheless, it works for me as a self-soothing strategy.

  • Do you wear polish or do you prefer nude nails?  What's the logic behind your preference?
  • What are some of the factors you consider when choosing eyeglasses for yourself?
  • Is my construction of glasses as a mediation between interior/exterior completely crazy, or can you at least see where I'm coming from?


Scholar Style Guide said...

Ok there are several reasons why I love this post, but mostly because
1. your hair looks awesome in that picture
2. I love your glasses

I wear my glasses most of the time, but I don't like them. I have to go get a new prescription, so I want to get cute ones, but I'm not sure how! (That sounds so strange). Maybe I'll take a cue from you and try frameless bottoms. I think yours suit you well and def give you a (stylish) professor look.

I rarely polish my nails, but more for laziness and impatience for drying time than anything else. When I do polish them, I like either a dark grey color, not quite black or a bold red.

...I think I had some insight that I was going to share, but it got pushed out by something about public opinion, obituaries, or Woodrow Wilson. Blargh! I'll remember next week! :)

-Katie (if that wasn't obvious from my list of preoccupations)

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks, Katie! : )

I can offer advice on two fronts:

1) When I chose these glasses, I tried on EVERY pair that was fully or partially frameless (since I knew that's the look I wanted). I think I must have put on 30 pairs. I also asked the salesman for help and he gave me some good pointers about what would work for my face shape. He told me that the designer ones I'd been avoiding, like this pair, were not very much more expensive than the standard glasses. I think these were only $20 or $30 more than the cheapest pair.

2) I couldn't keep my nails looking perfect without Orly Sec'n'Dry topcoat. By the time I've put the topcoat on my second hand, my first hand is already dry to the touch. A little while later it's dry all the way through-- a small miracle for my otherwise easily smudged digits.


The Glamourous Grad Student said...

I spent so many years wearing glasses but now I wear contacts a lot. I will wear glasses if I've straightened my hair, but I feel like the straight lines of a pair of specs are just utterly wrong with a tumbling mess of curls. It's such bizarre logic, I know! Just thought you might like to know that other gals have complex relationships with their glasses too!!