Monday, May 31, 2010

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Draft 1:


Draft 2:


Composition:
blue dress (Calvin Klein)
sea foam silk skirt (Catherine Malandrino)
white tank top (???)
necklace (borrowed from mother)
silver high heels (BCBGMaxAzaria)

Usage:
Once upon a time, Katie went to a family member's wedding far away from home.  She brought along a nice blue dress that matched her eyes and a pair of silver heels (Draft 1).  Unfortunately, while getting ready for the wedding, she found that the zipper of the dress had malfunctioned, rendering it unwearable.  Quelle horreur!  With mere minutes before she had to leave and no dress, what's a girl to do?

With wedding season now swinging into gear, there are lots of style choices to be made.  What to wear, how to accessorize, and many other questions must be answered way ahead of time since many of us travel to wedding sites.  As such, many of us cannot bring a variety of options for the actual wedding.  I thought, then, that it was an appropriate time to post about my wedding-related fashion panic attack and how I dealt with it.  Not, of course, to freak anyone out - wardrobe malfunctions are rare - but rather to discuss what to do when they do happen.

1. Denial is not productive.
When it became clear that the zipper of my dress would absolutely not cooperate - it had gotten tangled in the lining of the dress - it did not help to try to force the dress on.  Actually, in trying to manipulate the dress onto my body, I almost got stuck in it.  We got the zipper more than halfway up, then could not get it to go down so that I could take it off.  Extracting myself became an acrobatic feat that took precious moments away from the construction of an alternative outfit.

2. Remain calm and creatively reevaluate your options.
After freeing myself, I had to go through my suitcase to figure out what I could put together as an acceptable outfit in this unideal situation.  One of my best friends from college lives in the town where the wedding was held, so I had packed this skirt to potentially wear out on the town with him.  I had planned to wear it with a darker blouse, but the wedding was outdoors during a very warm, spring afternoon.  This white tank top gave it a lighter look.

3. Utilize all your resources.
Still, the outfit was too casual for a wedding.  The silver heels helped dress up the outfit, but it still looked too plain.  My mother had brought this necklace to wear to a separate wedding-related event, and it gave the outfit the extra oomph it needed.

Now this outfit wasn't what I wanted to wear to the wedding, and it didn't work perfectly.  However, I didn't look out of place, and I escaped having to wear jeans to a wedding.

What I learned from this experience was that even if you don't want to bring another dress/can't fit another dress into your suitcase, it's still good to think about what you might do if you're left without your first option.  Think about the other items you bring and how you can use them to put together something new.  Versatile items that can be dressed up or down are key.  Also, if you're traveling with people or know other people attending the event or who live nearby, ask if you can borrow clothes or accessories -- they'll really help give you more options.

Prompts:
  • Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction before a big event?  How did you adapt?
  • How do you pack for out of town weddings? 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friendly Inspiration... to Revisit Barthes

Draft:

Composition:
graphic tee (Out of Print, gift from Anne-Marie)
clear beaded necklace (Kohl's)
white bermuda shorts (Old Navy)
rose gold sandals (Old Navy)
book (Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

Usage:
Anne-Marie gave me this Moby Dick Tee as a graduation gift to commemorate the end by remembering the beginning: our first grad school assignment was to read the entire book in one week.  Welcome to graduate school, ladies!  She found the tee at Out of Print, a t-shirt company that claims to "celebrate the world's greatest stories through fashion."  Or, at least, they celebrate the books which were originally published with cover designs that they consider "striking works of art."  Additionally, they work with Books For Africa to donate one book to "a community in need" for each tee that is purchased.

Earlier this week, I was talking to AM about how uncomfortable I am posing for these photos.  I was having trouble figuring it out.  I'm not uncomfortable with my body, I love my clothes, and I take the photos using a self-timer, so it shouldn't be a matter of being embarrassed about taking them.  She told me I need to think of posing for the photos as a performance, just as I think of dressing as a performance.  I gave this some thought.  What am I performing in the photos?  My identity?  I don't think so.  My personality?  Maybe.  So I tried to perform a little more personality in the photos for today's post.

I also decided to use Anne-Marie's gift to serve as the foundation for an AM-inspired casual outfit.  I think I struggle to style casual looks, but AM says she doesn't believe me.  I've been trying to embrace my natural hair texture and figure out how to feel comfortable with its unruliness, and AM says she prefers it wavy, so I didn't dry and straighten it.  She also claims that a nude shoe goes with everything.  When she showed us her white capris recently, I remember that I had these shorts in my closet.  To add a bit of theatricality to an otherwise standard outfit, I also added this recently acquired clear beaded bauble necklace (does it remind anyone else of Gaga's bubble "dress"?  Or a cluster of grapes?).  I think it came together well, and I enjoyed wearing this ensemble; thanks for the inspiration, Anne-Marie!

As I thought more about this photographic "performance" she suggested, I realized: wait, I've read this before.  In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes addresses this.  He recognizes that when he poses for a photo that he knows is going to be taken, "I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image" (10), and that as a result, "I feel that the Photograph creates my body or mortifies it" (11).  He also addresses the impossibility of the photograph representing what he wants it to represent,  writing, "What I want, in short, is that my (mobile) image, buffeted among a thousand shifting photographs, altering with situation and age, should always coincide with my (profound) 'self,'" but that this cannot happen because "'myself' never coincides with my image" (12).  As a result, he concludes-- and this seems to me central to my anxiety about the photographs-- "the Photograph is the advent of myself as other: a cunning dissociation of consciousness from identity" (12).

I hadn't noticed this kind of anxiety about being photographed before, I think, because I never really posed for photos by myself.  Even for these two photos, holding the book in my hands gave me a sense of comfort about the posing, like there was something there with me.  When I photograph myself by myself (and here we get into another issue that I might address another time: I'm technically the photographer and the object of the photograph) this anxiety is heightened because I know there will be nothing to look at in the photograph except me.  Why don't I think of it as a photograph of my clothes, since that is what this blog is about, rather than a photograph of me?  I don't know.  Maybe making that distinction will help.

All that to say, I think Barthes might help me think through these issues and, ultimately, to feel more comfortable with the photographic element of this blog.  But the google books preview of Camera Lucida stops at page 12, and my notes on the text in its entirety are fairly brief, so I'll have to wait until the copy I requested makes it to my library before I can return to this topic.  I do intend to return, though, because I have that exciting sense that we sometimes get as researchers-- the sense that I am heading in the right direction even though I can't put into words why I am sure of it.

Work Cited:
Barthes, Roland.  Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography.  Translated by Richard Howard.  Editions du Seuil, 1980.  Firrar, Straus, and Gireaux, 1981.  Hill and Wang, 1982. Via Google Books.

Prompts:

  • Thoughts on this outfit?  
  • Fellow style bloggers: I know I'm not alone in feeling anxiety about posing for the photos because I've read some of your posts on the subject.  Please feel free to throw your thoughts into conversation with mine, too!
  • If you've found ways to feel more comfortable posing for photos of just yourself, please share those, too!
  • What are your reactions to the section of Barthes I've tried to share here?  Do you sense this self-as-other feeling when you look at a photograph of yourself?

Friday, May 28, 2010

How to emulate questionable 80s style

Draft:
Earlier Drafts:
I last wore these oxfords in March

Composition:
dress (Lulu's)
button-down shirt (Old Navy, boys' section)
belt (Anthropologie)
oxfords (Steve Madden via South Moon Under)

Usage:
I admit it, I'm feeding you a dud of an outfit.  Actually, it's less of an outfit and more of conversation fodder.  I took it for a test run through the grocery store and Target, and I not only received backward glances and double-takes, but I also got one "You look like that girl from Dirty Dancing" comment.  Apparently frizzy hair and faded button-downs send a strong Jennifer Grey vibe.

Truthfully, the button-down was an afterthought on account of the rain.  The real point of the ensemble?  The shoes.  How exactly does one wear oxfords with dresses in an nonschoolgirl way, I wanted to know.  Answer: not like this.

Maybe you can help me figure this out.  What went wrong with my style choices?  How could I have worn the shoes differently?  I hereby declare this a no-holds-barred session, so critique away.  In fact, I'll speak for today's outfit and all 1980s-inspired fashion gone awry when I echo Pat Benatar: hit me with your best shot.

Prompts:
  • What's wrong with this look?  (Not a trick question.  Things really are wrong.)
  • Have you come across good examples of the oxfords + dresses/skirts combo?  Please share!  What qualities distinguish these as "good" examples?
  • Why do some looks survive post-decade?  How do media associations make a difference to a look's survival?
  • Are there some contemporary manifestations of 1980s style which you like?  Why do these seem more stylistically successful to you?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quick Change: Black, White, and Brown

Draft:
Earlier Drafts:
I wore these boots with a wrap dress.

Composition:
black draped tube top (Shopmamie.com)
turquoise bib necklace (Shopmamie.com)
white chiffon skirt (thrifted)
white capris (Gap)
brown boots (Steve Madden via Marshalls)
brown wedge sandals (Nolan by Faded Glory via Macy's)

Usage:
Sorry I'm running late today, blogworld!  I'm at home writing my final essay for the semester, and I'm in need of socialization, even if it is merely virtual.  I haven't blow-dried my hair (yes, it's naturally curly!), I'm not wearing makeup, and I only just stopped to analyze this morning's dressing choices. 'phew'  So, here it goes:

I recently purchased this black tube top - one can never have enough black pieces, says I - and I've had fun experimenting with its silhouette.  Pants and shorts of any cut, like these white capris, seem to pair well with it.  By slimming the legs, they emphasize volume on top.  However, coupling the tube top with skirts requires a bit more creativity.  Some of my skirts are too short and don't make enough of a statement under the top's fabric; others, especially the A-line skirts, look too full under it.  So imagine my delight when I rediscovered this thrifted number hidden in the recesses of my clothes rack.  Several years ago, I located this white skirt while bargain-hunting with my mom.  I barely glanced over it, but she insisted that I purchase it.  Until today, I had yet to locate what seemed like the best top for it, so year after year this forlorn skirt ended up in my "To Donate?" pile.  Year after year I saved it.  Now I'm so glad I did - the tube top has redeemed the skirt, and I've created a fun new outfit from two hard-to-wear pieces.

In addition to experimenting with silhouettes, today's outfit also toys with a hotly debated fashion "rule:" Don't wear brown with black.  Katie questioned the validity of these so-called tried and true style codes several weeks ago when she challenged the No White Before Memorial Day standard.  You weighed in, concluding that rules were meant to be broken.  With this outfit, I echo you with a hearty "Here, here!"  I think women should pair brown - especially brown leather things and khaki-ish things - with black frequently and without reservation.

Here's a caveat, though: my husband, upon seeing my outfit, asked, "Does this mean I can wear brown with black too?"  What do you think?  If the brown-and-black palette works for women, does it also work for men when, say, they want to pair brown dress shoes with black suits?  I'm inclined to think that the black-and-brown palette looks sophisticated as long as it maintains enough contrast between the two shades.  For instance, these camel colored boots are not only separated from my black tube top by a neutral piece, but they also differ significantly in color from the black top.  My husband - and other guys -might achieve a similar look by executing palettes like this or this.  The point, I said, is to look intentional, not colorblind.  I could be wrong, though - do you think wearing black-and-brown well is a matter of contrast?

Prompts:
  • Which fashion rules do you love to break?
  • How do you wear black and brown together?  Do you think wearing them well amounts to maintaining contrast between them?
  • Have you ever surprised yourself by creating favorite outfits from neglected or hard-to-wear pieces?  Tell us about 'em!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Would Emma Wear?

Draft:

Composition:
pearl necklace (gift from my mom)
pink (I swear!) cardigan (Gap)
white cami (Old Navy)
black and white print pencil skirt (NY&Co)
black patent mary janes (Mia via Macy's)

Earlier Drafts:
I wore this skirt while showing you my favorite bag.

Usage:
When I found this sweater on clearance for $8 at Gap, it also came in forest green and navy blue, both of which I was tempted to buy.  I convinced myself to try it in this coral-ish pink color (which I realize photographed as orange! hmph) instead by deciding it was a very Emma Pillsbury-esque cardigan.  Who is Emma Pillsbury?  She's TV's most stylish and obsessively clean guidance counselor, and she's the inspiration for the fantastic (and interactive!) blog, What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear?  I love Glee, and I love Emma for her allegiance to cardigans (preferably embellished), to pencil and full-bodied skirts, and to round-toe heels (preferably mary janes or t-straps).  She usually pairs bright colors with fun prints and accessorizes with sweater guards, brooches, bows, and statement necklaces regularly.

Yesterday was the perfect day for an Emma-inspired look.  On Friday, I walked in my MA Graduation Ceremony, and my whole family was in from the West Coast for the event.  It was great to spend the weekend celebrating this accomplishment with the people whose support made it possible for me to get this far.  Yesterday, though, I had to say goodbye to all of them except my sister, so I thought putting on my best Emma-inspired outfit would help put a little pep in my step on an otherwise gloomy day.  After seeing this post on an Emma look that was left on the Glee cutting room floor, I paired my Emma cardigan with a white cami and my black and white high-waisted pencil skirt.  I knew no shoe in my wardrobe was more Emma-esque than these black patent round-toe mary janes.  I don't own any broaches or sweater guards, but I thought the pearl necklace added a little bit of Emma flair.  And, of course, I had to give the hair flip my best effort!  That actually ended up being my favorite part of the look, I think, because it's something I'd never have tried otherwise.

Glee has, in its short history, brightened quite a few of my days.  I decided shortly after I started my MA that I wanted to continue as a PhD student, so I had to do my best to put together a strong application to submit this past December if I wanted to be admitted to the program.  Our program has always been competitive, but due to some recent budget cuts, they only thought they'd be able to admit 6 students this year as opposed to the 12-15 they usually accept.  I generally approached this obstacle by putting my nose down, working as hard as I possibly could, and convincing myself that I could stomach a rejection if I'd tried my hardest.  But this meant that after taking a very difficult course load last spring, I also felt like I had to take on a lot of extra work in the fall.  Knowing I could look forward to a little mental vacation every Wednesday night for an hour was a nice escape from the stress and anxiety.  And the music helped me, too.  I had a significant intellectual epiphany about the paper I was using as my writing sample while listening to Volume 1 of the soundtrack during my morning commute.  As the deadline approached, and my professors and classmates felt it increasingly necessary to remind me how slim the chances were of getting in (they thought this would help me take rejection less personally), I must have listened to Lea Michele's cover of "Don't Rain on My Parade" 100 times to remind myself that it was worth giving it my best shot.

Glee helped me maintain a positive attitude until I was admitted to the PhD program (which was not impacted by budget cuts after all, thanks to our chair!), and this Emma-inspired outfit helped carry me through my sadness yesterday about the departure of my family.  I love Glee for the over-the top musical numbers, the almost believable storylines (ha!), the one-liners, the fantastic work of its costume designer, and mostly for the way it celebrates the kids for whom I had a soft spot when I was teaching high school-- the ones who are learning to celebrate the ways in which they're different.  I actually liked the first set of episodes better than these more recent ones, but I'm hoping they'll get back to focusing on the lives of the teenage characters again soon.  Tonight is a Lady Gaga themed episode, so I can't think of a better time to check it out if you haven't yet!  And those of you who follow us here would love the Emma style blog, I'm sure!

Prompts:

  • Are you as smitten with Emma's style as I am?  Besides putting on a broach or a sweater guard, how could I have accessorized this look to make it more Emma-esque?
  • Have you ever been encouraged to try out a different style because of a tv or movie character?  Which one(s)?
  • Do you use any tv shows as a mental vacation from your scholarly pursuits?  Please share them!
  • Do you use clothing choices to try to cheer yourself up?  How do you approach this?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dual Functions

Draft:


Composition:
purple top (Marshall's)
jeans (Marshall's)
silver flats (Payless)

Usage:
Classes are over (woo!), but I'm working at the office through July.  The grad assistant dress code is a bit murky - we obviously must look presentable, but I occasionally forgo my business casual attire in favor of jeans.  Now that it's summer there are far fewer people around the building, so with less people to impress, I wore this outfit today.

I think dark wash jeans are always a classic, low key opening to pair with virtually anything.  I love these silver flats because they always add a little shimmer to an outfit, also nice for transitioning from day to night.  The focal point of the outfit, the top, is a flowy top with purple, pink, and blue tones in it.  It ties behind at the waist, highlighting the smallest part of my body.

I wore this blouse today because I've been thinking about SSG's participation in Dress Your Best week.  I absolutely love the idea of specifically dressing to emphasize what you love about your body rather than trying to hide any perceived "flaws."  While thinking about this project, I realized that, for me, the two concepts often go hand-in-hand.  Take this top for example.  It has the dual function of showcasing my hourglass figure, but not in an obvious way, and making me look smaller by cinching at the waist while the flowing fabric hides my stomach, which I consider one of my "problem areas."  I never consciously think that I have to "hide" anything on my body, but when I consider looks that flatter my assets, I find that they often minimize parts I'm not so interested in showing off.

Prompts:
  • Do you find that your clothes both highlight and minimize?  Or do you specifically dress to do one or the other?
  • What's your professional dress code?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Out of Season

Draft:



Composition:
green blouse (Marshall's)
jeans (JC Penney's)
bracelet (gift)
boots (DSW)

Usage:
This is the outfit I wore on the day my last seminar paper was due.  I went to the office for a morning of proof-reading, footnote writing, and incredibly incoherent conclusions.  I like this flowy top because of the bright colors and jungle-ish(?) print.  Sometimes I belt it, sometimes I don't.  I wanted to be super comfortable in the midst of final madness, so I wore it unbelted.  This outfit has more of a fall feel, but even though it's springtime, but for the past week or so, it sure hasn't felt like it here.

I'm chagrined to admit that before about two weeks ago, I did not own a pair of knee high boots nor a pair of flat boots, only a pair of black ankle boots.  I love this classic and ubiquitous style, but one main factor derailed my 8-month long journey to find them: price.  Pairs that fit well were out of my price range, and though I knew I would get a lot of wear out of the boots, I still couldn't justify the cost.  I just couldn't bring myself to bite the bullet and buy them.  As I said in my profile, one of my biggest style hurdles, as I think it is for any graduate student, is income.  The cost of living near Scholar Style Guide Headquarters makes living within my means nearly impossible; the fact that I've managed to not go into debt over the past few years is almost miraculous.  So even "investment pieces" must be bought on sale.

So when I found these boots, marked down a total of about 80%, I immediately snagged them, even though I knew that I wouldn't get much use out of them until the fall.  Buying items out of season means that you can get great deals, but you don't usually reap the rewards until much later, and you're robbed of the rush that comes from taking your new items out for a spin soon after you buy them.  For me, though, the trade-off is more than worth it.

Prompts:
  • Do you ever buy items out of season?  What kind of items do purchase during their off-season?
  • What are some other ways that you dress for your budget?
  • Do you shop at thrift stores?  I have shopped at thrift and vintage stores before, but I've never quite gotten into it.  Have any tips? 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Game Face Garments

Draft:
Composition:
taupe cotton short-sleeved top (thrifted from early college)
linen cropped jacket (Gap via my sister's closet)
dark wash skinny jeans (Forever 21 via my sister's closet)
blue gladiator sandals (MIA via Piperlime)

Usage:
Today I'm dressing for a two hour exam period and a few additional hours of library research.  I want to feel comfortable enough to cozy up in a desk chair, yet empowered enough to compose a stellar in-class essay.

On days like today, stretch-cotton jeans are a must for me.  They keep me warm in chilly classrooms but allow me to traipse up and down library aisles and all about campus.  Layering garments and donning flat shoes are also requirements, for similar reasons.  Physical comfort is a good thing indeed.

I'm also wearing these articles of clothing in the hope that they will empower me in other, more emotional, ways.  These pieces hold sentimental value for me.  The top is one of my closet all-stars, for it has seen me through multiple excursions abroad and now six years of scholarly pursuits.  It's looking a little threadbare, I admit, but I refuse to part with it.  It has helped me navigate foreign metro systems, deliver presentations on Romantic poets, and endure scathing advising sessions.  Today I'm taking it for one last academic joyride, and I'm crossing my fingers it radiates smartypants vibes.

The jacket and jeans belong to my sister, and I'm wearing them simply because she's a determined soul and I'm hoping she rubs off on me.  Both garments have sustained her through a few adventures of her own (maybe you'd like to elaborate, Emmy?), so wearing them reminds me to emulate her gumption.  (That's a great word, isn't it, gumption?) 

These are my feel good, can-do clothes.  Tell me about yours!

Prompts:
  • What do you wear when you put your Game Face on, so to speak?
  • Tell me about the threadbare, well-loved items in your wardrobe!  How long have you owned them, where did you buy them, and during which major events have you worn them?
  • Do you borrow clothing from friends or family for sentimental reasons?  How do those pieces make you feel, and what memories do they hold for you?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dressing for University Commencement III

Draft:

Earlier Drafts:
Anne-Marie proposed looks for her brother's commencement here and here.

Composition:
embroidered white strapless dress (White House, Black Market)
black cardigan (NY&Co)
black faux patent belt (Forever 21)
black t-strap sandals (gift from friend)

Usage:
Like Anne-Marie, I got to celebrate my younger sibling's undergraduate graduation this spring!  We traveled to the Midwest this past weekend to watch my sister graduate with her BS in Nursing from the same undergrad institution I attended.  It was fun to help her celebrate the end of her hard work and helped me to think about how far I have come personally and intellectually since my own graduation six years ago.

For this event, I was excited to have the opportunity to wear this white strapless dress again.  I was married on the east coast near my home, but since I grew up on the west coast, we had a second reception in my hometown.  This dress was perfect for this occasion, but I hadn't yet found a way to re-wear it since I avoid wearing white to other peoples' weddings.  Plus, I like the idea of this dress having been worn to two important events in our lives.  I'm kind of a sentimental dresser.

The forecast called for highs in the low 60s, and completely strapless felt a little bare for a college commencement, so I put the black cardigan over the dress and belted it to accentuate my waist.  Using these accessories to draw attention to the black embroidery on the dress also meant I could wear these t-strap sandals I love, which were perfect for a day that required us to walk all over campus. I was really pleased with how the look came together, and I thought it was appropriate for a commencement.  While there were some people there in jeans and concert tees, I subscribe to the belief that we should celebrate important accomplishments by dressing up.  My sister worked hard for that degree, so I felt an obligation to show up in a look that demonstrated how much I cared.

As I sat through the ceremony, though, I realized that I hadn't thought much about functionality.  This is a great strapless dress because it has a little bit of plastic boning that keeps me from having to hike the top up repeatedly... but that boning was very uncomfortable for sitting on bleachers in a gym for an extended period of time.  Next time I attend a graduation I'll be sure to give the dress the sit test.  At least I could take the sweater off when I started to get hot!

I also wanted to add that my sister paired her Jessica Simpson red patent stilettos with her cap and gown.  I thought this was a great way to infuse her firecracker personality into an otherwise un-stylable ensemble that is notoriously unflattering.  They looked great for photos, and I loved how the pop of red flashed as she walk across the stage to collect her diploma.  Congratulations, Vickie!!

Prompts:
  • Do you remember what you wore to important events or is that unimportant to your memory of these events?
  • How would you feel if your family showed up to your graduation in casual attire?  Am I alone in thinking that dressing up shows we care?
  • Do you have any other suggestions for styling yourself while wearing the cap and gown combo?  I'm walking in my MA graduation Friday, and I'd love some suggestions!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

DYBW: Hair It Is! (+a little Rancière)

Draft:

Draft:
hair (I got it from my mama)
purple turtleneck (H&M)
micro plaid trousers (Express)
black wedges (Lauren Ralph Lauren via Amazon)

Composition:
I'm wrapping up Academichic's Dress Your Best Week with this outfit that draws attention to my hair.  Normally, I'd put a jacket over the turtleneck or wear a statement necklace, but I find that I get the most compliments on my hair when I'm wearing a turtleneck, so I kept this outfit fairly simple.  I think there is something about the way the turtleneck and hair frame my face that draw extra attention to my hair.  For most of my life, I've been a short hair person, so getting used to long hair is taking some time.  My hair is thick, it's course, and if I don't tame it, it borders on out of control.  I love my hair, though, so I'm continuing the long hair experiment.  Do any of you other long haired ladies feel like your hair sometimes covers up the details of your favorite tops?

Anne-Marie's post yesterday got me thinking about how DYBWeek relates to my academic interests, as well.  I'm currently working with Jacques Rancière's theorization of aesthetics, and I think DYBWeek has demonstrated a lot of the things I find empowering about his theorization.  According to Rancière (as I understand him), aesthetics is an egalitarian system of determining what gets to be seen or heard in a community.  Aesthetics is egalitarian because any object can be aestheticized.  Once something is aestheticized, it reconstitutes the community that recognizes its aestheticization.  What I see us doing through this project is aestheticizing looks that may or may not have been recognized as "beautiful" by the mainstream fashion/style/beauty critics, and by doing that, we're working toward reconfiguring our communities so that they will incorporate an understanding of these looks as "beautiful."  And I think that's fantastic!  I'm happy to be a part of a community, even an electronic one, that celebrates so many different features as aesthetically beautiful.

At the same time, I think we've been deconstructing the stereotype that women are "catty" or "competitive" by nature.  I think I qualified my five favorite features in my original comment on academichic because I was afraid I'd look bratty to the other readers if I just stated them definitively.  Thanks to all of you for helping me realize I shouldn't have been so worried about that.

Thanks again to the ladies over at academichic for putting this theme week together!  Like Katie, I'm still trying to finish up my final papers, and I'm looking forward to spending some more time with your blog posts once I'm officially on break for the summer.  Thanks, also, to those of you who found our blog through this activity and have kept commenting and coming back!  We hope you'll stick around and keep the conversation going!

Happy weekend, everybody!

Prompts:
  • Are you a long, medium, or short hair person?  What makes you prefer one length over the others?
  • What have been your favorite things about DYBWeek?
  • Am I misrepresenting Rancière?  Or if you want to indulge me by talking more Rancière, please do!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dressing Your Best Week: Curves, Calves, and Coloring


Draft:



Composition:
blue and green dress (Macy's)
tan heels (Steve Madden)
car (my roommate's...not intentionally part of the outfit; side-effect of my poor photography planning)

Usage:
As part of Academichic's Dress Your Best Week, I'm happy to offer up this outfit.  While thinking about the parts of my body that I want to celebrate, I came up with this list and the reasons why:

1) Curves
Contrary to popular belief, I did not always have a very curvy body.  I was flat as a board with no hips well into high school.  Around age 16 or 17, my body started to develop.  I went from lamenting my lack of womanly attributes to celebrating them before quickly realizing the problems they presented - I simply did.not.fit into certain styles of clothing or could not wear clothes from specific stores because they were incompatible with my body.  I may fill out clothing well, but sometimes I fill it out a little too much.  With my curves, particularly my chest, there's a fine line between looking curvy and cute and looking inappropriate.  However, despite my wrangling with finding appropriate styles and despite any societal connotations about curves (side note: why has "curvy" become a synonym for "fat" in certain circles?  discussion for another time), I love my body.  It makes me feel feminine, but also powerful.

2) Calves
Liz wrote a great post about legs here, and I know other bloggers have addressed this topic too.  I'm lucky to have a genetic predisposition to well-defined calf muscles.  My mother has always had great legs, and my calves generally have a good shape, and they tone up really easily.

3) Eyes and 4) Hair color and 5) Freckles
I'm the outsider of my family, coloring-wise.  My entire immediately family has very dark brown hair and brown eyes.  I have deep blue eyes and pseudo-red hair.  I have one grandparent on either side of my family with those traits, so I clearly inherited the recessive genes.  My hair has brown, blonde, and red tones in it, and depending on the lighting, it takes on one of those colors.  Usually, it has more of a red hue, especially combined with my freckles. 

Though most of the posts thus far have highlighted one or two aspects, I wanted to think of an outfit that at least marginally captured all of these attributes.  I chose this dress because the blue and green would bring out my eyes and my hair color (which, as I said, I think the freckles naturally add to).  The tie at the waist emphasizes my chest and the curviness of my body without being in any way scandalous.  Finally, the dress hits around the knee, showing off my calves, which I further highlighted with a slight heel.

Prompts:
  • Are you curvy?  What do you love about it?  What do you dislike about it? 
  • How do you dress for your coloring?  I want to write a post about this soon, so please give me some suggestions and ideas, or if you've written about it, please send me a link!
  • I'm going to steal Liz's prompt because it's a good one: What are some of your favorite posts from DYBW so far?  I'm deep in the middle of final papers right now, so I don't have as much time to surf around as I'd like, though I do plan on going back and looking at more next week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dressing Your Best Week: Legs for Miles!

Draft:

Composition:
eyeglasses (Kate Spade)
white and brown button down (NY&Co)
brown belt (Kohl's)
dark dark skinnies (American Eagle)
brown wedge sandals (Old Navy)

Earlier Drafts:
I suggested these jeans as a stand-in for leggings.

Usage:
It's Academichic's Dress Your Best Week!  I'm excited to chime in with my first contribution to the discussion.

Last month, I asked you to help me think through why we, as women in academia, often find it easier to handle criticism than praise.  I was happy to that in S.'s first DYBW post, she addressed a similar question in regard to this week's project: why do we speak freely about our insecurities but feel like we have to justify our confidence?  I'm thrilled to follow S.'s lead and deconstruct this gendered norm by participating in DYBW without feeling bad about celebrating my assets!

This exercise, for me, has to begin with my legs.  My legs are the gatekeepers to my positive body image.  Why, you ask?  Growing up, I was stick thin, which came along with body issues of its own.  When I went to college, I gained the Freshman 15(x2).  An endless supply of Cherry Coke, Miller Lite, Ben & Jerry's, and fried food did not do this body good.  Before my senior year, I spent four months training for the Chicago Marathon.  I'll admit this was inspired equally by a desire to lose the extra weight and an aspiration to run 26.2 miles consecutively.  I didn't lose any weight, but I gained a new relationship to my body.

Marathon training helped me think about my body as a living, functioning organism that I was living inside rather than just an object to dress up in a way that would please others.  I became conscious of eating as something that provided energy rather than merely a social activity. When you're running long distances, you can measure hunger in minutes.  If you haven't eaten enough the night before, you're acutely aware of the fatigue and it translates to the time you see on your stopwatch.  My physical body's distinguishable reactions to my nutritional decisions helped me to understand that good nutrition must facilitate brainwork similarly.

At some point, I just had to acknowledge that the weight was not going to come off.  I couldn't cut calories and still hope to complete my training runs.  I was able to accept my body because, despite the extra lbs I was carrying around, my legs looked fantastic, and that reminded me that those legs were taking me a long way.  In one of my favorite short stories, Mary Austin's "The Walking Woman," (available here), Austin writes that the title character "had walked off all sense of society-made values," and I think running allowed me to do something similar.  I thought I'd have to lose weight to develop a healthy body image, but for me, the opposite turned out to be true.  Once I'd developed a healthy body image, I started making lifestyle changes that led to the weight coming off fairly naturally over time.

Still with me?  That's why it always comes back to the legs.  My legs are long, they're lean, they're toned, they're powerful, and they carried me over 500 miles last year.  (They also help me negotiate the Snickers and Hershey's addictions I haven't been able to kick!)

To celebrate my legs, I put on my skinnies with my tallest heels.  I didn't have any good ideas about what to wear on top to draw attention to my legs, so I put on this button-down top to keep the top half of the look simple. I belted it to draw attention to my small waist.


Prompts:
  • Any suggestions for what else I could have worn on top?
  • Why IS it so much harder to talk about our strengths than to acknowledge our weaknesses?
  • What habits or attitudes have you found that help you think of your body more positively?
  • What are some of your favorite posts from DYBW so far?  Post some links!  And since we're not being shy about celebrating confidence, feel free to include your own!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dressing Your Best Week: Ahoy, Toned Abs and Arms!

 Draft:
Earlier Drafts:

Composition:
Breton Stripe tee (H&M)
linen skirt (H&M)
braided leather belt (Target)
red patterned scarf (snagged during La Merce in Barcelona)
nude suede heels (Seychelles)

Usage:
This week Liz, Katie, and I are excited to participate in Academichic's Dress Your Best Week!  We're cooking up outfits which flatter our best attributes, and we encourage you to join our feel-good fashion fest.  Last week, in preparation, Academichic readers contributed lists of five favorite features*.  Here's my list:

1. complexion
2. toned shoulders and arms
3. small ankles
4. clavicle bones
5. flat stomach

There they are, the motivators of my private fist-pumping.  Behold.  Admittedly, it feels awkward to boast about my body, but I'm encouraged by the exercise.  If I so readily own my flaws, why not own my features as well?

Today I'm also thrilled to hop aboard the Breton Stripes boat hosted by What I Wore.  For a complete roll call of Jessica Schroeder's nautically-bedecked readers, stop by her notable blog!

Luckily, the two sartorial themes - Dressing my best and dressing Breton - have converged on the very day I had hoped to celebrate my arms and my stomach.  Over the weekend, I struggled to compose ensembles which highlighted these attributes.  After scouring my closet, I realized many of my tops, like this one, include detailing which detracts from my middle.  I have to confess: I typically use fabric to beef up my figure, to give the illusion of a curvier body.  I don't often wear body-hugging silhouettes precisely because I think my frame is too boyish.  To compound my Dress Your Best predicament, I felt stumped by the question of dressing 'tastefully' (the cultural definition of which likely merits a separate post).  I asked myself, how can I feature my abs in a sophisticated way?

Then I remembered one of Liz's posts challenged the perception that narrower equals more flattering.  She contended that a woman should embrace low-slung belts and horizontal stripes specifically because those garments highlight her hips and abs and breasts.  I'm not curvy, I thought, but wearing horizontal stripes might serve my purpose, too.  Casting a visual line across my body - rather than down my body - might draw attention to the stomach and arms I love so much.  And choosing a tee of the cap-sleeved variety would further showcase my arms.  (Is it just me, or do women cover their arms all too often?)

I won't lie.  While sporting this outfit, I felt proud of my body.  Why don't I wear horizontal stripes more often?  Perhaps, as Katie suggests, the "no horizontal stripes" rule is another one I should revisit.  I might benefit from assessing whether or not it works for my own figure, rather than presuming its universal application.


Prompts:
  • What's your take on the "no horizontal stripes" rule?  Always a no-go?  Depends on the person?
  • Do you think this outfit accomplishes my goal?  Would you have styled it differently?
  • What do you like about your own body?  Hop aboard the Dress Your Best Week train!

*For a directory of Dress Your Best Week participants and links to their personal lists, visit Academichic's run-down here.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    It's a jungle out there

    Draft:



    Composition:
    cheetah print shirt (Saks)
    jeans (JC Penney's)
    red shoes (DSW)


    Earlier Drafts:
    I wore these shoes with my Burberry scarf. 

    Usage:
    When I was 15, I redecorated my room.  The room had dark pink carpeting, light pink walls, and a floral motif -- I had a floral comforter, a floral border on the walls, and I think even a flowered window treatment.  It was my 6 year old fantasy and my 15 year old nightmare.  We painted the walls off-white and got rid of the border, but my parents vetoed, for obvious reasons, an expensive carpet change.  Pink remained the main color palate of the room, but I wanted to edge it up a bit.  So we replaced the floral prints with zebra print.  I got a zebra window treatment, zebra sheets (paired with a solid dark pink comforter), a zebra rug, and zebra throw pillows.  The overall effect -- it still sits now in my parents' house -- is very me: feminine, but with a kick.

    I relate this anecdote because 1) it displays my love of animal prints (when used appropriately) and 2) I think the principles of the decorating scheme matches the way I view animal print clothing.

    Animal print can be tricky.  Worn in certain forms - say, particularly revealing clothing or an overload of the print - I think that it can veer into certain cultural stereotypes of trashiness.  To avoid that, my approach to animal prints has been to either use them as accents or to use them to spice up more conservative styles.  This top, for example, is an example of the latter.  The shirt's shape is pretty conservative, but the cheetah makes it interesting.  The top is also versatile.  I can wear it with a pencil skirt and heels or, as I do here, with jeans.  I haven't had the courage yet to wear a full animal print dress, but if I did, I would get a classic silhouette.

    As in the example of my room, where the zebra is paired with a bold color, I wore this top with red shoes.  The neutral colors in the print make it scream for a bit of color (thought it might just be saying that to me), and I think the shoes put a nice exclamation mark on the outfit.

    Prompts:
    • How do you use animal prints?
    • Are there any types, styles, colors of clothing that you avoid because of their cultural connotation?

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Shopping Rules

    Draft:

    Composition:
    eyeglasses (Kate Spade)
    black cami (Old Navy)
    black and white top (Charlotte Russe)
    purple cardigan (NY&Co)
    watch (Fossil)
    polish (OPI Pamplona Purple)
    black pencil skirt (NY&Co)
    black gladiator heels (Vera Wang for Kohl's)

    Usage:
    When I was reading Katie's post about fashion rules on Thursday, it brought to mind the scene in The Blind Side in which Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock) says something along the lines of, "If you don't love it in the store, don't buy it.  You'll never love it more in your closet than you do in the store."  I was thinking of this as a fashion rule that I generally follow, but then I decided it's more of a shopping rule than a fashion rule.

    I also realized that though I generally think it's good advice, there are several items in my closet that defy its logic.  I own several items that I've grown to like better as I wore them or found new ways to style them.  This black and white sheer printed top is the best example of this tendency of mine.  I bought it last year on clearance when I was trying to find tops to wear to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday in Las Vegas.  It was outside my style comfort zone because of all the ruffles, a weird tie at the neck that I ended up cutting off, and its pseudo-animal print.  I didn't even wear it on my sister's birthday weekend, but I started wearing it when I got bored with my wardrobe.  Initially, I wore it under cardigans to temper the boldness of the print.  Because I started getting compliments on the top, I felt more comfortable stepping outside my comfort zone and embracing the ruffles.

    For the past year and a half, I've been wearing it regularly alone and layered under cardigans.  It's become one of my most versatile tops!  The cut is flattering to my shoulders without showing too much skin for the office, and I also like how it flows away from my body without looking bulky.  As it turns out, it wasn't a bad way to spend $4!

    Prompts:

    • Do you have any useful shopping rules or guidelines that you're willing to share?
    • Do you find Ms. Touhy's advice to be true for you, or do you also begin to feel differently about items of apparel as you wear them?
    • Does the way others react to your clothing influence how or how often you wear certain items?

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Dressing for University Commencement II

    Draft:

    Composition:
    blue cotton dress (BB Dakota by Jack via ModCloth)
    orange peep-toe heels (Anne Klein via Macy's)
    assorted wooden and enamel jewelry (thrifted)

    Usage:
    On Wednesday I shared the first tentative outfit for my brother's university commencement.  Today, I'm test-driving the second tentative ensemble for tomorrow's affair.

    With this look I've departed from not only the first outfit's subdued grey and pink color scheme, but I've also departed from my usual insistence on minimal accessories

    As for my first departure, I've embraced with this look a Two-Thirds Color Scheme.  As the ladies of Academichic explain, Two-Thirds schemes combine hues that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel.  Although, depending on your categorization of the particular shades of blue and orange featured in my outfit, you might even consider this a Complementary Color Scheme.  How do you qualify this combination?

    As for my second departure, I've experimented with Liz's over-styling versus under-styling categories.  Normally, I wouldn't wear bracelets and earrings simultaneously, nor would I wear them with a coordinating shoe, but I do enjoy the related punches of orange.  I own an orange beaded enamel necklace, but I ultimately determined that wearing it along with the other accessories would relegate this look to the over-styled category.  How would you qualify my use of accessories?

    On another note: given the rainy forecast, I considered donning pants and flats for the primarily outdoors, albeit sheltered, event.  However, Liz's recent post on wearing skirts in rainy weather has inspired me to abandon the pants plan and give my legs a chance to, erm, brave the elements.

    Prompts: 
    • How do you categorize this color combination, as a Two-Thirds Scheme or a Complementary Scheme?
    • What's your take on my use of accessories?  Does the outfit call for more or less?
    • And, ultimately, which outfit should I wear for tomorrow's affair?  Wednesday's look or today's?

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Fashion "Rules"

    Draft: 


    Composition:
    white, yellow, black floral print dress (Macy's)
    black sandals (DSW)


    Usage:
    Well, spring is here, and it is gorgeous.  In honor of the lovely weather, I wore this dress.  I like the shape of the neckline, and the belted waist gives it a nice shape.  I usually don't wear much yellow - not really my color - but last year, I had an obsession with finding a yellow dress.  This one caught my eye because it had just enough yellow to satisfy my craving, but not enough to horribly clash with my skin tone and hair.

    This dress has a cooler look due to the white background and the material (it's linen, so please excuse the wrinkles - I took the picture at the end of the day), nice for the warm weather we're experiencing.  However, by wearing white on May 5, I did break the "no white except between Memorial Day and Labor Day" fashion rule.  Now, I've always thought that any strict fashion guidelines like that are meant to be broken, and as I understand it, they are more flexible depending on your regional affiliations (Anne-Marie, care to comment?).  I've never had a problem wearing white after Labor Day, and I even wonder if people nowadays still take these "rules" into account.

    Prompts:
    • What fashion "rules" do you disregard?  What, if any, fashion "rules" do you follow?
    • What new fashion "rules" would you write?

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Dressing for University Commencement: I

    Draft:

    Earlier Drafts:  
    Blazer? Meet Bermuda Shorts. 
     
    Composition:
    rose silk-blend dress (Lulu's)
    grey blazer (Gap)
    nude heels (Nine West via Piperlime)
    cream beaded clutch (vintage)

    Usage:
    This weekend I will attend my brother's college graduation in South Carolina.  Today and on Friday I'll post my tentative outfits for the affair.

    Let me preface this look by saying that, last year, when I attended the same ceremony at the same institution, ladies dressed as if they had received invitations for a Kentucky Derby after party.  I felt blissfully overloaded by linen, silk, and wide-brim hats.  Last May, I wore a simple cotton poplin frock.  This year, I want to maximize the dress code and debut one of my latest wardrobe additions.  Hence the silk-blend, tiered dress you see above.

    I like this dress not only because it weighs very little, which will be ideal for staying cool while sitting outdoors, but the dress' detailing also merits very few accessories, a characteristic which tops my garment must-have list.  I also appreciate that the subdued hue does not require me to boast a summer tan, as a brighter color would, for I certainly do not have tanned skin this early in the season.  What's more, the naturally rosy shade pairs well with the nude heels, and, in so doing, it allows me to experiment further with my latest trend interest.

    I considered coupling the dress with a beige cardigan and also with a cream-colored shrug, but neither gestured at the scholarly vibe of a university commencement quite like this grey blazer.  Earlier this week, S. of Academichic reiterated the importance of context in the reading of one's dressing habits. So I take a cue from her and from my event's environment in choosing this wool-blend jacket.

    I'll venture into gendered territory and suggest that the masculine social association of the blazer juxtaposes in an interesting way with the feminine connotation of the dress.  I'm wondering if such a juxaposition in effect acknowledges the arbitrariness of gendered associations and erases the sexualized connotations of my garments.  Do you think this ensemble ends up looking androgynous?

    If I choose to wear this outfit, I'll also recycle the beaded clutch which I last carried in my wedding two years ago.  I like the symmetry of the twin applique flowers on both the clutch and the dress waistband, for it lends the outfit some cohesion.  Do you think, though, that the beaded detailing detracts from the outfit by complicating it?

    Prompts: 
    • How do you dress for formal, outdoor events?  Do you have a go-to look?
    • How do you dress in such a way that distinguishes the formality of a university event from, say, the formality of a wedding?
    • Any outfit ideas you'd like me to try on Friday?

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Rainy Day Dressing

    Draft:

    Composition:
    turquoise necklace (Kohl's)
    navy cotton dress (Target)
    brown stretch belt (Kohl's)
    brown leather sandals (Sanuk, gift from my aunt)

    Usage:

    Yesterday I woke up during a torrential downpour.  The forecast called for thunderstorms all day, and it was supposed to get up into the 80s.  Hot weather alone forces me to evaluate how much skin is appropriate for the office, but throw in thunderstorms, and you've got my dressing nightmare.

    Though it might seem counter intuitive, I usually wear skirts on rainy days.  I hate sitting at my desk with wet pant cuffs, and my legs dry much faster than pants do even if I'm wearing tights. I see plenty of ladies on campus wearing wellies, and though I can see how functional they are, I haven't purchased a pair for myself.  They look fine over jeans or (gasp!) leggings, but I can't quite picture my Express trousers tucked inside a big rubber boot.  I also imagine that my feet would get pretty steamy inside those boots on a day like yesterday, and I'd rather my feet be moist from the rain.

    I picked this dress up on clearance, and it quickly became one of my summertime staples.  Plus, it's great for a rainy, humid day.  The tight weave of the cotton seems to resist absorbing water, and it dries really quickly.  I first planned to wear my brown wedge sandals but opted for these flat sandals instead because I know they dry quickly.  I have an ongoing debate with myself about how casual these sandals are; I know they're essentially glorified flip-flops, but I wear them to the office anyway.  They're my favorites of all the sandals I've ever owned, and they remind me of my aunt, so perhaps that clouds my judgment.  I know there are plenty of workplaces that still frown on all open-toed shoes for women, and many more that disallow flip-flops and sleeveless tops.  I have no idea how someone who worked in an office like that would dress on these types of days!

    Prompts:

    • How do you approach dressing during hot weather?  Rainy weather?  Humid weather?
    • Would this outfit fly in your office or classroom?  If your study/workplace has a more strict dress code, how do you negotiate the warmer months?
    • Any other particular dressing difficulties you'd like to see us tackle?

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Dressing for yourself

    Draft:





    Composition:
    black and white floral skirt (The Limited)
    black top (H&M)
    black wedges (Macy's)

    Usage:
    I've been thinking about what Liz wrote about in her last post about wearing heels and dressing in a feminine way.  As someone who frequently chooses more traditionally feminine styles (see: floral skirt and bows on the wedges here) and as someone who has time and time again professed her love of high heels, I wanted to weigh in on some of these choices.  For this post, I particularly want to address Liz's question in the comments on the last post of why wearing high heels make certain women feel more confident.

    Not all of my heels are super high.   I love kitten heels, and I wear the pictured wedges frequently.  There are two main reasons why I like wearing heels that boost me up anywhere from >1 inch to 4+ inches.  As implied with the end of that last statement, heels give me extra height.  Now, heels may prohibit women's movements - though I'd argue that with the right shoe, properly broken in, not as much as you'd think, or rather not significantly more than new dress shoes cramp men's movements - but they also work in overcoming certain the general height differences between men and women.  At ~5'4", most men are taller than me, and that physical difference can be intimidating.  Heels lessen that disparity.

    The second reason is extremely personal.  My freshman year of college, I had a medical condition that required serious surgery on my left leg.  Subsequently, I had a hole in my bone near my ankle for about five years.  It took about that long for the bone to regrow, and I was finally medically cleared my first year of graduate school.  During the bone regrowth - not to mention the time I spent on crutches, in a boot, and rehabilitating - shoe decisions were extremely fraught.  I couldn't wear most styles, so my shoe choices were pretty limited.  Anytime I wore high heels (which wasn't often) even years after the surgery, the next day my ankle would swell up, and I would spend the next few days in pain, limping around.  Only in the past two years or so was I able to actually wear high heels without fallout.  Now when I wear heels, it reminds me of the ordeal I went through, how far I've come, and the strength I know I have.  For others looking at my shoes, they might just seem like a patriarchal ploy, but for me, they signify a personal victory.

    Prompts: 
    • I'm interested on taller women's perspective on wearing high heels to give yourself height.  Do you like the extra height advantage high heels provide or do you gravitate towards flats or lower heels?
    • Do you dress for others or for yourself?  Are there certain items that you wear that have a personal significance that trumps the image you may be presenting to others?

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    Adrienne Rich and Heels

    Draft:

    Composition:
    white v-neck t-shirt (American Eagle)
    sand swing jacket (H&M)
    gray jersey print skirt (H&M)
    cork wedges (Michael Shannon via DSW)
    white flip flops (Gap)

    In one of my classes recently, we discussed Adrienne Rich's 1980 essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence."  Rich lists high heels as one of the ways men use their power "to confine [women] physically and prevent their movement." She argues that heels are thus part of the "cluster of forces within which women have been convinced that marriage and sexual orientation toward men are inevitable."  A few of my classmates pointed to this passage specifically and admitted to feeling conflicted because they like to wear high heels.

    I tried to make the point that in 2010, we can wear high heels differently than women could in 1980.  I believe that because of the advances made in the past 30 years by women like Rich, it is now possible for women to wear heels assertively.  One of our professors uses this Ann Richards quote as part of her email signature:
    "If you give us a chance, women can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."
    This is the spirit in which I like to think I wear high heels.  I hope my choice to wear heels indicates that I'm capable of managing all of my responsibilities, thinking critically about my work, and taking an interest in fashion and style.  I'm conscious, though, that others do not always "read" heels in this way.

    As I thought this through, I realized that I don't have very many "traditionally feminine" high heels in my closet.  I prefer wedges, and I don't own a single pair of stilettos or pointy-toed pumps.  Evidently, I'm also drawn to thick straps.  Though I probably wear the black almond-toed wedges more than all of my other heels combined, all six of these pairs are in somewhat regular rotation in my wardrobe:


    While taking the photos for this post, I couldn't help but wonder if I stay away from shoes that are coded as overtly "feminine" because I don't really believe that I can wear shoes like that assertively.  My heel collection is certainly much different than Katie's or Anne-Marie's, both of whom seem comfortable with more traditionally feminine styles.  On the other hand, I think my collection of heels makes sense given my general aesthetic preferences.  I don't own a single item of apparel that has a bow on it.  I think one of the reasons I wear belts so regularly is because I'm really drawn to the look of buckles.  Until recently, I preferred pleats to ruffles.

    For this look, I thought I'd photograph both pairs of sandals that I considered wearing.  One of the things I previously said I liked about heels is that they make me stand up straighter, but my posture in both of these photos is so terrible that I'm not sure that's actually true.  (As a side note, posing for these photos is, for me, definitely the most difficult element of contributing to this blog.  Fellow fashion/style bloggers, can you empathize?)  I ended up wearing the flip-flops.  After this mental exercise, I find myself feeling thoroughly ambiguous about heels, but I'm glad I've begun to think more critically about how, when, and why I wear them.

    Work Cited:
    Rich, Adrienne. "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence." Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose. W W Norton & Co Inc, 1993. 203-224. Print.  Google Books.

    Prompts:

    • How do you respond to Adrienne Rich's criticism of high heels?  
    • Am I right in suggesting that the ways in which we can wear heels have changed since she composed this groundbreaking essay?  I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this issue.
    • Do you wear high heels or do you opt out of this trend?  Why?