Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dressing for University Commencement: I


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

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?

  • 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?


La Historiadora de Moda said...

Is this event indoors or out? I need to know this in order to gauge the context a bit more and to decide whether or not you would end up sweltering in a wool-blend blazer.

I find that dressing for university events tends to be much more formal in the south (where I am from) than in the Midwest (where I live now). I would say that you could wear the same thing to a graduation and an outdoor wedding in many areas of the south, but I think many people here in the Midwest tend to dress more casually to these events - maybe dressy casual would be the applicable phrase - and in general.

That vintage clutch is gorgeous, by the way!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Yes, clarification coming your way: the event begins at 6 p.m. indoors and moves outdoors by 7:30 p.m.

I'm from the south, too - Louisiana, in fact - and I wholeheartedly concur on your point about regional differences.

Thanks! I like the clutch, too, for obvious and also for sentimental reasons :)

- Anne-Marie

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Haha! The tricky indoor-outdoor event. I'm sure the AC will be on full blast inside, so the blazer might be welcome in that case.
And whatever else you wear with the dress, carry that clutch! :)

Scholar Style Guide said...

I've seen what southerners wear to *football* games, so I can imagine a southern graduation is much more dressy than most.

For my sister's graduation, I think I am going to wear a white cotton (with black embroidery) stapless dress that I wore at my second wedding reception. I've not (yet) been able to wear it again because you can't wear a white dress to someone else's wedding!

In general, I do think that a college graduation ceremony is less formal than a wedding. The various degrees of formality for both events, though, make me wonder if "in general" even means anything in these two cases. Looking forward to Friday's look!


Anonymous said...

I find that in outfits where you pair "masculine" and "feminine" elements, one always seems to overpower the other resulting in a look that is not androgynous, but rather slightly appropriated. In this case, the dress feels like the dominant theme to me, in turn feminizing the blazer slightly.

Gorgeous all together!

As for the dressiness, at my grad school commencement I'm pretty sure my adviser wore flip flops. Different world...

Scholar Style Guide said...

I love this outfit. I think that the blazer looks wonderful with it - specifically, I like that it adds structure to the very feminine dress.

Also, thanks to you, I am obsessed with getting a pair of nude heels. I've always been looking for a nice pair in a vague way, but now that has moved to the top of my list.