Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dressing for the In-Between

Earlier Draft:
I wore this cardigan in my very first outfit post.  (Psst, I like today's outfit better.)

black jersey dress (Ann Taylor Loft)
cotton cardigan (Calvin Klein)
leather wedge sandals (RJ Girl via Piperlime)
assorted jewelry (Forever 21)

On Monday I wrapped up the coursework for my master's degree and my contract with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions officially expired.  Since I've decided not to pursue doctoral studies this year, and therefore won't renew my admissions assistantship, I'm officially unemployed.  My plan is to apply furiously for administrative jobs in higher education, work for a year or two, and then rethink my PhD ambitions.  I feel ambivalent about the decision, sort of mentally aimless.  Should I map out a reading schedule for the next six months?  Should I move forward with the edits on my master's thesis?  Should I set aside my books and instead spend a few weeks landscaping my front yard?  I don't know what to do with myself.

Since this is my first week of real, live unemployment and hardcore job-hunting, I've struggled in the motivation department.  Searching the web for work opportunities in my pajamas just doesn't feel professional enough.  So, in an effort to psych myself up for interviews and cover-letter writing, I've actually styled a semi-work appropriate outfit today.  The neutral color palette helps me feel less 'summertime playful' and more 'gametime serious.'  And the ease of the jersey dress, as Liz wrote about yesterday, encourages me focus my waning mental energy on salary requirements and healthcare options.

I say "semi-work appropriate outfit," though, because these hefty wedge sandals aren't exactly shoes I would don for a typical day at the office.  However, they are shoes that make me feel, well, me.  I hadn't recognized the magnetism between me and substantial shoes until two weeks ago, when Liz's mother (Hi, Debi!) commented that an "Anne-Marie Shoe" means a "chunky shoe."  Ever since then, I've looked critically at my footwear collection.  Why do I gravitate towards clunky, platform-y footgear?  Does it make me feel empowered?  Do I walk differently in sandals with height, stand more confidently, and present myself with more authority?  What kind of social assertion am I making, even performing? 

I'm still sorting through my apparent infatuation with dramatic shoes, and with these wedges in particular, but I figure this week - my first week of genuine, jobless insecurity - will expose the rationale behind my preference.

I'd welcome your advice on either topic: about unemployment or about shoes!

  • What do you wear when working from home?
  • How do you dress for the in-between periods in your career?
  • Do you have a favorite shoe style?  Why do you gravitate toward this style?


Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous said...

Why, hello, pretty combination of neutrals!

I'm worried I will be facing unemployment, which is quite terrifying given that what I do is highly specialized. I've been thinking about doctoral work (but I would have to go overseas) and how the heck to market/re-brand myself if I need to (honestly, where else am I going to find a job that lets me wear florals and plaid together while being a curator?!?). I'm a big believer in dressing for what you want (apparently I want to be pattern-blind), so when in-between jobs I still dress like a curator.

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

I love these shoes. I dig dramatic shoes like this but often chicken out on wearing them (I need more shoe confidence).
Sorry to hear about the anxieties of uncertainty. We've all been there before and while it sucks, we all make it out OK. I must admit to dressing like a loser who lived in her parents' basement for some of that time, but it's good to look polished when you want to get serious. I currently dress for comfort when I work at home, with the caveat that my partner has to see me and I don't want him to see an older version of said basement dwelling loser.
Good luck with your future planning.

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Honestly, I think if you are feeling ambivalent you should give yourself the opportunity to really take some space and time away from an academic lifestyle. If you are done with your thesis (as in have the M.A. - I apologize for not knowing or recalling if you have defended it), then let it and the reading schedule go for a month or so. Look for work, landscape, read fun books, and if you miss the work after a month or two, then you can use that as a learning moment to see if you want to pursue a PhD.

I have such a diverse shoe collection that I can't really comment about what it might mean to gravitate to a particular type of shoe. I can say that these wedges are fab, though!

Scholar Style Guide said... I don't usually like chunky shoes with lots of hardware, but those are awesome. And I'm completely with you on the needing to dress for seriousness.


Kimberly said...

I work from home one day a week, and I confess - that is my day to totally slob out. My workplace is corporate, not business casual, and that means blazers and heels. Being able to work in (as I am doing today), a purple tank top, purple velvet pajama bottoms, and silver sandals from Payless is bliss.

If I worked from home more often, I might be more tempted to dress up. But so far, I have not found that I need to put on the work gear in order to also have the work attitude.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for the encouragement, all! Katie, that piece of my advice is one of my favorites: dress for the job you want, not the job you have (or don't have, in my case). I find that dressing the professional part certainly boosts my attitude.

That said, today I definitely slobbed out, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I painted my foyer and ran a few errands. I think you're right, lHdM: giving myself time away from work will help me figure out how much I enjoy it. I do have the M.A., so at least I'm breaking from academia with a sense of accomplishment. When I was younger and my dad coached me in tennis, he never let me finish a practice session on a poor shot. "You can't quit on a miss," he'd say. I feel like my last shot in grad school was a good one, so that helps me sleep better. :)

Thanks again for the kind words, guys.

- Anne-Marie

Dorky Medievalist said...

On the shoes: love them, and you are fierce in them! I think that a wedge is a safe bet if you like to wear a heel since, at least for me, it is much more stable.

On taking a break: I took a break between my MA and PhD and worked a grim corporate job (that job that George Clooney had in Up in the Air--I did that job, with fewer frequent flier miles) but I really needed the break and it gave me time to decide if I really wanted to do a PhD and why and what, etc. I think this is a really smart decision (and not just because it's the same one I made). Good luck with taking a break, with the job hunt and I hope you find something that isn't grim.

Scholar Style Guide said...

When writing or reading at home, I wake up, have my coffee, and try to do a few hours of work straight through. Then I use showering and dressing as a good excuse to take a break. I really like your mix of neutrals here, but even more, I like that you got dressed with an intentionality of purpose.

I gravitate toward wedges because a) they're more comfortable and b) they feel more 'substantial' to me. While I like stilettos plenty on other women, on me they feel like attempts at sexiness or serious man-stomping female assertiveness, neither of which feel like "me."

As for school, you know I'm a proponent of the time off approach. I will add to the conversation 2 things:
1) People will tell you "if you leave school, you'll never go back." WRONG. It wasn't true for me, and I know you won't fail to go back just because you left. You'll either miss it and find a way to return, or you'll find a different way of life that fulfills you in different ways.

2) I came across this blog entry a few weeks back that might give you (and interested readers) some new thoughts on the issue, even though it's supposed to be addressing a break after the BA. I found myself nodding my head throughout.

3) (Okay, 3 things) The only thing I wish I had done differently is: I wish I'd saved a little bit more of that money I was making in my time off, both to ease the transition back into a grad student stipend, and to have it in the bank.

I can't wait to see where your determination, your intelligence, and your clunky heels carry you next!


Anonymous said...

hey great style you have there ;) One minor thing and I don't mean to sound critical but the cardigan on that outfit seems a bit too long on your frame. Maybe a cardigan that ends at the waist would have looked better?