Friday, August 20, 2010

Home Away from (Academia) (Home)

Earlier Drafts:
I found this charming, oversized blazer on sale in charm central, Savannah, Ga.
A turquoise necklace in the bib style?  Count me in.
I've worn these sweet yellow flats with a spectrum of hues.

strapless floral dress (ShopMamie)
linen blazer (Gap)
turquoise necklace (ShopMamie)
yellow flats (Target)

Liz coaxed me out of hiding yesterday for a dinner and shopping date.  Given that I have spent the past week hibernating in T-shirts and devouring stacks of chick-lit novels, I was grateful for the outing.  I washed my hair and wore real clothing*.  It was awesome.

Equally awesome?  My hiatus from the computer has helped me feel at home with myself, stylistically and otherwise.  When I last posted, I was preparing to paint the very last room in the townhouse my husband and I had purchased in October and delayed updating 'til May.  Since that post, we've committed ourselves full-force to final renovations.  Now we're feeling at home in our first place, among our own furniture, with our own art hanging on the walls.  We sleep better at night, we host friends more often, and we devote dinners to real conversation, not to rattling off To-Do lists.  Nevermind that our second bathroom is still tiled floor-to-ceiling with dragonfly-inspired ceramic work.  It's fulfilling to feel ownership of something, flaws and all, I'm remembering.

Since reading - and relating to - Katie's candid post about body insecurities, I've become convinced that transferring my home ownership lessons to my clothing choices would revolutionize my self-perception.  Katie mentioned that wearing identical bridesmaid dresses invites body comparison; likewise, I've noticed that living in a neighborhood of nearly-identical brick townhouses invites neighborly property evaluation.  That's to be expected.  But the similarities between my street-mate's house and mine inspire me to make my space unique.  Even though I appreciate the hostas in her front yard, say, I enjoy my unruly azaleas because, well, they're mine.  They represent several Saturday mornings of my own sweaty, T-shirt-tanning diligence.  (I feel like there's a Robert Frost poem about this.  The property-owning and hedge-trimming, not the farmer's-tanning, I mean.)  What if I dressed my body out of a similar spirit of appreciation and pride of ownership?

For me, Krista's guest-post about maternity wear sealed the deal on this sartorial lesson.  I love that she dresses to celebrate her baby bump, reveling in her stage of life and appreciating her body's capabilities.  Even though I'm not in a baby-making headspace these days, her wardrobe advice for expecting moms makes me feel confident about dressing for my circumstances.  Admittedly, I've been stressing over composing professional outfits while I'm away from academia.  Right now I can't make the pseudo-professorial clothes work, not only because I'm no longer in the environment, but also because my heart's not in it.  I'm in a different place now, and Krista's post reminded me that it's okay.  I'm beginning to appreciate my body for its replace-my-reading-plan-with-DIY-projects accomplishments, and I'm starting to dress like this post-grad school phase of life is home.  For now, at least.  It feels pretty good.

*This dress might function best as a beach cover-up.  I'm still deciding.  For now, as long as the temperatures remain scorchingly high, I feel bold enough to go city-street public with it.

  • How do you best represent yourself during life transitions?  Do you find that your wardrobe choices change dramatically, or do you take comfort in keeping your wardrobe choices consistent?
  • What's your take on the body = house analogy?  Veteran homeowners, do you find that owning a house makes you appreciate it in different ways?  Have your property-owning responsibilities affected the way you dress?
  • From reading your blogs - it's great to catch up on your lives after being away! - it seems like many of you are also rethinking self-perception through clothing choices.  Please share the sartorial/life lessons you've learned this season!


Elena, Caffeinerd said...

I love the dress/necklace combination---gorgeous outfit! In brief, I find that I'm finally taking more responsibility for my body (working out regularly, eating more veggies, etc), and that has helped a lot of my bad body concept issues. They're not gone, but knowing that I'm putting the work in gives me some ammunition against that mean voice in my head.

Scholar Style Guide said...

It's good to have you back! Even when we were sitting at the same conference table every week, I was inspired by your different way of approaching grad school attire. "If I had a less tailored, less-buttoned up alter ego, that is how she would dress," I thought. : ) So I'm extra excited to see how post-grad school life impacts your sartorial choices and thought processes.

Interesting points about home owning. We live in a townhome community that's mixed between renters and owners, and while the "You take better care of it when you own it" adage seems to hold fairly well, there are definitely exceptions to it. But I never considered painting a wall or shopping for home decor until we bought our house, so I definitely possess some kind of internal sense that once you own something you should work to make it a home.

The best part? The not moving part! After moving every year for about 7 years straight, I haven't moved for 3. It's delightful to feel like this is MY place, and it has helped me scholastically to have a home base. Can't wait to see what your home does for you, now that it feels like one!

And the outfit is great. I actually think the bib necklace helps mitigate the scantily-clad-ness of the dress since it sort of makes it look like a halter.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks, Elena! Your resolution to care for your body resonates with me, as I've had similar goals for the summer. I think you're right: even if we don't see "results," knowing we're putting forth effort goes a long way toward boosting confidence. I feel similarly about my house; it's not a finished product, but working persistently on it makes me feel productive. Maybe this kind of progress-induced happiness is result enough? :)

Liz, I think I'll enjoy staying put for a while, too. I never thought I'd welcome this sort of stability so early in my married life, but I'm going with it. I quite like it. You mention that having a home base helped you scholastically. After my few months of permanent residency, I don't doubt it. Makes me wonder if I'll feel more prepared to pursue doctoral studies after warming up to this new constancy. Time will tell!

Happy Weekend, all!


La Historiadora de Moda said...

Yay, Anne-Marie! I'm glad you're back!

I'm contemplating how to dress for another transitional period. Last year I was a VAP at an institution where there were a lot of snazzy dressers. Indeed, everyone in my department looked polished and wore things ranging from standard business casual to funky retro items found at thrift stores. Although I was a bit more over the top than most with my Fluevogs and swear rings, I felt sartorially at ease. Now I find myself at a VAP at a different institution where there are some snazzy dressers. However, most of the women in my department (as far as I can tell so far) put very little emphasis on the physical appearance. I have yet to see one of them in a dress or heels or wearing make up. And they are all at least 15 years older than I am. While I think their choices are 100% valid and I'm pretty self-confident, I do wonder if I will find myself painting my nails less, wearing little to no makeup and opting for flats more frequently at least until I get to know my colleagues better.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Hello again, lHdM! Thanks for the cheery greeting. It's good to be back.

After reading your post from today, I must say that I hope your confidence is contagious. :) Three cheers for dressing in a way that makes you feel fabulous, regardless of the setting.

For you interested readers, lHdM, Liz, and a few other of our blogging friends have engaged in an energized discussion r.e. a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Interested in their takes on the hotness-as-a-liability-for-higher-ed-faculty topic? Check out their posts:


Interrobangs Anonymous:

Be sure to check out the comments, too!


Caitlin said...


This outfit is flawless! I love it! Perfect color saturation and punches just where you need them. You are utilizing the huge military trend this season with the blazer and pairing it with a soft shape (the floral dress) is a direct hit!

I want your necklace. Love it! You know that is totally me, right?

The best thing I find about fashion is it's ability to change with our moods, phases of life, and inspirations. That is what it is supposed to do. If it didn't, then we would all be wearing the same jeans, cardigan and flats. You have to be true to yourself or else it will seem contrived. Bravo Anne-Re! Bravo!