Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rethinking Jeans and a T-Shirt


Earlier Drafts:
I rocked these heels for my MA defense last spring.

polka dot cowl neck top (Macy's)
skinny jeans (Marshall's)
watch (Fossil)
Mary Janes (Michael by Michael Kors)

Recently, Liz wrote two great posts about dressing casually and what it means in an academic context.  Like her, I have less occasion to "dress up" this semester - actually, even less reason to think about professional dressing than her because I'm not teaching, working, or doing anything that requires me to dress or look a certain way.  My teaching starts next semester, so look for frantic posts about reconciling my love for florals and asserting classroom authority come January.

In the meantime, I'm working on dressing casually.  I've found that I rely on the performative aspect of dressing to get me into my pencil skirts and heels.  It's an interesting question that I'd never considered before: if I wear a cute, professional outfit, but few people to none see it, does it count?  Do we need an audience for our clothing?  Or do the clothes themselves affect our own attitudes enough that it is worth it? 

I think that while the clothes I wear influence my attitude and the way I carry myself, I definitely downshift when my audience is an amorphous crowd and not more specific, like "my office mates" or "my students."  I still love my skirts.  I still wear heels.  But I don't wear them as frequently, especially high, high heels and the more restrictive skirts.

As the weather has cooled down a bit, I've gone to the staple of many wardrobes - the jeans and t-shirt combo.  I usually pair it with flats or wedges, which I think think gives it a bit more polish than sneakers.  However, this week I decided to dress it up a bit.  Instead of a standard t-shirt, I put on this polka dotted cowl neck top I recently purchased.  I love polka dots: I have polka dotted pumps, and I really want a polka dot dress.  Putting this jazzed up t-shirt with dark wash skinny jeans wasn't enough.  I wanted something more, so I went for some high heels.  Unnecessary for the look, but just the punch I wanted.  I liked the outfit because it was casual, but still had a professional, "dressed up" connotation.

  • How do you "dress up" casual looks?
  • How much does having an audience affect the way you dress?  In other words, do you still "dress up" if there is no audience?


Jessica said...

Hi! I'm a new follower, but I love your blog - especially as a recovering academic myself. =)

It's funny you're doing this topic today, because I've been exploring this very thing this week at my blog, Surely Sonsy. (Check it out!)

Heels go a long way to dress up denim, but additional accessories can help a ton, too. I also like to layer.

Plummy said...

My audience definitely affects the way I dress. If I know I will be staying home all day, then I choose something cute and comfy--usually a knit dress without a belt. I rarely dress completely down (like wearing sweats) for a whole day at home, because it makes me feel unproductive, slobby and unprepared to face the day, even if my day is just reading, cooking and surfing the internet.

However, when I have a day off and I know I will be going out, whether it be going to the grocery store, going to the thrift store or going to library, I will put forth the extra effort because at that point, my day no longer focuses solely around me and my physical comfort, but now also includes me in the context of society and my psychological comfort. If I left the house looking unkempt or sloppy then I would feel very uncomfortable, and that is worth the little bit of effort to pretty myself up.

I also think it relates to respect--I dress up both because I respect myself enough to 'own' my prettiness, and because I respect others (my audience, my peers, my coworkers, my family) enough to put effort in how I am appearing to them.

Scholar Style Guide said...

I was thinking about this some more today because I'm home reading, and it's raining, but I also ran some errands. So I'm wearing skinnies, boots, and a long sleeve henley. I still feel kind of cute, and certainly felt comfortable going out in public like this. Plus, showering and dressing helps me put my game face on for schoolwork even if I'm just sitting at home.

Once in a while I do like to sit around and read all day in my pajamas and wait until I go to the gym in the afternoon to shower. I'm most likely to do this when I'm reading something "fun" like fiction. If I start feeling like a slob I change, but I do like to periodically luxuriate in the fact that, though my work is NEVER done, I can do most of it from the comfort of my own home.

Great outfit! I liked the pairing with the shoes. When we have class in the seminar rooms, like we did this day, I like to put extra emphasis on my shoes because the desks cover up most of the rest of my outfit. And because when I start staring off into space 15 minutes before class gets out, I like to look around to inspect everyone's footwear.