Monday, October 18, 2010

Everyday Costumes


tan tank top (Old Navy)
blue and white peasant skirt (H&M)
brown boots (Dingo via Zappos)

Weather here at SSG Headquarters has been abnormally warm through the first month of fall.  Recently, temps hit over 80 degrees.  When we're all dying to pull out our fall clothes, especially to boot up, the return of (or lack of departing) summer weather puts a damper on our seasonal aspirations.  Still, it being October and all, I didn't want to return completely to the carefree stylings of summer.  So I wore this long skirt, paired with a tank top for the heat, and insisted on boots for more of a fall feel.  Simple and cute.

This outfit is by no means over the top or really anything special.  However, I characterize it as "costumey" for me, as it doesn't really fit into my normal style.  This is the only long skirt I own, and it is the only peasant skirt I have ever bought or probably even considered buying.  I purchased the boots recently, looking for something outside my normal shoe comfort zone, and I quickly fell in love with this super comfortable pair that I've found goes with a lot of different outfits.  I thought of Anne-Marie when I bought them, and lo and behold, she owns a very, very similar pair.

I wear my hair straight about 80% of the time, but on this particular day, I thought that waves fit the western, laid back look.  I loved wearing this outfit, but it definitely diverges from my usual starched and simple style.  My boyfriend even commented that I looked like I belonged on a California campus, someone he (or anyone else) would never usually think about my wardrobe.

  • How do you define "costumey" looks?  Looks that are just over the top?  Do you agree with my definition - looks that don't fit into your normal style code, and thus feel like "dress up"?  Or do you have another definition?
  • Do you like trying on other looks?  How often do you experiment?
  • What are some ways you've gone out of your style comfort zone?


Scholar Style Guide said...

I like the skirt and boots here, especially since you're trying something outside your normal dressing register. I don't think this looks "costumey" but I often feel the same way when I'm "trying out" a look that's new or different for me.

I'm not really feeling the tank, though, to be honest. Perhaps I am still stuck in the mindset that nude tank= undergarment?


keelan said...

i like the boots and the skirt's nice. but i gotta say, the tank is way too tight and casual for the university. you have a great body, but the color and fit of the top really aren't flattering! plus, you can see the skirt through the nude-colored shirt... not good.

i could see a white short sleeve blouse or some layered tops working better with this skirt. i think this skirt (which seems really summery to me) would work better with sandals too.

Scholar Style Guide said...

I see your point with the tank, though I do think it is less nude-looking in person. I also didn't realize how form-fitting it was until I saw the pictures of it. So I cede that point :) I usually wear this skirt with a loose white tank or blouse and sandals.

I'm interested in keelan's comment about audience here, particularly because it hits on some of the issues that we've been exploring recently on the blog. That is, what is proper casual attire in different settings? I didn't wear this outfit for class or meetings or any committment on campus. I went to my office to pick up some things and do a little work, so I wasn't on campus very long. How does this outfit register outside the university? And what kind of outfits should we shoot for when we're on campus in non-interactive/incidentally interactive situations (i.e. not for any real purpose, just to do work in our own offices)? I'm very curious about this because that's my major wardrobe question this semester.


La Historiadora de Moda said...

I think as a grad student you do have some leeway. In academia in general there tends to be such a wide range of attire and many who fight corporatization and various form of professionalization. After all, in many institutions of higher learning the business model is purposefully rejected on a number of levels because it is not necessarily what works best for scholarship, research, and teaching. Yet, for better or worse, there are powerful forces that try to homogenize and professionalize young academics and grad students.

Frankly, I wouldn't wear such a form fitting tank to work on campus as a faculty member. I still occasionally wear sleeveless tops to campus, but tank tops read VERY casual to me. I did, however, wear such things during my first couple years of graduate school, when I felt that I was still in "student mode" much of the time.

keelan said...

"What kind of outfits should we shoot for when we're on campus in non-interactive/incidentally interactive situations (i.e. not for any real purpose, just to do work in our own offices)?"

great question, and one that i've been working through myself. when i'm teaching, i dress up, no question. but those other days, it really depends... if i'm just going to my office to do some work or pick up a book from the library, i'll wear something like dark skinny jeans with brown riding boots, a sweater, and a colorful scarf. if i'm going to a meeting/lecture with faculty present, i dress up the same as i would if i was teaching.

the thing is, you never know when you'll be walking down the hall and your advisor may pull you aside and say, "oh, keelan! professor famous is here, let me introduce you" or your department chair may drop by your office to ask you to serve on a committee. i don't mind being seen in (nice, dark, fashionable) jeans then, but i wouldn't go any more casual or show too much skin.

for me, i sometimes wear sleeveless shirts during the summer, but not shorts. i don't have much cleavage to speak of, but i don't do anything that's too low cut anyway. i've found that the closer i get to my defense (next spring!), the more i'm conscious about how i'm presenting myself. but i've also realized what a small world academia is... i think that how we present ourselves can influence how others perceive us as individuals and scholars.

Scholar Style Guide said...

This reminds me how many different types of judgments we have to face every time we get dressed. I actually think the tightness and sleeveless-ness of the tank are less problematic; I've worn a tight sleeveless shift on this blog tens of times and I don't recall anyone raising objections.

I think Katie's tank, though, raises issues of the way people sexualize female bodies. Nude seems to connote sexuality (which is why I avoid it, myself), so I find it interesting that Katie initially thought of the tank as "tan" and suggested that it looked less "nude" in real life. (And I imagine Katie reached for it to "go" with the tan boots, but that's a guess.)

And let's call a spade a spade-- Katie's chest carries a sexualized stigma, as well. Girls with large chests are, society says, "supposed" to hide them as best they can. I used to have a much larger chest, and I know that people reacted differently to me in tight things then than they do now. Sometimes it started to feel like a lose-lose situation.

How we choose to confront these judgments every day continues to be a subject of interest for me, so I'm thankful that others are willing to continue to engage in the conversation.


(and I hope the comment goes through this time-- blogger is giving me fits)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the discussion, especially about the extra judgment likely to come about with nude tank + busty. Liz, I would make a distinction between a fitted/structured sleeveless piece and a tight form-fitting stretchy/knit tank. The formality of the structure can balance out the informality of sleevelessness.

That said, personally, the whole outfit felt a little bit too "earth mother/hippie" to be something l would be comfortable in for schoolwear. I guess I'm arguing for a holistic interpretation, that you can get away with one piece that's not office friendly if the rest of the outfit balances it out. The same tank paired with a pencil or knee-length a-line skirt and ballet flats or pumps wouldn't convey the same degree of casual to me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment that a structured, fitted sleeveless blouse is different--and better in this situation, in my opinion--than a tank top. Really, tank tops are for the park or for exercise...not for any kind of office (I speak as a former graduate student/teaching fellow).

That said, her figure is great, but she does need a better bra that will give her some lift and do her some justice. That would not make the tank more appropriate for work, but when she did choose to wear it, it would be more flattering (although the color also washes her out a bit) and show off her figure.

Scholar Style Guide said...

I appreciate the ongoing discussion about this outfit, even though it's clearly not one of my better ones. As I mentioned, this outfit was clearly an experiment for me - actually, Anon@5:11, I was going for an "earth mother" type of look, a look that, as I mention in the post, I rarely wear. All of us at SSG like posting outfits that we consider experiments because they're often some of the most interesting, thought-provoking things that we wear.

Liz and I spoke about this issue before she posted her comment, and I think that the issues she raised are very important, particularly how we stigmitize and judge certain body types and body parts. However, I do hope that any future commenters will be careful about the ways in which they objectify my body through their comments about my dress.