Thursday, November 18, 2010

Change and Predictability

black wool sweater (Loft)
grey trousers (Gap)
black patent heels (Nine West)
stud earrings, my latest favorites (Juicy Couture)
chain and fabric necklace (Icing)  -- Yes, it's shedding on my collar! It's definitively not high quality.
nail color (OPI "You Don't Know Jacques!")

In response to Liz's complimentary post about my supposed ability to "manage uncertainty," today I'm sharing one of my most predictable ensembles.  Why?  Because, now that I'm spending more time in the classroom, I'm learning why experienced teachers like Liz prefer the manageable expectations of simple, go-to outfits.  For the first time, I get it.  Sartorial predictability is comforting when daily dynamics entail enough fluctuating factors.

Wearing this uncomplicated look took my mind off the clothes, allowing me to focus on instructing.  It didn't require the perpetual readjusting of layered garments, and it didn't necessitate the tugging on shorter hemlines or lower necklines.  The minimal jewelry and monochrome palette were less distracting for both me and, hopefully, for my students.  Which makes me think: there might be ways in which sartorial choices can detract from our abilities.  (Ah ha! An epiphany!  Don't laugh, I'm slow on the uptake.)  Sartorial boldness doesn't always allow for professional and intellectual boldness, that is.

Normally I subscribe to the opposite view.  I think, if I challenge myself intellectually, pushing myself to read new literature and entertain bold ideas, then why not also challenge myself sartorially?  Especially since, as this blog and your own attest, we consider issues of aesthetics an important component of education.  In the world of the mind, we like trying on new thoughts, and we welcome encounters with the uncomfortable.  Evolutions of knowledge and opinion are generally good things; they often indicate growth.  So it follows that we would consider personal style evolutions good things too; they can also indicate growth.

Cutting and dyeing my hair or pairing seemingly incongruous garments -- both enable experimentation with new articulations of myself.  Even if I don't adhere to them permanently or even long-term (as in the case of my cinnamon hair hue, which is merely a demi-permanent dye, I should tell you), at least I can test the waters.  How did Aristotle put it?  "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."  Perhaps it's the same with sartorial choices: dabbling in a hairstyle, or a print, or a bright color, without necessarily permanently accepting it into our self-concepts, is productive if only because the courageous choice allows us to think anew about the social spaces we occupy.  It's a worthwhile initiative, I'd say, to challenge ourselves aesthetically.  That's why I quite like blogging alongside you guys, and why I welcome the occasional dramatic hair transformation.

For now, as long as my substitute teaching endeavor lasts, I'll be entertaining choices on Liz's side of the style fence.  I have quite a bit to learn about, as she says, "preparing, preparing, anticipating, and preparing."  For me, resisting spontaneity will be a grand -- and worthwhile -- sartorial adventure.

  •  How do you "prepare, prepare, anticipate, and prepare" sartorially?  I have no idea what I'm doing, so I'd welcome your strategies.  I've begun laying out ensembles the night before work -- does this count?
  •   Liz asked this question yesterday, and I think it's a good one: how do you get yourself out of a rut?  How do you challenge your patterns of style?


Scholar Style Guide said...

I like your point about dressing-to-not-distract. This seems like it could be even more important the younger students the students are, since adolescents, developmentally, are more easily distracted. Lots of accessories/bold style choices could also be a marker of your youth, since the older teachers I worked alongside tended to dress in basics. While I normally want to look my age (not older), sometimes looking older can be an asset in the classroom.

Is deciding to work on honing a more simplified aesthetic really a break from your normal dressing patterns, though? Couldn't we see this as a different type of experimentation in dressing? In this case, getting "stuck in a rut" might look more like refusing to pare down your ensembles just because you're used to bolder sartorial combinations. While boldness might be my version of experimentation, maybe minimalism is a similar type of experimentation for you?

Also, your hair looks fantastic in this series of shots. I wonder if it looks different to me because you've had a few more days to embrace it and own it? Last time, I mostly wanted to ask how you liked it... but in these photos it seems clear to me that you are working it.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Hmm...interesting. I've been thinking about these issues too, considering I'll be teaching soon, and expect a series of panicked posts come January/February :)

I'm interested in your choice to pair this necklace with this outfit. It wouldn't have been my go-to, but I'm intrigued by the combo. Seemed to be a way to infuse some Anne-Marie into, as you say, this uncomplicated look.

Oh, and I have no idea how to get out of a rut. I think I'm in one right now!


blackberry said...

Perfect! What an adorable outfit.

Iris said...

I love your hair and the outfit looks great! It's good to step outside the box :)

L. of Academichic said...

Hi Anne-Marie - I know I'm a few weeks late in saying it, but "Welcome to the redhead club!" You wear it well! I also know what you mean about having looks that are pared down so you can concentrate on all the teaching you're doing. I lay things out the night before or at least think about combinations. For me anticipating also has to do with how much walking I'll be doing, the weather, who I'll be seeing that day, if I'm going to be writing on the board a lot, if we have seated lunch, etc. So much to think about!

L. of Academichic

Anonymous said...

Anne-Marie, will you be posting again soon? I've missed your style inspiration!