People who go into academia aren’t known for their fashion sense (unless of course they are art professors or have to dress nicely in the business school). One reason I fit into an academic setting is that I don’t have to worry about the fact that my fashion sense is practically non-existent.
Lately several factors have conspired to make dressing even harder. First of all, some of my nice pants are at the tailor. Now they are all hemmed and ready to go and they fit and I can wear them with everything… except that I keep failing to actually drive over and pick them up. Oops.
Also, the weather. It’s too cold to wear just a button-down shirt, but not cold enough for my heavy sweaters. Layers are the order of the day, which means that I have to find more pieces that go together per day. It’s too cold to wear a skirt without tights underneath, but I don’t have that many pairs of tights to wear them as often as I want. (This is easily fixable, when I get around to it.)
When I go to pick out my outfit for the next day, I am usually tired and on my way to bed. Last night I picked out something I thought would look nice, but then when I went to put it on this morning I discovered it wasn’t going to work. So I had to make a last-minute wardrobe change, which worked but left me feeling underdressed, so then I had to figure out which jewelry to add to make it dressier. I went out feeling like I still looked odd.
The even weirder part is that it seems to be working. For example, today my colleague complimented me on my sweater and jewelry. Luckily I have a couple of hard-working cotton sweaters in great colors that look nice and go with everything. I’m wearing a bunch of skirts recently because I gained weight and most of my pants don’t fit right. Strangely (to me), I get a bunch of compliments on skirts that I got at Goodwill. (#2: Love skirts… hate shaving.)
Plans for easier dressing involve more Goodwill skirts and pants, more tights, and getting some very awesome boots next month. But what’s an academic to do? Clearly I have very bad calibration on what other people think about my appearance. Fortunately it doesn’t have to matter whether I look a little strange as long as I look professional; sartorial expectations are not high.
Is it possible that the part of my brain that tells me what to wear suddenly died?
#2 says: I really suck at fashion. I tend to go shopping about once every two years, generally at a conference (Jan sales!) with friends who can pick things out for me. I drop about $600 at these trips, but it is well worth it. (My wardrobe is very East coast because my friends are very east coast– blacks, browns, greys, and whatever Ann Taylor color is in season. Back in college my clothing was very West coast for the same reason… I do kind of miss colors, but not enough to buy any, other than what’s at Ann Taylor, of course.) When I was pregnant I bought things in lots that someone else had chosen for when they were pregnant. That worked great too. Other than a ring, I own zero jewelry. Accessorizing would hurt my puny brain. It’s actually been almost two years since my last shopping spree, but I’ve told myself no more clothing until I get the pants hemmed from the last trip! I need to wear those black pants…
What’s your dressing philosophy? Do you enjoy picking out clothing? How do you decide what to buy and what to wear?