January 10, 2005

Stylish on occasion

Blogging has made me admit something that I've known deep down for a long time: I am a fashion geek.

I don't do retail therapy. I hate shopping. Much of my wardrobe comes from the local thrift store because buying previously owned cothing fits in with my anti-consumerism philosophy. I don't blowdry my hair. I don't usually spend more than $20 on a haircut. I don't wear make-up. I've never pierced my ears or any other body part. I shave my legs randomly. I don't own a black dress.

At conferences, I usually wear jeans and a brown shirt. (I used to wear black with the theory that it was a dressy colour, but I switched to brown because it looks better with my colouring.) If I'm presenting that day, I might dress up with a blazer or black pants, but not usually both at the same time. For teaching, I wear jeans, some kind of plain shirt, and either sneakers or hiking boots. I could defend this practice by explaining that this attire is entirely appropriate where I teach -- many of my students are studying to be forest rangers or lumberjacks -- but the truth is that I'd probably dress like this if I taught at Columbia. My younger sister, that is, Urban Sophisticate Sister, who lives in the Upper Snob Section of Manhattan and dresses every day like she is going to a photo shoot, rolls her eyes at my clothing choices. She exudes Trendy, yet Classic, Well-Tailored and Expensive. I look like a woman who just doesn't care what I wear.

Yesterday, though, I had a revelation. I am not a complete and total fashion geek. Once every week, I wear expensive, well-made clothing. My skiing outfit! I will spend any amount of money on outdoor clothing because I enjoy winter sports more if the clothes I am wearing fit well and keep me warm and comfortable. My ski clothes are even color-coordinated: all red and black. When I caught I glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror at the ski lodge yesterday, I looked so well-dressed that people were probably mistaking me for a tourist rather than a local.

And on top of this, I am working on a belly dancing outfit. When I finally finish getting all the accessories that I can wear with my pantaloons, I will have yet another fashionable outfit, although the only people to ever see it will be the women in my belly dancing class since I have no intention of joining a troupe and performing in public. Oh, and I am partial to nice lingerie, especially anything silk, which means that I'm fashionable in the evening after the kids go to sleep, although only in the privacy of my own home. I don't know if that counts though.


Anonymous said...

I am a very practical dresser. While I don't care for pre-owned clothes from local thrift shops, I do wear clothes I've owned for more than ten years and wear "hand-me-downs" from folks in my life who seem to discard clothes like a jar with a tad bit of jelly they don't care to scrape out. I do plan to dress up more in the future. It's not cold here and my boots, while occasionally practical, aren't applicable to everyday attire.

Michelle Palmer

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

Right on, jo(e)!

It is hard to be a cultural critique, and to understand the rhetorical-fashion-consumer system, and then walk around dressed to the nines. I'm a jeans and t-shirt guy at conferences. I wouldn't fit in at the presidential luncheons, but I've never gone to one of them anyway.

My only concession is that I have a few pairs of shoes that i love: Fluevogs. I'm off to meet my class of 140 students. I'll be in jeans, a white t-shirt, and some green Fluevog boots.

And making your own clothes (or editing your own clothes) can have its own rewards. I'm working on a t-shirt design: "embedded critic." I'll just paint it on.

Write on, jo(e)!

Anonymous said...

Sexy lingerie ALWAYS counts!

~profgrrrrl~ said...

I drift in and out ... I probably dress up a bit more for campus days and professional events because else everything thinks I'm an undergrad. (roll eyes) And in my department no one wears jeans. Dressed down for men is dressing like a chemistry teacher.

Most important is wearing whatever makes you feel most comfortable and confident. Oh, and nice lingerie is always important!