Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ren Prof Self Fashioning

I have decided to update my image.

In four months, I will start teaching early modern literature ("Ren Lit") at a small university in Olde-Towne, Southern State, USA.

I need a new look. I need a bit more edge, more angle. Something that says "young and funky prof," but also says "serious scholar." I've reassessed my wardrobe and realized that I only have two suits, both of which have skirts. I do possess an unhealthy number of sleek and sophisticated silk camisoles but these are better suited for evening wear, cocktail parties, and art gallery openings (vernissages here in Montreal). I also possess an even less healthy (bordering on debauched) number of pairs of boots.

Yet despite all this my average, every-day work clothes still mark me as studentish even though I have been out of grad school for a while. My personal aesthetic has been vintage-bohemian-neo-victorian. The anthropologie catalogue has fit me to a tee. But I'm beginning to long for something less "girly."

No more petticoats.

I want to bring out my dark and intense side. I want to vamp it up. I'm hankering for sharper lines, sleek tailoring and polish. I want to sport a long, angled bob, to gloss my hair a darker black, wear a fitted jacket and cropped trousers with tall, tight black boots (I have three pairs from which to choose. Yes I know it's an obsession and no, I'm not getting help). A friend joked that she might start a spin-off blog called "The Freudian Pantsuit." Perhaps I'll get there first.

What is happening to me? Where has Anthropologie-girl gone? What has Louise Brooks done with (or to) her?


Simplicius said...

How, if at all, are your intended audiences playing into these fashion considerations? Because, as we all know from IHE, looking good is an important part of securing those oh-so-important positive student evaluations. But we also don't want to look so good that we alienate our tenure-voting senior colleagues.

These are at least the thoughts I have when I'm playing the academic fashion game.

muse said...

Good point, Simplicius! I simply hadn't given any thought to my tenure-granting superiors. I don't think looking good would alienate them, though, as they all generally look good themselves.

Indeed, how on earth can looking extra good alienate one's "tenure-voting senior colleagues"? Oh, he dressed too well, I guess we can't give him tenure . . . that just seems a little off, no matter how much of a peacock one might like to be . . .

Simplicius said...

Of course it wouldn't be that direct. It's a fine line, and really simply a matter of looking nice vs. lookin' too fancy (and thus potentially rubbing conservative senior colleagues the wrong way).

But here's how I've seen it happen: There was a woman at my old school who was very stylish, and who was known as someone who was very stylish, and who never seems to have transcended her reputation of being someone who is very stylish and cares too much about clothes.

I'm sure this rarely happens, but it is something that would seem more prone to occurring in Olde-Towne, Southern State, where certain fashion choices might register a bit differently than they would in Montreal. It was really that disjunction between where you live now vs. where you're moving that caught my eye and made me start thinking.

But I'm all for "sharper lines, sleek tailoring and polish." Go for it!

tins said...

tailored pantsuits are an ideal choice. think hepburn (k. not a.). serious yet stylish. plus, classics play well in the south. just don't make the mistake of adopting the one-strand-pearl-necklace-everyday look.

and if you can pull of the louise brooks bob, by all means do so!