Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The wave of the future

This blog has been dormant for a while. This is in part because of upheavals in my personal life, in part because of a heavier workload and more demanding study schedule over the last few months, and in part because I got a little bored with the narrow focus I'd set forth in the blog.

Well, now my personal life is much calmer and my work and study schedule is still intense but is more consistent in its intensity (and I've become fairly acclimated to its demands). Plus, I really do enjoy blogging. So I'm not quitting altogether but instead am rethinking my blog and moving my blogging activities to a new address and a new name. This new blog, as my "About Me" testifies, will pick up where this blog left off but will not be limited to writing about fashion (although I will of course still write about fashion). This blog will also be linked to my new etsy shop, which should be up and running very soon.

If anyone still visits this blog, please do come check out the new blog and the new shop in the next few days.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy 100% Percent Thrifted Birthday to me!

Today is my 29th birthday, about which I am very excited. I am sometimes a little sad that this is the last year of my 20s, because I've enjoyed my 20s, but I also see so many fabulous people (here and in my real life) who are rockin' their 30s (not to mention the fabulous people in their 40s, 50s, and so on) that I almost can't wait to get there myself.

My brother turned 26 a couple of months ago and started talking shit about how he was old now. I told him that I wasn't old yet so he couldn't be old yet, either. Furthermore, I told him, I would let him know when I got old so he could prepare for it.

Hasn't happened yet.

Today is also the last day in my No New Clothes Initiative, during which I only bought clothes that were thrifted, vintage, repurposed, or otherwise used. So I wore a 100% thrifted outfit in honor of that occasion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Case of the Absent Blogger

If you're reading this post, you may have noticed that my week off around Thanksgiving turned into a several month hiatus. Oops. A convergence of personal life stresses, graduate school pressures, a new job position, and a general lack of creative or productive feelings did me in.


I'm feeling much better now. My personal life is going swimmingly, I think I've got graduate school and my new job under control (for the moment, at least), and I've got creative juices flowing every which way (it's a messy image for a messy process). So I suppose this post represents my triumphant return to the world of fashion blogging--or at least a return. Triumphant remains to be seen, I suppose.

In the last few weeks, my creative energies have been working in a couple of fashion-related directions. One simply consists of dressing myself. I've felt much more experimental in the last few weeks and I think this experimentation has paid off.

Fuchsia & Black
This outfit was featured as one of Tricia Royal's wardrobe_remixers of the week last week, which just makes me all kinds of happy. It's such a nice feeling to have other people with awesome taste and style think you have awesome taste and style, too.

I've had the wrap skirt for a couple of years. I bought it in a random boutique in Evanston, IL, on my first trip up to visit a friend in Chicago. The fuchsia dress is a recent purchase, bought without having a chance to try it on properly because I could not pass up the color and the collar. The leggings and socks are from Target, and the shoes have been in my closet for years. I've rediscovered them recently, though, and have been wearing the heck out of them.

Feelin' Crafty:  Mar. 6, 2008
This is the other direction my creative energies have been working: embroidery. Here I'm embroidering a naughty word onto a paisley tie. This is a test tie, a prototype, if you will, for a larger project I'd like to undertake of embroidering various designs (not all naughty words) onto ties. Right now I'm in the bettering-my-skills-and-drafting-ideas stage, but I look forward to continuing to do more of this kind of thing. I also have some ideas for jewelry that I'll be featuring as they take more concrete form.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A holiday break and more etsy goodness

For Thanksgiving, I am taking the week off. I don't have to teach again until next Monday and I'll likely actually have time this week to rest. So I'm taking a break from the blog, too.

I'll be back next week. Until then, here's some more etsy goodness I've been wishing I could afford. From RoseYeskova, there is this tunic:

And from Miss Bunny, these "Glittering Kraken" shoes:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Outfit and New Arrivals

Look ma, no black!
Today's outfit represents an exploration in fashion for me in more than one way. For one thing, I'm not wearing black at all. I'm sure there are outfits I've posted in which I'm not wearing any black, but it still feels like a big deal for me not to wear black. When I'm at a loss, I tend to reach for black.

I also realized recently that I almost never get dressed without having planned things out ahead of time. This morning, however, I just threw together a few things that a) were clean (I haven't done laundry in ages), b) were the right size (some clothes fit better than others these days), and c) hadn't been worn in a while. I tried not to overthink it, and I quite like what I wound up with by exploring a different color focus and a different process that allows more freedom.

The Outfit Aquatic
Outfit details:
Green sweater, aqua tee, gray skirt, teal tights: Target
Snail necklace: etsy seller PreciousPups
Gray SAS shoes: thrifted

After today's class, I also discovered that I'd received three packages in the mail today. The awesome Darla at The Vintage Zoo sent me this wonderful jacket:

I love the colors and the flower print. It's comfy, too. I can't wait to wear it!

I also received a whale pin from Elegant Musings and a painted jeep necklace from Star Willow Studio. Hooray for new accessories!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fun with Wigs: Or, Playing Dress-Up with My Head

I have short hair. I have had this short hair for about five years now. I like it. It's easy, it's cute, and I feel like it fits my personality. But sometimes I want to do something different. What's a girl to do?

At rest:  Oct. 31, 2007
One answer: wigs.

I have long wished for wigs that I could wear, just for a change, and recently I've bought a few. I didn't buy any for years after I decided I wanted to because it's a real attention-getter to show up one day and look completely different than you did the day before. I mean, show up in different clothes, even dramatically different clothes, and people will probably notice but not be confused by it. Show up in different hair and people are genuinely confused. Hair, unlike clothes, is an identifier, a way to tell people apart quickly.

As an example, one of my close friends has had blonde, sort of naturally wavy hair for a while now, but she recently got a new style, a straight, dark brown bob. She describes it to me before I saw it by saying, "Think Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction," which is a pretty accurate description. It looks really great, but it's quite a change. It's so drastic a change, in fact, that when she showed up to teach her class of college students, several did not recognize her and thought she was a substitute. Keep in mind that this is more than halfway through the semester. Furthermore, one of the graduate professors, one of the graduate professors who is on her committee, whom she has known for years, sat right next to her in a meeting and never seemed to realize who she was in her new hairstyle. These people have had a chance to see her often and to see more than just her blonde hair, but they were easily fooled by a new cut and color.

So I'm wary of the response I'll get if I put on new hair. But I finally decided to go for it. I've been getting braver in my clothing choices, so I should be braver in my hair choices, too. Oddly, despite my trepidation, I decided to start with something wild. My first wig was a blue bob. I wore it to a concert and I really liked the way it looked. I wound up having to take it off halfway through because the wig cap was too tight and my head was killing me, but I liked the wig itself.

Don't I look cute?Suspicious Christy in blue

Since then, I've also acquired a dark brown bob wig and a black, wavy shoulder-length wig. I haven't worn the dark brown one out yet, but I wore the black one out a few nights ago. It got a pretty good reception. My friend was surprised (I hadn't warned her I would look different and I see her on a regular basis), but others who see me less frequently seemed to think it looked natural. My friend's mother said, upon first seeing me that evening, "Gosh, Christy, doesn't your hair grow fast!" and her brother asked if I had straightened my hair. I hastily assured them that it was not my real hair. To have not done so would've felt like lying. But their responses were interesting. Apparently, to people who don't see me very often, it is more logical to assume that I've just styled it differently or that my hair grows really fast than to assume that I'm wearing a wig.

This is what I look like with black hair.Reddish Christy

Black-haired ChristyBlack hair, white light:  Nov. 9, 2007

My night out with a friend a few days ago and my concertgoing in a wig represent first steps in making wigs part of my fashion repertoire. I don't want to wear them too terribly often, but I do want to wear them more than once every four or five months. And I want to be more confident in my choice to wear a wig, less worried about others' reactions.

Eventually, maybe I'll even work up the courage to wear a wig to school.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dressing the Part

Over the course of my life, I have developed a sense of what kind of outfit is appropriate to specific situations and varying levels of formality; however, my personal sense of propriety does not necessarily match that of others. This distinction most often surfaces and comes to matter at work.

I am a graduate teaching assistant at a fairly large state university. I teach English courses (mostly freshmen and sophomore, although this semester I've taken on a senior level course as well), go to faculty meetings, meet with students, and do a lot of my own work as a grad student here on campus, among the undergraduates I teach. I am the teacher of record for the classes I teach. I design and plan the classes, teach them myself, do all the grading and deal with the students myself. There is no senior professor who is officially or actually in charge. It's all me.

Teacher Mode:  Sept 17, 2007
As such, I want to be professional and I generally tend to dress up more than I might if I were only a student at the university. (That doesn't bother me at all, of course, because I like to dress up.) This tendency toward dressing up is encouraged further by the fact that I am only a few years older than the students I am teaching. At the beginning of the semester, I dress more conservatively, more formally, and more like I think students think a teacher should dress. I do this to make the distinction between myself and the students in the class as clear as possible and establish the power dynamic of the course from the start. I can and do relax this distinction as the course develops, but without a clear foundation it is far too easy, I have found, for the students to get too comfortable, which means getting lazy and sometimes presumptive. In short, they think they can walk all over me if I give the impression of being too friendly too soon.

Guarding the gateway to...something.
All that being said, though, I want to dress like myself and I want to be myself when I'm teaching. As a teacher I am playing a role, enhancing certain elements of myself, but I want to be as true to myself and as honest with my students as I can be. So I do relax after a couple of weeks and start to experiment with outfits.

Cheetahs and stripes
It is here that I break with my peers. I know many who go through a similar process of laying down the law at first and then relaxing as the semester progresses (and they often reflect this process in their clothing, too), but there are just as many who retain the same level of formality or business-like attire throughout the entire semester. One fellow graduate teaching assistant (male) would not teach without wearing dress pants, a buttondown shirt, and a tie. Some students have similar ideas about how teachers should appear. In fact, on a recent student evaluation I had a female student write that I should dress more professionally because my outfits were often distracting.

I feel like an '80s TV character.
Despite these differences within my department and my field, I truly have a lot of freedom. During the training course when I began this job, which was several years ago now, the director of the First-Year Writing Program, the program I was entering into, told us that how we dressed was mostly a personal decision, one we could determine as part of developing our teaching personae. Her only recommendation was that we not expose ourselves to the students. And although students do have certain expectations of instructors based on their prior experience, they seem much more willing to accept experimentation from instructors in the liberal arts like myself. Just as there is a stereotype of the buttoned-down professor with tweed and elbow patches or the plain teacher in glasses, there is a counterstereotype of English teachers, as well as art teachers and music teachers, as hippies and artists and free spirits.

But others have less freedom: instructors in other departments, people who work in other fields altogether, people who must wear uniforms.

I know how I deal with this issue. I use my own best judgment for what will be appropriate (while teaching, this frequently means something that won't distract too much from the topic at hand) and sashay through my life with the confidence that I look good and no one can stop me from doing so. But how do others deal with this isssue in their lives? How concerned are you with appropriateness in dressing yourself on a regular basis? How do you work your personal style into the workplace? Does it cause problems? Or does it bring positive attention?