Thursday, November 1, 2012

True Blue

Holy crap! It's November!!

You guys... I'm giving my first lecture in three years tomorrow (or today, depending on when you're reading this). I've been asked to give a guest lecture for an intro course for music majors while pretty much the entire department is at a conference, and I agreed - mostly to challenge myself. I've been out of the whole academic circle (I've been a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology since 2009...) while working in my current position, necessitated of course by the job's hours, stress level, duties... I confess I've felt uber rusty with both the teaching material and the act of teaching itself, but after a few days review and preparation, I think I'm ready to go - I know I can do this just as well as I used to! Oh I'm still terrified, but it's also a wonderfully rejuvenating feeling to get back in the saddle again.

Wrap dress - Gap / Half-camisole - Coobie (via Her Room) /
Handbag - Banana Republic / Shoes - RSVP (via Zappos)

This makes me wonder...if I ever get back into academia, how would my sartorial choices change? Even as I put together my "teaching" outfit tonight, which incidentally also has to be an evening "boss lady" outfit (I get to wear both hats all in one day), I became painfully aware how they're not the same thing, that they don't really serve the same function. I think they could, but the line just becomes a little finer between them.

Case in point: I contemplated wearing a notice-me printed wrap dress in splashes of pinks for my lecture, but I convinced myself that it was a bit much to be in front of a classroom, at least this time around. I think that was more about the print (neither seasonal nor subtle) than the silhouette, however, because I generally think a wrap dress can do no wrong. This dress? I love it so much that I have it in a dark pink and a blue-green dot pattern as well. And I think I'd wear any of them in a (college) classroom.

How 'bout you guys? Do think it's necessary to keep a role (perceived or real) in mind when dressing ourselves? If so, how do you go about it? If not, what guides you instead?


  1. I've been both! I have a PhD, work in administration (although I spent years in corporate america) and taught for several years at a local community college.

    Here's the thing about teaching; The first week or two you want to dress a little more conservatively/professionally in order to establish authority in the classroom. But after that you can become more creative and express more personality in your clothing. In the end my authority was established and kept through what I knew, not what I wore.

    Corporate america is different, in part because you aren't seeing the same people over and over again for 16 weeks. You often see different people each day of the week, so you are always establishing that initial authority. With a class, however, each semester starts and then attrition kicks in but otherwise it's the same group of students every week for 3-4 months. There is a strange intimacy to it after a while; they see you at your best and your worst (and vice versa). If you are having a bad teaching day, what you are wearing isn't going to fix it.

    I admit that part of what I love about working in higher ed is that the dress code has more freedom. Looking pulled together is important, but conforming to corporate america's idea of what business/business casual look like is not. To me, the rules are simple; don't show too much skin (or boob, which is usually more the problem) and try to look purposeful about what I'm wearing. After that, all bets are off.

  2. I love your beaming smile in the first photos :).

  3. The wrap dress is a great compromise. Love the color too.

    And can I just say that I love the idea of a half cami under low-cut dresses? I'm always trying to find a way to disguise the bottom of mine, especially with knit dresses, and the half-cami hadn't ever occurred to me. You might not have mentioned it specifically, but just seeing it listed has been an inspiration for my wardrobe.

  4. Love the dress, good luck with the class, keep us posted on how it went! And love that you're blogging daily!

  5. I am still in front of the college classroom on a regular basis and on those days I am far more conscious about my clothing choice. I want comfortable, but professional and approachable. It requires something you can wear all day for meetings, office and class. This wrap dress seems perfect for all of that to me! Do let us know how it goes for you today!

  6. Hello Jessica....this is a great dress and a great dress to teach in.
    I love lecturing....and teaching. I hope you enjoy going back to your 'roots'!

  7. ......and I always dress with intention when teaching. I like to maintain a professional appearance; I think it does give students the impression that I'm a professional and its appropriate for me to be teaching them (I'm a grad assistant) and it also shows students HOW to look professional.

  8. I absolutely agree with you. i was just a grad student/TA too when I learned the value of dressing up for class. I often felt I was overdressed compared to my colleagues but I never regretted it.

  9. wrap dresses really can be the wardrobe workhorse that's for sure!

  10. thank you! i've got a lot of backlogged posts, so i got a lot of catching up to do!

  11. yes! I debated speaking specifically about this little genius article of clothing, but I didn't want to overload the post. =) I was ALWAYS lamenting the issue of bunching camisoles under wrap dressed and other pieces that show any under layering. someone else recommending those cami secrets things, and i though about it but i didn't love the limited options. (i didn't want lace trim, for one thing.) so when i hunted these down, i was thrilled. they run a little small on my large bust, but for the purpose they serve, it's really not that much of an issue. definitely try them out! i got one in each color they offer...

  12. thanks! =) i find myself editing out my full smiling pictures for some reason! dunno why...

  13. thank you for your super thoughtful post, rebecca! you're totally right about setting the tone in the first few weeks, and even more so about the extended relationships you create (or don't or can't) along the way.

    i don't know what i'd do if i had to conform to corporate america's dress standards. working in the arts as well as education gives so much more flexibility for one's fashion choices - in fact, sometimes even encourages it!


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