30 August 2009

August 30th, 2009 § 30 comments §

30 August 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.
All remixed:


I’m back! I’ve spent the last week living out of a car and out of a tent, traveling with my husband and two visiting Austrian friends to some of the many amazing national parks and monuments this country has to offer. While the sights and hikes have been breathtaking, the outfits have definitely been not. Not to mention that I had no access to my laptop, phone, or electricity for the past nine days – bliss.

But now that I’m back, I’m fascinated by the dialogue that started last week just after my departure and I’d like to add my two cents: I too, like A., have only told a few people about this blog of ours (my husband, my parents, and exactly three friends – one here in the US, my Austrian friend I’ve just been traveling with, and one in Romania).

In fact, I was faced with an interesting dilemma towards the end of this past spring semester. An undergraduate student who I’ve come to know well and who was getting ready to begin graduate work this fall confided that she did not know how to dress for graduate school and that she needed help in developing a more professional look. Part of my wanted to yelp, ‘I have just the site for you! I blog about this almost daily!’ I felt like our units on proportions, color, teaching attire and countless others could express to her much more than I could say in a brief half hour conversation. But another – equally persuasive inner voice – hastened to warn me that she was still my student and perhaps would not be too thrilled to find out about her instructor’s style blog. In the end, I did not reveal my ‘secret project’ and probably was not able to answer her questions or provide her with too much help during our brief conversation. Although I do not equate time or attention spent on appearance with diminishing intellectual capabilities, I still feel acutely aware of society’s and fellow academics’ tendencies to do so and wanted to spare myself the potential judgement. Such is my dilemma – I know that the system is flawed and don’t ‘buy into it’, but in true Foucaultian fashion, I also know that I can not exist outside of that system.

On a related note – the question of engagement rings and wedding bands has come up in numerous comments and here is where I stand on that. T. and I opted for a non-diamond engagement ring for numerous reasons, and as a result, most people did not realise that I was engaged when seeing my ring finger. We are so trained to read certain symbols as carrying certain meanings that we often do not even consider the possibilities of alternate meanings or alternate symbols. But I did not choose a non-diamond ring as a way to hide or downplay my marital status in the interview room (and in fact now wear a very conspicuous wedding band inherited from my mother).  While I may not be brave enough yet to freely share this project with others in my professional or personal life, I do not believe that I should ever hide or deny something like my partner or desire to have children from potential employers. I may be likely to downplay my interest in clothes and style, but I am much less inclined to do so with my family and personal priorities and believe that any work place that would not support my having a life outside of academia does not deserve the hard work and commitment I would put into serving that department. S.

Category: Layers Upon Layers, Office Hours, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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29 August 2009

August 30th, 2009 § 17 comments §

29 August 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.


All Remixed


Last night, A2 and I attended a luau-themed wedding shower.  When I heard we were expected to dress for a luau, I immediately rolled my eyes, but then I remembered this dress and actually had some fun building this chic luau ensemble.

I have worn this dress before with the black halter and with black accessories (earrings, belt, shoes, and clutch), but this time I decided to work with the mix of black, cream and tan in the floral print and add  brown accessories.  I think nothing says island like wooden jewelry, and in fact the necklace came from a trip to Hawaii several years ago.

I think the woven clutch also has a bit of an island feel, but since I used it to create a safari look not long ago, I decided to add my Blue Onion Marketplace flower pin to make it feel more luau appropriate.  I wasn’t sure how this idea would transfer form over-sized woven tote to small woven clutch, but I actually loved the end result and am glad to have found yet another way to use these great flower pins.

Flower Clutch, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Dresses for Evening, Layers Upon Layers, Night Without Grading, Reaching New Heights, Weekend Wear
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4th Trimester Style: Minding the Gap

August 28th, 2009 § 22 comments §

A couple of weeks ago I recapped my experience of trying to dress stylishly through my 6 months of “obvious” pregnancy. Now post-bump I am picking my way through the new style challenges of the so-called “4th trimester” as all my internally displaced organs rearrange themselves and my hips try to decide if they ever want to return home. So many of you have been very kind and gracious in complimenting me on the quick recovery of my waistline, and I certainly appreciate your encouragement. Still, in the interest of intellectual honesty, you should know…

I am a long way off from fitting back into my pre-preggers pants and skirts.

Oh, yes, good readers, I have some significant jiggly below my stomach that seems to be in no real hurry to leave. Between having a torso of epically long proportions and carrying low throughout my pregnancy, my post-preggers body has managed, weirdly, to achieve a flat abdomen with all the squish hanging out below. I’m serious.

Three Cheers for the Thrifting Fairies

Ultimately I remain relatively unfazed by this state of affairs. My body is recovering from some pretty dramatic stuff, and having my beautiful son in my arms is worth a pooch below the belt. Still, the fact remains that the clothes that made me feel best pre-preggers — my favorite jeans, my denim skirts, my beloved trousers, and my sleek pencil skirts — must remain relegated to the basement for a while longer.

So that left me with a couple of choices:

  • Resign myself to wearing only stretchy fabrics and maternity pants for the next three months
  • Obsess crazily about crunches and carbohydrates in an attempt to hasten my return to pencil skirts
  • OR fill this style gap with new (or new-to-me) clothes

I chose the third option and, a few weeks ago, ventured out to the my neighborhood thrift store with a budget of $30. An hour and many garments later, I left with a pair of gray trousers to cut into bermuda shorts, two pairs of jeans, three tops, and a pair of wedges. Seriously, it was like Christmas.

But here’s the thing. Those pants and jeans? They’re two sizes larger than my pre-preggers size. At first it was a little bit of a blow to my ego to pull jeans from the rack that my post-baby hips absolutely refused to fit into. But then…then I slipped on this pair of jeans and did a happy dance in front of the mirror.

Three Cheers for the Thrifting Fairies

They fit perfectly and, in doing so, made me feel like I had my pre-preggers body back early. I mean, if they can make my legs look three days long I could care less what number is stamped on the tag. And as if the thrifting fairies weren’t already being exceptionally kind, the jeans were 7 For All Mankind — my first time owning this coveted brand — and cost only $8. And those pants-turned-bermudas? They’ve become a sleek, go-to staple in recent weeks. And that other pair of jeans? With some minor alterations, I have a custom-fit pair of harder-to-come-by straight leg jeans.

So while I’m still committed to getting back into shape, this little thrifting trip has made a world of difference for my postpartum self-esteem. Again, I’m dressing the body I have now, and dressing it in “real” clothes. Clothes with waistbands. Clothes that are flattering. Clothes that, perhaps most importantly, let me delight in being a mom, without fretting or feeling guilty about worry over my body. To me, that’s worth much more than $30 at Goodwill.

Category: Maternity Style
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27 August 2009

August 27th, 2009 § 12 comments §

27 August 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.
All remixed
Today I will meet my students for the semester.  I want to be sure to set myself  apart from undergraduates without being too overdressed in comparison to my fellow TAs.  The blazer, denim skirt, fun shoe combination seemed the perfect choice.

I have praised this old denim pencil skirt of mine many a times for its comfort, versatility, and chicness. I am now on the lookout for similar skirt to enter into the rotation and am looking forward to the slightly cooler weather when corduroy will be a more appropriate option.

Pink Shoes!, originally uploaded by academichic.
I think the black blazer blazer gives this look a professional vibe while the fuchsia shoes hopefully signal to my students that I am the creative exciting TA.   I loved wearing these shoes with lime green and purple but think they really sing when paired with an all neutral ensemble.

I like the layers of black on black and think the varying textures give my monochromatic top-half some added visual interest and sophistication.  A.

Black on Black on Black, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Color Combinations, Layers Upon Layers, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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26 August 2009

August 26th, 2009 § 9 comments §

26 August 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.

  • Coral Flower Tank – Urban Outfitters
  • White Strapless Cami – Banana Republic
  • Skinny Jeans – Gap Outlet
  • Woven Brown Belt – Forever 21
  • Sandals – Forever 21
This week has proved to be much busier then I anticipated with new deadlines, meetings, and social commitment thrown my way.  Yesterday I was to busy snap a picture of my outfit before leaving the house and way to tired to do it when I finally made it back home.  My plan for today was to catch up on emails and start working towards some of those new deadlines.  I dressed casually, expecting to spend most of the day at home, and in top perfect for soaking up the last rays of sun of my summer siting outside the coffee shop.  But, par for course this week, I ended up having to go into the department and to meet with a head librarian on campus.  There was no time to run home and change so off I went in my research-casual, sun-soaking ensemble.  The librarian seemed annoyed to be talking to me until I introduced who I was and then his tone dramatically changed. I do have to wonder, if  I had been dressed in pencil skirt and heels, would he have approached me differently?

Is it too much to ask to want to get a little sun AND a little respect all in the same day?

26 August 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Our Best Flatware, Pants Please, Research Casual
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Spotlight On: Back-To-School Clothing Swap

August 26th, 2009 § 5 comments §

The three lovely ladies you see above, @gwenbell, @srslyliz, and @sarahjbray, are hosting a clothing swap and fashion evening In Boulder Colorado on September 12th.

Gwen explains how the clothing swap works:

You show up with those items of clothing needing a new home (you know the ones I mean, the ones in your closet that you bought and thought you’d love but don’t) (it stands to reason that if it was once rad to you it might be rad to someone else).

You come ready to have fun. You try on clothes, swap, remix your wardrobe with some ultra-fashionable ladies.

To find out more about the event, including how it works, how it got stated, and who it benefits, check out Gwen and Liz’s sites.  While unfortunately none of us Chics will be able to make it to this fabulous event, we will be covering it here on Academichic so be sure to check back for a full report on what promises to be a fantastic evening of fashion, clothing, and fun and latter for  a DIY post on how to organize your own clothing swap.

Category: Spotlight Series
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25 August 2009 – Shifty

August 25th, 2009 § 16 comments §

25 August 2009 – Shifty, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Black shirt dress – Old Navy
  • Brown leather belt – Gap Outlet
  • Brown wedges – thrifted

End Notes:

Our recent recommendations on accessorizing a black shift dress made me all nostalgic for my little black wool shift dress. I love the silhouette of a great-fitting shift, and it’s a look that I missed while pregnant. Sadly, that wool LBD is not at all conducive to breastfeeding, nor does it hold up well to spit up, meaning that it will be relegated to storage for a little while longer. But, that doesn’t mean that the, er, spirit of the shift dress need be absent.

This morning I pulled out this slim shirt dress from my pre-preggers storage bin and buttoned it on with hopeful anticipation. And let me be honest. What you see in the photograph is the result of some thoughtful finagling, namely, wearing a black nursing cami underneath, leaving the top three buttons undone to accommodate my new breastfeeding bosom, and moving the waist of the dress up to hide my remaining baby bumpage by adding a wide belt.

Shifty Eyed, originally uploaded by academichic.

It sounds very complicated when I type it all out like that, but in reality it took only a few minutes of tweaking and slipping on a new-to-me pair of wedges to make me see something akin to my pre-preggers style (and body) in the mirror…just altered to meet the demands of my new life. Is it strange that I get a little creative adrenaline rush from my wardrobe trompe-l’œil?

Thrifted Wedges, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Reaching New Heights
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24 August 2009

August 24th, 2009 § 9 comments §

24 August 2009, originally uploaded by academichic.

All remixed again and again.

  • Cream Cardigan – J Crew
  • Teal Tank – BR Outlet
  • Turquoise Necklace – Limited
  • Grey Skirt – Old Navy
  • Brown Wedges – Kenneth Cole Reaction, via DSW
  • Bag – China Town, NYC


As E. said, today was the meet and greet brunch for our department.  For me however, this was followed by a TA meeting, lunch with new graduate students, a workshop on managing stress (I just managed to feel more stressed about my stress) and finally to work a table at the graduate student resource fair.   It’s been a long day – hence the nighttime photo!

I knew I wanted to wear something I would be physically comfortable in all day, but also something that would make me feel confident and most like myself.  Today I was once again asking quite a bit of my outfit,  wanting it to covey my commitment to my studies and teaching, approachability, preparedness, and a sense of fun.

Teal on Teal, originally uploaded by academichic.

As I got dressed this morning and traveled to school, I found myself thinking about all of your great comments on Friday’s post.  Many of you commented that you feel you are always dressing for a number of people and are constantly aware that you are being judged on your appearance, but many of you all expressed that fashion and style can be freeing, empowering, and influential.  While I will continue to think about these ideas, and hope to continue this discussion here, today I did try to remember that ultimately, I am dressing for myself.  However, I do think that by feeling that I looked approachable likely made me exude an approachability to those around me and similarly, by feeling that I looked prepared and committed I was probably more confident in my various meetings.

I was very intrigued by reader N. who claimed that some of her undergraduate professors were “AWARE of their self-presentation and use it as a tool in the classroom (to discuss identity, class, gender, etc. ).”  I love the idea of this and have been thinking quite a bit about how I might put this into practice.  Any ideas on this?

I also loved the idea expressed by reader Krissie about wanting to be “the best, most fully rounded people we can be.” Academia can often be very insular (and isolating) – there is a strange disconnect from the outside world, which I find particularly problematic for the humanities.  I do think my interest in fashion and personal style is one of the many things that makes me a more well rounded individual and thus a better scholar.  This blog is an important creative outlet for me but also a form of field study!

Please keep all your great thoughts coming!  A.

New Shoes!, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Beltless, Office Hours, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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24 August 2009 – Meet and Greet

August 24th, 2009 § 9 comments §

24 August 2009 – Trim, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Wrap shirt – BR Outlet
  • Gray bermudas – thrifted, chopped by me
  • Orange heels – Dolce Vita, via www.solestruck.com
  • Earrings – local jeweler, a gift from my husband

End Notes:

This morning A. and I attended our department’s annual meet and greet brunch. I remember walking into our building three years ago full of anticipation and anxiety over launching my graduate career. I don’t really remember what I wore that day, but I do remember that A. and I were the only people there wearing skirts. If our meeting was a movie, there would have been a little *ding* noise in the soundtrack and a voiceover squealing, “Friends!”

Shirt detail, originally uploaded by academichic.

Today I brought baby e. with me to the brunch, and I eschewed a full skirt for a sleek pair of bermudas and a crisp white wrap shirt. And then…I threw on my bright orange pumps. Maybe my top was a message to the faculty — “I’m calm, I’m put together, don’t fear” — and my shoes were a message to the new students — “I can be fun, too!”

Because, really, nothing says “fun at parties” like an orange pump.

Dolce Vita Pumps, originally uploaded by academichic.

Umbilical Glass Earrings, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Office Hours, Reaching New Heights, Teaching Outfits, The Short of It
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Reader Question: What to Wear to a New Faculty Reception

August 23rd, 2009 § 3 comments §

We recently received this reader request:

I have just started a postdoc and received an invitation yesterday to attend a new faculty reception next month where I will be formally welcomed along with several other new faculty members.  As this will likely be my first opportunity to meet the full faculty and administration, I want to make a good impression.  The reception is in the evening and my university is in the South. I have noticed that even though it is very hot here, people dress for the air-conditioning and generally are more dressed-up than I am used to.  In terms of dressier but professional options: I have a short-sleeved lighter-weight black wool dress that I could dress up with belt and heels, or I could wear a pants suit with a nice blouse underneath.  Do you have any ideas?

Congratulations on the postdoc position!

We think it is great that this reader plans to use an item already in her closet.  It’s always fun to have a new outfit for the first day of school, a conference, or other important event, but remixing items you love in a way you never have before allows you to create a whole new ensemble without spending a penny. If wearing a new item will help make you feel special for that special occasion, look for a new belt, shoes, or accessories to help spruce up that old standard.

Click through the jump for some ideas!

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Category: Q&A