- Top: Banana Republic
- Belt: Banana Republic Outlet
- Pants: Banana Republic
- Shoes: Ciao Bella via DSW
- Fire Opal Necklace: my design
- Silver Bracelets and Ring: gifts
Following close on the heels of E’s recent post about skinny trousers, here I am wearing my go-to skinny black pants. Like many of you, I am apprehensive about the whole “jeggings” trend. I agree with E’s statement that I have no problem wearing skinnies on my own time, but I do question how professional it is in front of a classroom of impressionable youths. Dress code at my school is something that definitely needs work, and I find myself on a daily basis rolling my eyes at the distasteful ways in which these teen-age girls are parading their bodies around for all to see (please see my addendum and the comments on this post for an apology for this phrasing and further clarification and thoughts on this). I guess I am more old school than I thought, but I have strong opinions about what is proper and what is improper school attire. For me what it comes down to is material. I too have the ponte pants that E was wearing, but because the cut and material are clingier on me, I feel uncomfortable wearing those to school, but I frequently wear them for traveling because of their flexibility and weight. However, the pants I have on here have even more structure at the bottom to avoid a comparison with leggings, and the thicker fabric also helps to combat the nearly-naked feeling of the leggings, spandex, and even tights that some of my students chose to wear. While I am not a huge fan of the whole leggings-uggs-tunic ensemble, for me tightness is less of an issue than length. The skirt length my students seem to favor is about 1” below the behind, which I think is appallingly too short. However, my rant against skirt length is for another day. Today I’d like to talk about tightness.
What is too tight? As one reader noted, pencil skirts are just as snug, but seem infinitely more work appropriate. Likewise, well-fitted tops and tailored trousers are certainly acceptable. So why the rage against the skinny? I guess what it comes down to for me is trendiness. There is a fine line between looking nice and looking like you’re ready for a night out on the town. Especially when it comes to black pants, I’d like to avoid seeming like I’m ready to hit the clubs at a moment’s notice. I agree that there are ways to play down the tightness of a pair of pants – either with a longer shirt or some layering on top to balance – but for me the litmus test is: If I’d wear it out for dancing, I will not wear it to school. Perhaps harsh, and certainly there are pieces that can span a transition between work and drinks or a nice dinner, but on the whole, if it looks too evening chic, I leave it for after 6:00pm. To make this outfit Friday-night worthy I would have opted for my wide patent leather belt, patent leather wedges and some sparklier jewelry. As it was, I went for a matte black woven belt, my black flowered flats, silver jewelry and a necklace made from an Australian fire opal pendant that I picked up when I was there in 2005.
Now that I’m writing this I’m realizing what a fine line this is in my own head. I guess the answer is really “to each her own.” As for me, I’m more comfortable professionally wearing tight pants than I ever will be wearing a short skirt. I’m proud of my body, and I love my athletic curves. I do not think that tight clothes are the sole realm of those who are stick figures. Seeing as how E, A and I all shopped for the same Anne Taylor skinnies together, I’m interested to see what A has to say on this matter. You’ve probably noticed that all of us at Academichic have different opinions on these things and these kinds of questions are exactly the way in which sartorial choices can spark debate. Do you feel differently about tightness versus length? Which do you play with more?
Author’s Note:I apologize for not choosing my words more carefully and appreciate those who commented in response to this post. I can see how the phrase “parading their bodies around for all to see” could be interpreted, and I’d like to clarify my point. First, I am a feminist. I also teach in a secondary school (grades 9 – 12) and think that young people, girls and boys, should learn what is appropriate to wear in certain situations and what is not appropriate. The boys too need to learn things like taking off hats indoors, wearing dress shoes instead of athletic gear, and the value of tucking in their button down shirts. This does not mean that I am not a good feminist. Women and men should be allowed to wear what they would like. HOWEVER, and this is where my old-school side kicks in, I also believe that there are situations in which a very short skirt or a baseball hat are not appropriate and school is one such situation. Like it or not, what you wear dictates a great deal about how you are received. As our guest poster Sally McGraw of Already Pretty put it, “although we flex our creativity through our choices, we still dress within the bounds of social acceptability.” I would never pass judgment on a student’s character or intelligence or anything else about her based on what she was wearing, but I do find it within my boarding school teaching duties to help educate students about appropriate ways/times for self expression when operating within a school community. Because this is a residential school, the faculty technically act in loco parentis for these students. If these were my children of course I would want them to love their bodies, be unselfconscious, and express themselves as they so chose. However, I would also teach them when it is the right time and place to wear certain kinds of dress and when it is not. I see these same students day-in and day-out and what I am talking about here is just during the class day. Despite the fact that we are all on campus all the time, I don’t care what they are wearing on Saturday night, or at dinner, or over the weekend, or before breakfast. I also dress down at these times, and they see me wearing jeans, hooded sweatshirts, Ts, flip flops and any number of other casual elements. However, when the class day begins at 8:00am, I expect that they will be wearing clothing that is appropriate for the classroom and not distracting to themselves or others. I am not advocating repression, but I am proposing that certain guidelines should be followed in an academic setting.