Resource File: Our Favorite Theoretical Excursions

July 26th, 2011 § 7 comments §


On Fashion and the Academy:

A roundtable discussion on style and academe

Maintaining a blog as a grad student

Skinny Pants or Not: What Does A Teacher Wear?

On Fashion and History:

Post-colonialism and ‘safari’ style

On Belting and Corseting

On Gender, Sexuality, and Self-Fashioning:

On subversion and self-disclosure

Dressing as daily drag

J. Crew and gender bending outcries

Gendering with Jewelry

Jewelry as Sign

On Ethnicity and Self-Fashioning:

Being unrecognizably mixed-race

Dressing for cultural inclusion

Bodies and Perceived Ethnicity

Appropriate vs. Appropriation?

Pregnancy, Parenting and the Academy:

Pregnancy in Academia

The (public) pregnant body

Sartorial Semantics: Fashion and Words

Discussing “feminine” vs. “masculine” clothing part 1

“Feminine” vs. “masculine” clothing part 2

Slogan Ts

And finally, our general bibliography on fashion history and clothing as discourse.

Category: Resources, Theoretical

E. On A Lot and A Little

July 21st, 2011 § 9 comments §

Dolce Vita Pumps

In response to some of your “final, burning questions,” I wanted to reflect today on one of the biggest effects that style blogging has had on me: nurturing a desire to BUY less and DO more with what I already have in my wardrobe. Sometimes I’ve been more successful than others, but I want to celebrate the items that have been particularly and surprisingly remix-able as I’ve gone through several significant life and body changes.

Now, I obviously haven’t stopped shopping altogether since blogging. Still, I think that I’ve become a lot more self-conscious about where and how I acquire clothing since starting this blog. I’ve definitely continued my love of a good sale, but I’ve also rediscovered my love of thrifting and uncovered a penchant for refashioning existing garments and helping to organize clothing swaps. S., L., A., and I all have different personal convictions about where we shop and what brands we support, but I have always valued the thoughtful dialogue that comes along with the recognition that, on some level, the statement that you make through what you wear hinges not only on visual appearances but also sourcing and motivation.

That said, while I have made a self-conscious effort to do my research and try to thrift more frequently, I do still shop at a lot of big box stores. And I will admit frankly that limited time plays a big determining factor — some might argue that it is too big a factor — in how I shop. Thrifting or finding vintage treasures on eBay or sewing my own clothes or even hunting down independent boutiques takes a lot of time. And in certain seasons of my life….well, time is a very rare thing. I say this to be honest with you all and to acknowledge that tensions exist (and probably always will). I don’t want to paint myself as operating on a superior plane of enlightened clothes-purchasing. Sometimes I’m just a tired mom that orders things online from Old Navy at 11:00pm because I can get free shipping and simultaneously buy another bundle of socks for baby e.

BUT here’s where style blogging comes in. Because I have a visual record of what I’ve worn and because I have so much inspiration at my finger tips (thanks, Internet), I am more prone than ever to figure out a new way to wear something than go out and buy a new garment. I’ve already gushed about some of the wardrobe workhorses that I own (like my little navy dress and my mustard blouson top), but here are a few more garments that I’ve worn in all three years of our blogging career.


The Expected: Navy Three-Quarter Sleeve Blazer

26 May 2009 3 March 2009 17 March 2009 - Getting Closer 26 March 2009 - With Jacket

I bought this blazer expecting it to be a workhorse. I have not been disappointed.

15 April 2009 20 April 2009 1 September 2009 23 April 2010 - Faux Floral

16 October 2009 - Man Pants 8 March 2011 - Is It Spring Yet? 14 June 2010

7 April 2010 25 February 2010 21 September 2009


The Dark Horse: Dolman Cardigan

30 October 2009 - Slouchy 22 December 2009 24 November 2009

When my mother-in-law gifted me with this cardigan I was initially unsure what to do with those sleeves. But, it was so soft and warm that I kept wearing it…and wearing it…and wearing it…and figuring out different ways to do so along the way.

Unseasonable Slouchy Day Tilted


The All-Season Surprise: Full Cream Skirt

18 July 2009 - Neutrals with a Pop of Baby 13 August 2009 - ThisClose 21 August 2009 - Sundance

Oh, my floaty cream cotton skirt. I love it. I wear it in the spring. I wear it in the summer. Sometimes I wear it in February. This is one of the garments I miss the most when I’m pregnant.

31 September 2009 - Annie Get Yer Gun 10 February 2010 - Golden 16 February 2010

31 March 2010 23 April 2010 - Faux Floral 13 May 2010 - Cheeky

The Colorful: Purple Maxi Dress

The Chics 6 September 2010 - Max

I first wore this purple maxi dress to a baby shower when I was pregnant with little e. Then I let it sit in my closet for a while. And then…then I fell in love and decided it went with pretty much everything. And who doesn’t need a little more royal purple in their life?

Folky Blazer 24 November 2010 - Barefoot in the Kitchen

20 November 2010 - Poor Planning 1 November 2010 - Such Great Lengths

Hippie Dippie Trippie 6 May 2011 - Drive

13 June 2011 - Crossed Buns Garden Hat

It’s this aspect of style blogging — reimagining what I already own and feeling the freedom to occasionally get a little wacky in how I try to wear something — that I hope will remain with me. At the very least I know that I’ll be wearing that full cream skirt again, in some new iteration, just as soon as my post-baby belly allows…

P.S. You can see most of my outfits that utilized those orange shoes up top by clicking here.

Category: Resources, Teaching Moment, Theoretical
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23 May 2011 – Take Two

May 23rd, 2011 § 7 comments §

23 May 2011 - Grape


  • Olive top: thrifted
  • Feather necklace: Tilly Bloom
  • Belt: swapped
  • Skirt: thrifted dress, cut into a skirt
  • Flats: Target, thrifted new

End Notes:

(It’s day 2 of my 15 for at least 15 mini challenge.)

It’s rare that “what the models are wearing” and “what the pregnant work-from-home mom is wearing” ever coincides. And yet, as I continue to pursue my new fascination with midi-length skirts, I find out that Selita Ebanks and I were basically wardrobe twins in high-waisted, full knee-length skirts and drapey tops. Except, of course, I’m wearing mostly thrifted jersey pieces and flats and she is…not.

23 May 2011 - Grape

Fun fact. In the winter of 1970, Paris fashion shows emphasized midi-skirt lengths as a direct and dramatic move away from the mini skirt that had dominated the 1960s. This did not go over so well. In fact, Life Magazine published a cover story bemoaning the loss of youthfulness and sexual allure symbolized by the mini. Nicola White, in her book The Fashion Business: Theory, Practice, and Image, suggests that many American women saw the midi skirt as a symbol of fashion’s excesses and as a result largely disregarded Paris’s style decree. Other women the longer skirt decree — and its associated connotations as “more feminine,” “conservative,” or “demure,” — as an attempt to tamp down on the sexual freedom women were claiming at that time. Do you think that these associations still remain strong today? And how much does context (both of where we see it and whose body it’s on) play into that interpretation?

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Research Casual, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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13 May 2011 – Book By Its Cover

May 13th, 2011 § 29 comments §

13 May 2011 - Book By Its Cover


  • Cardigan: Target
  • Tank: Old Navy
  • Skirt: thrifted maternity dress, cut into skirt
  • Belt: Old Navy
  • Shoes: Steve Madden
  • Bracelet: gift from A.
  • Book: Making Face, Making Soul / Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color,” edited by Gloria Anzaldúa

End Notes:

I seem to have reached my nerdiest plane of wardrobe inspiration yet. I’ve been working with Gloria Anzaldúa’s edited volume, Making Face, Making Soul / Haciendo Caras for the past few days, and it was still sitting on the dining room table when I sat down for breakfast this morning. “I really like these colors together,” I thought. “I should wear them.”

Making Face, Making Soul

This is a fairly loose interpretation of the book cover’s color scheme (largely because I don’t really have anything in that yummy deep purpley magenta that still fits) and I doubt that anyone I see today will exclaim, “Hey, you look JUST LIKE the cover to Making Face, Making Soul!” Still, it makes me happy to be wearing a kind of secrete homage to a book full of writings that I love.

Anyone want to join me? If you’re inspired to create a book-cover outfit in the next week, leave a comment or send us an e-mail (chic at academichic dot com) of both your book of choice and your sartorial interpretation. We’ll feature submitted outfits the following week.

I leave you with one of my favorite methodological mantras in the book, from Maria Lugone’s contribution to the volume, “Playfulness, ‘World’ Traveling, and Loving Perception,” a moving and accessible essay about adopting an attitude of playfulness in order to know other women’s worlds:

Playfulness is, in part, an openness to being a fool, which is a combination of not worrying about competence, not being self-important, not taking norms as sacred and finding ambiguity and double edges a source of wisdom and delight.

13 May 2011 - Book By Its Cover

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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5 May 2011 – Spinning Lies

May 5th, 2011 § 10 comments §



  • Shirt (tunic): French Connection
  • Skirt: Calvin Klein outlet
  • Belt: mom’s
  • Shoes: Tahari via
  • Necklace: Gift

I believe that one of the most fun things in life is twirling around while wearing a very full skirt. This skirt lends itself to playful swishing, swooshing, and all out spins. I had wanted to wear this shirt/tunic again, and I realized that the teal and lavender of the shirt would look great with this skirt and obi belt.


I’m sorry I haven’t been writing very lengthy posts lately, but much like everyone at this time of year, I’m crunched for time as the academic calendar winds down and tests, papers, and projects roll in my door. Sometimes a bright, sun-shiny top, or pop of color, or comfortable stand-by is what gets me through. Other times a full, fancy, almost bustled skirt will do the trick and I can twirl, twirl, twirl myself right into a happy mood. It makes me think I’m a carefree kid again – not like I was exactly twirling around as a kid all the time – but again, too many cotton commercials have conned me into believing that I wore cute summer dresses and spent lazy afternoons rolling down grassy slopes and swinging around to see my skirt flutter around me. Even if it didn’t happen, isn’t it ok to dream? As Miriam Toews put it in her beautiful novel A Complicated Kindness, “The stories that I have told myself are bleeding into a dream, finally, that is slowly coming true… Is it wrong to trust in a beautiful lie if it helps you get through life.”

Twirl side

What do you all think? If we’re talking about more than mixing up your memories, is it wrong to trust in a beautiful lie if it helps you get through life? What “lies” do you believe in?


Category: Color Combinations, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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20 April 2011 – Bullying and Believing

April 20th, 2011 § 13 comments §

Orange you glad


Dress – thrifted ($3)
Cardigan – NY & co.
Belt – Gap outlet
Wedges – Report, via
Necklace – earring turned pendant
Bangles – thrifted and gift from dad
Bike – 1969 Raleigh Sports
Helmet – Nutcase


First, a few words on the outfit: I thrifted this dress during the winter, while it was too cold to wear it, but I bought it in anticipation of it working as a maternity dress. Besides loving the wild paisley print and beautiful warm colors, I also loved that it was jersey (read: stretchy) and with a high waist. And here I am at 25 weeks (when this picture was taken) and fitting perfectly into it. I foresee this one fitting me for a while still. I cannot wait for summer, when I’ll be able to live in stretchy comfortable dresses – my favorite maternity outfit for sure.

Orange you glad Orange you glad

Second, I’d like to thank you all for chiming in with such great comments and points of discussion on my post from Monday. I raised the issue of the media outcry regarding the pink-toenailed J.Crew boy and so many of you had such great things to add. I was particularly fascinated by the thread of discussion regarding the use of children in media and for advertising purposes. While I had focused on the gender talk surrounding this event, many of you noted another interesting issue at play here: using children to promote and advertise companies or products. I haven’t given this enough thought to formulate a concise opinion on this yet, but I’m glad for the incentive to ponder this.

I also appreciated the viewpoint brought by those who noted the paradox between all the anti-bullying talk we’ve had in the media lately and the bullying tone and comments made by those same personalities regarding this boy and his mother now. How quickly we seem to forget that just a few months ago, everyone was talking about the need to educate our youths and to ensure bully-free zones in our schools and communities. Dan Savage, one of my favorite writers and podcast personalities, started the It Gets Better Project with his husband Terry. President Obama contributed a video along with many straight allies and well known public figures. Yet here we are, still listening to certain members of the media openly and unabashedly engaging in the kind of bullying that we were trying to eradicate.

I don’t really have an answer or a message for all of this, I just wanted to highlight the great point raised by so many about the role of bullying in this discussion. I’m hopeful though, that despite the inevitable setbacks, our society can keep moving forward towards acceptance and respect for all its members. I have to be hopeful. I’m bringing a new little member into this world and I have to believe that we’re progressing and not regressing in our worldviews and ways of interracting with each other.

Baby belly at 25 weeks

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Layers Upon Layers, Maternity Style, Reaching New Heights, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical, Vélocouture
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J.Crew and Gender Bending Outcries

April 18th, 2011 § 89 comments §

Weekend Casual: My Favorite (Bike) Tee


Bike tee – J.Crew
Cardi – free from swap
Skinnies – ON Maternity
Loafers – Michael Kors, thrifted
Bike – 1969 Raleigh Sports
Helmet – Nutcase


It’s no secret that I’m somewhat bike obsessed. Ok, maybe a little more than somewhat. So you won’t be surprised to see that one of my favorite tees is one with a graphic print of a bike on it. I got this shirt on clearance at J.Crew at the end of last summer, only to open one of my gifts on Christmas morning and find that my mom had gotten the same tee for me at J.Crew as well. I guess she knows me pretty well. Having two of this one very loved t-shirt makes me willing to stetch one out and turn it into a maternity top.

Weekend Casual: My Favorite (Bike) Tee

And speaking of J.Crew, have any of you seen this recent article regarding a picture in the J.Crew catalog that’s apparently causing quite a stir? The image in question is one of J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons and her young son engaging in a supposedly questionable activity… painting her son’s toenails pink. According to the news article, social conservatives are calling the piece “transgendered child propaganda.”  (The implications here being also that transgendered people should be shamed and not embraced). The claims range from suggestions that the young boy will need psychotherapy to recover later in life to accusations that J.Crew is exploiting the youngster to promote their “liberal, transgendered identity politics“. A bit much, right?

{image source}

We’ve talked in the past about how fashion is a powerful tool in perfoming gender and identity, be it in terms of race, sexuality, class, or ethnicity. We’ve also talked about how these accoutrements of fashion are used by adults to enforce gender performance in young children. This article is a perfect example of our culture’s obsession with visibly marking children as either male or female, feminine or masculine. The binary that shall not be disturbed.

As my husband, the feminist, pointed out – what if it had been black nailpolish on the little boy? Would that have caused as big of a stir? What is it about pink that is especially prickly when it comes to men adopting it? And what if the image had shown a little girl dressed in a baseball outfit? Would that kind of crossing of traditional gender boundaries have caused such an aggressive response? Even within culturally imposed gender norms, some boundaries are clearly more flexible than others.

To credit my husband with one more astute observation – that little boy is growing up with his mother greatly involved in the fashion industry. He likely observes her work with fashion much of the day. Nailpolish, an accessory, is just an extension of her daily work accoutrements. He most likely just wants to be a part of his mother’s life and involved with the things she’s passionate about. His wanting his nails painted should more likely be viewed as an extension of his love for his mother and his desire to share in her interests and activities. It’s sad that such a sweet demonstration of mother-child enjoyment is being demonized like this. Jon Stewart agrees with me, he also had a few things to say on the topic.

Perhaps you don’t agree and are oppsed to little boys wearing pink nailpolish. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear why that is. I welcome discussion from all perspectives on it and I hope that my making it clear where I stand on this debate doesn’t discourage others who disagree to chime in with their response. What is your take on the J.Crew image and the consequent media response to it? – S.

Weekend Casual: My Favorite (Bike) Tee

Category: Beltless, Maternity Style, Office Hours, Our Best Flatware, Pants Please, Research Casual, Theoretical, Vélocouture, Weekend Wear
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22 March 2011 – Floral and Lace

March 22nd, 2011 § 16 comments §

22 March 2011 – Floral and Lace, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Cardigan: hand me down from SIL, embellished by me
  • Dress: Banana Republic Factory
  • Belt: Gap Outlet
  • Pumps: Steve Madden

End Notes:

After I put this all together I realized that I was wearing floral, lace, and pink, all elements which, in recent western culture, have been coded as “feminine.” Interestingly, I don’t feel particularly “girly” in this outfit, despite the multiple “feminine” elements. My personal aesthetic is one that leans more towards graphic prints and lines and blocks of color, and I think that manifests itself here in the bold, flat flowers, substantial cording embellishment, and the admittedly random choice of shoe color.

Of course, as S. has pointed out before, pink and ruffles were previously cultural signifiers of masculinity and, as I argued last year, floral prints can and have had different cultural associations , like Empress Eugenie’s “political gowns” cut from floral patterns particular to Lyon or even my Caucasian father’s embracing of aloha shirts as business attire in Hawaii.This isn’t an outfit that’s going to change the world or radically subvert cultural norms, but when I realize that I am, in theory, wearing something similar to the fellow below, I have to smile and shake my head a little at how dramatically cultural signifiers can change meaning within a few centuries.

Portrait of a Man, Carle Vanloo, 18th c.

And yes, he is pattern-mixing his florals. Well played, sir. I’m taking notes.

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Reaching New Heights, Theoretical
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Guest Post: What does a feminist look like

March 16th, 2011 § 4 comments §

Fashionable Academics recently hosted a forum on “What Does a Feminist Look Like“. They collected responses from a variety of self-described feminist bloggers and published them all together along with their pictures. And just in time for women’s history month! We were excited to contribute to this wonderful project and thrilled to be part of such a large, passionate, and articulate group of bloggers who expressed what feminism means to them. If you’d like to see what feminism means to us, and to all the other bloggers who participated, see here for the full post.

Category: Theoretical

8 March 2011 – Is It Spring Yet?

March 8th, 2011 § 24 comments §

8 March 2011 – Is It Spring Yet?, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Blazer: Banana Republic Factory
  • Cardigan (underneath): Target
  • Tank: Forever 21
  • Maternity trousers: Loft, via eBay
  • Pumps: Steve Madden

End Notes:

Is it spring yet? I woke up this morning wanting to wear stripes, breezy trousers, colored shoes, and lots of navy and white…all components that rank pretty highly in my conception of “spring clothing.” It’s still pretty brisk outdoors, and I had to throw on an overcoat when I went to campus, but something about this combination seemed delightfully fresh to me after lots of black and jewel tones. Do you have wardrobe harbingers of spring? I think I’m also about to pull out my lightweight scarf collection…

Striped Bump

(An aside: The last time I was pregnant I was still afraid of stripes in my wardrobe. This time around, I’m kind of smitten with how they go all wonky across my burgeoning belly. I don’t know that I’ll feel like that in twenty more weeks, but for now it makes me smile.)

Finally, I’ve enjoyed reading all of your comments on S.’s post about pregnancy in academia. Like a few others in the comments, I recommend the book Mama, Ph.D., edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant, for anyone interested in hearing even more voices on the subject of mothering in academia. The book includes incredibly poignant narratives from women who had children in grad school, pre-tenure, or post-tenure, women who chose not to have children, and women who left academia altogether after becoming mothers. I’ve raised a few eyebrows by announcing that I’m pregnant again in graduate school, but overall the response has been very supportive from my professors and colleagues (and institutionally I will get New Child Leave and have my clock “stop” for half a semester). I don’t like to think of myself as “having it all,” though, because I am very cognizant that what I consider to be “success” in my academic career is not how other women will want to define it. But that’s kind of the point. Thanks to the women who worked against tremendous odds in decades prior, these choices are now available to me. The cards may still be stacked against someone like me getting tenured at an R-1 or writing THE book that redefines my field, but if I can model a faithful scholarship-life balance to my students and my children while nurturing inquisitiveness, integrity, and creativity…I’ll count that as my success.

8 March 2011 - Is It Spring Yet?

Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Pants Please, Parenting in Academia, Pregnancy in Academia, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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