fashion sandwich

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A colleague of mine--

An aside: my program's admin and faculty insist on referring to us graduate students as "colleagues", whether in email or in classes/events. This is one of the slightly more pretentious things about graduate school, and graduate school is pretentious enough as is. But every time I hear "colleague", I feel compelled to straighten up my spine, surreptitiously stick out my pinkie finger (depending on how I am holding my Tom Collins this evening), and imagine myself screwing in my monocle. I then snootily lean over to my "colleague", careful not to lower my nose too much, and, in my best Brahmin accent, say something like, "Mmm, yes, have you not read Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften in its entirety? In the native tongue? Hmm, whatever are you doing with your time, my good man?" 

Okay, so, a peer of mine recently paid me a nice compliment, that I always look sophisticated and presentable around campus, class, and functions. It was unexpected and gentle enough, and of course very kind of her, and my response was the default setting of How A Lady Should Take Compliments.

Oh, you! You are too sweet. 

But really, on the inside, it was more like this.

Wait, exactly how awesome did you say I was? Continue.

For the next five days.

If people knew how much preening a compliment sets into motion, or the extent of how deluded I am into suddenly believing I am Beyonce when someone flatters me in any way, then I have a feeling people would never be sweet to me again. Seriously, whole populations would shake their heads in disgust if given a peek into my mental status in the wake of something as harmless as, "Oh, you look cute today!". 

What I see in the mirror for the next month.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating, but I thought I would backwardly acknowledge this sometime-tendency of mine because I find that in the world of blogging, and especially fashion/beauty blogging--(er, not that this is a fashion blog. But this post is kind of fashion-bloggy. My apologies if that doesn't blow your skirt up)

--in the world of blogging, no one ever outright acknowledges how vain it is to recommend clothing, or do a tutorial on a bombin' smokey eye, or dole out advice in general. Like, if Emily Sheffield ever gave me personal fashion advice, I would weep silently in gratitude. But if I had a clone of myself, and she told me my flats didn't look good with the cut of my jeans, then I would just roundhouse myself in the throat. That was a weird sentence to type.

I love fashion, and doing my hair and makeup, and spending chunks of my life lusting away on The Sartorialist, and buying shoes that I don't need, and etcetera. But I'm no Taylor Tomasi Hill, struttin' around NYC in the latest Proenza. I'm not the only one whose standard Friday night outfit is some combination of cute Topshop top, tight skirt, and comfortable-ish heels. My 'advice' isn't anything new, either. So if I had to label my "style", it would probably be, "Slightly Fashionable Grad Student On the Go Who Quit Shopping at Forever 21 and Found a Decent Taylor". Here's how to dress like one.

(Like a compliment sandwich, we are going to look at my fashion choices in this pattern: Cute, Meh, Cute)

This is a no-brainer. Dark wash skinny jeans are like the iceberg lettuce of a modern girl's wardrobe, they are the perfect base and just so versatile in building an outfit. I have a theory that you could be wearing mismatching Crocs, a ripped up plastic bag for a top, and have your hair on fire, but if you're wearing dark wash skinny jeans, BAM--you look put together. I bet a sassy hairdresser will even peek out their door as you walk by, and gasp, "Très chic, she is soo Postcolonial GrungeBaby right now!" I live in a pair from J Crew, but you can find a great pair most places.

Fine. I tried. But, most days, at some point, I am subtly picking crumbs out of my hair. It comes with the neurotic, sleep-deprived territory, where my "colleagues" and I slouch into class in our stained undergrad sweatshirts and holey wind pants, clutching steaming mugs of souped up caffeine cocktails and idly scratching at our bums because we stopped caring somewhere between thesis proposal and peer review. Sometimes my shoes must match that vibe. Yes, I hate Uggs on principle, and swore I would never buy any, but I also think that sometimes if you're going to go all out, you really have to go all out. Hence, these real ugly Ugg slippers. But, how the angels sing when these cling upon your feet. These are the best for tromping around dusty hardwood floors, but I can't lie. I run out to class or peer-review in these a lot. I welcome your judgment.

Skirts! I seem to have reached a point in my adult life where I am back to loving skirts and dresses more than pants, just like in the second-grade days of wearing skirts and dresses that my Mom hand sewed for me. If dark wash skinny jeans are the iceberg lettuce of grad student fashion, then consider skirts the plate of grad student fashion...umm, okay, moving on. This is also a plus for short ladies. I love skirts--particularly high-waisted, and above-the-knee, sometimes A-line depending on the length. They're another way to look put-together in no time, can transition from class to the bar, and look cute with flats or heels. Plus they're comfortable and can double as fat-pants if you are so inclined. I have been wearing the feather-print one above from Ann Taylor Loft like, all the time. Sometimes to bed. Only jokes.

Picture the scene. It's a chilly, autumnal night on the streets of Lincoln Park, the L rattling away in the background like a ghost train. The tree-lined sidewalks are damp and illuminated by hazy yellow street lamps, families cozy and warm inside their brownstones, and out of the darkness appears...some ghastly-looking madwoman with a scarf flowing around her head and upper-body, billowing across your path like the ghoul that escaped from your Victorian home's attic. Yeah, that was me last week on the way to the bar after class, caught in a cold mist without an umbrella. Did my flimsy, pathetic scarf shield me from the wet and wind? No. Did my crazy, billowing scarf wrapped around my face like I had mumps earn me some fearful glances from passersby? You bet. Hence, a hoodie. Oh, how I wished I had a hoodie. Plus, can you ever have too many pockets?

Welcome to my current obsession. I wear flats probably every day, because they work so well for going from my internship to class and everything grad-student-y in between. My favorite pair of the moment aren't these Chanel ones (pssh I wish! Show me a graduate student in Chanel flats and I'll show you...the lint in my pocket as I beg you for booze money from underneath my cardboard sign) but knockoff two-tones from Zara, which are really similar. I used to wear some variation of flip-flops like, religiously, back in high school and part of college, until I realized how hideous/lazy/ew they generally look with anything except swimwear. Flats are chic. Flats are good. Flats are the way of the grown-up girl world.

And, finally, we have the turband. Okay, I know that this is a total trend and not something classic, but I feel like if you want to rock a turband, hey, you rock a turband girl. This one is from Nasty Gal. Side note, if you haven't checked out Nasty Gal, you totally should. Seriously, don't let the gross name deter you. I kind of love their clothes, the only downside being that you run the risk of people assuming you have riding crops and neon, glow-in-the-dark-circa-Nelly-2000 thongs in your shopping bag. Anyway. If the turband isn't up your alley, let's just call it "any cute hair accessory that makes you look vaguely fashionable while disguising your greasy ass roots because you can't even remember the last time you combed your hair let alone bathed". And, boom, you're a well-dressed lady.

More sandwiches (and proper blog posts) to come, friends!

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