Friday, February 15, 2013

No fashion sense

We're having a big Women's and Gender Studies event at the end of this month.  The WGS Community Advisory Board is hosting our first annual Yes! I'm a Feminist event--a huge party and already a very successful fundraiser with tons of amazing people coming.  I can't wait!

Because I'm the director of WGS, I'm going to have to look like a respectable adult at this event.  In fact, I'll need to look like more than a respectable adult--I'll need to look a tiny bit upscale.  And "a tiny bit upscale" means HUGE overhaul for my fashion.

Normally I wear jeans and some sort of shirt to school.  Often the shirt buttons up. Sometimes it's a tshirt with a logo that's vaguely appropriate to my job (i.e. Princess Leia).  I very often wear Chacos or Birkenstocks.  If need be, I dress up by wearing chinos and one of two pairs of professional shoes I've owned for the last decade.  In fact, both pairs of shoes I wear to conferences and public presentations are shoes I wore to my job interview at CofC.  I've been here eight years.

Obviously, my work clothes aren't right for this party.  How I'm going to look at the Yes! I'm a Feminist party has become a bit of a public cause.  One of our WGS majors is a renowned make up artist, and she's going to do my make up for the event.  One of her colleagues is doing my hair.  Let's all ask ourselves:  have we ever seen Alison in make up?  If you didn't know me in high school, then the answer is no.  I mean, really NO.  I'm a tiny bit concerned that I'm going to become a Barbie head, but it also sounds kind of fun, so I'm agreeing to their very generous offer.

So, what clothes am I going to wear?  Obviously black dress pants.  I felt confident in that decision.  But what shoes?  My black professional shoes have really begun to show their age.  Even I'm noticing it.  So I went on Zappo's today and ordered some new black shoes.  Here they are:

I showed this picture to a WGS major and a WGS alum today, and I was told that they're "fine."  Not cute, not nice, not stylish--but fine.  When I asked for more information, the WGS major said, "They look just like your old shoes."  Which is true--that's why I liked them!  She continued, "They look really early 2000s."  Again, probably why I liked them.

I'm baffled by fashion.  On the whole, that's the best way to put it.  I don't necessarily even have opinions--the whole enterprise just confuses me.  The alum showed me some shoes she might buy:

I'm not opposed to those shoes. I just don't understand them. So, they're cute apparently, but I have no means of assessing them.  I suspect I'd look ridiculous in them--but maybe I'm going to look ridiculous in the other ones.

I've made very little space in my world for fashion.  I want my pants to be long enough.  I want plenty of Star Wars shirts that don't cling too tightly.  I want clothes that can be washed if somebody wipes her nose on the sleeve (not me--I usually wipe my own nose in a more appropriate manner).  I like clothes that are fairly androgynous (button up shirts and chinos, for instance).

What I realized in talking with the alum and the student is that I'm not interested in looking cute (or "sooooo cute!" as Maybelle says about her own fashion).  I'm not interested in having an identifiable style.  I'm interested in looking appropriate.  And by appropriate I mean, I want my clothes to be unnoticeable.  I don't want them to stand out, because really, we've got other things to focus on.

So, as it turns out, "fine" is actually the ideal descriptor of my clothing.

This doesn't really help me determine what slightly upscale shirt I'm going to wear with my Barbie hair and make up and my 2000s-era shoes, but it's always nice to have a personal insight, even about something like fashion.


  1. Loved this column! And, I actually like the shoes. I'm having trouble imagining you in the tweed ones.

    As for a shirt--what if it's a smartly colored button up? Say in deep purple or green or some other deep color that you might wear without feeling uncomfortable, but don't? Apparently, things with a metallic sheen are also fashionable these days. I can just see you in a gold lame button shirt!

  2. i am going to echo deandra's suggestion of something with color (not metallic though) to go with those black pants.

  3. Do you ever watch the makeover show "What Not to Wear"? I'm a fan, dramatic transformations, dime store psychology and all. Time after time, the most striking changes relate not to clothes but to hair and makeup.

  4. I think that "What Not to Wear" would leave Alison's closet empty. I don't like the show because of the hair/make up transformations -- what if people want to just kleep being their schlumpy selves? I like the show too but I would not want anyone signing me up!

  5. Laughing because apparently I have no fashion sense either. And I do not wear makeup. What I have learned is that I wear "weird" outfits. That means I put things together that no one would consider. What I have also learned is that it works for me!

    When I have to dress up, I wear black pants, fun shoes, and a button down that requires no ironing! The shirt stays untucked by the way.

    Fun shoes? flats. especially my red ones because they are comfortable and they remind me "there's no place like home."

  6. It sometimes happens on "What Not to Wear" that the person refuses the haircut. Always tense and painful. Great TV.

  7. Get thee to the Anne Taylor Factory Outlet and buy a nice blouse or sweater. When I was there last, they had some really nice blouses that looked silky but were actually washable polyester. They had roll up sleeves, buttons in all the right places, and came in a nice array of bright colors. Pair with a little skinny belt in a contrasting color. Done.

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