Friday, November 20, 2009

Winter Kept Us Warm

New Heights

New Heights

Works Cited
gray tee: target
skirt: old navy
belt: j crew (gift)
tights: target
gray heels: style & co.

If there's any poet to get serious about, it's T.S. Eliot, who took himself so seriously that he adopted a fake British accent after moving to London at the age of 25. In an attempt to adopt an Eliot style, my color palette is mostly grays and blacks today. The yellow belt helps break up the look, and works as a metaphor to suggest that there is perhaps some hope in Eliot's fragments after all. I'm finding this yellow belt to be a wonderful addition to a dark winter wardrobe, and I love how it interrupts blue and gray outfits. I find skinny belts to be sophisticated and subtle, which is why this one gets away with being a bright color. As for the heels, I am normally a flats-wearer, but my students are getting papers back today and I need all the height and authority I can get to show them whose boss in the face of paper grades.

This brings me to a perhaps controversial question: recently, a male colleague whom I spotted wearing a tie to teach, told me that there is a direct relation between wearing a tie and how well your class goes. I was skeptical about this argument, especially because I don't see an easy equivalent for the female instructor, who might be perceived more like Avril Lavigne than a tenure-track professor if she came in with a tie. My colleague claimed that women can wear high heels to get the same authority a man might get with a tie. But I find that unlike a tie, heels can convey both authority and sex appeal. I wish there was a magic article of clothing in women's closets that would convey the authority this male colleague seemed to think his tie does. Unfortunately, his authority in the classroom is probably due as much to him being a bearded man as it does to his sartorial choices. I have found that my female colleagues have encountered more disrespectful behavior, from young male students in particular, than my male colleagues have. Over my years teaching, I've come to think that some students, whether consciously or unconsciously, accord less authority to their young female instructors precisely because they are young and female. And unfortunately, no tie or heel or corduroy blazer is going to fix that.


La Historiadora de Moda said...

I agree that unfortunately female academics might have to deal with disrespectful behavior in the classroom more often than their male colleagues. I have also heard that some female academics are seen by their students as "nicer" than male professors so students will try to take advantage of that. I think the best defense against this is a good offense. If you lay down the law during the first couple weeks of class, there are less likely to be problems. I have no qualms about calling out students if they talk while I am (or another student is) talking, if they text, or if they make a smart-ass remark in class.

Healthy and Homemade said...

You look great here, I love the subtle pop of color from the belt.

And unfortunately, men are still cavemen. They always will be, so when men look at a woman (regardless of how professional and modest she may be) they see sex on legs. I don't know any man that would argue that. Being a cold-hearted bitch usually keeps people in line though, but I'm not suggesting that ;-)

fromsneakerstostilettos said...

First - I love the belt. It works so well with your outfit. It is sophisticated and stylish.

Second - As a young female educator in a leadership position, I also run into this problem a little. I do think that heels can help convey this message of authority as well as a nice fitting jacket. I also think that another key ingredient is feeling confident as the authority. I know that may sound silly, but it works. Inner - authority conveys better than anything else.

Elaine said...

I agree.. even with my younger HS teachers, they didn't get the same respect from us students. The guys always hit on her and such. She was more like "a friend" than a teacher. Also, she was pretty meek. But you don't LOOK meek!! ;) You look authoritative in this outfit! Especially because of the dark colors like you said. I love the bright pop of yellow too!

P.S. Thanks so much for your help with the boots! I already sent you an email but thought I'd tell you again :D

Musing Around said...

You're preaching to the choir, sister! Dressing for the classroom is so challenging and complex. Especially, when you are stylish. The closest thing we got to a tie is possibly glasses. A very stylish friend of mine has chosen to wear glasses when she teaches. She thinks it makes her look a little bit older, and maybe wiser! :) Great post!

E said...

Eliot is most certainly one of my favorites. Proust, too. Oh and I'm a fan of your yellow belt, as well ;-)

You Are My Fave said...

I was trying to decide if I should buy a cord skirt or not and you've just convinced me I need it. I love the touch of the yellow belt.

chic said...

Great post and wonderful outfit - I love the subtle pop of yellow with the belt!

I agree with your assessment of the tie and it not having a direct equivalent. When women dress in the female equivalent of the suit - blouse, pencil skirt, heels - they're often dubbed as having the 'sexy secretary' look! Eeek, doesn't really demand authority when you're labeled with the words 'sexy' or 'secretary'.

We still have a long way to go. I hate it when people claim that we've achieved equality and that there is no longer a need for feminism.

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