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.