March 04, 2011

Pinochle Pattern Mixing and the Meaning of Professorial Compliments

Aqua cashmere cardigan
J.Crew Annalise ruffle cami
Anthropologie Pinochle skirt
Spanx tights
Chie Mihara t-straps

I picked this out the night before which means that I paired somewhat mismatched pieces with intention rather than with grogginess. And I will admit that I sort of chickened out by throwing a safe cardigan on top.

But I do believe the patterns work well together. The tiny hearts of the J. Crew top are subordinated by the bold silliness of the Pinochle Skirt's playing cards. I was hesitant to wear this to campus because last time it garnered a lot of student and faculty attention/comments. They were all complimentary but that this provoked so many comments made me come to think of it as, well, provocative.

I commented on In Professorial Fashion that I am still figuring out what types of clothes translate as "pulled together" and which of them become too much of a focal point. Every semester at least one student comments on my style (favorably) in the course evaluations. It is one thing to be complimented day to day, in the preceding or post-class business time. But to warrant remarks in the evals mean that my clothes speak at a louder volume than I want.

Those of you who are in the college classroom, do you receive remarks on your clothes from students or faculty? If so, how do you interpret the remarks. In my graduate program, I got a lot of compliments and comments on my attire that I accepted graciously, without much reflection. But now that I am in a new environment (out of my old comfort zone) people seem more surprised by the way I dress. And I feel a little more self conscious whenever I provoke comments. Is this just normal new person insecurity? Am I over-thinking it? Do you think there is a difference between in-class, in-person comments and comments in evaluations?


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Camilla said...

I am a Ph.D student at pitt but currently working in a different university to finish up my work. I feel like I am one of the best put-together (clothes and makeup) student around my program and feel like people will judge me as a lazy self-indulgent grad student. There is a sharp contrast between my fellow grad students (sleepy and grungy) and me and I dont like to stand out or draw attention like that. But I also like to dress and put on a little bit of makeup so I always have a hard time finding a balance. Life!

whatjesslikes said...

I personally don't think what you wear would cause negative judgment. I understand how you can have that fear though. If I was a student in your class, I would likely find you more interesting (to learn from) and approachable in regards to learning. Has anyone in your faculty mentioned your clothing choices to you?

I must stress though that the comments in the evaluations are strange...I wonder what they are thinking to comment on that.

Thanks for the tip about the trade market, I should look into that!

whatjesslikes said...

While I am not working in a classroom, I do remember in university, I had one professor who dressed up more then others and always had awesome shoes. We felt close enough to her that we would compliment her on her outfits and shoes, and it was not awkward. I would not mention it on an evaluation, but I would not take it as a negative thing. I honestly found it great that she took the time to present herself nicely, rather then how some of the other professors and teachers would. That skirt is awesome too! My family grew up playing pinochle, and I always kick myself for missing out on this skirt.

Cynthia said...

Man, there ought to be a class where students learn that personal appearance comments (unless performance-related) are not appropriate for professional evaluation. Good lord. They'll have to learn it sometime so they don't learn it in a lawsuit.

On the other hand, I get verbal comments from students about my clothes (or my purple boots) sometimes and I just say "thank you" and move on. I'm comfortable enough with my female colleagues that we sometimes have conversations about self-presentation. I started dressing more "up" partly because the graduate coordinator who technically reports to me was looking more put-together than I was when we went on recruiting trips together. Can't have that.

Marina said...

This is a tricky question. I have the same skirt and I have worn it to teach without any hesitation whatsoever. While I haven't done evaluations in the last six years (since tenure), I get some nice complements from both faculty and students on my attire and being pulled together.

I first started teaching 13 years ago at my current institution, and at that time the climate was different. My dept. was filled with older women who wore shapeless clothes which resembled sacks. I used to get many comments which had a distinctly derisive tone. Then the older faculty started to retire, younger and more stylish people come in, and I am not such an anomaly anymore. I have been promoted twice and serve as a delegate-at-large to the union.

With regard to new place insecurities, it's completely normal. You will find your identity there. I don't know your situation, but as I mentioned to you before, tenure makes a heck of a difference.

That being said, I have some self-imposed parameters:

No skinny jeans
No jeans with fading/rips
No above-the-knee skirts without tights
No above-the-knee skirts with heels
Nothing that suggests cleavage

I would be glad to talk with you about this more over email if you like.


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