May 21, 2009

Style Stalking and Hypothetical Shopping

I am obsessed with two See by Chloe and Tibi dresses I tried on months ago at Saks.

They are 40% off, but still too pricey. So I will pass for now. But it got me thinking about something else: How my casual interest in fashion/style/shopping overlaps with my "work."

I am currently researching for my dissertation in archival collections and museum exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of American History. Next week I wrap things up with visits to the Holocaust Museum, where there is an exhibit about propaganda, the Archives Center Library, where I will say farewell to my advisor, and in the relevant exhibits here at the American History Museum. When working my way through a box containing hundreds and hundreds of documents, I am forced to be patient. I can't be instantly gratified. I can't do a keyword search (though the library catelog allows me to narrow what I need into box numbers). The patience yields an eventual payoff, whether it is the completion of a folder, the discovery of something useful to photocopy or a theoretical breakthrough. And I use a similar approach in my sale stalking/shopping practices. Being patient makes it that much more exhilarating to find a new mark down, a new way to assemble pieces, or a new use for an old favorite.

Although, I wonder if the researcher in me doesn't hurt my bankbook more than help it. Knowing that there are infinite online shopping possibilities, thanks to ebay, boutiques, and department store websites, and that the epic sale schema of late '08 has yet to impact the spring stock, I play the waiting game, knowing that eventually I will probably cave and buy something. I don't *really* need another dress. I don't really need to fill any holes in my well-stocked wardrobe. I am not regularly going to meetings. I don't work in a high stakes setting that requires I am constantly in business casual, business, or even presentable clothing.

Still, I enjoy the waiting game and I enjoy the feeling of concluding the process of hunting and gathering in research and in shopping. I know that I will remember the online locations and check them with regularity, just as I know where the most imminently relevant texts are housed in my university's library. I know that I will view the things I do acquire at a reasonable price to be part of my shopping destiny, just as I know to check for new fellowships, calls for papers, and conference announcements but only a small fraction (if I am lucky) will manage to become part of my CV. Sometimes the disconnects between this materialist hobby and my academic pursuits/career don't seem all that significant.


Dream Sequins said...

Great post! I can certainly relate to this idea of a disconnect between work life and the imagined life one has as a "fashionista." I have an academic friend who has simply disregarded that "gap" between academia and fashion and regularly indulges in clothing (at a reasonable pace, of course)and just rocks the best stuff when she teaches, even though she's probably the best (over?)dressed prof at her school... I work in a corporate setting, and may definitely be overdressing or wearing things that are seen as quirky, but I wear what I wear to please myself, and as long as it's not hurting anyone, why stop? :)

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

So true! I dress for myself and that is something I need to remember when I am made to feel frivolous or too formal for my profession. :) Thanks for reading!!

nanashi said...

I pretty much agree with all of what you said, I think there are many in academia who do want to care about what we wear (though the stipends do not allow for thoughtless consumption, we must be careful) who do unconsciously apply the research skills to finding beautiful clothings.


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