Friday, February 18, 2011

Sloth and Sluggardliness, in 3 parts!


Today is supposed to be my writing day, but instead it has become my recovery day, since Thursday is a very long teaching day (made worse by the fact that I have to be on campus before 8 to snag a parking spot). Today has been especially slow --- I went to bed early last night, got up very late this morning, and have already taken several naps. I'm not sure if this is due to illness or general malaise or the blah weather. So far I have only made a midterm, so I am falling behind even for a recovery day. I'm hoping that I will have lots of energy and the ability to concentrate and get both teaching and researching work done this weekend!


My clothing has become exceptionally boring. I destroyed several of my cheap bras in the wash a while ago and have been wearing only things that would go with a black bra for a while now, and then on top of that one of my pairs of jeans tore in several places. Grrr. It put me in a grumpy mood for the whole day. So I went to Target the other day and accidentally ended up buying a whole lot of stuff, including finally replacing my teaching bag, and replacing the stuff that died. I tossed a lot of things that were getting holes and worn places, too. Now I fear that I have fallen into a rut of boringness.

It's tough, if you don't want to spend a lot of money, figuring out which items should be understated and which interesting --- and if you're like me and only buy a few pieces at a time with no plan, everything just gets messed up. Do you buy simple, plain outer layers or patterned ones? Plain bags or printed ones? Plain or patterned tanks and tshirts? I can't stand mixing odd patterns or loudness (the causes of which should be understandable from my past) and in the past I have picked out a patterned bag or sweater only to have it match the only other patterned object in my collection, which then makes getting dressed highly confusing. Do you wear a patterned sweater over a patterned shell, or do you combine the colors that clash, or do you end up never wearing the patterned sweater and using the plain black one with everything? I also have been trained by the fashion industry to not mix "warm" and "cool" colors, or browns with black (which I always think of as a "cool" tone) and then I don't have the right kind of stuff to mix and match and look interesting.

Anyway, I now might be at the place where I only own like three solid colors and no patterns. Boring. It is easier to get dressed in the morning; I'll grant you that. But between the boring preppy clothing and the lack of color and the way you have to dress to be warm in the winter, I'm no longer getting interest and complements from students and people in the halls, and I fear that my wardrobe has become completely boring-ified. I think the real problem here is that I don't have the money or the planning/patience to toss large quantities of stuff and really plan an entire wardrobe so that it has multiple outfits that balance interest pieces and understated pieces. So I end up doing stuff like grabbing whatever looks interesting on my way to replacing my bras and then discover that I already have a plain black cardigan and all my sweaters are the same shade of blue as blue jeans. I've been saying for years that I will sew stuff on to my clothes to make them individual and embellished, but I've been saying that I would tailor stuff so that it fits better too, and I've just never had the interest or energy.

Ooh, and I am currently very angry at Modcloth, because their cute little dresses are cut so wrong! It's too cold to wear dresses anyway, but the ones that seem wearable for my body type and have some sort of interesting pattern to them are all super short and in the reviews people who are my height are sending the dresses back saying they basically are like long tunics not dresses. Some of the dresses worn by models on their site also have this nasty weird cut going on where the waist is not meant to be a high waist and it lands way too high on the model's body --- a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland effect that to me reads like a sexualized child's cut --- if you've ever seen those types of photos where a grown woman is doing sexy poses in a childlike dress and the ruffled baby underwear, you know what I mean. Bleah! Sorry, I want a dress with a waistline at the waist and a skirt that stops two, maybe three inches above the knee. I may have to give up on looking at Modcloth entirely. But I don't want to give up on patterns and interesting clothes, so I will have to think of some new plan. Or maybe actually map out what I own and how it goes together and plan a wardrobe excursion. Hmph.


I was supposed to have a part three here, but I am too tired and got sleepy again. I do want to give a fruit studies update, especially on how I dislike student presentations, and also there are a bunch of conference CFPs due this weekend that I do not have the energy to think about. I don't really have anything leaping to my mind to present (this would be for fall) and yet I think I do need to get back into presenting things. Or is one presentation this year going to be good enough? I dunno. I get tired just thinking about academic stuff these days. I can't tell if I'm sick of the whole constant year-round job search rat-race or worn out (like getting sick? like too much teaching?) or I'm just too lazy to be an academic and that's showing now that I have real-world levels of commitments. Yeah, I don't really want to make big ambitious research presentation plans for this year if I can't even get myself to work on the one article I have going on at the moment. For some reason my complaints about Point 2 seem applicable for Point 3. Although I think I would have a much easier time if I were researching and writing about fashion! No wait, terrible idea. I'd never manage to match my solids, stripes and patterns.


squadratomagico said...

OK, here's how I built my wardrobe years ago. I now shop pretty differently, but this is my underlying dressing philosophy, if you will. (Actually, now I break a lot of these rules, and also shop differently because I already have a lot of clothes... but I still believe this is a good way to build a wardrobe.)

Every outfit should have one "star" piece, whether an amazing jacket, an overscaled piece of jewelry, a cool scarf, a tank or dress with a catchy pattern, bright red boots, whatever. These are the exciting things that make your heart beat faster when you buy them or put them on. They can be investment pieces or something you found at an el cheapo thrift: doesn't matter, as long as they're Great.

The rest of the outfit is composed of simple "support" pieces, which should (a) fit well and be cut right for your body; (b) be simple and understated e.g., non-attention-drawing; (c) be in whatever your consider to be a "neutral" color. For me, my best neutrals are black, espresso brown, and steel grey. Ideally, I'd like to have a suite of opaque tights, flat-front trousers, short skirt and long skirt, short-sleeved & long-sleeved Ts, in similar shades of all three colors. In point of fact, I don't have all those pieces (it's hard to find good browns), but I do have a lot of that. I replace the Ts regularly at places like Target; tights at

When I dress, I decide on the star piece first, let's say a red silk jacket. Support pieces for this would likely be all super-simple and black. Or I might wear everything sleek and grey and flowy, with a chunky silver necklace as the star... or brown tights and T with a patterned skirt and nice boots.

As I said, I also break these rules relatively often now, but this way of thinking served me well for years when I was just getting professional clothes. In sum, 80% of your clothes should be support pieces that can mix and match; the rest should be the fabulous stuff that will be the focus of attention in your individual outfits. If you buy too many patterns or brightly-colored or unusual things, then you have nothing to wear them with because *everything* in your closet is complicated. I know, because I did this once myself. Once I got the star / support system in place, however, it was easy to incorporate new, exciting things into my wardrobe.

Sisyphus said...

I think my problems started when I bought a cool laptop bag in that jacquard-vine pattern a few years ago, and then had to be really careful what jackets/sweaters I wore with it. Now the bag is gone and all the patterned clothes are gone. And my necklaces are cute but pretty unadorned, so they don't stand out as a "star" piece.

Anonymous said...

oooh, Squadrato I like how you work! I would like to build a wardrobe one day like that!

Right now, this is how I dress Sis--I have a standard "uniform" if you will--black top, grey pants. Generally I prefer black top and olive green pants,but neither pair I have fit right now, and I just couldn't find any last fall. That being said, I often wear red patent mary janes with this uniform or if not, then I wear funky socks with my black clogs. I will use bright scarves for v-necks to brighten it up. I almost compulsively buy black shirts. I look good in black. I like black. Sometimes I mix it up with a grey top and black pants. Or an orange or fuchsia shirt here and there. But I love nice long sleeve black t-shirts, bright scarves, (or a bright watch worn on the outside of the shirt over the sleeve for the long sleeve) and grey or green pants. I don't know if anyone notices that I have a basic "uniform" or not, but that's pretty much it. I have three pair of pants that I wear and a pair of jeans to teach in.