Wednesday, 13 June 2012

What (not) to wear, academic-style!

Since I've started digging into the wonderful online world of academia, I've found some really interesting, downright depressing and (to me at least) weird sites, blogs, articles, etc. about academic life. This post is about the last of these, and is in no way meant to be disrespectful or troll-like. What I've found strange is the number of websites about 'academic' style or fashion, for want of better phraseology.

So, there are obviously blogs about what to wear when it comes to interviews for jobs etc. like the Professor Is In, but there also seem to be numerous (and I mean numerous) blogs or sites about what academic people (and we are almost a breed apart) are wearing on any given day. One example of this is Martina on The Life Academic, a site which replicates (or maybe pays homage) to more mainstream fare like What I Wore Today (which, again to me at least, appears inane in the extreme, but maybe it is highly addictive as some form of Twitter, Facebook, etc. activity). The number of academic fashion sites, however, is surprising - see the list on The Life Academic for example. These sites seem to cut across the peculiarities of  different cultural geographies (oh yeah, I can get some of my disciplinary thinking into this post!), ranging from people in Australia (e.g. Elegantly Academic), to the USA (e.g. Missing from Academia) and Germany (e.g. Raphael Susewind).

Now, there are also more 'formal' articles or posts about fashion and academia as well. Websites like Inside Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Thesis Whisperer have all had stories about academic fashion, which implies that it's not simply a peripheral issue of personal interest to a few random academics out there. Why my interest then? Well,I find the idea of academic fashion weird to think about because I decided on academia as a career path largely because it meant I didn't have to worry about such things, especially about having to wear a suit (or other kind of uniform) - that comment is partly in jest, only partly mind. But now, as a lecturer / assistant professor in the first few years of my teaching career, I find that I might need to reconsider my sartorial inelegance - I'm getting to an age where looking like some sort of 'sk8er boi' is ever-so-slightly awkward (e.g. being mistaken for a student) or embarrassing (e.g. holey jumpers and t-shirts). So, I've had to start thinking about these things. That said, I still think the idea of an academic fashion or style as a weird thing, yet another part of our socialization process I guess.....

[UPDATE (20 minutes later) - ok, just found out a PhD student is actually researching these style blogs, I guess not all of them are academic sites though - Fashademic]

1 comment:

  1. How funny, what you wrote resonates a lot to what I experienced but in grad school. Since I am a petite, immigrant of color, I was repeatedly told by my seniors and even professors that unless I dress formal, wear high heals, and walk and talk in authority my students would not show the minimal respect they should, in order words, they would ridicule me. But they did that anyways, I was a third worlder after all, even behind the professional veil. So, after I secured the long term contract in Minnesota, I went back to my jeans and t-shirt, and struggled not to tone down my ire when talked about the militarization, corporatization, neocolonialism or neoliberalism, etc.