Competition, Outfits

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about competition between or among friends. Graduate school gave me both an excellent group of friends and an appetite for competition that I assume we all share to one degree or another. (We are academics, after all; and academics compete for jobs, grant money, and other forms of research-related prestige of one form or another from our first weeks of grad school onward.) And maybe we compete a teensy bit with one another on occasion; but we all work in such different fields that this does not seem to result in one of us hurting another in any real way.
Outside academic contexts, how much competition can a friendship bear? How much is too much? Is it possible to stop the contest when things get nasty, or is there a point of no return?   
That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with this topic. Let’s stop for now and talk about outfits. Here’s one from last week when it was still so strangely, deliciously warm here:
Cream tunic: Dalia Collection (via Winners)
Cream cami: Esprit
Black belt: Mexx (remixed)
Black cropped skinny pants: Mexx (remixed)
Red slingbacks: Moda (remixed)
I had no meetings of any kind on this day, but there was work to be done on campus. Plus I had this pirate-y bamboo tunic I was itching to wear. Can you imagine how totally pirate-like I’d be if I wore over-the-knee boots with this? 

Do you find tunics difficult to style? How do you they work best for you, if at all?

Also, how much competition is too much for one friendship to bear?

35 thoughts on “Competition, Outfits

  1. Not too long at all AFtK! Your ongoing competitions/friendships sound complex and emotionally intense. As noted above, grad school can be a creepy place especially because of some of the competition issues you outline here. I wish you well in all your application processes this year, friend. May you all come through it without dying too much on the inside and with many, many friendships intact.

  2. My dear friend,What an unbelievably kind, generous offer for the gray patent leather ballerinas. I would never ask you to go to all that trouble, but the mere idea you offered is a lovely gift in itself. Thank you so much.Besides, entre nous — do I NEED them? of course not. They are cute though aren't they.While on the subject of competition, I've always hated the idea of competing among friends, that is to say, true, beloved friends. In school, careers, games even — fine. But somehow to me being in competition with a friend seems to imply jealousy, a lack of understanding or communication.At any rate, you have opened an extremely interesting debate.xo,Tish

  3. BBSM: Woo! We posted comments at almost the exact same time. Clearly, we are on the same wavelength! Also, thanks. All of the exclamation points in your comment are making me very, very happy!

  4. More late to the party here!Way to rock the tunic, A-Dubs. I like tunics over long, lean bootcut jeans, preferably with heels to lengthen the line. I think I'm really just getting into tunics now — talk about late to the party — because they really do emphasize my short stature.As for competition… Ditto on what others have said wrt friends from academia: there's enough space between our specialties that it's been minimal, which is a blessing. Grad school can be a tough place to make and keep friends.I have the opposite side of AFtK's coin: grad school friends with amazing professional success vs. my early retirement. Yes, I've felt jealousy, but what that jealousy masks is anger at myself and my perceived failure rather than any ill will towards them. Jealousy is so very (very very) often in the psyche of the beholder, if you will. As I let that anger go, poof! the jealousy went too.

  5. More late to the party here!Way to rock the tunic, A-Dubs. I like tunics over long, lean bootcut jeans, preferably with heels to lengthen the line. I think I'm really just getting into tunics now — talk about late to the party — because they really do emphasize my short stature.As for competition… Ditto on what others have said wrt friends from academia: there's enough space between our specialties that it's been minimal, which is a blessing. Grad school can be a tough place to make and keep friends.I have the opposite side of AFtK's coin: grad school friends with amazing professional success vs. my early retirement. Yes, I've felt jealousy, but what that jealousy masks is anger at myself and my perceived failure rather than any ill will towards them. Jealousy is so very (very very) often in the psyche of the beholder, if you will. As I let that anger go, poof! the jealousy went too.

  6. Not too long at all AFtK! Your ongoing competitions/friendships sound complex and emotionally intense. As noted above, grad school can be a creepy place especially because of some of the competition issues you outline here. I wish you well in all your application processes this year, friend. May you all come through it without dying too much on the inside and with many, many friendships intact.

  7. So, I am a bit late to the conversation,and yes I like the outfit.I am late to the conversation, because I have been thinking about what to say. I am in my first whirl of the academic job market and so the idea is extra complicated for me right now. First, all of my local grad school friends are in my department. My closest personal friends, for hanging out, are not in my subspeciality, but we all compete for the bigger grants and fellowships, etc. But I am also close to the guys in my dissertation writing group, who ARE in my subspeciality. And who are doing better in the personal life game than I am. (They have spouses and babies, both of which I would like.) Many of my close NON local friends are in my subspeciality as well, including Academic Gay Boyfriend and Knitting Angel. Some of those people and I are applying for the same jobs.So far, so good. The only professional friendship lost was lost through some of the other things Rad mentioned: misunderstanding and some (mutual) jealousy. I think that we are doing okay for a couple of reasons: we figure that it will never come down to me or you–that there are too many issues of fit, etc. So we are doing a good job of not seeing the rewards as assessments of everyone's value. But it can still be hard. What do you share, when do you help each other, etc. A friend in the writing group has a fellowship this year. I will be applying for it, hoping to get it for next year. My guess is that member #3 of the writing group will also apply. I asked the guy who has the fellowship for help with my application and told him that, while I expected him to help our friend if the friend asked, could we have our sessions 1 on 1 to make it less weird. He said "of course." That kind of thing. But I do always worry it will go awry.

  8. JE: You're right we're awesome squared. 'Love that descriptor. Also, clearly we are like this (I'm doing the fingers to eyes thing). And I REALLY want to see ALL of the items you describe, either as either or both of the awesome ensembles you describe, or as separates. As I've got versions of the main items, I'm obviously most interested in the shoes. Are the kitten heels slingbacks? If so, how's the walking? And the studded snakeskin is making my mouth water. I don't care if that's creepy.

  9. Tunics do NOT work for me, as you might have guessed since you're rocking one here. I have a lot of thoughts on competition, having been recently described by one of my closest friends as the most competitive person she knows. But at the end of the day, I would prefer to complement my friends rather than compete against them. For example, yesterday, I checked this post while wearing the following outfit:- White blouse: 172 Grams, like this one: http://www.172grams.com/main+en+01_300+style.html?CollectionID=13&CategorieID=1&produitID=207 , except that there are long silky sleeves attached below the puff, plus the back is the same material. I bought it intending to wear it with a wide black belt overtop.- a long, grey drapey cardi: Joe Fresh, for modesty's sake at work; replaced by a slim cut deep-v sweater vest for after-work dinner- skinny black pants: Michael Kors- red beads: gifted from A-Dub- black kitten heels w 3 motorcycle buckles at toes: Jeffrey Campbell, replaced by studded snakeskin Modern Vintage w a stacked wood heel for afterSo who cares if our outfit interests were very (very) similar? Because you're my friend, we're not Who Wore It Best. We're awesome, squared. However, if you continue to post pics of enviable stuff that would only widen me, we may hit the point of no return. Keep testing! 🙂

  10. Rad: That is CRA-ZEE. Also, she is clearly unhinged. Finally, how can you not drink alcohol or imbibe caffeine, and yet be so very awesome? Maybe I need to reevaluate some of my life choices. . .

  11. A-Dubs- soon I hope! Maybe I'll take an herbal tea. Even green tea makes my nervous rat-like temperament jumpy.One of my old roommates even started a blog where she complained about what a bitter disappointment I was, because I could not help her with her mental health issues. I get that she was mad that I "picked" my boyfriend over her, but looking back, I wonder why an adult would expect that a friend/roommate would be responsible for someone's mental health? Plus, her boyfriend/later husband used to have a crush on me, so it made home life AWK-ward. She only complains about me sometimes on her blog, and it was over 6 years ago.

  12. BBSM: Woo! We posted comments at almost the exact same time. Clearly, we are on the same wavelength! Also, thanks. All of the exclamation points in your comment are making me very, very happy!

  13. A: That is a ridiculously good reason to plan your outfits ahead of time! The award might come with something or other. I shall consult with D-Med and E-Jo. Please stay tuned. V: I'm so very tempted to "go full pirate," as you say. You'll be the first to know if I manage to pull it off. When I was a waitress, I had a LOT of gay potential BFFs, but many of those relationships have petered out in the last few years. I've been lucky in finding the woman friends I have, to be sure. I'm sorry to hear that you've encountered so many back-stabby, bitchy women. That sucketh.Tish: Yes, D-Med is lovely, isn't she? And those are some very sweet ballerinas. Good women friends are worth their weight in gold, aren't they?Rad: Oh, the stories you tell! Grad school can be a strange and creepy place when so many of us are working out our issues and competing in so many contexts at the same time. Your experiences sound especially fraught. When are we going to swap stories over some caffeinated beverages?

  14. yes, I can imagine, but the way you wear it is totall divine! that's a word that comes to mind everytime I see black and white (oh! and red shoes!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!devine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I've been thinking a lot about this post, figuring out how to respond. Obviously, I dig the whole outfit. I think it has just enough pirate. In grad school, I had some very close friendships with women that did not make it. Some of it was my fault, some of it was theirs. But living with girls in my department was unwise, and the competition was never direct or entirely academic, but there were different currents of envy that flowed different ways. I'd like to think that I wasn't the toxic one, and perhaps the other party does too, but I had, ahem, more of a taste for the dramatic back then, as opposed to now. I was in my very early 20s! There was competition over a boy once (I was dating him, this other girl wanted his attentions, but not necessarily to date him, blah blah blah). There was weird competition over the affections of our advisor (who is very famous and tried to be fair, but clearly had favorites. Not me). But some people whom I've felt some competition with me later expressed similar insecurities about me, and we've become closer. Thank goodness I'm older and less dumb. I hope.That said, I'm glad that I've kept the friends I have. It's not a competition, but sometimes envy, misunderstanding, disappointed expectations, etc. can be really hard on a friendship.

  16. My dear friend,What an unbelievably kind, generous offer for the gray patent leather ballerinas. I would never ask you to go to all that trouble, but the mere idea you offered is a lovely gift in itself. Thank you so much.Besides, entre nous — do I NEED them? of course not. They are cute though aren't they.While on the subject of competition, I've always hated the idea of competing among friends, that is to say, true, beloved friends. In school, careers, games even — fine. But somehow to me being in competition with a friend seems to imply jealousy, a lack of understanding or communication.At any rate, you have opened an extremely interesting debate.xo,Tish

  17. I love the tunic and I think you should rock to OTK boots and go full pirate! It would look hot! I have a white tunic top…now you've got my little brain thinking.RE: competition in friendship. Hate it. Hate jealous girls. Unfortunately I've lost many friendships as a result and have very few female friends. I've decided I need a gay BFF. That's the way to go. ♥ Vhttp://www.gritandglamour.comtwitter: @gritandglamour

  18. Yay dorky planning award! Does it come with some sort of badge or trophy or something? Or cute clothes in the mail? I'm open to any of those.And I kind of have no choice but to be a nerdy planner – I have to be out the door by a little bit after 7 when I take the train, so sadly I don't have the time to mess around with outfits in the morning. Before I started planning ahead of time, most mornings I'd end up surrounded by clothes that all looked awful and crying about how I have nothing to wear. So this approach is definitely preferred. It probably also helps that I only go to the office 3 days a week, so it's not too much to plan.

  19. Oh yes, btw Anne, that is dorky. Obviously I know dorky. But I'm sort of jealous of your master planning ways since I am always in a mad clothing panic at 6:45 am right before I need to catch my bus/ride my bike/walk briskly in the pouring rain. And, yet, I still can't manage to figure out an outfit the night before. It's madness.I'm going to invent the Planny McPlannerson award. OMG, I just did.

  20. Sheila: Ahoy matey! 'Can't wait to see how you style up those OTK suckers! Can I put in a request for a remix of your awesome yellow knee-high boots, too? I'd really like to get to know them better.

  21. Yar, I love your tunic. I just got some OTK boots (eee! stay tuned) and had to really fight to find some that weren't pirate-y. I don't wear tunics, though – too much boobular action for 'em. I don't know if I'm that competetive – I'm also not really close to most of my friends (we email, but I only see them every few weeks). I'm generally just happy for their success and assume they're happy for me.

  22. EJ: That's right, baby – it's us against the world! K: 'Good suggestion. I like tunics with leggings, too. But I worry about the length of this tunic and the potential for work-inappropriateness. It's general see-through quality coupled with that much leg with only leggings as cover seems risque for work! maybe with some sort of slip-like lining though. . . R: I know what you mean. Tunics seem to require high heels, no? You'd think they'd be easy to style since they're so comfortable. But no.SU: Bring on the black and white! I'm heading over to check your bad self out right now! Also, you're right. Toxicity can be a really good reason to leave. It takes a strong, smart person to own up to own up to being the problem. I have a really hard time imagining you being even a distant approximation of toxic.A: Yes, yes you do win some kind of prize. But usually random prize creation and distribution is D-Med's department. D-Med? 'Thoughts?DM: I cannot believe you brought up the night you surepticiously shoved me into the slushy gutter with so much force that I fell down three times as evidence of my lack of grace and poise. Also, I cannot compete with your thorough and complex analysis of competitors, competition, and our non-compete agreement. I can, however, tell you that I have new photographic evidence that may establish my ownership of the "Not-at-all-in-any-way-photogenic" category once and for all.

  23. Also, you should dress as Anne Bonny for Hallowe'en. Your pirate tunic and pirate boots are making me kind of jealous of you, but I think our friendship can handle it. How hilariously SHORT would I look in a long tunic and OTK boots? In a stumpifciation competition, I would totally own you.

  24. I realise that it can be difficult to be my friend because I am so graceful and poised and also astoundingly photogenic. I try to downplay these things to dissuade competitiveness but, you know, when you got it, you got it. Also, I get it. You are actually graceful and poised (exception: NYE 2009), and brilliant and gorgeous and stylish, and successful in a very competitive and specialised field. Obviously friends are going to compare themselves to you and find themselves lacking. But you are also generous and sympathetic and the lack that someone else sees in themselves is a symptom of their low self-esteem, and that doesn't have anything to do with you. I think the competition–one-sided as it is–gets toxic when it turns into an attack intended to make you look bad. Then I think you have to avoid this person until they can sort themselves (or until someone, probably not you) can help them sort themselves out.

  25. I usually plan my whole week of outfits out on Sunday. How's that for dorky? Do I win some kind of prize?I can't do tunics because they're super unflattering on my stomach, but I love the look of them. I really like how you've styled yours!I guess I'm lucky that none of my friends do whatever the hell it is I do for a living, so we don't have to worry about competition getting in the way.

  26. Looking very cool in your floaty tunic. I'm going crazy for black and white this week. Thanks for the inspiration.As for competition, when it becomes toxic I leave. Many years ago, I was the toxic one. When I realized it, I left, formed a new circle, and it's been much better.

  27. Dude, looking good. I also don't worry too much about competition with my academic friends — as you note, we're all in different fields so a lot of the direct competition is with other people. In fact, you and I have some of the more direct overlap and we tend to direct our competitiveness outward. Mostly 'cause we're awesome. Crappy, though, that these things are coming up for you.

  28. LHdM: We posted at almost the exact moment! Obviously, we are like this (I'm doing the fingers to eyes thing). Your argument with HD sounds painful. I'm glad you got through it, though. I have this theory that competing in grad school either or makes or breaks friendships. I worry less about competition among my academic friends in part because we've all had to do it for so long. But I worry more about competition with my non-academic friends. What if our relationship/s just aren't up to the strain?

  29. 'Looking forward to seeing how you do the flowyness tomorrow, Katie. Thanks!If thinking about tomorrow's ensemble today is dorky, then count me among the dorks. Sometimes I plan a few days in advance. Does that move me to another group?

  30. If we were the same shoe size, I would send you my Fluevog Mallory's to wear with that tunic. Ahoy, matey! And then I'd make you walk the plank if you didn't give them back.This is an interesting topic. Once my best friend the Herr Doktor and I got into a really nasty argument and I behaved very badly because of too much alcohol and a bit of envy. Fortunately, our friendship was strong enough to survive (although I still feel terrible about it whenever I think of the incident). Some grad programs constantly pit students against each other for placement, funding (not just grants but stipends), etc., and I think that's a very unfortunate situation.

  31. As I was sitting here, thinking about what to wear tomorrow (yes, I'm that dorky), I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, self, what about a flowy white shirt and black pants." Next thing you know I clicked on your post, so it's obviously the universe telling me it's a fabulous idea because you look fantastic!As for the friendship competition, personally I've noticed that the people I feel that competition-almost-to-the-point-of-being-nasty with aren't really my true friends in the end. My real friends are the ones I don't feel competition for, but rather pride. Of course, none of them are in my field at all, so there may be that to consider.

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