Occasions That Induce Half-heartedness

It is a truth universally acknowledged that great stacks of papers appear at precisely the point when instructors are least able to muster the requisite energy to deal with them in an efficient and timely fashion. Sweet are the papers, then, that argue a clear, cogent, thesis that is (a) appropriate to the assignment, (b) well-researched, and (c) largely original. Harsh are those that are (a) craptacular and clearly produced by slackers, or (b) terribly written and/or offensive, despite students’ best efforts to the contrary.

The cumulative effects of the above, in concert with the various grant applications, administrative bullshit paperwork, conference proposal-and-paper-writing panic that make up the remainder of my working life during the winter term, tend to coalesce into generalized half-heartedness in relation to all work-related activities. This year, all is exacerbated by sleeplessness and winter’s stranglehold on this city, despite the change of season we are meant to be experiencing right effing now. (My weather-related feelings diverge in intensity from those work-related.)

Sadly for you and me, StyleNation, my efforts fashion-wise have also been half-hearted(ish). Each of the following began with (a) excitement about one specific piece, and (b) the best of intentions. Nonetheless, I fear the end result for each induces half-heartedness.

Outfit #1: Theory vs. Praxis – the sweater dress


Mexx silk/cotton sparkly sweater dress: new to blog; “Silver” snowflake brooch: gifted; Smart Set T-shirt; Beaded bracelets: from Michaels (that’s right: the craft store. But I saw them marked up approximately 400% in a local boutique. Is that even legal???!); Hue Tights; Fly London boots (new to blog, maybe? I’m too half-hearted to check)

So here’s the thing about sweater dresses: they’re clingy, and they show where one’s tights squeeze at one’s waist, even when one is not wearing control tops. On the model in the picture at the store, and on my bare legs in the changeroom, these problems were not apparent. If I weren’t preoccupied with weather-rage and work-half-heartedness, I’d be pissed about this.

Outfit #2: It’s all about the Necklace

In my mind, this was a great way to highlight the necklace my sister-in-law gave me for xmas. In reality, I’m not sure this does it justice:


Stella & Dot silver bib necklace: gifted (new to blog); DKNY polyester top: Winners (new to blog); Joe Fresh Shell (old); Black Lucky jeans (new to blog); Nine West black and silver belt: remixed (old); Rieker boots: remixed

Here’s close-up of the sweet neck decoration (thanks, again, DSW!):


Probably this was a little too casual for a teaching day. But I was tired and the prospect of wearing jeans was the only thing that got me out of bed that day. Later, a student who should know better remarked on the see-through blouse as soon as I walked into class, implying it was a risqué choice. If looks could make people do things, she’d be romancing her own sphinctral region even now. My half-heartedness does not extend to taking crap from students in non-textual life.

OK StyleNation, it’s list time.

Grading student work and wearing these outfits are 1 and 2 on my Shōnagon-inspired “Occasions that Induce Half-heartedness.” Other occasions include

3. Being facebook friends with my mother

4. Watching “kracken attack” videos with my nephew (to clarify: this induces a half-hearted effort to find my tablet when he insists we watch a kracken attack that has “a really nice tune”)

5. Contemplating the growing food museum in my fridge (produced via whole-hearted shopping for healthy things, then half-heartedly eating cereal and a smoothie for every meal)

What’ve you got, StyleNation?

I’m taking (a) further occasions inducing half-heartedness, or (b) suggestions for jazzier versions of the above ensembles. 

End-of-term Countdown

It’s that time, again.

(Welcome back to work, U.S. members. How was your holiday?)

This time of year, as final papers and projects roll in, and my panic regarding the utter lack of time for my own research reaches a fever pitch once again, I begin to feel a little like this:

Tiniest Treadmill User Ever

As previously noted, now is the time for serious ensembles. While I have occasionally snuck into my office on non-teaching days wearing things like this:

Purple cashmere cardigan: Ricki’s (gifted from A-Dubs-Hubs); Blouse: Joe Fresh (new to blog via the grocery store); Cami: Smart Set (old); Cheetah necklace: Stella and Dot (remixed); Skinny trousers: Mexx (remixed); Lined cognac leather boots: Rieker (via Shoe Heaven, remixed)

Teaching days are all about authority colours and power clothes – well, power clothes for a Women’s and Gender Studies professor, at least:

Sleeveless printed wrap blouse: Mexx (new to blog); Cami: ?? (cut out the tag, via Winners); Necklace: Gifted; Charcoal cardigan: Smart Set (new to blog); Navy wool-mix trousers: Melanie Lyne (new to blog); Studded leather flats: Fugitive de Francesco Rossi (remixed)

Who’s got even better Final Countdown videos?

Will you share the titles?

(We’ll credit you when we use them!)

Luke, I am your Marker.

Yeah, I know. But I couldn’t leave the Star Wars stuff alone.

What’s up, StyleNation? As it’s horrifically close – and yet so far away – to the The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I’ll keep this short. Kind of like my fuse right now. Not with you, of course. With the students who’ve shown little interest all term in achieving more than the bare minimum to pass. And now, they “disagree” with their marks, they want to “discuss” their papers/grades, they want a meeting outside of regular office hours and it needs to be tomorrow between 1 and 1:15pm because they are super-busy and important and as their professor, I probably live in my office praying that yet another student will “drop by” and make my life meaningful.

‘Bitter and burnt out? Who me?

Outfit #1: Worn for a Teaching Day

There’s nothing like a big-ass skirt to make a rectangular person appear curvy-ish:

Top: Anne Klein (remixed); Belt: Mexx (remixed); Skirt: Tommy Hilfiger (via The Bay); Tights: Hue; Boots: Blondo (remixed); Wonder Woman Pose: all IPF, all the time

Outfit #2: Less is Much, Much More

The less you see of this dress, the better it looks. See? It looks pretty good this way (for a day of marking papers in my office, at least – it’s a little low cut for teaching):

Cardigan: Max Studio (remixed); Dress: Chapter One (via Winners, remixed); Bracelet: The Bay (remixed); Leggings: Smart Set (new-to-blog); Boots: Rieker (remixed)

I bought it because it reminded me of dress of Sheila’s. Without the cardigan, however, my dress is utterly cheap and silly looking. Case in point:

See the wing-like flaps? Not only is the lighter back of the polyester on display, but the flappy parts are unfinished. Seriously. The fabric’s just been cut into wingy shapes and sewn on with raw edges. It’s ridiculous.

What do you have to hide, sartorially speaking, StyleNation?

Come on – you can tell us! We won’t tell a soul!

Office Pyjamas, the series: Part Two

Top 3 Things that suck in February:

1. It is freezing cold.

2. The (seemingly inevitable) young male student who waits after class to challenge me on central points from the lecture.

3. It is February.

Top 3 Things that are Awesome in February:

1. Canadian university equivalent to Spring Break, a.k.a. Reading Week.

2. The honeymoon period before the slackers realize they have no chance of passing their courses. Instead, they’re busy not attending class, emailing fantastic and hilariously detailed excuses for missing deadlines, and otherwise screwing the pooch in places that are not near me.

3. Office pyjamas.

Outfit Post: Office Pyjamas, the slinky knitted dress edition:

I wore this ridiculously comfortable dress to my office where I revised a paper for publication, got caught up on email, and take a REALLY exciting phone call from an editor at the press to which I submitted The Project That Would Not End. In short, it was an on-campus day with no direct student contact and lots of delicious, delicious caffeine.

And here, just because I got all crazy and took two equally poor photos (OK, maybe this one is slightly poorer, since it basically eliminates my neck), is another angle on the PJ’s:

Slinky knit dress: Max Studio (new to blog), Belt: Mexx (remixed), Nearly invisible black cami: H&M, Completely invisible black leggings: remixed ad nauseum on this blog, Lined cognac boots: Rieker (remixed)

What’s sucking and/or awesome in your February, StyleNation?

Ravings of a Sleep-deprived Boot-lover

Greetings, StyleNation, from the deep freeze that is IPF North. It is seriously, stupidly, horribly cold here. Also, I’m in the middle of a storm of writing and research deadlines, students keep emailing me questions that are answered in bold type on the course outline, the A-Dubs-Hubs is out of town, and the heat in my stupid/awesome house is messed up and makes terrifying clanking noises that jolt me out of what passes for sleep at 3am in these dark and busy times. I wake convinced a hobo has broken in to do laundry and is sitting bare-assed on my basement couch while his change clanks around with his pants in my dryer.

In more relaxing news, tomorrow I head out to do some conferencing after which I’m swinging by IPF South for some quality time with E-Jo and the Mini-FR. Probably we will take some photos of us being awesome.

Let’s move on to the outfit portion of this program:

Outfit #1. Cats, Fire Flowers, Winter Booties

Lecturing is sweaty work (thus the short sleeves and boots), but it is winter and I have to hike across campus to my classroom (thus the heavy tights and lining in the booties).

Faux-wrap Dress: Argenti (remixed)
Kitteh pendant & brooch: see below
Near-invisible cami: H&M
Tights: Hue
Wierdly comfortable winter booties: Hush Puppies (old)

Here’s a (really poor) close-up of the kittehs. I am not getting better with the camera:

Panther pendant necklace: stella & dot (local trunk show;better image here)
“Gold” Siamese kitteh brooch: thrifted (was supposed to be a gift for D-Med,
but I decided it wasn’t classy enough to give away.
Plus, D-Med said people shouldn’t keep buying her things with cats on them
just because she loves cats)
2. Non-Teaching, Office Pyjama Day: which boots? 
I’m trying the flappy lace-up boot trend. I like it mostly because it reminds me of stuff we wore in the ’90s. Plus, these boots are unexpectedly comfortable, and the fluffy lining goes all the way through. I’m not sure I’m doing so well with the styling, though. Be honest: which of these combinations works better, boot-wise? This one:
Blouse/tunic: ?? (tag is cut out because of scratchiness; Winners, remixed)
Black jersey cardigan: Kische (remixed)
Skinny trousers: Mexx (remixed)
Brown leather lace-up boots: Locale (via Feet First, new in the January sales)
Or this one?:
Pendant: stella & dot (same trunk show; better image here)
Lined cognac leather boots: Rieker (remixed)
That’s all I’ve got today. Well, that and a giant ball of fuzz where my brain used to live.
Stay fabulous, StyleNation.
Dubs, out.

Idealistic Decisions and Office Pyjamas

Ah, January! A time characterized for academics and non-academics alike by the idealistic determination to be better, to do better things, or to get better at things one is already doing.

For academics like myself, January seems regularly to involve the making of a series of idealistic decisions to do things that I soon come to regret having made. Case in point: in the early days of this month, I decided to entirely re-vamp one of my courses (you know: to make it better).

In principle, I know this is the right decision; it’s good to change things up once in a while. It helps to keep me and the material fresh, and it thwarts potential plagiarizers. Moreover, in this course in particular, this change will help to eliminate the smug “I’ve got all your slides from my buddy who took your course last year” expressions on the faces of the cadre of guffawing and disruptive buffoons who keep showing up in this class because the Faculty of Engineering says they need a writing credit but is unwilling to teach them to write like engineers.

Already, I regret the decision to change the course. I’ve sentenced myself to an entire term of writing new lectures and creating new digital slide presentations. As much as I enjoyed the panic of the buffoons (“Holy crap! We’re gonna have to do our own work in this course? WTF?!”), I enjoy carving my preparation time out of my sleep schedule much, much less.

There is, however, another decision I do NOT regret. Office pyjamas. The plan is as follows: on non-teaching days, I will not wear jeans, but I WILL wear outfits that come as close to the comfort of pyjamas as possible while still approximating professionalism.

Here for your consideration are my first two efforts:

Office Pyjamas – Episode 1:

Polyester jersey dress: Chapter One (remixed)
Acrylic knit cardigan: Joe Fresh (new to blog)
Necklace: gifted (remixed)
Fleece-lined winter leggings: Plush (new to blog)
Lined cognac leather boots: Rieker (remixed)

This ensemble was really, really comfortable, despite the abundance of unnatural fibres from which much of it is constructed. There was no squeezy tailoring, no stiff fabric, no confining belts or ties. Plus, that cardigan is from the sleepwear section of the grocery store clothing department (why, you ask? I have no bloody idea. Who wears cardigans to bed?)

Office Pyjamas – Episode 2:

Cotton jersey & polyester satin dress: I cut the scratchy tag out – but I found it on the sale rack at the Canadian designer store around the corner. (new to blog)
Metal and plastic purple fried egg necklace: crazy jewellery store in Florida
Draped cotton cardigan: Max Studio (via Winners)
Fleece-lined winter leggings: as above
Lined cognac leather boots: as above

And here’s a weird pose in which I am trying to show you the cool lines of the sweater. Mostly, it looks like I’m being arrested, or preparing for a pat-down at the airport. And this is yet another of the many, many reasons I am an academic, not a model.

Overall, I am excited about the office pyjama decision. I think this good decision will facilitate my survival of the bad decision to sentence myself to three months of sleeplessness due to new lecture prep.

What decisions are you making this month, StyleNation? 
Do you have any regrets, yet?

This Year vs. Last Year

Tangential Musings (scroll down for outfits):

This time last year I was on the verge of leaving academia. After three years on the ridiculously gruelling academic job market, after multiple campus visits each of which required weeks of preparation, after months spent imagining myself taking up a variety of positions for which I’d interviewed only to be told “We liked all three candidates, but the one we chose was just a better fit for the department,” or “Could you wait another month while we negotiate with our first choice, just in case we need to default to you?” (they NEVER defaulted to me), or “The Committee went another way” (I later learned that last one was code in two separate instances for “we lost our funding and will therefore not be hiring anyone”), I was done. I’d decided that if I didn’t get this last job, I could NOT spend another year waiting for others to decide the shape and direction of my life. I was also dangerously disillusioned with academia and daydreaming of starting all over again with something entirely different.

This time last year I was waiting for one last hiring committee to reach a verdict. Time moved slowly as it always does in the academy, and I cried almost every day. Then my former supervisor phoned to say she’d been contacted for a reference and soon after, my fate was decided. Academia and I were going to stay together.

This year’s recovery from the autumn and winter teaching terms is not as dramatic as last year’s. I felt the need to remind myself of this simple, but important fact. Thanks, StyleNation, for tuning in.

I also feel the need to offer the following to those of you who are still looking for academic jobs. Here is what I learned from this always challenging, sometimes invigorating, often frustrating, and occasionally heartbreaking experience:

1. Know yourself well enough to anticipate how you will deal with both success and failure in any given search. Prepare accordingly.

For example, I discovered that I need to work to believe that Plan A, the actual getting of the job, could really happen. But I always need a Plan B, Plan C, and even sometimes a Plan D in place so that I know how to deal if I don’t get the job. For me, success is easy to deal with but sometimes difficult to imagine. Failure is easier to imagine and to deal with if I can map out ways to make myself believe failure in one venue is an opportunity in another.

2. Apply for every job for which your credentials make you a real candidate. Put most of your energy into these applications. Then apply for ALL other jobs that might be a bit of a stretch for you. Who knows? Once you stretch, you might find it was exceptionally worthwhile to do so.

For example, I stretched and now work in a department that seems to fit me and my work much better than I would initially have imagined possible. In fact, I can no longer imagine myself doing the work I first thought I wanted to do.

3. Decide how long you can stand to be on the job market, waiting for others to decide your fate. Add at least one more year, if your budget, brain, and body can afford it. Then think about the next item:

4. Remember that life exists outside of academia and that you might be happy out there. You might even be HAPPIER out there. And despite the specialization inherent to your degree, your PhD has also given you many transferable skills.

5. Choose and prepare your interview attire early in the job market season. It sucks to shop for clothes when you should be prepping your research talk and practicing answers to questions.

Outfit post begins here: 

I’m all typed out, so I’ll just note that this is what I wore for my last two days of contact with students this term. (E-Jo & are are doing an unintentional black-and-cream pattern theme week)

Cardigan: Kische (remixed)
Blouse: ?? (remixed)
Not-quite-discernable bracelet: gifted
Pleather pants: Tahari (remixed)
Boots: Fluevog (remixed from same post as pants)

Bare legs for the first time in 2011. Also, this is the last almost-picture of my too-light-for-this-time-of-year hair colour. This issue has now been remedied and I will report on same later:

Cardigan: Nygard (very old, remixed)
Necklace: crazy costume jewellery shop in Florida
Dress: Cleo (remixed)
Boots: Rieker (remixed)
Socks: who cares?
Is this spring better or worse than last spring for you? 
What were you doing last year at this time? (And what were you wearing, then?)

End-of-term, Awkwardness, Outfits

Sweet end-of-term, how I’ve anticipated your arrival. With just four classes left, I can sense your presence all around me – in students’ exhausted faces, in the reappearance in class of faces I’ve not seen for weeks, in the ever-lengthening coffee line-ups on campus, in the tense buzz of library study spaces, and in my own tendency to lose time staring vacantly at my computer screen or out my office window. End-of-term, you complete me. 

In just two short weeks, I will once again have great spaces of time in which to tackle my research, and coffee breaks on campus will feature some of my absolute favourite things about exam period: students gamely rushing the season, wearing flip-flops and shorts as soon as the temperature climbs a degree above zero, finding spaces to stretch out or to toss footballs between the remaining muddied-but-melting piles of snow and the still-brown and not-quite-thawed blades of grass. And let’s not forget the re-emergence of colleagues I’ve not seen for months, or the frenzied-but-sorta-fun preparation for all of those conferences it seemed such a good idea to apply to throughout the fall and winter. End-of-term, without you, this job would defeat me. 

In clothing related news, I offer the following:

1. A teaching outfit, worn because both the dress and cardigan are springy & cotton, and because it’s possible to wear shoes, again – if one jumps carefully from one patch of bare concrete to the next, avoiding the frozen puddles, and keeping a damp cloth in one’s office with which to wipe away the splatters.

Cardigan: house brand at The Bay
Dress: H&M
Belt: I forget (remixed)
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Aerosoles (remixed)

2. Next, a more casual outfit worn to chair an evening public panel with a guest lecturer I brought to the city and a faculty member from my institution whom I really hope to work with in future. I had planned to change before the event, but there was so much to do beforehand that I barely made it from campus to pick up the speaker at her hotel on time. So this was it. Panicked or no, I had to chair in jeggings.

Cardigan: Nygard (remixed)
Necklace: mall anchor store
Dress: Chapter One (remixed)
Belt: Mexx (remixed ad nauseum)
Jeggings: impulse purchase by the register (purchased after seeing how awesome Terri’s looked)
Boots: Rieker (remixed)

I also wore this for the painfully awkward dinner with the speakers and a couple of students before the panel. Why are academic dinners so awful? Awkwardness brings out the absolute worst in me; I always feel compelled to break the tension through jokes and silliness. The job market trained me out of these habits, or so I thought. I managed to hold it together this time, but I feel my patience with the strained silences and too-careful small talk waning. But maybe it’s just end-of-term.

How do you tackle the awkwardness, StyleNation? 
What strategies do you employ to keep the small talk flowing – but also to keep said talk from becoming painfully tiny and embarrassing?

Smell you later, February. Thank goddess you’re over.

My final week of this dark month was made slightly more bearable when, despite our pact to save for house buying and not travel this Reading Week, the Hubs and I folded and took our frozen butts south to hang with his snowbird parents in Florida. It was but a few short days of respite, but respite it was – despite our guilt about (a) not saving money, and (b) sending the Fuzzy Roommate to dog jail/the kennel.

March will be busy and depressing, to be sure, but at least it won’t be February. Perhaps its non-Februaryness will keep me from taking refuge, mid-week, in the following:

Fuschia pashmina: ? (Once again, I removed the tag. I hate tags on scarves)
Dress: Cleo (via Value Village, remixed)
Wool sweater:  Elisabetta (via Winners)
T-shirt: Kenneth Cole
Necklace: The Bay (remixed)
Leggings: Groggy (remixed)
Hegemony boots: Feet First (remixed)

In addition, I cannot wait to wear shoes instead of boots, especially with skirts like this one:

Top: Kenneth Cole (via Winners, remixed)
Cardigan: Zara
Invisible silver necklace: temporary swap with friend

Bangle: Le Chateau
Belt: Buffalo (via Winners, remixed)
Skirt: Olsen (via The Bay)
Tights: Hue
Boots: Rieker (via Shoe Heaven, remixed)

In short and to sum up: suck it, February. I’m glad you’re gone. 

OK, StyleNation, now it’s your turn: 
help us say good-bye to this heinous month. 
(Tell us what you won’t miss about February. Also, how do you plan to survive March?)

Studies in Grey

What’s up, fashionable people? It’s nice to be able to stop in to talk about clothes before digging back into tonight’s marking, lecture prep, and research planning. In addition, let the official record show that there is significantly more morning light these days (as V also recently noted). Somehow, for me, this makes everything more manageable.

Anyway, let’s talk about clothes already, before I succumb to the temptation to talk about sex instead.

1. First, there’s this grey sweater, purchased in Florida of all places, on a mini-break with Janey Emm a few years ago, and worn for a non-teaching, no meeting day on campus:

Wool/angora/nylon blend sweater: Shine New York
Necklace: January sale at The Bay
Cotton jersey dress: Kataya
Invisible grey leggings: Joe Fresh
Bootage: Rieker (gifted from stylish sis-in-law, remixed)

Then there was a boot switch, because I decided darker coloured boots would be better.

Mystery booties: ?? – it’s a mystery (via Winners, remixed)

2. Then, because E-Jo wore this (see second ensemble), and E of Academichic wore this, I was inspired to teach in this:

Necklace: awesome gift from Janey Emm
Cardigan: Smart Set
Shell: Alfani (remixed)
Trousers: Tahari (via Winners, remixed)
Belt: Winners
Invisible mystery booties: as above

And you’re probably excited to see that I struck an entirely different pose to better highlight this brilliant necklace:

That’s all I’ve got today. 

Who’s inspiring your sartorial choices of late? 

Also, northern hemisphere dwellers, are mornings getting easier for you, 
now that there’s a wee bit more light?