Black Mirror

One of the best things my parents did was tell me consistently throughout my childhood and adolescence that I was beautiful. Whether or not it was true didn’t matter then, and it doesn’t matter now. Because deep down, despite my current age (40) and all the crazy things dominant culture tells me every day about my supposedly “failing” looks, I continue to believe I am good-looking. Because people who mattered to me during my formative years assured me of it ALL THE DAMN TIME.* (Case in point: my face looks AWFUL in most pictures. I look at these images, hear my father or mother’s voice exclaiming over how gorgeous I am, and I blame photography for not being able to capture my real face.)

UPDATE: I know I have to address race and body privilege as they relate to this issue. I know, too, that in doing so I must engage more directly with the influences of wider culture, not just parental/domestic training. I will do so in an upcoming post. Please stand by.

Feminism took over where my parents left off. Dominant culture tells me, “You’re getting wrinkles around your eyes and lips”; “There are grooves in your cheeks, and you’re starting to get jowls”; “Wrinkles are the worst, and you are not beautiful if you have them.” But feminism assures me that it’s perfectly natural to look older as I grow older; that it’s crazy to treat visible signs of aging like some kind of moral failure; that beauty is only one of the ways to evaluate my worth; and that beauty is not determined by lines – or lack thereof – on one’s face.

That said, as much as I love colour, I’ve learned I like my outfit photos best when I wear black. For whatever reason, I feel most myself, and most beautiful – however we interpret this politically loaded word – in black.

Black Outfit #1: Office Pyjamas

Worn on a cooler day to hole up in my office, slipping out occasionally to take advantage of the fantastically short coffee lines during The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.


Black cotton mesh-sleeve Mexx sweater/tunic: new to blog; Necklace: gifted (remixed); Joe Fresh cotton tank: new to blog; Black cotton leggings: remixed; Also brown leather riding boots: remixed a LOT on this blog

And here, because as you know, I am a genius with the camera, is a close-up of the mesh sleeves that make this sweater springy:


Black Outfit #2: Convocation

I wore this under my insufferably hot robes at convocation which I attended because, as noted previously, my favourite student graduated. Then I sat in my office trying to write things until I decided I had heat exhaustion and could, therefore, go home and watch the new season of Arrested Development. (My review: Meh, despite repeated ostrich appearances and Portia de Rossi’s cute haircut. I laughed out loud WAY LESS in this season than in others.)


H&M mesh/lace and lyocel t-shirt: new to blog; Green suede and silver metal belt: new to blog (via mall anchor store); Mexx black cotton (with a sheen) wide-leg trousers: new to blog; Fly London black leather Yayas: remixed

Is there a colour you feel best in, StyleNation?

Also, if you feel like sharing, how did your parental figures get it right or wrong

when it came to building your self-esteem?

Things that Make me Fondly Recall the Past

Exciting news, StyleNation! One with whom IPF peeps corresponded regularly back in the early days of this blog has returned to the interwebz. Check her out here. She is awesome.

In other news, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – or May, in non-academic parlance – is really opening up. The sun is shining, colleagues are emerging from end-of-term isolation looking at least semi-relaxed and less glassy-eyed, and for those of us who’ve only just figured out what we need research assistant-wise, the race in ON to hire the best summer students. Thus far, I’ve won one ridiculously excellent person, and lost another equally excellent and much-in-demand one to a very worthy opponent. (Crap. Dang.)

Also, I wore some things. (But as you are about to discover, the real news for today is in the first two lines of this post.)

#1: Casual On-campus Meeting

To be clear, this linen dress was MUCH less wrinkly when I met my co-chair to begin planning an upcoming speakers series. My co-chair is MUCH more senior than me, however, so she showed up in faded capris, sneakers, and a t-shirt. Academia is funny that way.


Linen Boden dress: new to blog; White cotton cami: mall anchor store; Dr. Marten distressed leather boots: remixed; Colourful beaded necklace: the airport in Belize last year

There are belt loops on this dress, but I think they’re too high and am planning to cut them off. Also, when it’s not all stretched out like this, the dress is slim enough that a belt is not necessary.

Here’s an entirely unhelpful close-up of the necklace accompanied by the strap of my Nella Bella bag (mine’s cream, but the bag itself is not shown here as I am very, very good at photography):


And finally, to extend today’s Shōnagon-inspired list:

Things that Make Me Fondly Recall the Past

5. To shop for cherry blossom art for one’s bedroom. (Travel to Kyoto now seems so utterly impossible, or at least improbable, given how much there is to do, here. . .)

4.To contemplate the graduation of one’s favourite student.

3. To encounter one’s mother on social media and to know, therefore, that one can never safely bitch about her on FB or Twitter, again.

2. To celebrate one’s Fuzzy Roommate’s 11th birthday. 11 summers ago, he arrived and shortly thereafter became integral to my day-to-day survival.

1. To rediscover a wonderful style maven with whom IPF once shared many hilarious and educational exchanges. Yes, the writer of Beverly Like Hills once educated us like nobody’s business – see the Style Underdog comments. Thank the goddess she’s back!

What inspires nostalgia in you, StyleNation?

Let’s have a glass of vino and reminisce, shall we?  

NSFW: Summer Dress, or How to Make Everyone Uncomfortable

(scroll down for outfit post) 

I’m preparing another conference report. It was super hot and sweaty at this particular conference, however, so there are things I have to wash and iron before I can even consider donning them, again, for you, StyleNation. In the mean time, I offer the following.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year has proved exceptionally busy, if not particularly productive as yet, at least in terms of the multiple writing projects I’m meant to have on the go. I’ve travelled three times already, and I’ve got another trip this weekend. That said, it’s still  pleasant not to be teaching, and thus to have time to organize and prepare for what promises to be a frenzied and – I hope – invigorating summer of writing and getting things off my desk and onto the desks of others.

Even the student who skipped his deferred exam, emailed two days later to offer a weak and implausible excuse, then asked for another deferral really hasn’t phased me. Two months ago, this situation would have filled me with rage. But last week, I merrily denied his request, sent him back to his home faculty, and only bitched to D-Med about it for (what I recall as) a relatively short time last week.

Outfit Post: Live and Learn 

Recently, I wore a dress and took some photos of it so I can learn things. What I have learned is as follows:

1. The top of this dress is a little big for me, so it gapes in ways that are probably pretty uncomfortable for my students and colleagues. You know, unless they want to see my laundry-day bra and some blindingly white fleshy bits.

2. While the skirt is swirly, the pattern huge, and the colours pleasingly vibrant, the whole thing would, I think, be better on a woman a little older, and much darker-skinned than me. I think either a brown woman, or a very dark-skinned woman with a little more bosom, and a lot more experience and presence could do this baby more justice. Me, I feel like a ghost in it. A ghost whose boobs and armpit cleavage are occasionally on display if I do anything more than stand like this:

Crinkly summer dress: ?? (I cut out the scratchy tag. It is cotton and was on sale at one of those big discount department stores in Florida); “Snakeskin” gladiator sandals: Report (via Winners); Classy office boombox: bottom-of-the-line Canadian Tire, Baby

Sandal close-up. They are more comfortable than I expected. Like wear-around-all-day -in-the-heat-and-don’t-get-blisters comfortable.

And here, because I have it and was feeling frustrated about how awkward things were looking, is a super-unflattering image of me doing an angry high kick:

Now that I see it again, the kick’s not that high. Probably I should do some stretches.

What clothes have you bought for other women, StyleNation? 

Just how successful are we at shopping for the lives we have

(as Angie, at You Look Fab might say)?

Spring On-campus Jeanage

What up, StyleNation? Who’s having a spring to remember?

Recent crappy events at IPF North have encouraged me to appreciate life while I’ve got it, and I’ve been doing so in my garden. My gardening goal for this summer is to encourage as many bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bunnies as possible to stop by for pollination, snacks, and/or general frolicking.

When on campus, I’m alone in my office for much of the day (sweet solace!), so I’ve been doing some significant dressing down. Case in point:

1. Should have tucked the shirt, but can’t make myself care

I can’t believe I don’t post these jeans more often. They’ve been a non-teaching-day staple for ages (or since 2008):

Blouse: Mexx (remixed); Necklace: gifted (remixed); Pin-stripe grey trouser jeans: Parasuco for Smart Set (2008, remixed); Shoes: Fugitive de Francesco Rossi (remixed)


And here, just because I have it, is a much less flattering angle that potentially gives a better view of the jean stripe:

Mug: ubiquitous in morning photos

2. Even though I’m broken up with Distressed Denim, I still have this skirt

I don’t know. Should we get rid of stone-washed or otherwise distressed denim so as not to contribute to the trend that results in factory/sweatshop-worker deaths? I’ve considered dyeing the skirt but suspect the wash variation would be reproduced in some way regardless. ‘Thoughts?

Necklace: gifted (remixed); Cotton jersey top: MaxStudio (remixed); Denim skirt: Bebe (remixed); Green leather belt: purchased with D-Med in England ages ago (remixed); Brown leather bootage: Rockport (super-old, remixed)

And here, because I’m the modelliest, is a slightly modified pose that does not, despite my best intentions, highlight the boots:

Mug: ubiquitous

Tell us about your spring, StyleNation!

How are you spending your down time these increasingly warm days?

Cuts Like a Knife

It may summer-warm in IPF South, but IPF North’s still balancing on the knife-edge between winter and spring. Well, we were balancing until today, when the blade turned. Sadly, the ongoing marking frenzy and its accompanying fuzzy-brain fatigue prevents me from completing this stabby analogy. Let’s just say that below-zero temperatures and snow flurries in April cut deep.

Today, I’m treating my multiple weather and end-of-term-related spiritual and intellectual wounds with a good wearing of the auto-eroticism jeans. The drive to campus this morning was freaking awesome.

Finally, I’m considering having the following piece by Detroit-based artist Niagara framed for my office wall to warn off slackers who want to argue about their grades:

 I know. ‘Bad idea.
What bad ideas are you tempted to pursue in times of frenzy, stress, and/or fatigue?  
(It’ll be our little secret.)

Drove Back to Town This Morning With Working on My Mind

There’s nothing that is not awesome about campus in the spring and summer. There are trees, and flowers, and grassy expanses. There’s more parking close to either the library or one’s office, and the line-ups for morning coffee are much more bearable. Also, when one is rewarding oneself for having done a good pocket of work, the Sally Ann around the corner is over-flowing with beautiful things—and there are no students around to snap up the treasures. (I’ll be featuring some of today’s finds over the next couple of weeks.)

In short, today started so well. Then all of a sudden, it was 3:30 and I had less than an hour to do a zillion errands and drop Fuzzy Roommate at “Canine and Kitty Camp,” where he’ll chill for the long weekend while A-Dubs-Hubs and I head out to see the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time.

Anyway, let’s use our imaginations so these shorts appear as crisp and non-baggy-in-the-front-and-unrumply-in-the-crotchal-region as they did this morning before the hour-long drive to Dog Camp. (And while we’re at it, let’s imagine I have a bitchin’ camera and a back-drop that highlights but does not blend into my very pale skin.)
I was trying to mix stripes as I’ve seen much more daring style bloggers do, but thought I’d start with a relatively safe combination. From afar, before I added the pink shoes and the green cami, I looked like a waiter. I kind of wish I’d worn a darker cami, though, as things could really use some more drama, no?
In all seriousness, things really were slightly better this morn; but even now, I remain excited about these shoes. In an effort to preserve the balls of my feet, I bought these flat platform beauties last summer. I’ve decided they can take the place of heels with shorts and skirts. Because flat shoes with long shorts or knee-length skirts make my legs look about an inch long.

White-0n-white Striped Ruched Blouse: Le Chateau
Pinstripe Navy Shorts: Jacob
Cami: Esprit
Platform T-strap Sandals: Kenneth Cole
So, what about your feet? When, where, and how do they get a break from heels?