Trying to Try

Cheers, StyleNation, and welcome to the new academic year! Yes, almost everybody in the Northern (academic) hemisphere is back to class now, except for the lucky few – our own E-Jo, for example – who are excused from teaching and will thus spend the term engrossed in their research.

To be clear, gentle readers, for all my griping about prep and marking, I enjoy my time in the classroom. Generally, my students are great, and I LOVE the stuff I teach. But the balance is off lately, and I dream of months of uninterrupted research coupled with some respite from student demands. With almost 200 students this term and very little in the way of assistance with marking, I must (and will) rally. But I’m eligible for leave next year (hurrah!) and am counting down the days!

Professorial rant (scroll down for outfit post)

In the mean time, I have serious concerns about young feminists/feminism. I have this fantasy that this is only happening in my city, but regular (and VERY annoying) exposure (at conferences) to feminist and/or queer cultural studies suggests otherwise. Here’s the problem as I see it: gender-queer practices are the new (so-called) feminism, and the new (so-called) feminism tends to be anti-historical, intensely preoccupied with (Euro-North American) selfhood/identities, alarmingly elitist, and often misogynist. In short, gender-queer politics, at least in the incarnations in which I witness them, are not feminist at all. Instead, there’s an apparent “need” to eliminate the category of “woman” because it is, apparently, reprehensible and ostensibly irrecuperable. In this context, too, gender-queer’s preoccupation with a representative gender-neutral “personhood” seems to over-value a form of (relatively young) slightly re-fashioned masculinity. Gender-queer politics names this refashioned masculinity “androgyny.”

If this is actually a thing now, then, in my not-so-humble opinion, we’ve got a serious – and very tiresome – problem. For my part, I grow INTENSELY WEARY of the refusal, on the part of gender-queer critics, theorists, and students, to interrogate the assumptions underlying their politics.

How does this politics manifest in the undergraduate women’s studies classroom, the nerdier among you might ask? Currently, I am informed on a semi-regular basis, by 17-to-22-year-old persons with carefully-styled “androgynous” hair and clothing, that gender binaries must be disregarded to the point where any research or activism that acknowledges constructed genders is irrelevant.

How many times do we have to learn that socially constructed ideas have real effects, and that “refusing” to engage with a particular ideology does not, in fact, negate its effects in culture? Why can they not hear when a vast and diverse body of feminist cultural critics and theorists points out that even their gender-queer counter-culture defines itself in relation to mainstream gender ideals (i.e. gender-queer NEEDS normative gender constructions in order to understand what it is not)?

Moreover, I am sick and tired of research examining gender-based cultural belief systems that result, for example, in “women’s” starvation and death, or in infant mortality being disregarded and dismissed because those who wrote up the research failed to problematize the constructed categories of “man” and “woman,” or failed to account for a “woman”‘s personal agency when she “chose” to feed her husband and children before herself.

Here endeth my ranting. For now.

Outfit #1: First day of class

No, it’s not exciting, but I wasn’t excited to start teaching, again:


Cardigan: M.A.K. (gifted from D-Med, remixed); Silk & lycra shell: Le Chateau (new to blog); Black cami: H&M (remixed); Linen trousers: H&M (remixed and redyed); Invisible black flats: MTNY (via Winners, new to blog)

Outfit #2: Teaching Day (today)

It’s chillier today. My classroom this morning was especially cold, so I lectured in this jacket:


Cotton velvet blazer: RW & Co. (gifted from the A-Dubs-Hubs ages ago); Printed polyester tunic: Smart Set (new this season); Black leather belt: Mexx (remixed); Pleated black maxi skirt: Reitmans (end-of-season sales this summer); Trouser socks: Joe Fresh; Pewter faux-snakeskin flats with hardware: David Wilcox for Town Shoes (love these, bought ’em in gold, too)

Then, it warmed up, so I took off the jacket for my second class in the afternoon:

What’s up with you, StyleNation?

Also, am I being crazy about this gender-queer stuff?

Rage and Safe Spaces in Fall

A Tale of Rage, satisfaction denied  (scroll down for outfit shots)
Once a year, my institution organizes an academic recruitment evening to which high school students are invited. Faculties and the programs and departments therein are required to set up and staff booths on this night, and then hand out pamphlets and other paraphernalia to encourage prospective students to declare us as their major when they get here next year. Usually, those of us who staff booths – and we know I have to do it every year, right? My program is teensy, so all full-time faculty are needed to staff our booth for the night – end up talking as much to parents as to teens.

Bear with me, people. I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

As you can perhaps imagine, in this age of job-training degrees and widespread post-feminism, Women’s and Gender Studies seems like a tough sell [*insert apology for consumerist language*]. But I’ve developed a spiel that includes, among other things, a list of jobs our graduates have gone on to do (lawyer, medical doctor, social worker, youth worker, international relations internship, university professor, etc., etc.).

I’d just finished the part where I talk about understanding and addressing the root causes of violence against marginalized and racialized groups, including First Nations people (women in particular), migrant workers (especially women, again), and gay, lesbian, transgendered, transsexual, and bisexual people. I began my brief outline of the research specialties of our faculty, which include examinations of issues directly related to same-sex desire, particularly lesbian people. At this point, the Semi-Interested Mom (SIM) to whom I was speaking interjected and we had the following ridiculous exchange:

SIM: Is that a big part of your classes?

A-Dubs (confused, suspicious): Is what a big part of our classes?

SIM: You know – that. How much of course time is taken up with that.

A-Dubs (thinking how I’m going to make her say “it”): Are you referring to issues related to same-sex desire and lesbian people?

SIM (besting me at this game): Yes. That. How much class time?

A-Dubs (smugly): An average amount. We try to talk about sexual desire in many contexts in order, for example, to understand and address cultural forces that prevent people (especially women) from leading full and satisfying lives.

(awkward pause; SIM gives me a dubious look; I try to think what to say next)

A-Dubs: So, it sounds like you’re alluding to the stereotype of feminists as man-hating, humourless separationist lesbians who set out to colonize unsuspecting young women, brainwash them, and thus transform them into man-hating, humourless lesbians who’ll revile and judge their parents, especially their mothers, for the rest of their lives. Is that it? 

SIM (without irony): Yes, exactly!

A-Dubs: Huh. (pregnant pause)

That’s not at all what we do. We’re NOT here to make your daughter into a lesbian. But we ARE here to support her, and we work to protect her and others from real or symbolic violence resulting from hers or others’ expressions of real sexual desires. For example, we work to understand and prevent the homophobic bullying that has caused so many child and teen suicides lately – like that one we heard about on our city news last week.

(I rattle on about anti-violence and valuing people, thinking I’m totally convincing her that Women’s and Gender Studies is awesome. She nods periodically, then interjects, again.)

SIM (big exhale, as though relieved): Well, that’s OK, then. I’m glad I asked because, you know, it could go either way.

A-Dubs (incredulous): You mean some departments would try to make your daughter a lesbian? That way?

SIM (knowingly, vaguely): Yes. It can go either way.

A-Dubs: No. It really can’t, and it doesn’t.

We went back and forth a little more in an unfunny “She said/She said” kind of way. Ultimately, she walked away, MAYBE convinced that the version of WGS at my institution is PERHAPS an exception to the rule she “knows.”

And I felt enraged, once again, at this evidence of the kind of dull, conservative, heterosexist and homophobic thinking that kills people’s kids, kids like the ones I see in my classes all the time. Kids like the one who recently wrote (in an assignment) that her WGS course is the only space in which she ever feels safe.

What kind of a ghoulish culture seeks to avoid and/or eliminate even these moments of safety, especially for its most marginalized members?

Teaching Outfits, worn while trying to establish, as much as I possibly can, safe classrooms:

Rose-printed black polyester tunic: Winners (new to blog)
Black puffed-sleeve cotton cardigan: Kensie (via The Bay, new to blog, but sooo old)
Studded black and brown leather belt: Mexx (remixed)
Black poly-rayon dress capris: NYC (via The Bay, new to blog, but also old)
Brown/black textured knee-highs: Hue (via Winners)
Black patent leather shoes: Clarks Artisan (via Shoe Heaven, remixed)
One-armed shoe-highlighting pose: stupidly difficult to achieve, even in this awkward iteration
Wonder Woman Pose: a timeless classic, especially here at IPF

#2. Velvet, tree bark, and fallen leaves look awesome together, n’est-ce pas?

Plum cotton velvet jacket: gifted from A-Dubs-Hubs ages ago (new to blog)
Black cotton T: H&M
Printed black cotton pleated skirt: Roxy (remixed)
Riding Boots: Aldo (remixed)
Ineffective boot-highlighting pose: just for you, StyleNation (and for the love of boots)
Have you any suggestions, StyleNation, 
for things I could have said to Semi-Interested Mom? 

Belated Conference Report, Part 1

What is up, StyleNation? You are looking GOOD today. How DO you do it every time?
Let’s get right down to the posting, shall we? 

1. First, an Important Announcement: 

Congratulations to our illustrious Guest Lecturer  
Kelly Bean, Rogue Academic and now Mother of Two Gorgeous Kids! 
Visit Kelly in Beantown to check out the cherubic new Baby T. 
We love you, KB, and wish we could be there with you!

2. Next, a preamble:

In less exciting news, I’ve been holding out on the posting, having convinced myself that I need to take headsuit photos and a complete set of conference outfits pic’s before blogging, again. I’ve decided, however, that this is an unrealistic goal. Instead, things will have to get done in stages.

It is busy here. In the last two weeks I’ve:

* attended a conference (SO good – plus there was some wine drinking with a key contingent)
* visited all too briefly with Rinty the Crusher who lives too far away from me, which is stupid
* hosted my parental units and their dog for five days
* prepped for and attended a disciplinary meeting for a student plagiarist
* hired and started training two research assistants
* plowed through a good portion of The Project That Will Not End (end is in sight – hurrah!)
* looked at about seventy billion houses and put an offer on one (results pending)
* applied to another conference

Currently, there’s one huge and two smaller deadlines fast approaching, but I’m determined to get some blog-reading and posting done before I go back into the breach.

3. And now, the outfit post:

So, the plan to build all conference ensembles around my brown riding boots worked well. As did (IMHO) my effort to be comfortable and semi-professional every day of the conference. Here is Conference Outfit, Day One (a non-presentation day):


Tunic: Cha Cha Vente (via Winners)
Necklace: art show somewhere in southern Ontario
Leggings: Groggy (remixed ad nauseum on this blog)
Riding Boots: Aldo

Because the conference was on a university campus, not at a hotel, we all wore and/or carted around coats all day. For once, I managed to anticipate this important detail and planned all outfits to incorporate this spring coat. I wore this coat everyday, most of the time, because it was chilly indoors and out.

I forget what we call this style of jacket. Swing? Bracelet-length? Mostly I think of it as a necklace highlighter:

Jacket: (I forget but will update when I get home tonight)
I really wanted to style everything around this vintage double-breasted velvet trench, but it’s not a practical option for travelling. What if it gets even more crushed? It’s irreplaceable. So I include it here as the fantasy option. In reality, I wore the above-noted green cotton twill number.  
Trench: thrifted, then switched out gold brass buttons for these faux pewter ones
In closing, I offer the following awesome picture of the Fuzzy Roommate savaging his sock monkey on his new bed cover. My mother loves fabric stores; she shops for quilting materials. I enjoy the stores, too, but barely have time to blow my nose, so when I go to the stores with her, I try to avoid buying fabric for projects that I will never have time to undertake. But a pillow cover is an fast and totally easy thing to make – and who could resist this leopard print?
“Leopard print.” Do you see what I did there?
Conference Report, Part II to follow. 
In the mean time, tell us, all you professionals out there:
what do you do with your coat at professional events?
Wear it? Scrunch it into your bag? Hang it and hope no one swipes it?

Blue Velvet if you please

So, apparently, this week is blue velvet blazer week here at IPF. In an attempt to dress for the widely fluctuating temperatures of IPF South (seriously, it was 32 (O) when I left for work this morning, and 63 (17) when I got home. PICK A TEMPERATURE WEATHER), I’ve been wearing a bunch of layers and, sick of wearing a cardi for billionth day in a row, I broke out my blue velvet blazer which I haven’t worn in ages. Only to then see that our own A-Dubs has worn two in the last week. Great minds, etc…
Cardi & striped shirt: Gap
Brown-ish ponte pencil skirt: NY & Co.
Navy tights: Hue
Ubiquitous gold flats: Nine West

My love affair with ponte fabrics continued on Monday. I got this pencil skirt in the January sales for less than $10. I had almost bought it at full price in the fall so I was particular happy with this steal. It’s, again, super comfortable and professional and I anticipate it getting a lot of use. The rest of the outfit, meh. It seems a little dark. I need some brighter professorial shirts to lighten things up I think. Also, the somewhat sloppy cardi only highlights how desperately in need of a haircut I am.

Blue velvet blazer: Addition-Elle, AGES ago
Brown turtleneck: Eddie Bauer Outlet
Skirt: Gap (it’s the reverse of my khaki green workhorse)
Brown tights: Hue
Bright blue flats: Joe
mini FR: wondering when the eff I’ll stop taking pictures of myself and take him to the dog park already

This outfit, as noted above, coincides nicely with A-Dubs’ blazers but, also, was inspired by Sal from Already Pretty‘s love of color and use of tights and top to suggest a single color body suit. I, for some crazy reason, rarely wear these brown tights — they seem harder to style than black or navy blue. Crazy, right? But I was determined to wear them today. I’m also breaking out a series of old but never blogged items in addition to the blazer. I rarely wear this side of this skirt. And these blue flats have been my office flats for the last year which means I haven’t worn them too much (there’s a detail shot below). They’re less comfortable than I’d like but I love the color — particularly against the brown.

Anyone else surprised that I didn’t manage to wear stripes this week for Everybody, Everywear‘s Breton Stripes day? I sure am — even though I’m trying to address my addiction to stripes. That said, I’m obsessed right now with the UK version of Skins and the lead character, Tony, often wears striped cardigans which has me coveting one hardcore. (I also can’t currently stop listening to the angsty music of my high school years. Clearly, I’m going through some sort of weird high school moment. Ugh.)

No Repeats: Quick – Switch Lives with Me!

My brain is fried, even though it’s only Tuesday. My second grant application of the academic year went in Monday after a weekend of writing, revising, fretting, raging, and not sleeping. There was no extra sleep allowed, however, as my department is hosting a guest speaker this week, I taught something new this morning, and I’ve got two reference letters for students due for pick up tomorrow.

In short, I miss my bed, and I miss you, StyleNation. I dream of lying in bed and browsing your blogs. So, if anyone who’s relaxed, loving life, and living in a warm sunny climate wants to switch lives with me for the remainder of this week, I. Am. In. (if I can bring the Hubs and my dog)

This post concludes my participation in No Repeats, but I’m tempted to continue in Anne fashion, remixing, but not repeating a whole outfit, until the end of term. I’ll let you know next time if I’m going to do it. In the mean time, let’s get to it:

1. First up, welcome to bland. I was excited to wear this soft cashmere blend sweater, but I probably should have pushed myself to do something more interesting with it:

Pale green sweater: Moon (via The Bay)
Pin-striped trousers: Mexx (remixed – see below)
Necklace: The Bay (remixed – see 2nd outfit)
Bracelet: gifted from Designer Shoe Whore
Sensible shoes: Nine West (via eBay)
Men in Pants mug: gifted from Rinty the Crusher

2. Weekend low-key concert wear: a variation on Vegas concert wear. Also, I bumped into a student at this event. ‘Good thing I didn’t do the cleavage-baring. (p.s. I love Sarah Harmer. She is my new celebrity crush.)

Velvet blazer: Rubber Ducky (remixed)
Pleather studded top: Sejis (remixed – see 2nd outfit)
Skinny jeans: Revolt (remixed – see 3rd outfit)
Boots: Rieker (remixed)

3. Exhaustion-Monday ensemble. The Hubs gave me this blazer ages ago. I love the colour, and the cotton velveteen is magically combined with a teensy bit of lycra, so it feels great.

Blazer: RW & Co.
Jersey top: Max Studio (via Winners – the blue version of this one – see 2nd outfit)
Necklace: gifted & remixed (it’s better with darker colours, no?)
Trousers: Nine West
Shoes: close-up below

Shoes: Bobbi Blu (via Shoe Heaven)

4. Before and After. I started with this:

Cardigan: (via Winners)
Blouse: Moon (via The Bay)
Belt: Buffalo (remixed – see 2nd outfit)
Skirt: Jacob (remixed)
Tights: Hue
Boots: ?? (remixed)

But it just wasn’t working for me. So, I went a different way. Some would call this chickening out. They might be right. But that cardigan was squishing these sleeves against my wrists:
  Trousers: Mexx (as above)
 Thank-you, and goodnight! 
(As soon as Obama’s done addressing a good portion of the StyleNation, I’m hitting the sack.)

Oh, and which is better – the before or after?

Not Red and Black, II

Today, I am breaking my unofficial red-and-black-ensemble ban. But let’s not talk about such rule-breakiness on this most wonderful of days. On this, my last lecture day of the term, let’s focus on success. (This weekend’s marking will bring failures enough, I suspect.)

Let’s speak instead about my Tuesday ensemble. On Tuesday, I played by the rules. On Tuesday, I wore this to teach twice, then attend an evening event on campus:

Velveteen jacket (it’s actually teal, not blue): Rubber Ducky (thrifted)
Brooch: Blue in the Face (craft show, old)
Black shell: H&M
Clown pants: Tahari (remixed – note that I’ve not yet taken D-Med’s advice to put black ink on the pulled thread on the right pocket)
Shoes: Hilary Radley (remixed)
Trouser Socks: Hue (via Winners)

Now that I see the photos on this larger screen, I don’t love the pant-belt matchiness. I chose this belt so that there wouldn’t be too much going on in front, accessory-wise. But things just didn’t blend the way I imagined they would. Next time, I think I might skip the brooch and wear either a thin grey or black belt. (I have to belt; the pants are too big otherwise. But I like them this size. I think.)

When this jacket first joined my wardrobe this fall, it had fru-fru plastic sparkly buttons in a matching shade of teal. I switched those out for the pewter ones. Here’s a closer look at the buttons and brooch.

I used to love this brooch, but now it bothers me, despite its sparkle. It doesn’t seem like the best idea to pin the face of a much more glamorous woman next to one’s own visage. Especially when one is sickly and pale (as I currently am).*

Obligatory shoe close-up:

And finally, this photo’s for D-Med, who hates monkeys. The FR’s no friend to the monkey either. Especially the sock monkey:

Style Nation, do you think non-black velvet and velvet-like jackets are inherently casual? 
Mine always seem to work better with denim. How do yours work?

* That’s why I haven’t been commenting the last week or so. But I’m on the mend and can’t wait to see what you’ve been wearing while I’ve been broken.