Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Language Of Appearance

After living more-or-less all over the country (eleven places in six states) I've seen a whole array of Clothing As Language.

Here we are in the South (I still refuse to wear lime-green ankle pants) and, while I don't care to participate in the language of Old South wealth, Dr. S has a real job, and it might as well be nicknamed "The South Lives On Here."

Although some of his visiting-professor colleagues dress very casually (I'm looking at you, math department), Dr. S teaches in a tie, pressed slacks, and a button-down shirt.  On Thursdays, when he doesn't have class, he doesn't wear a tie.  His clothing, from a mix of his personal preferences (no pink shirts thank you), what's on clearance at L.E. in his size, and my desire to send a culturally appropriate message, is very conservative: solid shirts, checked shirts, and ties in three boring patterns (checks, stripes, solid).

As I was picking out his clothes for this last interview* I was thinking about what message I was trying to send.  It worked out to something like: I will play an appropriate part in this elaborate masque of formality that is acted out here**; I understand the cultural message that I am projecting, which is one of well-educated, understated, conservative good taste; and possibly a side of "My spouse dresses me."

* Not because I am a 1950s housewife at heart, I assure you.  He's partly colorblind.  For every day it doesn't matter, but for an interview... yeah.  
** All of the professors are Dr. Lastname to students, even when the students are talking to each other.  Unfortunately for when I am talking to students, I can't remember most of the professors' last names, especially the long hyphenated ones.  This is because I am really bad at names in general, and the longer they are...


  1. Though Bicycle Company is very much informal (thou shalt not be naked), I do understand wishing the spouse to dress in an appropriate manner. I can't tell you how much it bothered me when he pulled the junk ripped-knee jeans from the closet and wore them to work. Needless to say, those jeans were removed from regular circulation. They will mysteriously reappear if he needs to do yardwork. Perhaps he'll mow the lawn in six months.

    I'm off to buy a dishwasher, and I made sure to wear decent clothes today. I'm not sure it will matter though. When I walk into a store with two pages of notes, the salespeople tend to take me seriously.

    You would look lovely dressed as a 50's housewife. Pearls are very becoming. The skirts might be inconvenient for chasing two little boys, though. No picking fruit on ladders in that outfit, either.

    1. Bicycle Company: Just because you *may* wear whatever you choose doesn't mean it's a GOOD IDEA.

      I'll remember to take notes next time I go buy something!

    2. P.S. Basically every outfit in this movie.

  2. Can I get you to come dress me? I have a tough time with my message sometimes...

    1. It's so much easier to be a dude: khaki pants, navy tie, shirt, you're done. That said, my specialty is Stuff On Clearance.

    2. Also you have tenure, so your message can be Fuck Off, right?


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