Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is That Your Most Serious Skirt?

You want to be taken seriously? Stop dressing like a little girl.

-Joan Holloway

Suit up!

-Barney Stintson

I love clothes. I love to shop. If I’m honest, it’s actually very important to me to look put together and nice whether I’m in class, at work or in a social setting. Blog posts about smart girls who also happen to care about the way they look seem to be popping up all over the place right now (especially on Jezebel, a site I like but have a wary relationship with) and truthfully I don't get what the fuss is about. Yeah, it's sexist that women are more harshly judged on their appearance--but it's also sexist to say we're stupid for caring about the way we look. Plenty of women care about their appearance and still manage to be intellectuals, feminists and generally very interesting human beings. And yeah, others are obnoxious biddies who like to yap about spray tanning and acrylics in the middle of Anthropology lecture. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

I know that for me looking good is not about getting people to look at me, it’s about presenting myself in way that’s neat, pretty and pulled together. That's why I like what Joan tells Peggy in that Mad Men quote. People take you more seriously when you look like you thought about what you put on this morning and like you're carefully considering the way you present yourself to the world. It's is not about attracting attention or wearing my boob shirt to Sociology—well, I don’t have a boob shirt, mainly because I don’t have boobs, but you get the idea. (Don't get me wrong-- there's a time and place for boob shirts too.) It simply makes me feel confident and even kind of powerful to know that I look like I have my shit together, even when I don’t.

For instance: The next time you get a shitty cold, take a long hot shower and some Dayquil, then put on some blush, mascara and your favorite outfit. (Maybe skip the mascara if you're a dude...) But come on—you feel just a teeny bit better, right? Right. Go carpe the fucking diem.

I’m not defending the fashion industry by any means, but I am defending the right (of everyone, not just women) to have a sense of style without being written off as vapid. (Some people really just don't care what they wear, and that's totally cool too.) Fashion, in the commercial sense at least, I could care less about. My Calvin Klein jeans were four bucks at the Goodwill. Logo-slathered handbags don't interest me, and labels for the sake of labels leave me cold. But I love beautiful things, good design, putting together outfits and yeah, scoring a bargain. (Blame my grandmother.)

There are college girls who are studying astrophyics while rocking skinny jeans and leather boots, and there are women who run Fortune 500 companies in Louboutins. First Lady Michelle Obama is a lawyer who happens to be buds with Isabel Toledo and Narciso Rodriguez. I can write you a kickass paper about Henry V or juggle five newspaper articles a week, but I also watch a lot of What Not to Wear. Smart and stylish are not mutually exclusive. Joan Holloway knows what's up.


  1. Holy cow, I read this and I got really excited that you said "carpe the fucking diem," because I used that exact same phrase in a speech I wrote for English class last week.

  2. Also- I read your blog obsessively and I find it highly entertaining :)