On Teaching Fashion: Back to School Shopping


OK, fashion professors, it’s time to get your game on.  If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you’re right in the middle of the back-to-school frenzy, and you know just what I’m talking about.  It’s time to transition out of your summer vacation wear, and into your professional fall fashionista attire.  This week, I bring you two suggested must-haves, one for women and one for men, both guaranteed to be easy on the pocketbook while packing enough fashion oomph to add to your credibility in the classroom.  They’re simple, they’re tiny, and they’re relatively painless for the bank account or credit card. 

If you’ve read my post on fashion professors’ attire, you know my opinion on dressing for the classroom (hello?  We need to look like we know what we’re talking about here, people).  I’d like to think that fashion professors are an exception to Tim Gunn’s assessment that college and university instructors are the worst dressed middle class professionals, but this year, let’s make sure there is no doubt that we are the exception to the rule.  Let’s not allow the economy and pay cuts to completely prevent us from being at least a little bit up to date, and having a little fun, with our teaching wardrobes.

From The Sartorialist - Milan, January 2009

From The Sartorialist - Milan, January 2009

This season, my number one women’s item for the classroom is opaque black tights.  If you read The Sartorialist or Garance Doré, you already know that they were what all the fashionistas in Europe were wearing last winter, which means that if you are in the US and not in New York or Los Angeles, you will be fashion-forward and not fashion-tired, when you start sporting these this season. 

From Garance Doré - Paris, December 2008

 The opaque black tights can be worn with shorts, dresses, and skirts.  You can wear this with a sundress and a black cardigan.  It’s a great way to get extended wear out of those spring and summer dresses you would otherwise have in storage.  

From The Sartorialist - Luca Rubinacci, Naples, February 2009

From The Sartorialist - Luca Rubinacci, Naples, February 2009

For men, this season, I’m saying the item to have is a scarf.  Specifically, the colorful scarf.  They were all over Europe last winter and the winter before, so sport one this season and, in America at least, you’re right on target.*  Don’t fret if you don’t already have one in your closet.  They’re easy to pick up.  Cruise your local mall, Hot Topic, Asian imports store, street market, or Target.  Head for the women’s accessories section and look for the pashminas.  That’s where they’ll be.  Yes, it’s secretly a shawl (it’s a rayon rectangle with fringe, after all), but women have been wearing them as around-the-neck scarves for years now, and men have been doing it in Europe for a few seasons, so go for it. 

From The Sartorialist - New York City, December 2008

There you have it, two very simple and inexpensive accessories that can keep you current in your classroom attire.  Hopefully painless to appropriate into your regular lecture ensembles, and definitely painless at check-out. 

*I’d love to be able to do some in situ research and report on current trends for those of you in Europe.  I’m free in January.  Place for me to stay, anyone?

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