Friday, January 14, 2011

Dressing Like a Teacher

Self-Stitched in September 2010

The new spring / summer clothing catalogues have started to arrive and I am feeling terribly grateful that I can sew!
First through the door (well... actually stuck under the windscreen wiper of my car as the farm road is still impassable for Mr Postie) was Boden.
OMG - so much ugliness! I used to love their clothes - what are they doing? A mustard coat with fuschia pink piping? Prints that look like they belong on polyester/nylon in the mustiest heap at a jumble sale? The only item I could imagine wearing drew the following comment from FL: "She looks like a farrowing sow in that dress!" Blimey - and I thought I was bitchy sometimes!
Oh look - me in a White Stuff skirt!
Next to arrive: White Stuff. I own three of their skirts, a cardigan, a tank top and couple of l/s tees from a few years back.
To my eye, they are "old-style Boden" and the skirts especially have that "crafty" edge to them. But on one page there are three tunics in similar prints in the same palette and I can hardly tell them apart - I imagine you might "just" buy all three if you liked one of them and had the cash to spare.
My daughter flicked through the catalogue with a curled lip: "Teachers' clothes!" she said.
And she is right, of course. 30-something "trendy teachers" will lap this stuff up - all the thinking has been done for them: the print skirts are already co-ordinated with the tees, with the little cardis, with the "funky" scarves, the hippy-style jewellery. You can buy a whole outfit from one page and know you look a bit arty and child-friendly, but nevertheless "professional".
It is a very middle-class look. It is a look I am perfectly capable of loving... but find myself kicking against. It feels like giving in to something, buying into a "type". Like wearing a badge that says "Guardian reader".

And yet, in Self-Stitched September, I looked most like "me" in this style of outfit!
OMG: you can take the girl out of teaching, but you can't stop the girl looking like a teacher!
So my question to you is: should I embrace my natural leaning towards dangling earrings and slouchy boots, with appliqued skirts and crochet edgings? Or fight against it with wiggle skirts and back-buttoned blouses and high heels?
Or is my analysis all wrong, and are the three outfits above actually ironic 70's-influenced vintage looks?
Or am I just over-thinking (again)? Should I just wear what I like and not try to stick a label on it?

13 comments:

handmadehomeschool said...

Labels strangle us.

Go with what makes you into a better, happier, you-ier version of you.

Karie B. said...

Ahem .. cough .. I really like that mustard/pink coat. But it's the only Boden piece I like. I also do like White Stuff but only some of their things. I think if you were to wear ONLY their things, it could get a bit much.

Uta said...

I like those outfits very much, and I think they suit your looks. I think you should wear what you like, regardless if everyone else or no one else wears it, too! From what you're writing it doesn't sound as if you have a wiggle-skirt lifestyle, either...

tea and cake said...

erm, the very last bit you said.

Just go with what you fancy - if you feel great and you're comfy, too, then result!

feresaknit said...

You should just go with what feels right on the day - maybe most days you want applique/crochet edgings and then occasionally you want to get a wiggle on. Just be careful not to fall off the high heels! ;D

Lizzi said...

You are who you are - and some days it can be wiggle skirt whilst other times you are pure vintage or Boden in a box - what does it matter? - just be comfortable in your clothes and don't try to put a label on yourself or them. You are a highly individual lady with a fair bit of class so be proud of yourself!

Katherine said...

What Lizzi said. This 30-something librarian loves those outfits though!

Minnado said...

As a reformed ex-WhiteStuff shopper I laughed at your spot-on description of teacher-clothing, with a bit of self-recognition in there. I think Boden may have finally given up sending me their catalogues as I never buy from them. Those clothes do look really good on you in the pictures and wearble too. I think a bit of white stuff, a bit of fifties, what ever you want. It is good to have contrasting clothes for different days.
But I know what you mean about over analysing as I do that and I also (in my own head) label other people according to their clothes which I know I shouldn't...

bagqueen said...

I do like those outfits but I also like the wiggle skits and I think you just have to go with the mood of the day!! In the winter I often feel like wearing the smarter sharper looks that go with heels and lots of accessories but when the weather gets warmer I begin to lean to the more relaxed florally look, which can look as good wiwith flip flops or similar. So don't do a great wardrobe clear and think new year new me, I always regret that as my me changes with mood!!

christinelaennec said...

I think there's no point worrying about how you seem to other people - wear what you feel like wearing and what's comfortable. Express yourself (not someone else). Or should that be express your *selves*, depending on the day and mood. And I agree, how lucky you are to be able to create clothes for yourself. Follow your heart.

Kate said...

There really is not a single thing in the spring/ summer Boden catalogue that appeals. What is with all that fuschia pink? And those loud prints? AIGH. I think you should wear whatever pleases you, and is fit-for-purpose.

Roobeedoo said...

So... "a little of what you fancy does you good"? Thanks everyone! I hadn't realised I might have come across as having a crisis of confidence until I read some of your comments. I think I like to have a "uniform" and for a while I thought this might be "vintage" rather than "boho teacher", because I felt the need to choose between them. But from what you have written, I can see I need to cut myself some slack and just be who I want to be on any given day - that sounds like fun!!!

Scruffybadger said...

I've been away for a few days & whilst I have kinda missed the boat I think you have summed it up - wear what you feel like. I know it's helpful to have a uniform, & there's always going to be certain things that will only be part of a certain look. I get the feeling that like me you have a more formal work wardrobe, & then "comfy casual attire". I find it hard to mix items up between the two, but am trying to more by restricting my colours. Doesn't always work & I do stray, but I seem to have the odd day when my casual look is a bit smarter or I am a little more comfy for work!