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Monday, January 26, 2009

Foray into Fabulosity: The Accessories Issue

Continuation of previous post. It’s not like I have to search the blogosphere for help in achieving fabulosity. As I mentioned, my colleague Mary is fabulous (and scholarly too).

Another colleague, Dr. Z, in addition to being a wonderful writer and an untangler of the intricacies of literary theory, is very good at colors and proportions. In fact, the other day, she complimented me on my kelly green sweater (from Banana Republic last spring, marked down to $12.00 from $79.00. I should have seen the coming economic meltdown from the sale prices during that visit). She decided I was a “winter” and rushed to her computer to look up the other colors fitting my palette. She said that my course evaluations from students would go up if I wore less black and more color.

This advice goes along with Dr Z’s main criticism of me: that I am too melancholy, too negative. In fact, she and Mary had quite a laugh, when, in an effort to be upbeat, I said that something was a “no-lose” situation. I should have said “win-win.”

Perhaps this is why I enjoy teaching Milton, especially Paradise Lost. He is the master of the double and even triple negative. Here is a characteristic moment. When the Angel Raphael visits Adam and Eve to warn them about Satan (NOTE: this episode is not in your Bible, so don’t bother looking), he says “Know to know no more.” No. No. No.

Neither Mary nor Dr. Z hails from the South. I must admit that when I first came here, my clothes (mostly black, but I was younger then, so it was somewhat more flattering) caused some comment. Once, one of my students said, “Dr Frugal, why do women from the North look so plain and unattractive?” I replied that people from the North think that Southern women look too over-adorned. My students were shocked at that response. Perhaps this was their first lesson in multiculturalism.

I was discussing this issue years ago with my colleague and confidant G. He looked at me, and said—totally deadpan—“Perhaps you need to accessorize.”

I had forgotten this exchange until it was recalled by a witness, Bev, then an aspiring author and instructor, now a much-published author—with three novels so far and more to come. She said it was one of the funniest conversations she ever heard. Sadly, this episode has not made it into any of her books. Truly, I think it worthy of inclusion.

To continue with my use of the word “epitome,” Bev is the epitome of the Southern dresser. We both attended a conference a few years ago in Boston, perhaps the epicenter of the Northern fashion aesthetic. It was unseasonably cold. I felt right at home in my black ensemble and fuzzy boots. My hair, as always, was a mess.

There was Bev, shivering. She was wearing a turquoise ensemble, with matching turquoise shoes. The shoes were adorned with sparkles. Lots of sparkly jewelry too. Her hair, as always, was neat and blonde. We compared our outfits and she told me that she had to up the Southern look when she did public readings and book signings. Her novels are set in small Southern towns; I guess her clothes are related to “branding.”

So, in honor of my many role-models and advisers here and in the blogosphere, my foray into the fabulous will be an accessory: a tote bag. I actually need one.

This may be a long process, since I am a slow and waffling decision maker. Be on the look out dear readers. I need some help.


Duchesse said...

A lot the regional colour/neutral divide is about the quality of the light and intensity of the sun, not just the average temps. I worked in Spain for a few weeks, and brought casual skirts in coral, sapphire blue and jade green, colours I never wear here in eastern Canada. My colleague from Boston brought linen but in navy, black, brown. She looked (and felt) suffocated (but in Boston would have looked OK). She did some emergency shopping there!

I recommend the book "Forever Cool" by Sherrie Mathieson; best style book for my age and stage, loads of photos, and includes advice for guys.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Thanks for the book recommendation. It's not just the color that defines southern style (you do have a good point on that), but the level of done-ness--helmet hair lives here!

Thanks for stopping by.

Bev Marshall said...

Well, Dear FS, I finally read this post as I'm surfing the web to avoid revising my novel. Rest assured. If ever a Yankee appears in one of my books, it will include the conversation with G. in the faculty lounge . . . and I'll probably throw in a smart sexy woman wearing black in your honor. I love your blog!!