Accidental Icon: A Sensory Shift
I recently did an interview for a Japanese website for working women. The interviewer asked me if I had any advice for women who were nervous to take risks in their workplace with fashion. It was a good question and caused me to think about how I do in fact get away with dressing the way I do in the hallowed halls of academia. I realized that a big part of it relates to color, or in my case the lack of it. Colors like anything else bring up a number of associations for the viewer. While some schema may be universal, for example blue is calming, most colors invoke personal meanings. These meanings depend on the person's positionally; race, religion, culture, ethnicity, gender, citizenship and so on.
I think because I wear black and white I can get away with a great deal when it comes to cuts, drapes and silhouettes. Black is the color of judge's robes, academic gowns, religious and clerical attire. The color black, often paired with white, conveys a sense of seriousness. It is somber and suggests there is important work going on. I think this suggests to my students a kind of formality, that I consider what we do in the classroom to be of great importance. Each of my outfits for the three days I teach this first week of the new semester will be black and white for this reason.
Something has shifted in the last week in that I seem to be much more acutely aware of color when it comes to all things outside of my clothes. I have been yearning for it. Perhaps it has something to do with the grey of winter. There is a sensory shift that has happened where I see color first, then the details of an object or a place. This is a change for me. I like it. I have walked by this restaurant in my neighborhood hundreds of times without thinking and this week the color took my breath away.
So the next time an interviewer asks me why I never seem to wear colors I can say, " I don't WEAR color but when I walk by color it surrounds me like a beautiful coat."