As a short lady myself, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration from other petite bloggers. I’ve decided to launch a series of guest posts from some of my favorite pint-sized peers, with each of them tackling an aspect of getting dressed when you’re vertically challenged. First up is one of my closest blogger buds, Emily from Thoroughly Modern Emily. Her clothing style is both so classic and so fun, and her writing style is such a treat to read! Here’s what she has to say about her style evolution:
Hi! I’m Emily from Thoroughly Modern Emily, and it’s my great pleasure to write for one of my favorite blogs (and bloggers!) today! I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for so long, and am continually in awe of Devinne’s photography skills and the thoughtfulness with which she writes about an enormous range of topics.
Here’s my lightning-round introduction: I’m a recent-ish Chicago transplant who spent most of her twenties in grad school for political science. I’m also the world’s biggest Star Wars fan, a voracious reader, a space-race and Cold War nerd, and a huge fan of full skirts.
This photo combines two of my favorite things: stripes and an actual Apollo capsule!
I’m also a total motormouth and Abuser of Exclamation Points, but I’ll try to keep that under control. Today, I’m excited to share some of my thoughts about dressing/living in the world as a petite woman with all of you.
As a political theorist by training who specialized in political ethics, I spend far too much time thinking about the ethical implications of quotidian actions. (Wow, even bringing up my academic alter-ego has me dropping the $20 words like they’re going out of style!). As a style blogger and unrepentant clotheshorse, I also spend tons of time thinking about what I’m wearing and what I’d like to be wearing. Naturally, these two trains of thought overlap from time to time. I’ve written about my desire to be a more ethical shopaholic on my own blog, and have been trying to walk the walk and live by the principles I set out there.
One thing I’ve always been hyper-aware of is the assumptions others make about me based on what I’m wearing. Sadly, as a petite woman who has looked quite a bit younger than her actual age for her entire life, I’m used to being underestimated. As a teaching assistant and later a professor, I’d generally get one or two audible, incredulous “that’s the TA/professor?!?” outbursts a year on the first day of class. It was as if they couldn’t believe someone who looked like me could possibly be qualified to teach an undergraduate political science course.
So, when I was 23 or so, I started to dress more and more formally in an attempt to put a stop to those comments. I’d wear heels when handing back graded papers, and rather severe dresses from J. Crew and Banana Republic whenever I went to campus. It wasn’t especially effective, even as I approached my 30th birthday.
This was my ‘first day of school’ outfit in September 2014, and a handful of students were still surprised that I was the professor. Um, how many college kids wear dry-clean-only dresses?!?
This dress was a starting player in my teaching-wardrobe lineup. I’m wearing my hair up here, even though I hate it, because long hair is ‘not professional.’
Recently, I’ve begun to really resent the fact that young (and especially, petite) women have to dress extra formally in order to be taken seriously. It’s been shown that people are more likely to give men the benefit of the doubt than women, and will rate men as more competent than women even when all else is held equal. I’m really tired of bending over backward to demonstrate my competence to people who see my gender, age, and height and draw erroneous conclusions. As I’ve felt more comfortable in my new job, I’ve allowed myself to give in to my indignation and dress more authentically. And it feels great.
I started off by letting my hair down (literally)…
…Then introduced bright red and a subtle novelty print…
…and a bright-red lip…
…until I finally felt like myself!
I wish I could leave it at that, but I know that people will still make assumptions about my abilities simply because I’m a young-looking, diminutive woman who smiles a lot. All I can do is keep on being as awesome as I can, and work toward disrupting assumptions about what competence, strength, and intelligence looks like.
It’s Devinne again–if you’re a petite blogger and would like to write a guest post for this series, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!