Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nerd Journal: Going Retro at the Next Nerdmoot

Just how far can I push the envelope of attire at Nerdmoots -- I mean, academic conferences and conventions? Every time I go to a Nerdmoot, I see mobs of dowdy she-nerds in boring gray/brown/black/navy blue suits and skirts -- which are too often paired with boring flat shoes or, even worse, "grandma"-type shoes (you know what I'm talking about, don't you?)

Anyway, I think I told you about the time I showed up to give a paper at Nerdmoot -- wearing the only red suit in a roomful of gray, black, and brown. That in itself was pretty awesome, even if the paper itself was only OK.

I'll be off to a Nerdmoot in the spring, so I'm thinking ahead because I don't want to think about how, right now, outside, the weather is FREEZING. So! I'm thinking about going retro at the next Nerdmoot. I'm thinking about THIS:

Ignore the silly blonde's equally silly pose. Imagine how fun this 1950s-inspired outfit could be. Navy blue with that crisp white trim! Now, navy blue IS a "professional" color, but the the little bit of white, especially at the double neckline, makes this dress worth looking at. And maybe even worth looking at twice.

As for what else, I'm thinking white Mary Jane or T-strap high heels and classic retro Hollywood red lipstick and maybe even nail polish (I almost never bother with the stuff, though, because I type so much on my laptop that it chips almost immediately). Finally, as the song says, you're never fully dressed without a smile. (Or a sassy attitude.) Oh, and add a stupid conference name tag too, hahaha. Anyway, I refuse to be a venomous harridan at Nerdmoots. (During the work week on campus, in the Classrooms of Whiny Undergrads, and in the Library of Doom, though . . . That's a different story. Today I am actually VERY harridan-y.)

California Dreamer and I have been cheerily pushing the envelope of Nerdmoot attire for quite a while now -- and it has been FUN. Last time I wore tall black high-heeled boots and she wore peep-toe black pumps with tiny white polka dots. The shoes totally made our otherwise "normal" outfits stand out from the crowd. If clothes make the man, then shoes make the woman!

It reminds me of some very cool professional-fashion advice that California Dreamer and I got at a Nerdmoot long, long ago from a Greek woman professor who was dressed in a way that was both professional and very beautiful. She turned heads, seriously. Dreamer and I were thinking, how does she *DO* that? Then we happened to be all in the elevator together, and she turned to us and said you're both so lovely, but why don't you dress to show that off? That business outfit doesn't do much for you. OK, I admit, I was a little taken aback by this! We replied rather lamely that we had tried to dress like professionals (in our standard, boring businesswear). Oh, no, NO, she said, smiling. Remember, you are a woman first and then you are a professional. Never forget that you're a woman. And that it's a glorious thing too.

It was the best piece of advice we'd gotten in along time, actually. Even since then, it's been much more enjoyable to dress for Nerdmoots! It was a revelation: We DON'T have to dress in boring androgynous dark suits to be professionals! We can have some fashion fun too! I think, though, I'll be setting some new standard for attempting to wear a wiggle dress to a Nerdmoot, but what the hey! Life is short, and as you've all figured out by now, I totally don't believe in conventional wisdom.

UPDATE: The voluptuous Opera Diva has joined the happy fashion revolt, and she goes even farther. The Opera Diva insists on adding ... seamed stockings. Yowzers! She then commented that all of us together just might cause little old nerds to have heart attacks and keel over. And then we can take their teaching jobs, hahaha!


lumpy said...

As a fellow nerd, I applaud this revolution, this liberation in the attire of she-nerds and fully support your plan to get she-nerds to attend nerdmoots looking se-(cough)sharp. Looking sharp. Right.

Viva la révolution!

Mad Minerva said...

There's nothing that can be done for aging, bitter old first-wave feminist academics (one of whom, I swear this is the truth, came up to me and started gabbling about her glory days at Berkeley in the 1960s -- while I tried not to roll my eyes, but I think she was kind of tipsy at that Nerdmoot reception. But really? It's 2009. MOVE ON, ALREADY), but there are glimmers of hope for my generation maybe!

And if we drive a few humorless old bats crazy along the way, that's a bonus!