Tim Gunn on Academic Style & the lack thereof.

Project  Runway on Bravo has made Tim Gunn a celebrity.  And that seems to be a reason for the Chronicle of  Higher Education to interview him!  Well, never mind, he is fun.  And here are some fun bits:

Q You are a fashionable academic, which some might say is an oxymoron. As an insider, can you tell us what’s up with all the tweed in academe, and are elbow patches really ever in style?

A: I will say this: I believe if one is dressed neatly, and the clothes fit properly, and they’re well groomed, I think one can pull off any look. And I think that elbow patches, tweed, Henry Higgins sartorial look can be really dashing, if done right.

But for so many people in the academic world at large, I really believe that disdain for fashion is something that they are quite proud of, and that they want to demonstrate in what they’re wearing and how they’re wearing it. It’s a kind of an intellectual snobbery that says: My brain is important to me, and how I look is not, because it goes beyond the clothes. They’re poorly groomed, they’re schlumped over and practically drooling. I mean, I’m making some exaggerations here, but when I go to meetings with the rest of Parsons, I look around and think: Just comb your hair!

And just in case you think he’s just talking about the guys:

As another design field, I’ll use architects as an example. For the most part I really like the way men dress; it’s really minimalist. It’s that Helmut Lang, Jil Sander kind of look. But then there’s the grooming aspect. That’s when I want to say, Cut your nose hairs! It’s so distracting, it’s like, OK, yeah, the clothes work, but nothing else about this does. Women architects, of which we have a lot around Parsons, I mean, they all look like Jane Hathaway in The Beverly Hillbillies.

Q: Why do you think academics are so poorly dressed?

A: …within the design arena, let alone the wider academic world, fashion really is the F word. There’s this unwillingness to engage in any kind of fashion dialogue. It’s beneath them.

Q: But there must be some professors who are doing a good job. I mean, who would make your best-dressed list?

A: You can say you then heard deafening silence. …

When I think about people who teach and look great, they tend to be public figures who have another life but also teach. It’s not at all about, You have to wear this, you have to wear that. That’s why I say you can have the tweed jacket and the elbow patches and look great. It’s also about caring about having a personal style. I don’t know why we all don’t. I would think that you’d want to care.

Q: What are the classic mistakes professors make?

A: The grooming aspect for me is big, and it’s usually the hair. Everyone benefits from a good haircut. There’s this sort of woven-around-your-head rat’s nest that people do that goes back to: I’d rather read another chapter in this book than comb my hair and pin it up. I mean, we get it. But it would be nice to think you can do all of the above.

Thanks to the Philosophy Job Market Blog for the fun break.

Of course, another explanation might be this:  too many of us academics simply cannot conceive of how we look to others.  Might have something to do with lacking a full conception of other minds…  :)

Protect the right to vote!

Cara at Feministe has a great post on things you can do to help make sure that people are able to vote in the US election (if you’re in the US– sigh!), many of them from Color of Change. Here are a few– do them if you can!

1. Put the number 1-866-OUR-VOTE into your cell phone, write it down, or whatever works for you. This is the hotline to call if you have, witness, or hear about voting problems. A quick reaction to such problems is vital, so be ready in case something happens!

2. Make sure that you and those you know check their ballots and voting machines carefully to be certain the proper vote has registered. (I probably don’t need to remind you why!)

3. Don’t wear political gear, however tempting it may seem: in some places you won’t be allowed to vote if you do.

4. Sign up with CREDO Action to join the Immediate Response Network for Election Day. What does that mean? From their email:

Here’s how the program works:

Here at CREDO headquarters, we hear about an election protection emergency in [Your] County — say college students are being forced to wait in line for hours to vote, or pollworkers are requiring voters to present photo ID even though your state’s laws allow non-photo ID, like utility bills.
We’re concerned about these reports, but we want to make sure they’re true. So we vet and verify them through the media and our sources on the ground.
We send you a text message — a quick summary of the problem and an easy way that you can take action and make a difference. “Students waiting for hours at City Hall — bring pizza!” Or maybe, “Pollworkers illegally requiring photo ID — call Board of Elections!”
We’ll give you all the information you need to ensure your time is well used — for example, if we ask you to call your Board of Elections, we’ll text you the number to call. If you need to hurry to a hotspot to protest voter intimidation, we’ll text you the address. Chances are that we may not text you at all, but if we do, it will be because you have a real opportunity to protect voters in your county and in your state.

If you don’t have or prefer not to use text-messaging, you can also sign up for email alerts. This is something you most likely won’t be required to do, but could make a huge difference if necessary. Please sign up if you can!