Growing up, I was always fascinated by fashion. The art of it, the colors and the confidence clothes can give you. But I admit I didn’t always feel comfortable exploring all these marvels because I was the “bookish” quiet nerd (although close friends would say I was more sassy than quiet).
I didn’t like to stand out in groups and I thought that colorful and artful clothes would definitely get me noticed. So, I always went the muted way when I dressed. Never frumpy, baggy or even monotone mind you, but certainly not too colorful or adventurous. Jeans and T-shirts. Cute pastel tops. Jewelry was simple and included no statement pieces.
As I went to college, the urge to blend in stopped, probably because I was starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin. However, I also kept hearing that if I wanted to be taken seriously as a professional career woman (especially one in the sciences), I couldn’t really show that I cared about fashion or “looking pretty”. It would make me seem less serious and committed about my work… so I never put too much thought or effort into my clothing or accessorizing. Once again, I never looked unkempt but I also did not look like the next fashion guru.
However, in grad school, I realized that while I kept believing that I never let anyone influence my thoughts or opinions about life in general… I had indeed let the misconceptions about fashion and its standing with women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) guide my own behavior and perception of fellow women. I felt like a hypocrite and vowed to never do that again.
From then on, I have done my best to express my artsy fashionable side alongside my “sciency” side. I plan cute outfits with statement jewelry pieces and wear them every day to work. Granted, I can’t really wear open-toed shoes, sandals or gorgeous skirts and short dresses while working in a lab… but that doesn’t mean I can’t play around with other things ;-).
I also try to dress cute keeping a budget in mind. As a grad student I really never made any money, so finding inexpensive but cute and durable pieces of clothing became a fun adventure! You really don’t have to break the bank to look like a million buck$. Mind you, while I am not very good at thrifting or finding copy-cat deals of high-fashion items (that is Mandi’s amazing gift), I do collect as many coupons as I can and shop at inexpensive stores as often as possible. Also, once an item is in my closet, I try to wear it for as long as I can to make sure I get my money’s worth out of it.
Hopefully, Mandi and I can help more fellow readers (scientists or otherwise) realize that we don’t have to fit a predetermined mold. We can be both smart and girly, enjoying the reading of a fashion magazine as much as the reading of a scientific article. And it can all be done inexpensively. It’s all just about planning and bringing your confident self out to the light!
P.S. “Besitos” means” little kisses” in Spanish, or just “kisses” 😉