Our Emotions, Our Dress, Our Work
Welcome back to Notes from the Field, the column that takes you into the hearts and minds of those laboring away in the trenches of Fashion Studies!
This issue brings us two reports from scholars working within the academic system, both of whom have found ways to use that structure to think more personally about fashion, dress, history and psychology. In reading through them both, we as editors are left thinking about the deep connections between our emotions, our dress, and our work. Both accounts grapple with the process of creating and presenting fashion research from an intimate emotional perspective, and we think you’ll enjoy the authors’ honesty.
Contributor Rebecca Smith takes us through her graduate research into fashion and the idea of flourishing or wellbeing (or what she sometimes just calls ‘happiness’). Using the IPA method, she conducts interviews with six subjects about clothing that makes them happy; however, she soon realizes that she herself could be considered a seventh subject, as her own experience of dressing for the interviews casts light upon the topic.
FSJ Editor Sara Idacavage took off this summer for a three-week teaching tour of southern China and lived to tell the (compelling, multi-faceted) tale. Sara was recruited for her expertise in fashion history, but found herself experiencing Imposter Syndrome, wondering why she’d been chosen in the first place and how she could live up to the expectation that she could enlighten students from the other side of the world in just a few hours of lecturing or workshop time.
Despite the significant differences in the content of these pieces, I was struck by the similarity in how open both authors were in discussing their feelings about the work they do. We know that we bring so much of ourselves to research and teaching (not to mention writing), but both of these articles do a wonderful job of triangulating the self, the work, and dress practice. Where Rebecca found herself worrying about what to wear to her interviews, Sara discovered that language barriers required her to physically act out how it probably felt to wear certain historical garments in daily life.
These two writers are unafraid to look directly at the more difficult side of academic work: the part that forces us to ask continually if we’re good enough, if our ideas are worth sharing, if we can perform to the standards set before us. I think you’ll appreciate the candor with which they speak about two very different experiences, both requiring more of them than they may have predicted when they signed on. And remember, if you’ve got a personal narrative about your own work in or around fashion, please think of Notes from the Field as a potential place to work it out among friends and sympathizers!