Dress Smart – dapperQ Academics

Inspired by “Black Dandies Fashion New Academic Identities,” our new series “Dress Smart” will be featuring masculine-of-center genderqueer and transmasculine dapperQ academics.

“‘Stylin’ out.’ That’s how Monica L. Miller, an associate professor of English at Barnard College, describes the way black people have used dress to expand definitions of blackness, gender, and sexuality. Men in particular have “styled their way from slaves to dignified human beings,” she writes in Slaves to Fashion (Duke University Press, 2009).
The first book-length study of black dandyism, Miller’s work is part of a growing scholarly interest in how clothes fashion our lives. It also signals the blossoming of black dandyism—fedoras, silk ascots, flashy socks—on the streets of major cities. Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Outkast’s Andre 3000 have made it cool to rap in Polo shirts, bow ties, nerd glasses, and boat shoes. The NBA’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant pull off dandyish without being pretentious. And now black dandyism is trending in the halls of academe.” – Stacy Patton via Black Dandies Fashion New Academic Identities.
In our fourth installment of “Dress Smart,” we’re showcasing the dapper stylings of first year medical student Mimi:

My name is Mimi and I’m a 23 year old genderqueer that was born and raised in the Midwest. I ventured off to NYC for undergrad, where I earned degrees in both Biology and Theology (I enjoy the history). I’m currently a first year medical student with hopes of becoming a back-to-basics kind of family physician – I want to make house calls, treat people from birth to old age, and restore the intimate physician/patient relationship.

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Outfit details
Blazer + Cords + Belt – J. Crew
Vest – Crewcuts
Shirt- Rugby (now defunct branch of Ralph Lauren)
Pocket Square Bandana + Tie (YSL)  – Thrifted
Glasses – Zagg by Warby Parker

Now for those who don’t know a whole lot about the culture in the medical community, it is still very conservative, especially at the physician level. There is a high degree of professionalism that is expected, and there are many schools/hospitals that have zero tolerance for certain appearances (no facial piercings, visible tattoos, unnatural hair colors, colored NAIL POLISH, just to name a few). I’m not condoning all of their limits on personal identity, but I understand the need to look professional in order to gain trust and respect from patients.

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Outfit details:

Blazer + Shirt + Pants + Tie – J.Crew
Brooch – Thrifted

Now going into medical interviews, I was warned by my dean of undergrad to ‘tone down’ my look as it may come across as unprofessional. In the end, I decided I should go into the most important interview of my life as 100% me. If the school can’t look past the fact that a female bodied individual is in a suit and rocking a faux hawk, I likely do not want to go to their school for 4 years and face similar discrimination anyway. With that said, I interviewed at about half a dozen schools, and was accepted into all of them. I was treated kindly at all of the schools, but in one rurally located school I could sense how uncomfortable I made some of the students.

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Outfit details
Blazer + Pants + Vest + Belt – J.Crew
Tie – thetiebar.com
Shoes – Cole Haan

I ended up at a school in a larger city, and it’s definitely one of the more liberal medical schools. I couldn’t be more happy with my decision, my gender presentation is a complete non-issue amongst my classmates and professors alike. In my limited clinical exposure it hasn’t been an issue amongst most patients. I’ll occasionally get asked questions about my hair or why I’m wearing a tie, but I’ve never been in a situation where a patient has been overtly disrespectful.

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Outfit details:
Blazer + Shirt + Pants + Belt – J. Crew
Pocket Square – Thrifted

I’d describe my personal style as ‘bold-preppy-sissy boy.’ I love mixing up a classic school boy look with bold patterns, pops of color, and the perfect detail that wraps it all together. Through the wonderful world of tumblr, I have a constant stream of menswear, fashion, art, and photography flooding me with inspiration for outfits. Color is something that has always fascinated me, and lacking any real artistic talent, I try to put together outfits that reflect a similar expression of emotion that art can so exquisitely prevail.

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Outfit details:
Blazer + Shirt + Tie + Belt – J. Crew
Pants – Land’s End
Silk Knot Cufflinks + Tie Bar – Thrifted
Watch Face – Michael Kors
Watch Band – NATO

Delving into a non-traditional gender presentation has some hurdles in its execution – primarily fit. There are currently very few companies that are tailored for FAAB dapper dandies; I do expect this number to grow in the future as there have been some successful kickstarter campaigns recently. Currently though, my primary strategy for tackling this issue is to try on a great deal of clothing from various companies and in different cuts until I find my golden egg. Once I’ve found that perfect pant or shirt, I pretty much remain loyal to it. For example, the best fitting chinos I’ve come across have been J. Crew’s Bennett Chino, of which I own 4 pairs of and almost exclusively wear on a daily basis.

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Outfit details:
Blazer + Shirt + Pants + Tie +Belt – J. Crew
Watch Face – Michael Kors
Watch Band – NATO
Pocket Square – Thrifted

I’d also like to say there is no shame in hopping from the women’s, to men’s, to boy’s sections of the same store – you are a hunter after your prey and you will scour the earth for it. Of course, all of this hunting takes a lot of stamina, body positivity, and time. However, once you find that specific cut that fits you perfectly, you are going to look and feel amazing. Most importantly you are going to be building a QUALITY wardrobe. I can’t emphasize the importance of investing in quality made, well fitting pieces enough. I would much rather wear the same cashmere sweater everyday in winter than have 3 different zip up hoodies to rotate through. You don’t need to change your wardrobe overnight, this all takes time and patience to mold it into the best it can be.

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Outfit details:
Jacket + Sweater + Shirt + Pants + Belt + Socks + Shoe Laces – J. Crew
Bow Tie – Everlane
Shoes – McAlister

Follow Mimi’s Tumblr to keep up with their style at Lover of Stories.

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