My sister, aside from being one of my best friends in the whole world and completely adorable, is exceedingly well-educated. She has a BA from Harvard, a JD from Berkeley, and an MSW and PhD from Berkeley too. As you might expect, her work involves other extremely well-educated people. And, in fact, in her new job she is supervising PhD students.
She called me the other day and said, “I’m dropping [x=10x cute daughter] off at Dad’s house and I should be free at 12:30 and will have about 2-3 hours. Can you meet me at the shopping center? I need clothes for the new job.”
As you can imagine, I met her there. We ran through Nordstrom and Banana Republic, at top speed. She had made the tour of J. Crew a few days before. And here’s what she came up with.
If we deconstruct, this says, I am a manager (I wear a jacket), I am professional and in the mainstream (Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kate Spade), but I am just a little bit alternative, a little bit counter culture (the shoes). That’s appropriate for graduate students in social work.
The deconstruction strikes some as complicated, or having a dress code. It might be complicated, but there’s no code. It’s just the High WASP highly-sensitized social signaling function. You want to make clear who you are and what you are doing, but you don’t want to offend anyone. You really don’t want to offend anyone. Said out loud, it sounds intricate. Lived, it feels articulated. Right.
BTW I left out all the periods in the degrees because it was just way too many…