November 27, 2012

Dress for Success, Trustee Style

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This article is a MUST READ for any tenacious student, staff or faculty member who desires to go the extra mile to make a good impression. Yes, your C.V. (résumé) matters, and of course you should practice furnishing witty, laconic and fluid responses to thorny questions, but another absolutely essential aspect of professional presentation is extensive knowledge of etiquette for attire. As a trustee — one who must constantly serve as a paragon of professionalism in dress — I feel it is my privilege, nay, my duty and honor to share my far-reaching understanding on this subject with the Cornell community.Don’t be fooled! While the power-blue pin-stripe suit, matched with a freshly starched ivory or ecru shirt and a well-paired tie can take you far, it may not be appropriate throughout the year. Emily Post’s guide to etiquette (17th edition, p. 56) reminds us that it is no longer the color, but rather the weight of the fabric that determines whether your outfit is seasonally suitable. There is nothing more seasonally fitting, between now and winter break, than the hideously ugly holiday sweater.With any luck, the invitations to holiday gatherings are already piling up in your inbox. Before you respond, please ensure that you are prepared to enter that function exuding all the opulence and grace that attends an appalling and repugnant knitted pullover. From my all-embracing knowledge of etiquette and experience sporting professional apparel, I offer the following sure-fire suggestions for making a stunning impression with a monstrous holiday sweater:1. First and foremost, the lurid and unseemly garment must complement your demeanor. The whole idea behind the unprepossessing holiday sweater is that it facilitates your engagement with others. If you are a gentle introvert, think about a subdued color scheme, a tame pattern and few frills. If you, however, are a boisterous, gregarious socialite, choose an equally loud sweater.2. Don’t underestimate the importance of the back-story. Plenty of websites offer intentionally beastly attire. Show some self-respect and avoid purchasing online. When other party guests incredulously question you about your knitted monstrosity, you want to have a tale about fighting over the $2 deal at the Salvation Army with an 80-year old woman. Of course, the best back-story is if you actually received the sweater as a gift, but we can’t all have moms like Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter.3. Color scheme. This is a tough one. While you may be tempted toward the typical holiday hues, do not neglect the possibility of making a statement with less traditional shades. The goal here is to shun the banal and insipid tones while still avoiding the impression that you are celebrating Christmas in the Caribbean, covered in pastels. Save the Easter-egg pink for the spring; any deep, royal colors will likely suit you well.4. Message. It is difficult to balance political correctness and inclusivity with the disastrous possibility for mixed metaphors. Unless you think you can tactfully explain the juxtaposition of the Star of David and a menorah next to ears of corn and a kinara (Kwanzaa), or the Arabic script of an Eid prayer mingled with a cross and eight tiny reindeer, perhaps you should just cut your losses and choose a single holiday. You could always have more than one sweater.5. Fit. As much as I am a supporter and aficionado of metro-sexual attire, I would recommend passing up the European slim-fit look when sporting your loathsome holiday sweater. This particular garment was made to have a looser feel. Having said this, avoid urban-thug bagginess as well. Just because it has a likeness of jolly St. Nick plastered on the front does not mean it needs to be sized to fit the white-bearded head elf.6. Patterns vs. solid colors. Of course, patterned sweaters introduce a little more flair (professors, consider the argyle cardigan, it just screams academia), but harkening back to the first point, the pattern (or lack thereof) you choose depends on your disposition and how daring you are. Be ever conscious of the traditional rules for wearing horizontal and vertical lines, depending on the aspect of your physique you seek to highlight with your garish attire.7. Accessorize! Please avoid blinking lights as part of your sweater; save that for the ground effects on your aftermarket lowered hot rod. You can (and should!), however, complement your sweater with myriad holiday themed items (e.g. tinsel, garland, silver and gold bangles and bracelets). Chains are okay, but don’t let it interfere with the main attraction; the huge dollar-sign or clock around your neck should not cover Rudolph’s beautiful vermillion muzzle, embroidered delicately into your cardigan. If you really want to make a statement, go for the St. Lucia-esque accessory by wearing a wreath with lit candles as a crown.While I could continue at length, I hope I have set you on a path to brightening others’ holiday seasons with innovative fashion tips. Remember, I am always available via e-mail to discuss exceedingly important trustee matters, including seasonally appropriate attire.

Darrick Nighthawk Evensen is a graduate student in the Department of Natural Resources and the graduate student-elected trustee. He may be reached at dte6@cornell.edu. Trustee Viewpoint appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Darrick Nighthawk Evensen