24th April (the first day of term after the Easter Break, I return to work fashioned as, and by, Sarah).
8.15 am - On my way to work for the first day after the Easter holidays. I am wearing Sarah’s grey dress outfit. It was a last-minute change from the red top and brown skirt because I realised, when I put it on, that the red top needs washing. I tried to get my hair into a bun, but it's shorter than Sarah’s and is not staying put so, as instructed by her, I settled for a high ponytail, with my fringe pinned into a ‘small quiff’ her term. The kids were giggling at me, they think I look very different.
As I left the house, a neighbour went past. I immediately felt self-conscious upon realising I had to say hello and couldn’t hide. I’m going to feel like this all day.
I’m starting the day by dropping into a 9 am lecture for all final year students in the Media & Fashion Styling department, the course leader for BA Make-Up and Hair Design will be there, she is a good friend and will notice immediately a change in my appearance. I wonder if she will mention it.
I have just remembered that I need to have a visa photo taken today so this look will become recorded as part of that formal document. The Director of the International office where I need to pop into for the visa always notices what I wear. If she is there, I will feel uncomfortable. I’ve been asked to go to visit an institution in India that the University would like to set up a twinning agreement with for our fashion courses, in instances like that in which I am an ambassador for both the University and the subject of fashion, I think my ability to embody my fashion knowledge must matter and even be one reason I am asked to make visits such as this one.
I am particularly uncomfortable in the George by Asda cardigan I am wearing, it is a little pilled and not a shape I would usually wear, in fact, I rarely wear a cardigan for work as I think the connotations are too domestic and informal unless there is something in the design that elevates the garment beyond that.
10.30 am - Students I know well walked into the lecture this morning and didn’t recognise me from the back of the lecture theatre, I heard them saying ‘oh it’s Jennifer, it’s Jennifer.’
SL, my colleague, arriving before the lecture started, says to me before uttering anything else ‘oh you’re wearing a skirt, you never wear a skirt… and the glasses’, she’s thrown, but we have a room full of students, so she says nothing more. I feel self-conscious and stay behind the lectern whilst talking about graduate fashion week and my MA course, embarrassed that, unlike the room of students and my colleague (who is wearing a Comme des Garçons jacket), I don’t embody my fashion knowledge. I don’t feel credible in representing MA Creative Direction for Fashion & Beauty and wonder if the students are thinking that I don’t look like a fashion academic so they won’t bother considering the MA course.
LD enters the office and comments that I look ‘refreshed’ I am wearing little make-up and have my hair tied off my face, unusual for me.
11 am - SL comes into the office, I stand up,
she says ‘I like that dress’
me ‘do you?’
SL ‘yes it’s sexy’
This seems like an odd comment and I think she’s thrown by me looking so different.
12.00 - SM (Colleague) I didn’t recognise you, you look like a student
2 pm - RL (Colleague): did you have a nice break? You look about 12 (I’m sitting at my desk).
3 pm - I meet my line manager, he is always impeccably dressed and stylish. He doesn’t mention my appearance at all, but rarely comments on what I look like, perhaps as appropriate in his position, but I know he will have noticed. I feel uncomfortable, especially about the cardigan. I wait for him to perhaps ask about my glasses or watch, but he doesn’t.
By the end of the day, I have acclimatised slightly to my newly fashioned body and wonder how long it would take for this to become normalised within the eyes of others, for them to recognise it as me, and how assumptions about me may change or remain based on a sartorial shift.