So, fashion. Or style. Or wardrobe. Or costume. What do we librarians wear, anyway, and why does it matter–if, in fact, it does? (Per usual, my discussion is pretty child and teen librarian focused. Allow me to wear my bias like a hot dog button on my sleeve).
For myself, I’ve been known to wear: book themed t-shirts, including Doctor Suess and Where the Wild Things Are; bunches of jelly bracelets (which kids love); sneakers with polkadot laces; and many, many cardigans. At work, my primary focus is comfort and being able to move in my clothes (can’t do storytime if you’re unsupported or your pants are too tight) with style coming in a close second. I feel that you need to wear clothes that you feel like yourself in, both physically and psychologically.
But I also feel, having worked with small children in one capacity or another since 2001, that we who work with children need to constantly work against the assumption that we are cheerful, paste-eating morons who do nothing but play with children (because, you know, playing is frivolous and does nothing to help children LEARN OR ANYTHING). This should be done mostly with what we say and what we do, but, frankly, we are constantly judged by how we look, especially if we are women. And if you’re fat or a woman of color? Good luck with that. (After all, it’s 2012, and we still have to put out things like a guide to writing about politics in a gender neutral way.)
Here’s the thing: we all work hard. Our work is important. We need to present as people who are to be reckoned with, who can’t be ignored or dismissed. If you can accomplish this while wearing costumes (superhero or otherwise), Hunger Games t-shirts, buttons, or vintage polka dots, then so be it. But in my opinion, it’s all proportional–the more quirky your appearance, the more rock solid your foundation needs to be–because people will always use your appearance–clothing, hair, skin color, and body type–to judge you and in some cases even dismiss you.
The thing that bothers me more than book earrings or pencil sweaters is looking like you don’t care. If you’re invested in dressing like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, and it works for your patrons, then own it. I guess what it comes down to for me is indifference. If you look like you haven’t thought about your appearance, and how you come across to your patrons, then you’re probably not that invested in what they want or need.
What do you think?