Dress Like an MFA in Three Steps (or Fewer)

So you’ve made it. You’ve entered a graduate writing program. Now it’s time to distinguish yourself. Get noticed as a poet, a novelist-in-training, a somebody who thinks deeply about soda pop and sidewalks—a writer! It’s time to perfect your style.

No, I’m not talking literary bravura. Because let’s face it, beyond sympathetic faculty and haggard editors, no-one will ever read your existential groundhog vignettes. And so much the better. The best way to cultivate writerly cred amongst peers and acquaintances is not to be read, after all. Your most direct route to fawning admiration is, rather, a poetic wardrobe.

So, here are three fashion tips to help you exude literarity:

1) “Beauty is twice beauty” in ode-worthy footwear.

Before you put anything on your feet, ask yourself: “Would Neruda write a poem about these [socks]? Are these [boots] ode-worthy?” (Ladies, interrogate your accessories similarly.) Trendy items are, of course, exceedingly unpoetic. In fact, anything you might see crossing campus should be ruled out immediately. Leave Uggs to the plebes, and get yourself some classic yellow rain boots, cowboy eel-skins, or purple houndstooth slippers with mismatched holiday socks.

2) “If there be nothing new,” shop Goodwill!

A surefire way to avoid ordinary attire is to haunt thrift stores. The mustier, the better. Try not to buy anything manufactured in the recent past. If you must wear “new” clothes, however, at least you can be sure they are donated overstock or factory rejects. In any case, Goodwill is a treasure trove a-twinkle with grandfatherly jackets, dye splotches, and gauche frills. But remember, you’re not a flaky painter or a musician, man. So keep it sophisticated. The successful writer’s wardrobe says, “I’m oh so literary—but not in that frumpy MA way.”

3) “No more uncoloured than unmade, I fear, can be this garment.”

You’re not a beatnik, I hope, so wear colors. And attend to your color schemes.
You’re probably some version of a post-post-modern, or an ‘experimental’
something-or-other, in which case, you might consider anti-coordination: teal
with orange, pink with green, etc. What would Borges do? If you’re a realist, a
formalist, or otherwise traditional, try browns and lumber-jack plaids.

Finally, don’t expect your sexy new M-F-Attitude to get you out of traffic tickets, but be content in the assurance that people will know you’re a writer. You might even get a pass for social awkwardness. And otherwise, well, you’ll have spectacular boots.

Meaghan Russell was just startled by a boxelder that flipped from her poetry notebook, unfazed, and without comment. She wears boots.

One thought on “Dress Like an MFA in Three Steps (or Fewer)

  1. Pingback: Cheap Foods that Will Invigorate Your Writing! |

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