I find it often takes people by surprise when they discover I’m a mathematician AND fashionista.
It’s as if the two are mutually exclusive; as a mathematician, do they expect me to bolt out of bed at 3 in the morning, shrug on on a tweed coat and pajama pants, and run to the lab to frantically scribble proofs onto a blackboard, covering myself head to toe in chalk dust? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
In my experience, being a math nerd has only improved my sense of fashion. People forget that mathematicians? We’re good with patterns. It’s one of the reasons I struggle to wear solid colors alone. There’s just something so appealing about a patterned fabric, especially of the geometric variety. And if one patterned fabric is nice? Imagine wearing two!
Fashion is all about combinations and permutations of a (sadly) finite set of clothing (though I’ll admit that my set of clothes increases in volume at an alarming pace, with a steep slope post-Black Friday, when I have no self control, and tiny decreasing blips in the weeks after, when I sheepishly return a couple impulse buys).
This skirt and blouse? Two of my favorite Black Friday purchases. They are patterned fabrics, so an immediate pupil-pleaser in my eyes (pun intended), but they are also incredibly versatile and will contribute to many successful sartorial combinations in their future.
Going back to the topic of math fashionistas; I’ll admit, I did endure some minor hardships as a result of being both a woman in STEM and a women who puts a decent amount of effort into getting dressed in the morning. I got the impression during grad school that some fellow mathematicians thought less of my brain based purely on my appearance. And that can be discouraging.
But if you find yourself in similar shoes, don’t let it get to you. If they think mathematicians (or other brainiacs) can’t also be fashionistas (or in any way passionate about fashion/beauty), let yourself be a walking, talking counterexample! You exist, therefore you are. Q.E.D.