We’re Not Going Back to the Office Anytime Soon

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About a week before Christmas, one of my favorite people tagged me in a FaceBook post linking to this Washington Post piece on our collective pajama moment. She wrote:

I have recently had a clinical need to purchase nice pajamas — with button down tops. When I put on a new pair yesterday, I thought “Wow! This is a business pajama. Look at that gorgeous white piping around the collar and running down the placket. This is actually a PJ Blazer! I am ready to be taken seriously at my next meeting [with the nap chair].”

As I read it, I could picture my friend proudly stroking the piped lapels of what I could only think of as her Executive Pajamas. More importantly, I could visualize myself doing the same. As if compelled by the same clinical need, I started fantasizing about how productive I might be if I only had the right pajamas (which, in my case, are definitely this pair, reminiscent of my favorite tapestry at the Met — just in case anybody is in a post-holiday-buy-Jo-Ellen-a-present kind of mood). …

Casual Pants Take Their Star Turn

Amidst the uncertainty of last week’s nail-biter of an election, a new star emerged, complete with his own uniform. Steve Kornacki, dedicated worker of the big board on MSNBC, is now known the world over for his glasses, white shirt, striped tie, and belted khakis. Somebody on Twitter commented that fashion execs would be fools to miss the opportunity to market the “Kornacki Khaki.”

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MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki — and his pants — in action

Kornacki is not an overnight sensation; my family has been watching him on MSNBC for years. He has an affable, geeky charm. While he holds down the anchor desk — in a jacket! — perfectly well, he really shines when talking about election projections and returns. Unencumbered by a blazer, he shuffles between the touch-screen big board and his laptop, sometimes pulling out a series of phones or a pocket calculator, his hair flopping toward his eyes as he hunches over to crunch numbers that his producers have failed to update quickly enough and makes sense of incoming results for the anchors. Those anchors’ banter contributes to Kornacki’s image, as they declare themselves math-impaired and marvel at his ability to do simple arithmetic on air, then joke about either allowing him or forcing him to take a break and a nap. …

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Last week, I taught four different topics to four different sets of students. It was exhausting, it was a particularly contemplative week for me. It straddled Yom Kippur, followed closely on the heels of the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and marked the week that the winds brought extreme heat and smoke back to the East Bay, essentially trapping my family at home.

It was a tough week, and I was looking for some meaning.

It was no surprise that I found a clue in the main source of my exhaustion. A common thread presented itself as I talked about organizational culture to executive MBAs, presented a framework of leadership styles to a group of Saudi women in academic leadership positions, debriefed a negotiation with evening and online MBA students, and walked through the basics of corporate governance to an impressive group of women hoping to break into the ranks of corporate directors. …

The Setting Is the Message

Like you, I have been processing a lot over the past few weeks. The news cycle has been moving quickly, as it has seemed to for the past three years, accelerating since March of this year. 2020 is a steamroller that feels like it is rolling right over us, daily.

One topic I cannot let go of, however, is this summer’s political conventions. They are old news by now, the DNC having met from August 17th through August, 20th, and the RNC a week later. …

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Kamala Harris Disproves the Fake It Till You Make It Myth

At the urging of my friends, I have spent the week considering the meaning of Kamala Harris’s sartorial politics.

Harris’s suit game is strong. She keeps it simple: classic silhouettes, sharp tailoring, and a palette that stretches from black to charcoal all the way to light gray. She seems to prefer skirt suits but feels good in a pantsuit, too. She’s not afraid of a tonal plaid or a feminine touch, like a gentle peplum or an interestingly-collared blouse. She often sports not-quite-statement necklaces — not dainty, but not too heavy or long, pearls or dark beads (maybe black pearls?) …

(It’s not really hidden.)

Kamala Harris is a BOSS.*

*Who occasionally makes an off-beat choice. Like a BOSS.
**I also endorse this take.

Recently, I read this tweet:

I am here to take up the challenge.

TL/DR: Ivanka’s aesthetic is confusing because she doesn’t know what role she is playing or what image she ought to project. This is unsettling because, as somebody who sometimes, sort of, represents our country and sometimes plays at least a nominal role in its policy-making, she really ought to know what role she is playing and what image she needs to project.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I want you to consider: how do you know what to wear?

In day-to-day situations, how do you choose? How do you know whether to opt for an open-toed, high-heeled, strappy sandal or a sensible loafer? Whether a short skirt is acceptable? Whether you should wear a jacket? …

Nobody understands sartorial diplomacy better than the women of the British royal family. To wit: the leek brooch the Queen wore to the 2020 Trooping of the Colour, honoring the Welsh battalion performing the ceremony; the maple leaf brooch Kate Middleton wore on her 2011 and 2016 visits to Canada, adding a Canadian touch to her British-designed dresses; the British designers like Safiyaa and Victoria Beckham that Meghan Markle regularly wore to official events, highlighting her commitment to her new home. (OK, that last example is a bit more complicated, but the point stands.) …

Masks have had cultural resonance for decades. For centuries. For millennia. Forever? Probably.

The oldest known mask is a 9000-year-old stone affair, housed in a museum in Paris. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a smiley face and seems pretty harmless, happy even. Masks have been used by ancient cultures on every continent to express emotion, to use in ceremonies, to ornament, to hide one’s identity or assume another, and to intimidate enemies and protect one’s face in battle. We wear them to celebrate holidays like Purim and Halloween. …

I woke up on the 4th of July to this message from one of my most treasured *FaceBook friends:

So on the eve of our celebration of independence from the British, America’s first lady wore a British designer to the Mount Rushmore rally for her husband, the president of the United States, re-election campaign. I….. Like… I…. Can’t..

There’s a lot to unpack there. Let’s start with clarifying what my friend’s message was not: a fashion critique of Melania’s dress. While the interwebs had a field day with the white linen Alexander McQueen midi, my friend was unconcerned with the aesthetics of Mrs. Trump’s July 3rd look. …


Jo-Ellen Pozner

I’m interested in the intersection of politics, fashion, and meaning. Also, organizational misconduct and scandal. And bean-to-bar chocolate.

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