How to Dress Better as a Guy

One of the biggest roadblocks I run up against when advising guys on fashion is the idea that dressing well is somehow at odds with the rest of their lifestyles. Guys will claim that they’re too busy and poor to shop for new clothes. Or that they’re math grad students. Or that they live in San Francisco, where blazers are only worn ironically. But dressing well is not fundamentally about buying expensive brands or donning outlandish getups. I firmly believe that you can wear a hoodie every day and look put together, so long as it’s 1) the right fit for your body type and 2) of a consistent formality with the rest of your outfit.

I mention fit first because it’s both obvious and difficult. Style blogs hammer on fit. Men’s magazines hammer on fit. Yet fit is often hard to distinguish. Where is the line between body-skimming and skin-tight? Where should the cuff of your pants hit your foot? And what about all those trends – the baggy jeans trend, the oversized sweater trend, the boyfriend shirt trend – that seem predicated on, if anything, anti-fit? Read the rest of this entry »

Good Girl Gone Bad

Recently I’ve been asking a question that always takes my friends aback: am I a good girl or a bad girl? In asking, I never define the terms, so my poor respondents are left considering the vast social and sexual minefield between good and bad. The guys I ask, in particular seem to have been brought up thinking bad girl equals slut, but the idea I’m trying to get at is broader – who am I? What defines me? Am I an academic achiever? New York review of books reader? The girl who has a Github repo or the girl who has a social skills blog?

As expected, the responses I receive depend heavily on the context in which I know the person. People I pset with or lecture to will unequivocally say good girl. People I’ve met at parties or hostels will qualify that. My closest girlfriends laugh, and given the number of conversations we’ve had under the influence of Cards Against Humanity, I forgive them. One friend says I’m a good girl pretending to be a bad girl pretending to be a good girl, which is just aphoristic enough to be right. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Good Girl Friends

This post is especially for girls in science, although the overall message is applicable to girls (and guys) in any field.

At Harvard, I studied math, statistics, and eventually computer science, all subjects with badly skewed gender ratios and a preponderance of ego. With the exception of my roommates, the majority of my closest friends were male – guys I’d met debugging race conditions, solving birthday problems, proving NP-completeness. This phenomenon was further compounded by my primary choice of extracurricular, The Salient, Harvard’s ever-beleaguered conservative newspaper, where the total female membership rose to two my senior year (the other being our publisher’s girlfriend).

Over winter break, I went to visit a girlfriend of mine who was spending the semester in Paris. She was living in a tiny apartment in the third arrondissement with views over Le Marais. We spent our mornings taking walks in the Tuileries, our evenings half-assing pilates exercises. We ate breakfast at midnight. We made fun of our exes. The fact that I could count my girlfriends on one hand had never really bothered me – I was brash and frank in a way that bordered on unladylike, and had plenty of male friends and string of long-term relationships – but for the first time, I wished that I had more of them. Read the rest of this entry »

The Absentee’s Guide to Visitas

Were it not for recent shootings in Boston, yesterday would have marked the start to Harvard’s annual Visitas, a smorgasbord of events meant to titillate those prospective students not already titillated by the “Intro to Congress” cheating scandal, the faculty email scandal, and HUDS chicken francaise. While it’s unfortunate that the weekend has now been canceled, we can fill you in on some of the details. Prefrosh — what you missed!

The relevant point is that we have everything Yale has, plus science. Perhaps this matters little to you; perhaps you intend to curl up with Plutarch and Wittgenstein. But had you been my prefrosh, I would have advised that you at least sit in on a computer science lecture, maybe a class on abstraction with Greg Morrisett or an algorithms course with Michael Mitzenmacher. So many people realize junior or senior year that they should have studied computer science that it’s best to get the jolt early. Read the rest of this entry »

Freshman Fifteen

A little while ago, I was delighted to receive an email from a friend back home. She had been admitted to Harvard and wanted to ask me a couple questions. Amid mundane worries about the weather in Cambridge and about Harvard’s many course offerings were some more provoking in nature: How happy are you on a day-to-day basis? How often do you compare yourself to those around you? What advice would you give to a freshman entering college?

I want to touch on that last one because while advice is ubiquitous, it is often difficult to apply. “Start a fresh chapter,” people will say, or “be open to new possibilities.” What that means now in hindsight is change your name, cut your hair, and dump your boyfriend.

Life moves in limps and lurches. College, especially the beginning of college, is a sprint. And in the spirit of giving useful advice, here are fifteen actionable tips to help you run faster. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Camp

PRISE, Harvard’s undergraduate science research program, is full of smart kids, grant money, and cutting edge experiments. But deep down it’s still summer camp. And summer camp has always been a time-warped, over-sexed, over-scheduled version of real life. So there’s the quiz bowl, the mandatory celebrity lectures, the repetitive dining hall back-and-forths, the awkward allusions to instances of PRISE-cest. Go forth and cross-pollinate!

Summer camp is often a fascinating social skills incubator. You’re forced to meet a hundred supposedly like-minded individuals, socialize with them, and walk away co-authors. If you don’t, you suffer the consequences, which may include sitting alone in the cafeteria or “not having a good time.” Both are fatal.

But seriously. I read an article in The New York Times that reported a recent spate of mothers bringing their 12-year olds in for leg and bikini waxes as preparation for summer camp. I saw it and thought, that’s bullshit. If they need any preparation, it’s this: Read the rest of this entry »

Just Friends

A friend of mine, newly in a relationship, posed this question: how do you maintain friendships with members of the opposite sex when you’ve left the realm of singledom?

A lot of times, the short answer I hear is, “You can’t.” Romantic relationships are tough enough as it is; there’s no shortage of potential stumbling blocks even before you add in the cute gym partner. Toning down the friendships that your significant other might see as a threat seems only considerate.

But I disagree with the view that relationships should be ascetic. Having a boyfriend might mean no more food fights at the Delphic and no more sleepovers with the convenient grad student, but it doesn’t mean you have to sit at home and plead the fifth. Turning into a wallflower is the least constructive thing you can do because it makes both of you less interesting. Read the rest of this entry »