This September I will be starting my MFA program at Rutgers University. Some people already knew that because the day I found out I spammed my friends and family with messages, but incase you didn't know, I am a graduate candidate in their costume design program.
I am excited and a little apprehensive about returning to academia. Will I be able to get back on the proverbial bike and will muscle memory keep me upright? Lucky for me it's not an actual bike because I, unlike the rest of the world, have forgotten how to ride one. (I've tried and ended up on the curb with scrapes and such)
All two wheeled contraptions aside, I've been pondering what it will be like to go back to school recently because I received my first assignment! I have been assigned to design "Love and Intrigue" by Friedrich Schiller.
My thoughts were as follows:
"What am I doing!??"
"Ooooh 19th century history!"
"Opens October 31st...Halloween"
"I'm going to have to budget...where did I put my calculator?"
"Email the director!"
There were many other thoughts, but these sum up most of my emotions. I am looking forward to working with the director, a faculty member who specializes in theatre history during the time the play was written. I am also very excited to delve into some historical research. (That is one thing I LOVED during undergrad, did you know I took a European History class for "fun" my senior year?)
So, now you are up to date.
Heading into grad school I will have very little time of my own, so I have been pondering ways to make the most of the time I have. In undergrad I was pretty efficient with my time, but there is always room for improvement. I have been out of the academic sphere for two and a bit years, so getting back in the groove may take some practice.
These are the tips I have used and found to help me dominate my work load and still have time to workout and have a healthful dinner (that I cooked):
1. Get a planner
Have a decent sized planner that has monthly and weekly views with enough room to write in assignments and appointments. These can run the spectrum of style and price. Find one that you like and will use. It's no help if you won't use it.
Don't forget to schedule some "Me" time into your calendar day. It may seem counter intuitive to take time out of your day to "relax", but we are not the Energizer Bunny. Scheduling your down time gives you something to look forward to and keeps you on task while you're working.
2. Color code
I have a color for different classes, jobs, etc. This color coding spans all my devices and the aforementioned planner. Carrying over the color coding helps keep your times organized and happy!
Bonus: I pick my favorite colors for my favorite things. (ie: I love history, so my history classes are usually in the blue and teal family) But, you could also color code by how you need to feel about a topic (ie: need to stay awake during English Lit? Make all your stuff red or bright pink.
3. Schedule in breaks
There were many times in undergrad when I would sit down to an assignment and find myself getting sluggish towards the end of it. Schedule in quick five minute breaks to walk around, clear your brain, and grab a snack. Boggy brains = boggy renderings/designs!
4. Remember "NO" can and should be in your vocabulary
You can't usually say "NO" to assignments, but you can say "NO" to a late week night Buffy marathon. Your body will thank you. Besides, Buffy will be their waiting with her vampire whooping self to reward you after you ace that design presentation.
"NO" can also be said to people who ask for you to add and add to your workload. I know you may really want to do that pro bono design for your old high school, but take a minute to look at that color coded calendar. Does it look like a rainbow, maybe passing this time is a better idea for you and your school. Tell them, "Thank you for thinking of me, but I would not give you the design I know I am capable of or that you deserve. I'd love to possibly design for you in the future, but right now is not a good time for me." Everyone is still friends!
There are many apps and sites that also have tips and tricks to keep you organized and ahead of the clock. I've read that there's even a site you can access that will block your Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or other time stealer for a set time so you can GET STUFF DONE! I've never tried it, but things like that exist for us. Take advantage of the technologic advances to help you.
This is a mock-up of a chemise/pannier "under suit" for an upcoming production at the theatre I am currently working for. I spoke previously about the trend of panniers including their run in the 1920's here on my blog.
The 20's panniers sit lower (below the hip) than the 1700's versions, so I wanted to attach them to a chemise-like slip that the actress can wear under her costume. Since creating this piece I have been fascinated with the resurgence of panniers in the Roaring 20's. Despite the fashion trend of shorter skirts and less waist definition, panniers snuck their way into the fashion of the elite.
Upon more research I finally uncovered the skeleton of the trend; what these 20's panniers looked like. Surprisingly they appear rather light weight and very simple compared to their earlier ancestors. Below is an example of Warren's panniers found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). I created my "under suit" before finding this reference piece. It is only a mock up so I may change over to this style of underpinnings instead. We shall see.
I also learned the name of the French designer who created the robe de style as her signature dress; Jeanne Lanvin. Many other couture houses picked up the trend, but Lanvin is most noted for her use of the silhouette. Many examples of House of Lanvin's robe de style can be found in the Met collection.
When most women showing up to a party or high society event were wearing the custom low waisted chemise dress, one can imagine walking in with this new trend would get a lady noticed. This "anti-flapper" dress as it has been nicknamed by some, makes quite a statement in an era when sleak was chic.
I hope you enjoyed learning about this trend of the 20's. The next time someone has a "Jazz Age" themed party you may decide to try this style to stand out from the crowd?