“You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down.” -Unknown
A couple of months ago, we joined a campaign meant to bring together influencers of two different demographics, millennials and the fierce 50 women. The campaign is called “Bridging the Gap” and the inspiration behind it was that we are stronger together and age gap lines can be blurred by building authentic bonds with a partner in the other demographic in order to form a reciprocal mentorship. This spoke to us because it’s similar to what Chelsea and I do, but on a larger scale. With our own 10 year age gap, we love sharing different ways a style or piece can appeal to our separate demographics. We were excited to meet our new partner and even more excited when we found out we’re in the same career field in our real life jobs. Let us introduce you to Dinah of Stylish Professor.
TDD: Dinah, we are grateful for the opportunity to get to know you a little better and share what it’s like for a Fierce 50 woman to take on social media influencing as successfully as you have. So what inspired you to create Stylish Professor?
SP: About 4 years ago, I was in my mid-40’s with a young child. I was feeling stuck in “mom mode” with respect to my appearance and began browsing style blogs for relatable fashion ideas. That led me to Instagram, where I discovered an entire community of teachers who were also busy moms yet still wanting to dress well. It just grew from there, I started interacting with others on IG and sharing my own outfits. I’m a little shocked at how much its grown, given that I don’t have a blog, don’t do affiliate links, etc.
I’ve always been interested in clothes and love to dress well. My entire career has been in academia, where honestly, faculty members don’t exactly have a reputation for style. I’ve tried to show that you can be both stylish and a serious academic at the same time.
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” -Oscar Wilde
TDD: Now it seems we’re seeing as many strictly social media influencers as we are bloggers. Tell us a little about what led to your decision to stick solely with social media instead of creating a blog?
SP: It’s totally a practical decision. I just don’t have time, and I really don’t have anything to talk about in a blog! I am a married working mom of a 10 year old son who is in all kinds of activities. I’m a psychology professor and my work requires some evening commitments. And, I am the guardian for my disabled mother, so my “sandwich generation” duties take a great deal of my time. I do well to snap an outfit photo most days!
TDD: Makes total sense and it’s admirable that you fit all of that in and still find time to inspire others with your #ootd shots! So if you did have a blog and an “About” page, what would it say?
SP: I am a just-turned-50 year old wife, mother of a 10 year old son, and psychology professor at a small liberal arts university. I call myself a “late bloomer” – I did not marry until I was 39 and had my son at 40. I’m also 6’1 and love being tall! I don’t shy away from heels and love dressing to accentuate my height.
Stylishprofessor is my attempt to demonstrate that style and professional academics don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
TDD: Where do you see the future of Stylish Professor?
SP: Simple- I just intend to keep posting outfits and building relationships within the instagram community. I have met some amazing women and made a number of good friends who have become like sisters to me. I’m not in this to make money, woo collaborators, any of that.
Share your unique philosophy on style.
My style is eclectic. I like to dress to emphasize my height (I’m 6’1). I also like to dress very professionally, but incorporate trends. In general, I don’t think women should be slaves to “rules” – what’s too young or old, what is past season, etc. Wear what you like and what looks good on you. We all make fashion mistakes, but that’s part of the fun of learning about your personal style. My style is very relatable – most of my clothes come from TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, Target, Old Navy. I don’t believe wearing expensive items necessarily translates into style.
TDD: Relatable style is so important. It’s a minority that can afford the YSL bags and Louboutin heels and Stylish Professor appeals more to the every woman and we love that. So tell us what would be your dream collaboration?
SP: Kendra Scott – pretty much the only jewelry I wear anymore. And, I wouldn’t mind collaborating with Long Tall Sally.
TDD: We’ve all heard that girls compete and women empower but it seems like that viewpoint hasn’t fully translated to the Instagram influencer community. What’s your outlook on competition versus collaboration?
SP: That’s a tough one. Personally, I’ve been saddened to see so many Instagrammers begin monetizing their accounts. I understand if you are a blogger and rely on that income, but so many regular, every day girls have now started linking their accounts to affiliates. It’s become less of a community and more of a sales pitch. This has turned what was once a wonderfully supportive community into an incredibly competitive marketplace.
TDD: That’s one of the amazing things about this campaign: encouraging collaboration over competition. The Bridging the Gap campaign is all about bridging the age gap in influencing. What has your experience been as a social media influencer and how would you like to see it changed for the future?
SP: It makes me laugh a little to call myself an influencer. However, I do realize that others use me for style ideas, and I like the idea that more mature women are interested in dressing well. The nice thing about Instagram is that it has allowed me to connect with women of all ages, and there is so much to fashion that anyone, of any age can wear.
TDD: You really do provide some great style inspo! Who is your ultimate style icon?
SP: Truly, I don’t look to celebrities – I look to fellow Instagrammers and others on social media for inspiration. Some of my favorites include Tanasha @prettytallstyle, Sandy @siramara, Sandra @sandd43, Bertha @chicinacademia, and Beth @styleatacertainage. I’m an “everygirl”, so I look to the same for style inspiration.
TDD: As the Stylish Professor, tell us a little about the crossover between your passion for fashion and your career as an educator?
SP: Sometimes I wonder about that. I do get a fair amount of attention from students, primarily, for my outfits.They definitely notice and nearly all reactions are very positive. Since I teach college students, I see myself as one of the last representatives of the professional world they will be exposed to before they head out on their own careers. My students are ultra casual – jeans, sweatshirts, hoodies, leggings, and I want them to start thinking in terms of how their appearance truly does matter in the workplace.
TDD: We were paired together because you and I (Nicole) are both in education but still lead a very fashionable lifestyle, which often times the two don’t seem to go hand-in-hand in mainstream media. Do you agree or disagree and why?
SP: I do, and I think the implication is that you are self absorbed and not serious about your job if you dress stylishly. College professors have never had a reputation for being stylish. I worry at times that I won’t be taken seriously as an academician if I seem to be so interested in my appearance. My outfits are always conservative, however, and if I even question the appropriateness of an outfit, I won’t wear it.
TDD: I truly wish that your viewpoint was shared among other educators. You can care about how you look and still be serious about your career. We are really glad we were able to get to know you better and look forward to seeing you continue to grow and not only blur the lines between millennials, but also blurring the line between being a stylish woman and an educator. The two are not exclusive. You can be both and you’ve proved it.
Why did you join Bridging the Gap and connect with other influencers from a different generation that share your interests? What do you want to learn from this experience? What do you want to teach?
SP: My primary purpose for using social media platforms like IG is to connect with other who have similar interests. Since I teach millennials, they are a generation that I respect and admire in many ways, so the BTG campaign was a natural fit for me. I’ve observed that many of the millennial bloggers appear to have FAR more confidence in themselves than I did at that age, confidence that I’ve gained only in the past 20 years or so. I suppose I want to encourage women to really become their own person and live out as many of their dreams as they can before they settle down with a family. If you’re waiting for a relationship to make you happy, you’re in for a shock. You’re in a much better position to commit to the demands of marriage and kids if you’ve traveled, achieved your education, stayed up all night dancing, and taken some risks. You won’t feel as though you’ve missed anything! (I wouldn’t recommend waiting quite as long as I before having a family, but I did everything I want to before that happened).
TDD: Dinah, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with our Darlings. You are showing the IG community everyday that you can have great style at any age and we wish you all the success in the world.
If you’re looking for Dinah on social media, her Instagram is @StylishProfessor.