Librarian style profile: Eli

Today, I have a special treat for y’all:  a style profile of Eli, a friend and fellow librarian in Tacoma I visited last month. (You can see more details about my outfit here in this earlier post.)

I met Eli almost five years ago, not long after I first moved to Portland. He is AMAZING at coordinating social events, and that’s where I met him, at a regional library conference where he was coordinating the trivia game. He has a fantastic sense of humor, and we actually have a lot in common. For example, we are both Americans born abroad, as well as second-generation librarians! He also has an AWESOME sense of style — and whenever we get to meet up in real life, Eli and I always manage to talk about personal style and fashion. So you can see why I was eager to take some photos during our midday break last month — and interview him for his own librarian style profile!

And for locale background, we ate lunch in the Shake Shake Shake diner and burger cafe in the Stadium District, and then finished off with yummy ice cream at Ice Cream Social in the 6th Ave. district. We spotted this shady spot, and very cool mural, on the side of a church building a block or two behind Ice Cream Social.

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Brief bio and background as a librarian (or MLS experience):

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, then headed off to college on the east coast. My first job was as a paraprofessional in New York City, where I spent several lovely years at the Columbia University School of Social Work Library. After a brief stint out of libraries, I came back to my beloved Pacific Northwest and went to the University of Washington Information School to get my MLIS. I am currently the Science Liaison Librarian at the University of Puget Sound, a small liberal arts college in beautiful Tacoma.

How would you describe your style?

Hmmm… maybe Gay Dutch Lumberjack meets Rumpled Professor? I’m not one for crisp lines or high fashion (I hate to iron and while I do read GQ, I don’t stay abreast of trends), but I do have a fondness for bold colors (I was super inspired by the colorful pants I saw on men during a trip to the Netherlands in 2012) and a slim/snug fit when it comes to pants. I like tweeds and wool and corduroy, which combines with my beard to nudge me in a lumberjack direction, but I’m not really particularly rugged. My signature piece is undoubtedly my ties, both neckties and bowties. I have around two hundred ties (of which only a small percentage are bowties, alas) and love to wear them, which means I’m typically somewhat overdressed for work. I’m a bit embarrassed to see that in this fabulous pictures, my tie is actually a bit too short… it really should be just hitting my belt buckle. The curse of a long torso!

Editor’s note:  You still look great, Eli! And our similarities continue — I also HATE to iron, love to wear bold colors, and tend to be a bit overdressed for work here in the PNW. And yay Netherlands!

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Do you have any strong opinions or thoughts about the connection between style and your profession as a librarian?

I don’t know if I do! I think there are all sorts of older stereotypes (mainly rooted in sexism) about unfashionable frumpy librarians, but honestly, I think those are fading. Certainly there are scads of super stylish librarians representing our profession these days! I think if anything the fact that I work in academia has as much or more bearing on my style as the fact that I am a librarian. I do think the fact that I work inside all day, at a desk or in front of a class, allows me to wear ties and pretty shoes instead of, y’know, functional clothes for being an actual lumberjack.

Editor’s note:  Here’s to pretty shoes!!! And interesting point about academia itself being an influence on your style.

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Do you have a “casual Friday” policy at your work? Or do you institute your own personal “casual Friday” dress code?

We have maroon Fridays on my campus, to honor our school colors of maroon and white. Many folks go with a University t-shirt or other spirit wear. In the summer, I’ll sometimes do a t-shirt on Fridays, but usually I’ll just try to incorporate maroon into my color scheme. My casual wear definitely comes out more in the summer, when there are so many fewer students and faculty around, and I have fewer meetings and classes to teach. I did wear shorts once, when it was in the midst of a scorching heat wave, but that felt a little TOO casual, so I had to gussy it up with a bowtie on top.

Editor’s note:  That sounds AWESOME! I wish I could have seen you in shorts and a bowtie!

Do you plan your outfits in advance, or go with how you feel on the day?

I usually lay my outfit out the night before, a practice I started after a few too many midday regrets when I realized that the colors I’d picked out in the literal dark of an early PNW winter morning were not playing together too nicely. I also try to plan for what I’m going to be doing that day — if I’m teaching a class, I’ll try to pick a tie that fits thematically (I have a fantastic peacock motif tie that I wear when I’m visiting the first year seminar class on Darwin!), or if I know I’ll be up in the stacks weeding, I’ll go for a more casual look.

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Do your casual and work styles differ?

I definitely have different styles for when I want to look nice (work, or going out) and when I’m just chillaxing! Evenings and weekends, I do a ton of gardening and puttering around the house, so I’ll often be in fairly grubby clothes: jeans and t-shirts, cut-off shorts in the summer. I’m also rarely without a baseball cap when I’m dressed down. [Editor’s note:  I did not know that!] I’ve occasionally run into a student or faculty colleague on a weekend and had them mention that they barely recognized me without my spiffy clothes. I rely a lot on corduroy pants, partly because I think corduroy is the most divine fabric ever created, and partly because they’re easy to go casual or fancy depending on what they’re paired with.

And now for some details about Eli’s outfit!

The sweater is also a PNW native — it’s from Pendleton Woolen Mills, though I got it by way of Value Village, a great thrift store out here. I liked the chunky, fisherman-esque style, and it goes with everything because of the neutral-y tweed with little pops of primary colors.

Purple is a favorite color of mine, and while I don’t remember where exactly I got this fabulous purple tie with the secret pin-up girl underneath, it’s been a favorite ever since.

Editor’s note:  I love this tie!  And that your sense of fun is evident in your style!

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's librarian style profile

Librarian for Life + Style | Eli's vintage tie


Thank you so much for sharing, Eli! Want more librarian style profiles? You can check out more librarian style profiles here.

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