Be True to Yourself

I never dress like a professor. I rather dress to be who I am and show what’s important to me.” – Dr. Strübel

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During lectures, Dr. Strübel, the fashion theory and historic costume professor at UNT, often mentions how she has experienced different dressing styles and how they have influenced her research. In fact, her lectures are not only interesting, but inspirational to many. She allows students to test the limit and making them to think outside the box. But there is always that one question that every one of her students wonders, what does Dr. Strübel look like before she became a professor?

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Photo Credit: The Fashionisto

“I basically looked like a female version of Kurt Cobain. Bell Bottom jeans, concert T-shirt and Dr. Martin’s”, Dr.Strübel said, describing to me her go-to outfit when she was 18 or 19 years old. She began to draw a clearer image to me by relating her look to Kurt Cobain and her mom used to refer her as “the dirty hippie.” Music made a imprint on her way of style. Grunge and rock bands were her inspiration, but not until her friend introduced her to rave culture where she first discovered human suspension.

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Photo Credit: WION

“MTV was on 24/7, I was watching what everyone was wearing.” She expressed that she was shocked at first, but at the same time she was drawn to the eccentricity. She was tracing back the memories of how secretive raves used to be and told me the only way they found out about the rave was from posters around campus or record stores and would have to call the number listed to find out details. Her favorite outfit was a vinyl, bright blue pant, a graphic t-shirt and white vinyl jacket, then she would pair them with her platform shoes and silver spiked hair.

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Photo Credit: Returns of Kings  (One of Dr. Strübel’s favorite band “Rammstein, she actually has this same exact picture in her office)

My blue spiky hair was nothing like they had seen before!” Once she entered her graduate school, she cut her hair short and dyed it blue. So the goth and punk age began. She got back all the piercings she had in high school and more, and each tattoo she got was more visible than the last. Dressing was a way for her to understand who she was. She never wanted to look the same as anyone else. She wanted and still wants to look apart from the ordinary and believed it was the only way to be taken seriously.

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Photo Credit: ALL MUSIC

“I changed how I looked, but internally I am still who I was.” Because of her career path, she was told to “clean up” her look. In her words, “the Banana Republic’s poster child”. She had to hide her true self behind the stuffy business professional look to fit in the standardize world. It was uncomfortable and suffocating. Then she found out  her students actually react better when she’s herself and didn’t want her to be the stodgy business professor. Though it might set her apart from the students, she never intended to dress to be someone she is not.   

“Don’t give a shit of what other people think of you.”  Since last fall, she started to show her tattoos and actually was considering dying her hair again (maybe peach or  bright pink). I asked her if she could say something to her old self what it would be, and she laughed and said “maybe vinyl is not the best thing to wear in the Winter, but honestly I really like how I was, I enjoyed surprising older people at Denny’s at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning when we were just getting back from a rave. We weren’t loud, they were just so unfamiliar with the way we looked.” Dr. Strübel is never ashamed of who she is.

Though Dr. Strübel will no longer be teaching at UNT and is moving to Rhode Island for the next semester, she taught us to continually be ourselves. Get that tattoo that you always wanted, dye your hair the color you always dreamt of, because the only way to find happiness is to be YOU. For many of us who are still trying to figure out who we want to be, just remember to always stay true to yourself.      

Special thanks to Professor Jessica Strübel for allowing us to interview you.

Words by Rose Kuo

Images courtesy of Dr. Strübel and All Music, Return of Kings, Wion, and Fashionista

Edit by Maia Wilson and Reilly Farris

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