Every community has a pocket of trendiness. The part of town where everyone looks well put together. In our case as Penn students, the ‘chic’ part of town is none other than Williams Hall, the home of the foreign language departments. When I first began taking classes at Williams, I was amazed by the high concentration of stylishly groomed individuals, especially professors. I was awed by the variety of looks amongst the female professors in Williams Hall. From boots to bags, these ladies know how to put an outfit together. Despite hectic schedules and careers, they stand out because of their devotion to dress.
In particular, I marvel at the style of Professor Teresa Giménez. Her attention to detail is very clear. As soon as I met her, I just had to know how she did it. So after weeks of class and exams, I took the opportunity to sit down and talk to her about the role of fashion in her life and the motivations behind her personal style. The discussion was truly a learning experience.
When I walked into her office for the interview, the first thing that I noticed, of course, was her outfit. She was wearing skinny dark-wash jeans, and an H&M pinstripe button down shirt with a long grey cardigan. Her tall bright red Hunter rain boots topped the look with a pop of color. Equally excited by the opportunity to talk about clothes, we exchanged greetings and the following conversation ensued.
Welch: So let’s start with the basics. What are your staple pieces? What are the clothes upon which you rely the most?
Giménez: I have to say my skinny jeans, cardigans, tight white t-shirts, and scarves.
W: How would you describe your personal style?
G: The two most important things for me are simplicity and color. I try to be simple. I like to feel comfortable and I don’t want to dress too extreme. I like the classic look. I try to dress simply, but I do invest in my accessories. For example, shoes are very important to me.
W: You grew up in Spain and now you live in America, so you have had the opportunity of experiencing both cultures. What do you think are the differences between the way these two cultures handle fashion and physical appearance?
G: Well, fashion now is very global, but there are some differences. In European culture aesthetics are very important and Spanish culture is very social. In an environment where people are constantly in touch with other people, personal maintenance is very important. I do think that people adhere to fashion more closely over in Europe. The style here is much more comfortable and casual. In Spain they, especially women, view comfort as a luxury. Of course young people wear jeans, but the difference is that the overall look is a little bit more sophisticated. They definitely accessorize more than in America because there is so much more variety in Europe. For example high boots are fashionable here and there, but in Spain there are so many styles and tweaks at many different prices. This assortment allows more people to follow the trends.
W: You have a very hectic schedule as a mother and a professor? How do you stay on point with your wardrobe, despite the plethora of distractions you face?
G: I get a lot of help from my sisters. My sisters remind me to stay current with the trends. My sisters live in Barcelona. They are very fashionable. When I go to Spain, everyone is so trendy that I sometimes feel like a dog. So when I am with them, they always encourage me to go shopping.
W: What are some of your favorite stores?
G: I really like H&M. They have great quality and low prices. I also like Forever 21. I remember that the first time that I walked in, I knew I had to come back there. I could be there for hours looking through the clothes. My favorite store in Philadelphia and in Spain is Zara. The store gets new stock every Wednesday. It is the kind of place where you can afford to be on trend. They imitate everything that is seen on current runways and then within a week they have the clothes in the store and very reasonably priced.
W: What American designers and what Spanish designers do you look to for inspiration?
G: I like Polo a lot because they have a lot of classic clothes and accessories, and in Spain I love the work of Antonio Miro. Miro’s designs are very modern and elegant. But to be honest I do not really have time to look at all the magazines and runway shows, so I just go straight to H&M or Zara.
W: What would you say is your splurge item?
G: Shoes. Shoes are my passion. For me it is the most important piece of your wardrobe. It is what makes the difference. I love shoes and shoe shopping. In fact, I find beautiful shoes in Macy’s.
W: Who is your biggest style crush?
G: I have to say; actually, it’s my brother’s ex-girlfriend. She knows I really like the way she dresses. I like to joke and say that I am going to hire her as my personal fashion adviser. She is very modern, but at the same time very simple and classy.
So next time you are in Williams Hall, be sure to watch out for Professor Giménez and all of the other teachers with taste!