by Ryley Gregorie
At 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, Professor Anna von der Goltz can be found behind ICC 108’s podium most likely sporting ankle boots, skinny jeans, and a blouse paired with a straight cut blazer. In her own words, her fashion choices are “sometimes quite androgynous, certainly more than many American women dress,” and heavily reliant on dark colors. “I’m always dressed in black, maybe white, that’s kind of as far as it goes,” she notes. The effect is a classic, understated style that clearly reflects her European roots.
While von der Goltz’s stunning style truly stands out, it is her vast knowledge of 20th century Germany for which she is renown. As an Associate Professor of German history, she has been a member of the History Department and the School of Foreign Service since 2012. Prior to that, she lived and worked in the UK.
German born and raised, von der Goltz moved to the UK at eighteen to attend university. She spent the next fourteen years there, although she always had one foot in Germany, thanks to family ties. “I was living somewhere between Oxford, London, and Berlin for a long time but was working in the UK at Oxford,” she explains.
Von der Goltz credits her exposure to European street style with most heavily influencing her current fashion sense. “Living in London and in Berlin does something to your sense of style,” she says. “You get so much inspiration just from seeing people out and about, and I was always living in the center of both places.”
Photo by Tiffany Lam
Her European upbringing influenced far more than her style, however. She attributes having grown up in Europe with sparking her interest in history as well. “There’s just so much history there in the 20th century. Germany, in particular, is so full of ruptures and horrible things and then somewhat redemptive stories,” she says.
Von der Goltz did not set out to be a historian, but her interest “just sort of evolved that way.” She explains, “I had very good teachers at undergrad who really sparked an interest [in me]. I also enjoy the research component, there’s something about historical work that’s a little bit like detective work. I mean sitting in an archive and actually finding a question and then looking for information. It’s quite satisfying.”
Von der Goltz was so drawn to historical work that she pursued her Master and then Doctorate of Philosophy at Oxford. When asked how Oxford’s style compares to Georgetown’s, she explains that while both universities are preppy, “I almost get the sense that here students aspire to that British slightly preppy look. It sometimes feels as though people just put [things] on to convey a certain style,” she says. Yet, “in Oxford it’s not necessarily fashion. Things like tweed and Wellington boots and so forth are all quite natural there.”
In completing her doctorate at Oxford, von der Goltz wrote her dissertation on the interwar period. This time period happens to coincide with her favorite decade of fashion, the 1920s. “There’s something about 20s fashion that I really enjoy,” she says. “Somehow, I don’t quite think I can pull it off, but I really like the watery wave [hairstyle] and long gloves.”
In 2011, von der Goltz was working at Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow when Georgetown reached out and asked her to apply for her current position. She says, “I had never really given any thought to life in the States, but it looked very appealing. This is a great job, obviously a great school, so I just applied and then somehow ended up getting the job.”
Photo by Tiffany Lam
Von der Goltz expected moving to DC to impact certain aspects of her lifestyle, including her fashion choices. “I thought [Georgetown] would be a much more DC environment,” she says. “When I first interviewed, I just saw everyone walking around K Street in proper office gear. I expected all my colleagues to dress like that everyday and of course they don’t.” She was pleased to find that at Georgetown, “you don’t have to hide certain aspects of your personality just because you’re at work,” she says. “I came prepared to adjust much more and then didn’t really have to, so I think actually [my style] hasn’t changed that much.”
Professor von der Goltz did give us some insight into her wardrobe, half of which she says comes from a Swedish label called Acne. Despite the “slightly unfortunate name,” they sell stunning pieces both online and in their New York store. Additionally, if you’re inspired or intrigued by her historical work you can look into her current courses, HIST 099 Protest Movements in Postwar Europe (undergraduate) and HIST 632 Politics, Culture, and Identity in a Divided Germany (graduate).