by Samuel Boyne
Peter Herman, a PhD student of Theological and Religious studies, makes careful and deliberate decisions when it comes to fashion. This is his fourth year at Georgetown, and he currently teaches Intro to Buddhism and will be teaching a section of Problem God in the fall of 2015. From his shirts to his ties to his pocket squares, Herman’s selections are lively and excellently put together.
When asked about the connection between his style and his field of study (Buddhism and Christianity), Herman revealed how his decisions and his master’s on Liberation Theology from Union Theological Seminary are related:
“I sort of made the decision that I would present myself very professionally as a way of sort of acting against that privilege, that I would not take it for granted that because I have a white and male body I’ll be taken seriously. That’s the unfortunate social reality of it, but nevertheless I know too many people who don’t have such bodies who need to present themselves as far more professional.”
He additionally mentioned that his style is also influenced “from growing up in a punk rock scene and playing in an indie rock band where dress sense is very much linked to a concept of self-expression.” Expanding more regarding the influence that punk rock subculture has had on him, he stated:
“What I think in that sense was more important to me was the sense of individuality and expression more than ‘you have to have liberty spikes, you have to have studs and a leather jacket,’ so it’s a little bit maddening to have something that meant a lot to you and then it gets reduced to studs and a leather jacket or something easily sellable at Urban Outfitters.”
Photo by Samule Boyne
As for his favorite time period of fashion, Herman expressed his love for the “more body-conscious-but-not-skin-tight” mod fashion that was popular in England during the 60’s. Ian Svenonius, the front man of the DC band, “The Nation of Ulysses”, carried through a marriage of mod and punk rock that inspires Herman in his own clothing decisions.
Concerning the assumed dress code for professors and instructors at Georgetown, Herman’s view ranged from understanding casual dress “for comfort or for sense of horizontality in a power dynamic in a classroom” to acknowledging the “distinction between instructor and student.” As for himself, Herman finds that putting effort into his clothes helps him take himself “more seriously and take the classroom more seriously as an environment.”
On that note, I asked him about the differences between his weekend style and his class style. Although they’re not “radically different,” he mentioned, “I don’t tend to wear jeans [at school] and I don’t tend to be out of them on the weekend, but I don’t generally tend toward a lot of T-shirts and such.” Swapping out a jacket for a cardigan, he maintains a good appearance without compromising comfort for style.
As to how living in DC has impacted his style, Herman responded:
“I lived in Boston for a long time and New York for three years, and then coming down here, I guess if it’s been impacted it’s been more in a reactionary sense than an influential sense in a positive outlook. I like to think I carry a bit more of New York with me when I pick out an outfit or go shopping. I certainly pull together colors and fabrics and such. DC can be a really conservative-looking place, regardless of your actual politics. It’s a sort of land of blue button-down shirts and navy suits, and it doesn’t need to be that boring.
One of Herman’s favorite brands, Hugh and Crye, is actually a local DC brand, originally located on O Street (now located near the Navy Yard Metro stop). Their shirts and ties (featured in the photos) come in a variety of modern fabrics and slim cuts. They’re also pretty reasonably priced for a smaller shirt-making business. Overall, Herman said that he prefers shirts “more British and Italian in terms of the cut and the fashioning,” and the Jack Wills here in Georgetown brings that right to our doorstep. Of course, since he likes to keep some of the punk rock inspiration with him, Fluevog shoes keep him up and about without abandoning the individuality of his style.
If you’re taking or end up taking one of his classes in the future, or even if you just spot him around campus, you’ll certainly see him in spick-and-span attire.