If we want to be present in the workplace, we need to be present as women. I don’t think we should compromise ourselves in order to be present in the business environment.
–Professor Deniz Çivril
By: Esther Lee
Photos by: Isabel Lord
This viewpoint represents the essence of Professor Çivril’s attitude towards style. Though she believes in the importance of professionalism and formal dress, her philosophy about style emphasizes retaining one’s individuality and personal taste.
Having recently moved to DC, Professor Çivril expresses what she has observed about the style of professionals in this city as well as the professors at Georgetown: “Here in DC, when you go out what you see is that everybody is working for an institution or a university, so everybody is so formal. When I lived in Boston before—I was in New York City before as well—so people are a little bit more casual there than here in DC. Now I feel a little stressed about dressing up because when you come here and see the professors, especially in the School of Foreign Service, they’re always in formal suits or dresses. My style becomes more casual compared to the other professors. I’m trying to switch right now—become more professional.”
Though she expresses the pressure of dressing more professionally, Professor Çivril shares her desire to maintain her personal style, even in the new environment of DC. “This is something that I complain about when I talk to people from Boston or from New York City and I talk to my friends—I say, style in DC is kind of boring. I don’t want to be formal in a way that you are just buying some kind of dress and wearing it without any input, which is why I wear a lot of scarves. I don’t wear a lot of formal shoes—it’s more relaxed and casual but I think it makes the change in the style. These little things that I can add on to the outfit make all the difference.” She aims for professionalism, with her own twist.
Professor Çivril’s style incorporates many influences, but the strongest of these comes from her Turkish background. “I’m from Turkey so I just kind of keep my style related to the Middle East. Things like different kinds of scarves are essential to the wardrobe that I currently have. Different colors and different patterns that I have—I think it makes the difference for me.” Along with her Turkish background, Professor Çivril shares her stylistic connection with her sister. “My sister is really stylish. Whatever she buys she wears for a while, and then gives to me. She also influences my style—by literally giving me her clothes and sometimes by influencing the things I buy. She’s casual, but very chic. She knows how to combine different things—she buys really crappy things from the market and then somehow makes it good with another thing. I would never think to buy some of the things that she styles with her outfits, but I see her wear it and then I suddenly want it too.”
Additional accents to her outfit through her various accessories accentuate her individual style. But when dressing herself before lecturing for a class, Professor Çivril explains that she organizes her outfits around her shoes. “How I base my outfit, especially at this point I don’t have a lot of formal shoes, centers around what shoes do I have…Do they go with this dress or pants or whatever. I first decide on my shoes, then the dress combination and also if I gain weight or not, some pants don’t fit and I need to dress accordingly,” she jokes.
Speaking more upon the various influences of her style, Professor Çivril describes a certain culture of creativity she has found at home in Turkey. “I, my sister, my mother, and women in general in Turkey, they knit and crochet a lot. Things I wear as scarves or similar things around them—they’re all made by hand. There is an essential creation process by women. In developing countries especially, women do not work outside; they are at home being homemakers. But they cannot just clean and cook; they knit, they crochet. And somehow they show creativity in their lives and it’s reflected in these products, like scarves.”
Above the strict rules of business professionalism she feels pressure to conform to, Professor Çivril prioritizes her own individuality. So while she strives for a greater level of formality in her dress at this stage in her career, she refuses to compromise her personal style and the various influences that help shape her style. Definitely the attitude of a true fashionista!