The Androgynous Academic

 Image courtesy of Mount Holyoke College

Image courtesy of Mount Holyoke College

BY MINAH KWON ’20

Professor Wesley Chihyung Yu draws attention from all those who catch even the slightest glimpse of him in the corridors of Shattuck Hall.  A professor in the English department with a concentration in Middle Age literature, Yu is a paragon of intellect and an avid appreciator of art. Students at Mount Holyoke praise Yu’s style as much as his teaching.  Mount HolyVogue got the chance to speak to the elusive Professor Yu about his style:

What is a word or phrase to describe your approach to fashion?

“I don’t know — structured androgynous male secretary geek, and a little Blade Runner?  At times, I can run kind of normcore. And, depending on the season, basic geometry.”

Has your dress attire evolved since being at Mount Holyoke College?

“I’m usually conservative about trends, opting to adapt some into my own language rather than keep up with them all the time.  But since coming to the College, I’m somewhat more attentive to what’s on trend in order to stay connected to other places in the world, particularly in Europe and Asia.  I’ve come to understand that I like ease in dressing.  I’m also more flexible about adjusting elements of my style to New England terrain and weather.”

Where do you look to for your influences? Who might they be?

“This is hard.  I don’t really copy anyone, but the sensibility is, I’d say, a cross between the personal styles of Jenna Lyons and Naoki Takizawa; a little Jil Sander with undertones of Prada.  I don’t necessarily dress in Prada, but I’m awed by her translation of architecture, brainy pattern choices and palettes and sense of history.”

Have certain pieces of literature or even time periods or cultures affected the way you dress?

“I study the Middle Ages, but I’m not into [hosiery] and pointy hoods.  Perhaps I lean Victorian.  I pick up on cultural echoes from Europe and Asia.  I’d say I’m less inspired by the fashions of a period of literature than by some kinds of literary creativity and literary thinking — I like minute and coherent surprises that are belied by the simplicity of a form.”

Yu’s referential and nuanced understandings of the literary craft shows in his classes the same way it shows up in his personal style. Though he may not dress like the characters he studies, he nonetheless beguiles every onlooker.

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