A row of colorful scarves hanging in a closet

What I Wore as a TEDx Speaker

Striking a balance between 'professional' and 'weird homeschooler'

This is the fourth post in a 5-part series about my TEDx experience. I also wrote about walking on stage, preparing my talk, what I wore, and going to college as a homeschooled student.

Comfortable, confident, not too dark

One of the challenges I faced in preparing my talk for TEDx Couer d'Alene 2020 was deciding what to wear.

Backstage, while chatting with some of the other speakers, I learned I was not the only one with wardrobe anxiety! We were given little guidance on what to wear: Something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Something with a little color, since the background is dark; not all black or all dark blue. Beyond that, it was up to us.

My goal was to choose something "on brand" for me. My style often involves bright colors and flowy skirts. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to strike a balance between professional and weird homeschooler. Jeans and a flannel button-up felt too casual (though at one point I almost gave up and went with them anyway...) No dresses; I needed to nurse my 9-month-old, but somehow still didn't own any good nursing dresses. I didn't want to wear anything too bright (so not my neon pink pants); I wanted the focus to be on me and my talk, not my clothes.

I was glad I was far enough post-childbirth that all my clothes fit again. But... options!

Ultimately, it came down to the shoes.

Two pairs of boots
My tactical boots and my snow boots.

Snow boots

I am picky about my shoes. I rarely wear any shoe that I won't be comfortable standing and walking in all day long. In the summer, that means my Keen walking sandals. In the fall and winter, I mostly switch between my hiking boots and my waterproof tactical boots, depending on the weather.

I do have other shoes. But there were other constraints: It was winter—no sandals. Anything with heels was automatically out, too, because we had to give our talks standing entirely in a plushy red carpet circle. Plush carpet plus heels? No, thank you.

Then, we had a major snowstorm the weekend of the event. So... snow boots were in. Everything else was out. Unfortunately, the leather on my favorite tactical boots was starting to crack, which made them a bit less waterproof than they used to be. Given the the snow and slush, well, waterproof was necessary. I'd wear a pair of grey snow boots that I got from my sister, who didn't want them anymore.

At least the boots were comfortable! They did, however, look only moderately okay with most of my skirts. It depended on the style and color. The longer skirts worked better, as did darker colors, but not wearing a bunch of dark colors was one of the only instructions!

The Outfit

After much experimentation, during which my toddler probably tried on every scarf in my closet, this is what I wore:

yellow thermal shirt lying on a bed
Burnt yellow shirt, thermal texture. I got this for $3 at Walmart.
brown vest lying on a bed
Button-down brown vest. I think my mom gave this to me when clearing out her closet some years back.
brown skirt lying on a bed
Two-tone brown skirt. Heavy, soft fabrics. My older sister made this when she was a teenager for a costume. Somehow it is mine now.
a pair of snow boots
Grey snow boots. Because they're in better shape than my tactical boots.
a linen green scarf lying on a bed
Happy green scarf. Nice soft linen fabric. Not sure where this one came from, honestly; maybe I got it from my mom. A spring green gradient that contrasted nicely with the browns and yellows. I almost went with an orange scarf instead, but the green had a better pop to it.
a pair of dangly earrings
Colorful dangly earrings. Homemade a few years ago when I still had time to do things like make my own jewelry.
an MIT class ring
MIT ring. I don't wear it every day, but for special events like this, definitely.

Not exactly an expensive outfit! On brand for me, though. I do most of my clothes shopping at thrift stores.

Jacqueline on stage at TEDx Couer d'Alene
All together, on stage!
Credit: TEDx Couer d'Alene

Here's my talk:



Jacqueline on stage speaking at TEDx Couer d'Alene 2020

Coercive schooling is pervasive

When giving a TEDx talk, I was stuck by how inundated one organizer was in the coercive schooling system. Here are some examples—and how we can change minds about learning.
Jacqueline in a Vassar sweatshirt, grinning with arms outstretched

From homeschooling to college

After my TEDx talk, several people asked me about my experience being homeschooling. What did I think about getting into college as a homeschooled student? Here's my reply.

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About

We're Jacqueline and Randy, a blogging duo with backgrounds in tech, robots, art, and writing, now raising our family in northern Idaho.

Our goal is to encourage deliberate choices, individual responsibility, and lifelong curiosity by sharing stories about our adventures in living, loving, and learning.

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Curious about our life and journey? Here are some good places to start reading:

Jacqueline and Randy leaning their heads together smiling at the camera

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