The Look

Out of This World Style

Providence-based NASA scientist Kim Arcand on keeping a versatile wardrobe and connecting with the universe

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"When I was younger, I toned down my look to fit in (think khakis and plain shirts). Now I’m more confident in my place and less concerned what others are doing. As much as I love fashion, I have a practical side and lean towards tailored, feminine shapes and details. Most often, I will wear something with a science theme – sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes not – such as a constellation necklace or a starry-print dress.

My days vary quite a bit so I like to be prepared for whatever might come, but most importantly be comfortable. I want to feel at ease if I have to jump on a Skype call at any point in the day or head to a meeting. On most days, you can find me in skinny high-waist jeans, a shirt (possibly with a space theme), a blazer and pointy toe flats. For a work event, I’ll wear a pencil skirt with a sweater, or a blouse with trousers and a leather jacket. Once the cold weather starts, I will live in boots, especially flat and over-the-knee styles for when it’s really cold.

Color plays a crucial part in what I do as much as astronomical data and I reflect that in how I approach style. When I receive data from Chandra, the NASA telescope that detects X-ray emissions from very hot regions of the universe, it arrives with no inherent color, so it has to be added to the image in order to tell the whole story. We can add red, green and blue in a chromatic order to create a full color image. It just so happens that I love to wear color too, red, green and blue being my favorites."

Kim’s new book, Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe, comes out in November