How to Dress Like a 20th Century Phonetics Professor (ie- Henry Higgins)

‘Ello Guvnas!

Okay, that was awkward, but I can explain my Eliza Doolittle-esque greeting! Today I am proud to present a blog entry that I’ve been working on for quite some time! I’ve had these photos saved on my computer for months, and I thought it was high time that I shared them with you. I’m so excited! 😀

I’ll try to calm down for a second and elaborate further. I’ve ALWAYS been a fan of the musical My Fair Lady. Seriously, when I was just a wee little thing, my grandfather introduced me to the movie adaptation with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn and it was LOVE at first sight! This movie is absolutely incredible – hilarious, emotional, rambunctious, educational, beautiful. It’s just everything you could ever want in a film, especially if (like me) you love British things, you enjoy 20th century speech and clothing, and you have a particular fondness for curmudgeonly older gentlemen. I have to admit, I fell in love with Henry Higgins from the opening of the film, when he starts his diatribe about the English not being able to speak properly. I don’t want to say outright that I’m a bit critical of peoples’ grammar, but, okay, I am…I can’t help it, I’m an English “Master” after all! So, like Professor Higgins, I’ve always found myself saddened by the fact that people don’t talk like they used to, in the good ol’ days! (Sidenote: I’m also very critical of how people text these days – in my opinion, there is NEVER an occasion when it is okay to say “u” instead of “you” or “r” instead of “are”! The English language could be so beautiful if we let it be!)

Anyway, I pretty much put Henry Higgins on a pedestal (I’m sure he would’ve been very proud to be there!) and reading George Bernard Shaw’s original text Pygmalion in my university years did nothing to take him off. He’s even better when you read him, because then his witty rejoinders and critical comments really take full affect. I get it, many people find Henry Higgins sexist, and sure, he is! But he’s also a classic portrayal of the 20th century professor, and I think that if you choose to find him a little bit ridiculous, you can actually have a good laugh with him! I believe that Rex Harrison steals the show from Audrey Hepburn (who is very loverly, no doubt, and I do adore her!)…and I’ll admit again that I’ve had about a dozen crushes on professors over the years just because I thought they were all surely exactly like Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins in real-life. I also took linguistics courses in university mainly because I was convinced that I wanted to be a professor of phonetics – imagine my pride when my first year linguistics mark turned out to be my highest in all of my university career, all thanks to the fear that My Fair Lady would be forever ruined for me if I didn’t put 1 million % effort into the course!

Now, the inspiration for this post (to get to the point) comes from one of Professor Higgins’ most famous questions to his bestie Colonel Pickering: Why can’t a woman be more like a man? Sexist, I know…gender stereotypes galore, I get it. But bear with me here; Shakespeare played with this idea too, in his famous comedy Twelfth Night (my absolute favourite Shakespearean play), and I have always thought it would be so fun to dress up like a man for a day. Sadly, our society does subscribe to traditional views about male and female dress, but it is for us to break these molds and be a little more creative with fashion, so that’s what I tried to do with the outfits you are about to see below. As I’ve said time and time again, I’m an academic at heart, and I love the way male professors seem to dress in every pop culture representation (and, honestly, often in real-life), so I chose these outfits lovingly and with excitement to try to emulate one of my favourite professors and literary characters of all time.

It all began when I wore the outfit below to work. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought: I could totally see Henry Higgins pairing a white dress shirt with a sweater exactly in this way. I was immediately more confident, so I simply had to take a picture.

How To Dress Like A 20th Century Phonetics Professor

Then, my mom and I found this navy cardigan. I was sold as soon as I saw the arm patches…classic Henry Higgins! I had to buy it straight away!

The Sweater of a 20th Century Phonetics Professor

So, I had a number of tops that would befit my dear friend Henry Higgins. But what about something to wear on my feet? Well, I had just the pair of shoes, what I like to call my Oxford shoes, perfect for strolling around campus or sitting at a desk conducting research or typing lecture notes.

20th Century Phonetics Professor Shoes

Now, it’s literally just occurred to me that many of you may not know what Henry Higgins looks like (a travesty – GO watch the movie ASAP!), so before I do my big reveal and show you an entire outfit, here’s a photo of the movie cover on my bookshelf. You can see Professor Higgins in all his glory in the bottom right corner.

My Fair Lady

Keeping that image of Henry Higgins in mind, take a look at the final outfit I constructed to make myself look like a 20th century phonetics professor.


So there you have it: a little How To. I hope you enjoyed! Let me know what you think of my outfits in the comments below please!

Now I’m off to go do a dramatic reenactment of Henry Higgins singing “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” in my bedroom. Like actually, not kidding!



Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart


  1. Mike says:

    Excellent, funny I have downloaded “I could have danced all night” to my IPad and have been playing it for weeks. Thanks for the honorable mention of your grand-father. I am not sure of the time frame, 19th or 20th.! You write beautifully, your expressions come from the heart. Truly an English Major! Loved your attachments. Dianne enjoys all your blogs.

    Think about a steak dinner at the Keg, all family including Sourena, this week-end. Let me know.

    Sent from my iPad


    1. JanilleNG says:

      According to my research, the play was performed for the first time in 1913, which is why I included it as part of the 20th century. I’m so glad you enjoyed this particular post! 🙂

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