Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When everything I'm wearing feels effortless and comfortable -- when things feel too forced I get self conscious and that's never fun.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
I always notice a woman who is owning her look whether it's in style or not. I'm always also a little envious of anyone who can combine pattern, texture and fit well.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire when women take chances with their clothes whether they pay off or not. Taking the chance is enough, doing it well is extra credit.
4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?
It took me a long time to figure out how to integrate texture. For a long time I was focused on fit and color combinations, mostly because I was a teenager and my body was changing. Now that I'm in my early twenties, free from the roller coaster of puberty, I have a tighter grasp on who I am and what fits me well. After those two factors became established, I was able to move onto more complicated, nuanced aspects of my wardrobe. One day maybe I'll finally be able to accessorize.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
I tend to try and practice what I preach, but not everyone can buy everything online.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
The higher the waist, the better.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
My mom and I used to chit chat about clothing while watching What Not to Wear ("I totally do that" or "that skirt would look great on you"). Having a trusted adviser was and continues to be invaluable in my style development.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
I try and live honestly in everything that I do. Also, organization is key.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
I have a problem.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
I gave my boyfriend a vintage soviet watch that he loves -- it's so unique.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Rompers and printed jeans -- both are too silly.
I tend not to buy into anything that I don't think I'll be able to wear in six months. I own a lot of clothing, but I also own it for years.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My mom has great style, but I don't think she puts enough effort into her appearance. I try to practice what my mom preaches but avoid what she practices.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
My co-worker is my secret style muse -- she always looks so put together but naturally so. She never seems like she's trying to hard. She wore a camel sweater last winter and now I'm dying for one.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
After I graduated college I had an "I'm an adult now" moment. I don't wear sweatshirts very often anymore.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Around election time, I'm not afraid to whip out my "I only date boys who vote" t-shirt.
16. Please describe your body.
I'm tall-ish (5'7) and thin with long limbs. I have little curves, but at least I have them!
17. Please describe your mind.
I am a voracious reader, frequent over-thinker, political junkie, passionate semi-socialist, ardent feminist and great problem solver.
18. Please describe your emotions.
I tend to feel before I think. I also have a great capacity for empathy (in my opinion). I can be very passionate, very loyal and very trusting. I try and see the best in the world whenever possible (but at the same time, not be naive).
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
I have my hair pulled back in a Gibson bun (from a tutorial I found online), with a red and white crane shift dress from Zara, gold loafers from the Gap and a "peacock" green cardigan. On my face, I'm wearing Clinque's CC cream, a Benefit blush and Makeup forever mascara with a little highlighter in the corner of my eyes.
I'm also wearing a Timbertoes watch that I've had since I was eight and five rings (including a Claddaugh).
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
In the grand, serious scheme of things, none of this stuff is life or death important. But I feel beautiful in this dress and fun in these shoes. I'm trying to wear less make-up than I used to and only when I truly feel like it.
My jewelry, however, has true importance. The claddaugh was a gift from my boyfriend. The watch is from my childhood. One of my rings is from my first trip to Scotland; one is from my best friend.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
Most people. Not to toot my own horn, but people say I have great style so I end up talking about fashion often.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
Well I have to maintain a certain level of decorum for work, but other than that I try not to let the patriarchy get me down (I'm mostly joking). I tend to be a fairly modest dresser -- I'm not one for short skirts or tube tops -- when I feel like dressing sexy, I tend to do it in a subtle way.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I think I have both.
To me, taste means you know how to pick out a good piece, style means you know who should wear it and what with.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
I paid over $100 for a beautiful woven bag from Ivanka Trump (I know, I know) which promptly started to fall apart after three uses. I was devastated.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
It's a cliche for a reason, but red lips always make you look more put together than you actually are (or feel). Also, people tend to be impressed by unusual hair like a bun with braids (no matter how easy it actually is to put together).
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I'm really trying to be better at interior style. It's tricky, but I'm learning!
27. Can you recall some times when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?
Every time I have an interview, I wear my glasses (which are really just readers) -- they make me feel powerful and put together, like I belong in the room.
28. Would you say you “know what you like” in the area of fashion and clothing? If so, do you also know what you like in other areas of life, that is, are you generally good at discernment? Can you say where your discernment comes from, if you have it? Or if you don’t have it, why or why not?
I would say that. I know what I like in food and, actually, in men. I didn't date much before I met my boyfriend. I knew what I was looking for and was willing to wait until I found it.
29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?
My mom taught me to always bring a sweater and how to iron, I'm sure there are other things too, but I've mostly picked things up myself.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
Red lipstick. A high heel. I gravitate toward an exposed back if I'm feeling really alluring. I also have very long legs so short skirts also tend to do well by me.
31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?
I feel like a broken record, but to me they mean "effortless", like you didn't spend too much time putting the outfit together and you're not trying to be something you're not. I think if you're comfortable with yourself, who you are without clothing, that will translate into what you wear.*
*Clearly, I've watched a lot of What Not to Wear, but it's true!
32. If dressing were the only thing you did, and you were considered an expert and asked to explain your style philosophy, what would you say?
I would say that my look is timeless and somewhat classic, but also comfortable and a little fun. I try not to take it too seriously.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
Happiness. Audrey Hepburn said it best "I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls".
34. What do you consider very ugly?
35. Are you generally a good judge of whether what you buy will end up being worn? Have you figured out how to know in advance?
Yes. I am not an impulse shopper. I tend to think about buying something for at least a few days before I actually buy it. I usually have a picture in my mind of what I'm looking for and then seek it out. Very rarely do I regret buying something. I can't really afford to waist the money, honestly.
36. When you look at yourself before going out, and you are trying to see yourself from the outside, can you describe a bit about what this “other person” is like? What do they like, dislike, what sorts of judgments do they have? Is this “outer eye” based on someone you know or once knew?
If I'm having a bad day, I imagine what it would be like to walk through the halls of my high school dressed this way (healthy? definitely not). If it's a good day, I try and imagine what some of the more stylish people in my life will say. Would "X" like this? But really, I try and dress for me as much as possible.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
I am intensely practical in that I always consider the weather first. I hate being cold; I hate being wet; and I would hate to ruin my favorite pair of shoes. Then I ask myself how I'm feeling and move on from there. If I want to be comfortable/ laid back, out come the jeans. If I'm up for being a little more bold, I'll pull out a favorite dress.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
I'm always just trying to look like myself and to make myself feel good in whatever I'm wearing.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Dressing up is for a special occasion. You can dress up for someone, something, some time. Dressing you do because you sorta have to.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Well fitted ankle jeans and a nice white t-shirt with weather appropriate shoes. I really can't go wrong.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Riding boots are very "me". Sweaters are very "me". Midi skirts feel very "me". Pea coats are very "me". Hats of most varieties are very "me".
Crop tops are not me (sadly). Tube dresses are not me. Suspenders are very not me. Harem pants are very not me. Clogs are not me.
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I come from a very upper/ middle class family but we lived in a very affluent community that I had a hard time fitting into. I was very self conscious for a very long time. I just wanted to fit in, so I bought what everyone else was wearing (when I could afford to) or tended toward the totally banal as to not draw to much attention to myself. It took a while to shake those feelings of inadequacy, but now, I do my best to buy what I like and not pay too much attention to being trendy. And I'm definitely over just fitting in. My clothing has actually played a huge role in my quest towards self acceptance.
43. Do you remember a time in your life when you dressed quite differently from how you do now? Can you describe it and what it was all about for you?
When I was about 13 my best friend was going through a "goth" phase, so invariably, aching to belong, I went through a "goth" phase too. I shopped at hot topic, wore a lot of black and got a pair of (awesome) doc martins for my birthday. I lost the goth in high school, but I'll never give up my docs.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
I have a pair of low heeled black pumps that paired with a pencil skirt always make me feel professional. If I'm really committing to the look, I'll pull out my glasses.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
My workplace is technically "business casual" but really it's "casual". There's a guy in my department who wears jeans and a hoodie every. single. day. With lines like that, I don't really have to alter the way I dress for work.
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
The closet experience I've had to wearing a uniform is being part of a dance team and a sports team. In those cases, the uniform is a great unite-r. But I like the idea of a uniform in school. Even though it takes away from kids ability to express themselves, it also takes all this pressure off. That might have been nice.
49. What is an archetypal outfit for you; one that you could have happily worn at any point in your life? What do you like about it?
I've worn jeans, riding boots, a t-shirt and a cardigan more times than I can count. If everything fits well (as it should), it can be a really timeless, put together look.
50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?
No. Their clothing is so much less fun!
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
I feel like it's so typical, but I would love to live in/ dress in Britain or American in the 1940's.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
"Oh god, I really need to work on my posture"
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
I love Katharine Hepburn's style. Grace Kelly's style. Emma Stone has GREAT style. I would love to see what Emma Stone's closet looks like.
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Anything really baggy.
57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?
I don't think I'd wear anything different, but I think I'd like the way it hangs on me a bit better.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
Thankfully, not anymore. I never dressed for men, but I'm glad I'm not dressing for approval from other women anymore.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
I don't think that any one rule applies to all women except that make sure that everything fits.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I wish I had enough brain space to use perfume every day. I like the idea of perfume, but the execution is another matter. Though in high school I wore this perfume that smelled like cotton candy. I don't think I'd do that again.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
A shower's always good.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
Unfortunately, I feel self conscious when I'm at the very least not wearing cover up and mascara. I'm working toward that not being the case.
63. Is there a certain look you feel you’re expected to like that you have absolutely no interest in? What is it? Why aren’t you interested?
Rompers. Worn by so many, mastered by so few.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
I own lots of "basics" -- plain t shirts, plain pants. My dress game is spot on, the rest of the wardrobe just has to catch up.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
I love my prom dress, but I've only worn it once.
66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?
I haven't played soccer in five-plus years, but my cleats still have a place in my closet. They probably always will.
67. Looking back at all your purchases over the past five to fifteen years, can you generalize about what sorts of things were the most valuable to buy?
Invest in good boots and good coats.
68. Is there an item of clothing that you once owned, but no longer own, and still think about or wish you had back? What was it, what happened to it, and why do you want it back?
It's less things that I once owned and more things I wish I owned that I passed on for whatever reason. There have been pairs of shoes, dresses, sweaters, that I've waited to buy and lost my chance. Those things haunt my dreams -- mostly because they fit so well or I can envision events to wear them to.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
A pair of boots, but I'm not sure which ones...
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
I would make sure that everything fit well.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
I bought a Kate Spade purse when I got my first job out of college. I still use it, still love it.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
My first pair of riding boots sparked a love that has yet to die.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
I'm always on the search for the perfect winter coat. Though I'm starting to think that maybe it already exists in my closet.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
I do not keep things neat. My drawers are a mess. The closet is bearable since I got a proper shoe rack.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
When my boyfriend gave me my claddaugh ring, I was very touched.
76. Did you ever buy an article of clothing without giving it much thought, only to have it prove much more valuable as time went on? What was the item and what happened?
I bought a grey cardigan on sale at the Gap for $15 that I wear at least two days a week. It's just so versatile!
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
I hate the mall, so I tend to shop online and go in store to try things on. I check online retails inventory pretty much on a daily basis.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
Clean? I tend to lean toward organic scents like lavender or cocoanut.
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
One day, I hope to have enough money to buy nice things for myself without restraint. But really, I might never make enough money to feel that way.
80. How does money fit into all this?
Well, I don't make much so I can't buy much and I'm always looking for a bargain. This also means that when I do buy something, I have to really want it.
81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
I don't tend to not wear at least underwear.
But I also wear my watch pretty much every day.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
A group told me recently that they've always admired my style. That was nice to hear. My boyfriend also told me once that the first time he saw me he thought that I really knew what looked good on me. Also nice. You never know if people actually notice, turns out they do.
83. Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?
For literally as long as I can remember, I've loved clothing. I used to draw clothing I wish I had and cut up my mom's mail order catalogs (J. Peterman was a big hit) to make fantasy outfit collages. I also really liked those period piece coloring books. But until I was about five, I basically only wore dresses. Then one day, I showed up to school in "pants" (aka. stir-up leggings -- it was the mid nineties) and blew everyone's mind. I remember that being big talk on the playground that day.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in July of 1990 in the San Francisco bay area, but now I live in Providence, RI
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
I come from an upper/ middle class family, but we lived in a very affluent community.
What kind of work do you do?
I work with books.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
I'm basically engaged; No kids, and sadly, no dogs (yet).
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I'm a practical, 20-something with a penchant for good books, exotic travel and comfortable shoes.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Tired! This was long!
Emma has lived on three coasts (east, west, Lake Ontario), read many books and likes to bake.