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Robyn Aleksiewicz

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I always feel attractive when I'm wearing black from head to toe. That colour doesn't just make me feel confident; it makes me feel powerful, invincible. I am an assassin or a femme fatale or some ruthless night queen, I am on the outside as I am on the inside.

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

I notice women who walk with their head up and their shoulders squared, no matter what they're wearing. These women always seem to glide through crowds like a hot knife through butter, slightly apart from the rest of us.

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I most admire another women's appearance when she appears put together but effortless. That is, to me, the epitome of grace. I like when women don't dress according to specific trends and when they embrace what's unique about their appearance.

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 was after my first year of university, when I wasted time and tears trying to look like a certain type of girl, wearing clothes I wanted to look good in. I remember putting on my grandmother's emerald green wool pencil skirt from the '50s, the first pencil skirt I'd ever worn, and having this moment of perfect clarity. This was how I was supposed to dress, to not only flatter but celebrate the body I had rather than what I wished I had. Suddenly I had a waist and hips and I felt beautiful.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

Usually I shop alone so no one else's opinion impacts how I feel about what I try on/buy. I never let myself worry about sizes. They vary so much from brand to brand that it's ridiculous to attach any value to some arbitrary label. I never buy anything I hesitate over. If I put it on and I don't love it, I don't buy it.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

I dress to make myself feel good, not to elicit admiration from anyone else. Having a personal style is of the utmost importance. For instance, I only wear certain colours and styles of clothing. I rarely wear things because they're in style that season. If a piece of clothing fits my aesthetic and it's trendy, I wear it.

7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?

It was soon after I went from wearing the ill-fitting clothes of a preppy college girl to dressing like a "goth pin-up" (as my mother describes it). One of my coworkers told me I was elegant. I'd never thought of myself as elegant - who does? - but it made me realize that dressing differently hadn't just altered my appearance. It had changed how I felt about myself, which had a huge impact on how I carried myself. Suddenly, I wasn't a slouching, rumpled, self-conscious girl in khakis and polo shirts. Suddenly I was elegant.

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

I tend to live according to the philosophy that a good life is fifty percent destiny and fifty percent determination.

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

I tend to buy a lot of cardigans. They fit my aesthetic, but I can never seem to find one that I like. It's a never-ending quest. I think I'd actually be a little sad at this point if I did find one I liked. It would rob me of one of my favourite shopping past-times. The fun is in the hunt.

10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?

I don't buy people clothes, but I do give jewelry. I bought my mother a pendant that is a miniature replica of a Faberge egg. It's blue and red enamel, accented with gold, and opens to reveal a tiny little gold model of St Basil's Cathedral. She loves it, and bought me one in return, and now it's become a family tradition. We buy each other a pendant every Christmas.

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

Leggings as pants. I've read the arguments for and against, and as a whole-hearted feminist, I think every woman should wear whatever she wants. For me, though, leggings are too revealing to wear on their own. I'm a bit old-fashioned (I refuse to call myself modest), so I like my hems to fall at least six inches above my knee.

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

My mother wasn't really concerned about fashion when I was growing up. As a stay-at-home mom with body-image issues, she tended to dress for comfort rather than style. When she returned to work when I was a teenager, however, she began dressing differently, revealing a hitherto clandestine fashionista. While our body types are different, I think she and I share similar ideas about clothes. A preference for simplicity and clean, classic lines is something notable about both of our fashion choices.

13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?

No, unless a preference for "vintage" styles counts.

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

I discovered punk rock at the age of 16. It was transformative. I wore lots of black and faux-leather and made as much of my clothing as a I could (God forbid buying anything and being labelled a poser, or worse, an emo). A frightening amount of money when to Doc Martens.

15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?

I suppose refusing to wear some of the clothes that I think are too revealing or too sexualized is a political statement, but I tend not to connect style and politics.

16. Please describe your body.

Too often, my body is an opponent. I was a thin child, a chubby teenager, and an anorexic young adult. Now, at 27, I am athletic, but despite being at the lower end of my ideal BMI spectrum, I feel soft, thick. I will never have the waifish body I sometimes yearn for. I have an hourglass shape, golden skin, dark hair. Sometimes, I feel utterly, terrifyingly perfect.

17. Please describe your mind.

My mind is my home. It's a refuge, an escape, a queendom. It's a slightly dilapidated Victorian mansion with peeling paint and unlit corridors and hundreds of rooms that each contain thousand of rooms, infinite nesting dolls or rooms, each one opening to a different world more real than the one my body exists in.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Blue skies punctuated at predictable intervals by cataclysmic thunderstorms. I guess I maintain my zen by allowing myself to rage when I need to.

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

I'm filling this out at ten o'clock at night. I'm wearing men's silky boxer shorts printed with spongebob squarepants, a fitted black tank top, fluffy socks, and a man's plaid housecoat. I have no make-up on.

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

I think fashion and style and clothes are as important as you make it. However, even if you don't care at all, how you appear on the outside affects how the world perceives you, so I think it's important to be mindful of the image you are presenting.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My mother, my friends, coworkers

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

They don't overtly affect the way I dress.

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 taste and style, but taste is more important because it is impossible to be stylish without being tasteful. Stylish implies something that others admire, but tasteful is more basic.

24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?

I bought a pair of high heels with a werewolf on them and still haven't had the chance to wear them, five years later.

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?

On job interviews I usually wear black.

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 do know what I like. I think I have a very definite sense of what I prefer in most areas of life. I think it is a matter of personality. I've always had strong opinions and little use for ambiguity.

30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?

I wear form-fitting clothing, usually in black, usually low-cut in the top without revealing too much. My hair is always down, because it's up the rest of the time. Most of my "intentional" sexiness comes from my make-up. I don't wear it on a day to day basis, so it is a sort of war-paint, only intended to seduce rather than intimidate. Thick cat's eye liner, red siren lips, and mascara.

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?

Wear what makes you feel powerful.

38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?


42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

I'm Scottish and Ukrainian on my mother's side, and Roma (Gypsy) on my father's side. I think my preference for black clothing comes from my Roma heritage. Despite the stereotype, most of my Roma relatives don't wear bright colours or prints. Everyone prefers black. And lots of jewelry.

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?

T-strap heels, pencil skirt, sleeveless blouse (tucked in), cardigan. I love that it's vintage and subtly sexy and professional.

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?


51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

Regency England. All of those empire-waist dresses. Bonnets, slippers, reticules. Drooling.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

No. I take horrible photos. I've got the bony beauty of a young Anjelica Huston.

53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?

Bones. Angles. Scary witch doppleganger.

54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

Bettie Page, Dita Von Teese, Eugene Hutz

55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?

I dream about jewelry. Usually earrings. Losing them, finding them, having them ripped out of my lobes.

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

Anything really revealing

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?

Exactly what I wear now

60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?

I wear it. I think as long as you're don't drench yourself in it, it's fine. I really resent being told I "can't" - it's a personal choice, and no one has the right to tell me if I can wear perfume.

61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?

Depilation. Ugh.

62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?

I hate it, but I wear it - as little as possible.

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?

Yoga pants. I just hate the way they feel.

64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?

Pencil skirts, a few fuller skirts, tank tops, blouses, cardigans. Not many dresses. Tights, leotards. High heels, flats, boots. A few items of clothing for working out.
I'm a magpie when it comes to jewelry. Mostly delicate pieces. I prefer small charms and pendants, dangly earrings, yellow gold or silver.

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

A pencil skirt made by my mother. It's gold and black brocade, and it reminds me of Imperial Russia.

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 have a fire-engine red strapless sheath dress. I don't wear it because I have no where to wear it, but I keep it hoping that one day, I 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?

Basic pieces in black. I get the most wear out of them, and they make me feel great.

69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?

I'd keep my leather jacket. It's cut in an unusually feminine way, with princess seams and puffed sleeves. It's a study in contrasts.

70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?

I tend to focus more on bottoms, so I'd be sure to buy tops and blouses that weren't just plain cotton.

71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?

My Doc Martens. I still wear them.

73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?

I'd like a dress in black and grey pinstripes, so I could feel like Al Swearengen every time I wore it.

74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?

They're quite neat, but a little too tightly packed.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I like to smell exotic and lush. I try to find perfumes with jasmine or sandalwood as their main component.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I have very little. I buy everything on sale and make as much as I can myself.

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 wear a Mjollnir (Thor's hammer) pendant every day for religious reasons.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

September 23, 1986. I was born in Toronto and now live in the suburbs outside of the city.

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

Scottish-Ukrainian-Ruska Roma mongrel raised in predominantly white suburbia. Raised nonreligious. The upper end of lower middle class.

What kind of work do you do?

Unemployed to the world; privately, a struggling writer

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?


Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.

I was raised in an abusive household. When I realized I was valuable as a person, that I had rights, I started dressing how I wanted to, rather than how I was told to.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I'm realizing my sense of style is far more define than I had thought.


Robyn Aleksiewicz is biding her time until she fulfils her destiny and rules a barren, post-zombpocalypse wasteland as an iron-fisted warrior queen

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