Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When I am comfortable in my surroundings and my personality can shine through.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
I do! I admire women who look "put together." Clothes that fit perfectly, that speak to their sophistication.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire a woman who can present herself in a way that is classic and unique all at once, who knows her body and how to dress it, who exudes confidence with everything she wears.
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?
Sometime after I turned thirty, I realized that I had to dress according to what I liked, and not what the magazines and books said I should like. I stopped following trends and paid more attention to things like fit and quality. I realized that looking great has more to do with the way you carry yourself than anything else.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
I never buy without trying on first; this means that if I shop online, I make sure there is free return shipping, should I need it. I spend at least twenty minutes in the dressing room with a pile of jeans, making sure the fit is impeccable. I shop alone, or at least with a friend who won't be too judgmental about your choices.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
NO LOGOS. I hate things that are plastered with logos. I also refuse to wear any jeans with "bling" on the pockets; I prefer a simple, uniform wash. Everything must fit and must be clean and in good condition; I'm not one to wear distressed jeans or jackets. No matchy-matchy allowed in my wardrobe; I'll never match my shoes to my bag or my shirt to my shoes or anything along that line.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I told a stranger at Target that I loved her outfit and that I thought she looked marvelous. She was touched and started to cry because she'd just had a baby, and said she wasn't feeling very attractive in her new body. I realized that day that style can be very powerful, that it can truly brighten someone's day.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
Do what works, don't do what doesn't. I don't hold onto anything because of a sense of guilt or obligation; if it isn't doing me any good, I will ditch it right away. Don't like the book? Stop reading it. This person's negativity is getting me down? Remove them from the Facebook newsfeed. This job is making me miserable? Quit and find something better.
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 lot of black skirts. I think this is just because I still haven't found the perfect black skirt.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
I bought my boyfriend a pair of simple, white Chuck Taylors for his birthday last year. They were exactly his style; classic, not too flashy, but pristine.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Many. I don't like to do what everyone else is doing. I refuse to wear Birkenstocks, which are supposedly the big thing right now. I think they're ugly. I won't wear slouchy clothes or peep-toe boots, because they just don't make sense to me. I was into the neon craze for a minute, but now it's just a little too much for me.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My mom was and is a slender woman, and so am I. She had a closet full of amazing, classic, high quality clothes. I definitely inherited my love of fashion and style from her. She talked about designers and the fundamentals of fashion, like good fit and dressing for your body type. It stuck with me.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
I went through a retro, pinup forties style phase for a minute, all because I had a few friends who were really into it. I wore flowers in my hair and wore forties style dresses and shoes and did my makeup like a pinup model. I still like that style, but I don't do it from head to toe like I used to. It just isn't me.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
During my first pregnancy, I seriously let myself go. I didn't have much money, and it seemed wasteful to buy an entirely new wardrobe for a very temporary time in my life. Besides, maternity clothes were so ugly then, I couldn't stand spending money on them. I spent the better part of a year wearing sweatpants and oversized t-shirts. My self-esteem was rock bottom; I felt like I didn't matter enough to have a decent pair of pants.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Very rarely. I have a t-shirt that says "Bad Feminist" as part of a promotion for a Roxane Gay book, but that is about the only thing that could even somewhat be considered political in my wardrobe.
16. Please describe your body.
I'm taller than average, slender, and well-proportioned. Nothing too big, nothing too small. I'm very happy with my body, even with my stretch marks and cellulite and the pasty paleness of my skin.
17. Please describe your mind.
My mind is like a bucket of fireworks going off all the time. It bounces a lot. I have so many ideas, and so many things that interest me. I feel like I notice things other people don't, that I care about things other people don't notice.
18. Please describe your emotions.
My emotions are HOT and cold and subject to rapid change, a lot like my mind. For the most part, I can maintain an even keel, but when I'm upset, I'm REALLY upset, and THE WORLD IS ENDING. When something good happens, it's THE BEST THING EVER, even if it's just something small.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
I'm wearing a purple cotton V-neck t-shirt and a pair of straight leg jeans. My hair is tucked into a tiny ponytail. I'm wearing foundation and blush, but no eye makeup. I looked MUCH different a few hours ago.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
What I'm wearing right now is not important. I'm at home, doing my work, feeling comfortable. I like it. As far as "this stuff," as in fashion as a whole, it isn't terribly important in the grand scheme of the world, but it does matter. It matters to me. I love it.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
My sister is my favorite person to talk clothes with because I feel like she is the only person who really "gets" my fascination and love for it. We have a similar sense of style and can spend hours upon hours shopping together. She was the one who first made me realize I'm worthy of fashion and style, and who brought me back to my true self when I lost myself during my pregnancy.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
They don't, really, unless we are talking about work dress codes. My job right now requires a uniform, and I spend every day wearing head-to-toe black. It isn't my favorite.
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. I think style is more important than taste. I think taste is more subjective, while style is more universal. I think style really comes down to your unique body and dressing it in a way that says you love and understand your body. Style is choosing a fitted dress that accents all your amazing curves and everything you love most about your body. Taste is choosing the orange dress over the red dress.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
I bought a jacket that I loved for $100, and though the idea of it was nice, it just didn't translate well in my life or my wardrobe. It is a corduroy, green floral print jacket with brown elbow patches. I don't know what drew me to it. The shoulders feel huge to me and I feel like it swallows me whole. I should have put more thought into that one.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Heels to make my legs look great. I have very skinny legs, but heels make them look amazing.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I think I have style in social situations, and I would have style in my home if I could afford to implement it.
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?
Job interviews, karaoke contests, being in an unfamiliar place with people I don't know. If I wear something that fits well and looks high quality, and if I have my hair done nicely and makeup on, I find that I feel more confident and people treat me with respect. I feel like I essentially tell them what to think of me with my style choices.
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?
Absolutely, in all aspects of my life. I think my discernment comes from years of getting to know myself, of trying things and rejecting things and fine-tuning my preferences. I like to keep an open mind, though, and try not to dismiss anything because I think I might not like 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 that quality is worth the money, and worth the effort to maintain it. She also taught me to show off just one body part at a time; no cleavage AND legs. Choose one and go with it.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
All I have to do to feel sexy is slip into a dress and some heels. I also like to show off my tattoos. That makes me feel sexy, too.
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?
"Comfortable" means "casual" to me. I always, always feel more comfortable in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, but not necessarily more confident. "Confident" means daring to stand out, daring to dress in a way that gets attention. So, while I might be more comfortable in jeans and a tee, I will always feel more confident in a fitted dress and some killer heels.
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?
My style philosophy really comes down to the fundamentals: fit, texture, color, structure. I like a look that's sophisticated but also unique; little details make all the difference.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
The juxtaposition of very different styles. I love high end mixed with low, formal mixed with casual, structure mixed with softness.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Clothes that don't fit, especially t-shirts that are many, many sizes too large. Elastic waistbands on jeans. Clothes that say "I don't care about myself" or "I want to disappear."
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?
It has taken me a long, long time to figure this out, but I think I've finally gotten there. I have a running list of items I want to add to my wardrobe, and I take my time finding and adding them. Generally, if I find myself saying, "I wish I had a white button-up" or "I wish I had a leather jacket" more than a couple of times a week, I know it's time to start looking for that item.
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?
I always assume that the people in the small town where I live won't understand my fashion choices. I look at myself through my own eyes, and I like what I see. I look at myself as the "other," and I see someone who is trying too hard, who is overdressed, who thinks too highly of herself. This judgment is based on real-life experience I've had with friends giving unsolicited opinions of the clothes I've chosen to wear. There is a pervasive idea here that people here "just don't do that," and that I should try harder to conform. I can't make myself do it, though.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
I think about where I'm going and what I'm doing, who will see me, and how I feel.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
I'm trying to project an image, my most ideal feelings about myself.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Honestly, for me, it's all in the accessories. I never wear jewelry unless I'm dressing up.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Straight leg jeans, an interesting, colorful or patterned top, a blazer, ballet flats, and a structured bag.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Polka dots, peplum, heels, sneakers, graphic tees, structured dresses, tights, riding boots, bright colors and interesting patterns are me.
Clogs, clingy, blingy jeans, blingy belts, blingy bags, skin-tight tank tops, cowboy boots, bleach blond hair, cheeky message tees, hobo bags, and gym shoes as regular, everyday shoes are NOT me.
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I don't really have cultural background, other than growing up poor, if that counts. Growing up poor has had an influence on how I dress. As a kid, I couldn't afford many nice clothes, and I was teased. People knew I was poor because of what I wore. I got a job in high school and bought just a few of the highly coveted trends of the time (mostly expensive t-shirts) and I noticed that just having one or two of these things made a big difference in the way I was perceived and treated. I don't want the way I dress to broadcast my personal situation.
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?
In college I wore oversized sweaters and undersized baby tees, oversized overalls, lots of cutesy things with cartoon characters. I think I was trying to avoid growing up.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
I wear clothes with impeccable fit, long sleeves and high quality materials, usually something classic and not too quirky. I like to wear my hair down in soft waves, and I keep my makeup understated.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
I conform because I have no choice. I have to wear long, black slacks and a long sleeve, black button-up top and black shoes. I rebel by wearing white athletic socks. Nobody ever sees because I am always standing up.
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
Constraining. I think that a uniform changes the way people perceive and treat you. I hate having to wear a uniform, but it makes sense where I work now, since I am a waitress and my uniform is functional.
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?
Jeans and a tee and sleek sneakers. I like the ease of it, the comfort, the way I can make it look put together even though it's so casual.
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?
Noooo. I love being a woman, and I love all the clothing choices I have as a woman.
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
I'd say the 1950's, when women wore pants AND dresses. And saddle shoes. Yes, I'd love some saddle shoes.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
I do now, though it has taken me many, many years to get to this point.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
I usually think I look pretty good.
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
Audrey Hepburn, Reese Witherspoon, Gwen Stefani.
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
I usually have dreams that involve losing my clothes or being unable to find clothes to wear.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Rocker/punk chic. It just isn't me, at all. I don't like studs or skulls or lots of black or holes in tights or stompy boots. Not my thing.
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 am pretty comfy with my body, so I already wear what I want, which is mostly lots of jeans, skirts, and dresses.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
I don't think so.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
The biggest one would be to only wear clothes that fit. The hem of your pants should graze the heel of your shoe without dragging on the ground. Flip flops are not real shoes and do not go with everything.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I love perfume, but I haven't worn it in years. I ran out and just haven't replaced it. I worry about people with allergies or sensitivities to such things. I'm not sure why.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
I have to be clean and showered, nails done, makeup done, clothes clean and pressed with the proper undergarments (nothing showing through or creasing things up).
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
Makeup is just a way to polish the look. I don't wear a lot of it, but I do enjoy it.
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?
Nail art! Everyone I know is doing nail art, and I just don't care for it. I wear clear polish, or, on occasion, red.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
Lots of cotton, lots of basics, cardigans, skirts of various lengths, cuts, and patterns, two pairs of jeans, some sweaters, some graphic tees, a few dressy tops and a few dresses. I have a ton of jewelry, but I rarely wear any of it. Watches, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings...you name it, I have it, I just don't wear it.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
I have this fantastic red dress that I wear much too often, but I love it. It makes me feel gorgeous, and I love how the red looks with my tattoos.
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?
The jacket I mentioned earlier, the biggest waste of money. I don't know why I can't part with it. I guess I keep hoping I'll put it on sometime and like it.
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?
Fundamental pieces and basics. I get the most wear out of them and tend to love them the most.
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?
I had a pair of fake leather purple ruffle accent ballet flats from Old Navy. I bought them on sale for about five dollars, and I wore them constantly. The purple was the perfect accent to just about everything I had, they were comfy, and the ruffles made them interesting. I wore them until they fell apart and I had to throw them out. I wish I had bought duplicates of those shoes.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
I'd keep my Laundry by Shelli Segal blazer. It's a great blazer and I'd never part with it.
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
I'd buy fewer, but better quality items, and a lot less trendy stuff. No polyester or rayon; only natural fibers. No impulse buys. No slouchy bags.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
My riding boots. I paid $165 for them, which is a lot of money for me. I still own them, but have decided to mostly retire them. I've worn them for over 7 years now, and I'm so glad I bought them.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
I bought some designer items from a consignment shop, and I felt like I was granted access to a world that I never thought I'd ever belong to. I realized that it's not such an exclusive club, so to speak, and that changed the way I look at labels and designer clothes.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
I'm looking for a good quality, classic trench coat that won't cost me thousands of dollars, and a pair of great black pumps with just enough of a platform and support to be comfortable and high.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
They vacillate between orderly and messy. If I'm busy or stressed, things get disorganized, but I always straighten it up before it gets too out of hand.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
My boyfriend had a necklace specially made for me to replace a necklace his daughters lost. He went to an artist and had her replicate it as closely as she could, with vintage fabric and glass. It was an incredibly touching gesture.
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?
Yes! I bought a brown cardigan and accidentally grabbed one that was three sizes too big. I came to love that oversized cardigan and wore it so much that it fell apart. The purple flats from Old Navy were also a passing thought when I bought them.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
I tend to overthink it when I shop, so I prefer to do it online. I can put an item in my shopping cart, then sleep on it. I look at clothes online all the time; it's how I unwind. When I shop in a store, I'm slow and deliberate. I go through each rack and I try on every thing. I like to go alone when it won't be too busy, early in the day or later in the evening.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
I just don't want to smell bad, really.
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
I just started a humorous style blog, and I want to grow it into a viable brand and business. The way I dress has everything to do with that ambition.
80. How does money fit into all this?
Money is necessary, but it's not the most important thing for style. I find some amazing clothes and shoes at second hand stores and in consignment shops for very little money. Having less money means you have to have more patience and be more discerning about what you buy, but I think that challenge is part of the fun.
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 always do my eyebrows and mascara, but those are the only things in my routine that happen every single day. Well, some days, I don't put on any makeup...
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
I posted a link to my blog on my Facebook page, and a friend of mine commented that she could still remember the day she met me, how I looked put-together and seemed so sure of myself. I can remember that day and what I wore, too, and it made me realize that I have been successfully projecting the image I've been pursuing all along.
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?
When I was 7, my mom still chose my clothes for me. She was partial to a pair of teal corduroy pants with a whale-shaped button and mock turtlenecks. I didn't like the clothes she chose for me; I wanted to wear my skirts and dresses and my patent leather Mary Janes every single day. I finally put my foot down and insisted that I be allowed to choose my own clothes. I remember saying to my mom, "You don't understand my style!" When I was finally allowed to chose my own outfits, I felt free! It was a turning point in my life, for sure.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
June 16, 1979. I was born in Auburn, CA. I live in Great Falls, MT now.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
I'm white, I grew up poor and am currently poor, though I don't really feel poor.
What kind of work do you do?
I am a waitress during the day and a blogger the rest of the day and night. I work at it like it's a full-time job.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
I'm single with two kids.
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I like my clothes, my stacks of fashion magazines, my rerun episodes of What Not to Wear, and my shelves of fashion books. I look at my shoes and they make me smile. I truly believe that fashion and style can change your life.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
I feel like I'm pursuing the right dream. I also feel like organizing my clothes.
My name is Melanie and I live in a small town where fashion is often just an afterthought. I'm a single mom of two with a low-paying job and really big dreams. I just started my own humorous fashion blog, which I'm very proud of and have way, way too much fun with.