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Cynthia Rutherford

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

..wearing something invincible like my black knit james perse button up shirt and silk charmeuse pants that hang kind of loose. I know that when I move I will move with confidence and that, above all, is what makes a woman attractive.

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

Again, it is in how they move, their posture, not allowing the clothes they are wearing to define them, but, instead, the fabric and cut of whatever covers them shows the movement of their body. They have learned what why look like and they know how to look that way.

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

I love women who dress as if they are having a grand time in their day, their lives. That shows in the colors they combine, it shows in how they accessorize, in the way they do their hair. I also am captivated with women who don't feel the need to be completely neat. A little messy in the hair, the make up, the assembly of the outfit, is another show of confidence and also, that, maybe, just maybe, they have something going on in their lives that is more important than looking in a mirror.

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?

I am an artist, so color, textures, style, design all have been in my head since I can remember. My grandmother (Garm) used to take me to Chicago and I can clearly remember a large painting by Caillebotte that made such an impression on me. Seeing the image of these people in their finery and standing on a street under umbrellas just stayed in my mind forever.

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

in a word, "resale"

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

It is important to me to not look like everyone else, I rarely follow "the rules". Therefore, as a woman in her sixties, I usually unsettle some people. I am okay with that, but I know that not everyone could be comfortable walking in to a room wearing an assembly of thrift shop pieces.

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

Timelessness , working with the old techniques, approaching life comfortable in your own skin, loving what you do and how you look, regardless of your age. In an era where eugenics and cosmetic medicine mindlessly numb everyone's unique features, we have to have reminders of what the human face was. One's personality remains, at times, the only discernable difference between individuals. I approach all in my life with the determination to not fill my personality container with ephemeral, disposable trends, but rather with rich experiences, laughter, good words and excitement.

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

Scarves, long enough to wrap around and around or wear as a dress or wrap my grandchild in.

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

I have a dear friend, who lives on the opposite coast and we have shared clothes since our thirties. We continue to send pieces to one another for some special occasion or just because we know they need it. I sent her a dress that I coveted but could not wear, it wasn't right on me, but it made her glow.

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

My mother sewed all of my sister and my clothes and her own for many years. I so admired that and am sure that influenced me for years. Her style, and she has always had great style, was and remains much more conservative than my own. However, she looks beautiful at 88 years old and of that I am so proud.

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

I wear a gold coin that my mother gave me, sometimes I hang it on a chain, sometimes from pearls, it always looks fine.

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

I have always been free spirited in my dress.

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

Would you assume that political is anything other than the way you approach life? I believe "political" is an overestimated phrase, indeed, having always been a liberal in my thought, my art, my dress, my life, I don't pay attention much to labels.

16. Please describe your body.

At 66, I would say, healthy, strong, active, long and seemingly settled into a size 10 for the time being. Good skin, I stay out of the bloody sun.

17. Please describe your mind.

Ahhhh, the difficult question

I have a big inner life, my struggle is how to organize it, how to aim the gun. I often refer to "the circus in my head", which is constantly pulling up it's tents and moving it's wagons to a new location.

18. Please describe your emotions.

There is a parallel between how our heart feels and how our brain looks. The heart emits energy more powerful than the energy emitted by the brain. The heart is how we connect with people. I have people in my life, men and women and children, that I am in sync with, we are on the same page, we have total connectivity. My emotions are my connections with these people. I must say that women's friendships, the true ones, shape who we are and who we are yet to be.
I think that I would much rather be someone's shot of whiskey than someone's cup of tea.

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

Having just finished a 7 mile bike ride with my 88 year old papa, showered and my hair is wet, and curly, wearing face oil, mascara and a linen slip with no underwear.

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

One must always ask oneself, in any given situation, in five years will any of this matter?

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My dear girl on the other coast, we both are fluent speakers in fashion. My daughters and another artist friend that I travel with.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Not at all

23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?

Style is sitting in a room at twilight and not turning on the lights.
Taste is not noticing the twilight until you realize that your red dress is muted.
Both are descriptive words, I think of myself as styled more often than tasteful.

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

It was probably something for my feet and they were probably called something like "boots"
however, boots are really never a waste as you can never have too many

25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?

never wear underwear with pants or jeans

26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?

my art
my home
my language
my writing
my dinners

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?

I am pretty fearless, so, that rather does not apply to me, so much

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?

Indeed, I do know what I like, I always have. In life, in love, in issues... but the difficulty arises in the discernment.
Charles Bukowski says "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." I would love to think that quote applies to me, however, I often get bogged down in the language of it all. I have a reckless mind and a messy soul, so if I can still carry myself with dignity then it is a good day.

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 mother was an iron er. I try to be as good about it but having discovered a steamer, I have become a bit of a slacker. Nothing I wear ever goes in the dryer, that is one steadfast rule.

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

unbutton, and walk tall with your shoulders back and your chin forward, move your hips individually, it allows you to feel the movement of your body, with that you need no more.

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?

Knowing your own strength gives one comfort. To understand that no one is either worth more or less than you in any given situation allows one to relax and become who one is best being. I think that age gives you confidence however, there is nothing more boring than flashy intelligence, I admire people who are smart and confident enough to listen to another's thoughts.

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 dress much like I paint, layers that allow what is beneath to be caught in a glimpse so that the overall effect is complicated simplicity.
If the fabric is not of quality, the color and style really don't matter. Spend your time and money on the fabric not the name.

33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?

I would be overly surprised if the ubiquitous answer to this was not "nature"... and, of course, what can one say that is not nature. For me, what I find compellingly beautiful are human faces and hands.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

very little

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?

My errors are often in the skirt department

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?

the lines blur a bit for me, the outer eye and the inner me... If I am honest, I believe I probably try harder than I need to to be on the other side of conformity. And the fact that if bothers me, bothers me.

37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?

the weather

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

not embarrassing myself

39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?

amount of jewelry and type of shoes

40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?

dark denim
leather jacket

41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?

silver, gold, jackknives, mascara, good bras, linen, silk, leather

not me
ruffles, patterns, lilly, pastels, signature anything

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

hopefully not at all

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?

at no time

44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?

I put on glasses

45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?

being a self employed artist rather eliminates this question

46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?


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?

Refer to question 40

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?

I adore being a woman

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

1960's Paris or NYC

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

given the right photographer

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


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

Anais Nin, Anh Duong,

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?

A formal suit, with matching anything

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 fine where I am and wear what I want at this point

58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?

no one

59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?

Do not allow others to intimidate you on what you wear, do what you please. Wear the red dress and enjoy it!

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

I have worn "Child" for some time, when I was in college I wore Shalimar

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


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

I rarely go anywhere without mascara , I do not color my hair and it is long and natural curly so that offers up a lot of time and money for other pleasures.

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?

velour running suits??? why have something written across your ass?

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

a number of leather jackets, too many boots, good jeans, fun dresses, a lot of knit button down the front shirts (james perse), t shirts, and I have undershirts, or what are now called tanks, from since I was in college, many many
more than enough scarves

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

a black jacket
I have lost two of my favorite pieces of jewelry lately so I would say my gold coin is my favorite now

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?

pieces with history

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?

My friend that I share clothes with laugh about a red and black plaid skirt we shared back in the 70's , we don't know what happened to it

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

these questions are becoming redundant

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

I just found a Brunello Cucinelli cashmere sweater at an estate sale and that made me happy

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

I try

75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?


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?

a black jacket, which I intended to give to my daughter and found myself in love with, I wear it often

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

as the mood and money allow

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

again, clean

80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't go on sprees

81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?


82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?

no, I am pretty aware sartorially of others, and often will mention something to someone else

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?


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

born in Battle Creek, MI
live in Harbor Springs, MI

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

I am of the good fortune to have been a child of the 1950's allowing me to grow up in a bucolic world, and a teen and college student of the 1960's allowing me to develop a strong sense of freedom to express myself

What kind of work do you do?

I am an artist
I paint

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

two daughters
two grandchildren

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

This survey was too long, that being said, I found it interesting and I am excited about your book. I often use Bob Dylan's lyrics to describe myself.."She's got everything she needs, she's an artist, she don't look back"

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

ready to get off from this computer

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