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Sarah Pynoo

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I feel at my most attractive when I feel powerful. I like having a full face of makeup, and a beautiful outfit (preferably something all black with big stomping boots).

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

I admire women who appear confident, especially those that don't follow the rules of beauty that women are supposed to follow. Women that wear clothes that are bold and not traditionally flattering or who dress androgynously are particularly striking.

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

I admire women that always seem put together. I work in an area that is definitely the centre of business in my city. So many women have perfectly ironed outfits, hair that looks freshly cut and styled, and a tall pair of heels. As someone who still can't figure out how to wear a pencil skirt without it riding up or creasing, I would love to know how these women always look so professional.

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 realized after I became comfortable with my sexuality that I did not need to dress to some sort external "ideal" of what a women needs to look like. I then began trying to refine what clothing made me feel comfortable and happy.

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

I almost never allow myself to buy anything outside of the colour palette of black, grey, green, and blue - unless it's for a special occasion. It helps me stay organized and pair outfits.

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

I'm not sure if I follow any specific rules!

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

A chat I had with an acquaintance that is a fetish model for a living. For her, clothing is a way for her to convey strength and power through her desirability, which is a mindset that I find interesting and that I respect.

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

Honestly, as someone with multiple mental health disorders, the majority of my life falls back on self-care - work on yourself and relationships before everything else, and try to maintain balance.

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

I have many basic black dresses, and many scarves. I like them because I like having a uniform that I can toss on when I can't spend the time or mental energy planning an outfit.

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

I bought a set of beautiful tie clips for my fiancé when we got engaged. I knew he was planning on proposing in the next year, so I purchased them hoping I could stash them away for a few months until he did. I was lucky I purchased them so early, as he ended up proposing that week. He loved them.

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

I really can't stand birkenstocks.

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

My mother and I were never close, but when I was a child she always dressed very poorly and hated her body, which I'm certain influenced the way I felt about my own body. This is something I was happily able to grow out of as I got older.

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

I steal style from my friend Teresa. While we both dress very differently, she reminds me that it's important to curate and put thought into the quality of a wardrobe. I wish I could pull off a bow-tie like she does.

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

When I left high-school, I used it as an opportunity to completely reinvent my wardrobe. I've done this a number of times in my life, I feel like I'm constantly evolving.

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

My only political statement I like to make is to wear makeup that is not considered traditionally beautiful. I love harsh eyeshadows, eyebrows, and dark lipsticks. I don't believe makeup should be something women are forced to wear to conform to a certain standard of beauty, but rather something they use as a tool of creative expression.

16. Please describe your body.

It's pale, with large hips, a large ass, and small breasts. Right now, I've lost a lot of weight, so my ribs and collarbone jut out a lot, but that'll bounce back. I have long legs, which I sometimes like, when they're not being clumsy.

17. Please describe your mind.

Sometimes clever, usually neurotic and upset.

18. Please describe your emotions.

All over the place, but mostly happy.

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

I'm wear a black, short, A-Line dress with sleeves that end at the elbow, from a local independent store. My belt is wide, made of vegan leather, and interwoven with strips of black and grey. I have black tights on, with black oxford brogues (free of embellishment). My hair is cropped to my jawline, and is frizzy and messy, but mostly straight. I have on a pair of grey, metal, cats eye glasses, and peridot and gold earrings in my first pair of piercings (the others are empty today). I'm also wearing a gold and peridot ring on my ring finger, with another gold ring (this one with a tiny diamond) holding on the first ring so it doesn't fall off - it's a bit large. I'm carrying a long, grey, wool coat.

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

All of these things give me comfort, except for the shoes, which are totally pinching my arches for some reason today.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My partner, and my friends.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I try to dress not to be noticed, and avoid things that catch the eye.

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

I don't think I have either, and I don't think either are very important.

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

Yes - I bought a gorgeous pair of thigh-high waxed leather boots, but I was young and didn't know to take good care of them, so within a year and a half they were slouching and the zipper was warped beyond repair.

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

No, and I really wish someone would tell me some.

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

I think I have style for home décor. I love thrifting new pieces for our home, and I love laying out beautifully decorated platters of food for guests.

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?

Always. It's how I deal with my PTSD in many ways.

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 think I might be too discerning, because I always know exactly what I do and don't like. I might just be "choosy".

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?

I definitely just picked things up, and definitely more slowly than my peers.

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

I like to do my makeup, and sometimes wear stockings or more fitted dresses to feel sexy.

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 think they wish they could make bold choices in their clothing without a fear of standing out in a bad way.

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?

Oh gosh, I hope this is never a thing that happens. My philosophy is match things, and blend in. Dark neutrals.

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

Unique art and good food.

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?

I've become a pretty good judge of this. I need to make sure the piece fits parameters of how I like my clothing to fit and how it will fit into my wardrobe. Also, my colour scheme helps.

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?

This other person is judgey, probably an ex-romantic partner. I usually rattle off a list of insults at myself, and if they don't seem to fit I'm good to go.

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

Find clothes, put them on, probably under or overdress for the weather, leave.

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

I would like to achieve a sense of uniformity, still trying to get there.

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

Dressing up is dressing to look your very best, dressing is putting on the tools to survive the day.

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

Black stockings or leggings (depending on the weather), black sleeved sheath dress, black sweater or blazer, boots.

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

Black dresses are me. Cardigans are NOT me.

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

My cultural background is a hodgepodge of European things - Ukrainian, Belgian, Welsh, Irish - but as a Canadian I feel like the only thing that has influenced my dress is that I like to be cozy.

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?

I've gone through many permutations of style as attempts to make people like me. All of them were ridiculous, and none of them worked.

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

I try to look tidy, and some form of creative-business casual.

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

I have no dress expectations, which is very lucky. That said, I try and dress what might be described as "creative professional".

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?


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?

Black denim and a fitted black blouse, with black loafers. I love this outfit. It's comfortable, and appropriate for nearly every situation. It's like a blank slate.

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?

Yes, I've wished this often. I might try drag at some point in my life. I love the way men look and style themselves, and being a man would be easier in many respects.

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

Probably New York, right now.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

That I have a lopsided jawline.

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

I really like Alexa Chung's style. She's a beautiful woman who always looks effortless.

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

Not that I can recall.

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

I think prep is not something I can pull off.

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?

Crop tops, and more tight clothing.

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

I would like to look attractive for my partner, while repelling the kind of men that have cat-called or harassed me at work. It's a difficult balance.

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

Dress however you like, and don't let your body or self stop you.

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

I don't wear it, but I used to. I love perfume, in small doses.

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

Shower, remove most of the hair on it, wear a full face of makeup.

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

I usually wear primer, foundation, eyebrow gel, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, blush, and chapstick, set with a setting spray.

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?

Brand culture. Right now Michael Kors is very big in my city, and I do not understand.

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

I own a small amount of clothing. A number of dresses, about two blouses and two t-shirts, two sweaters, two leggings, one pair of black, high-waisted jeans, a couple of blazers, two jackets, and about three pairs of shoes. For jewelry, I own about 5 sets of earrings, and two pricier special occasion necklaces. Also, my engagement ring. This is the core of my wardrobe.

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

My favourite piece of clothing is a pair of leggings my partner purchased for me - they are painted with a painting by my favourite renaissance painter, depicting the plague and death.

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 keep an old green and pink embroidered blazer with wooden buttons. It's the wrong size and doesn't fit my current sense of style, but it's beautiful.

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?

The most valuable purchases have been the ones that I sunk a bit more money into. Nearly everything else has fallen apart.

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?

This beautiful black striped A-Line dress. It was low in front, with buttons, and fit me perfectly in the chest while skimming over everything else. It also had the cutest cap sleeves. I had to donate it, as I just about wore it out.

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

I would keep pair of leggings with The Triumph of Death printed on them.

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

I would make fewer purchases and more investments.

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

The first was a pair of faux fur-lined boots. I sold them.

72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?


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

Right now I'm on the hunt for the perfect handbag. Mine broke, and I need something geometric, black (with elements of light brown or grey), understated, and large enough to carry a tablet. I'm also hoping it has a crossbody strap.

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

Things are a disaster. I am working on implementing a system.

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

Yes, my sister bought me a pearl necklace for my birthday one year.

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 this slim, emerald, silk t-shirt dress to wear with my black leather leggings and heels. It ended up looking amazing on me, and influencing other wardrobe decisions to be similarly simple.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Usually online, and when I need something.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?


79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?

I like to dress hopefully a notch above my current career.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I wish I could afford the sort of wardrobe I'd like to have. I aspire to have a more high-end wardrobe, but my budget does not allow.

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

Yes, my green peridot and gold engagement ring.

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

A man I was on a date with a few years ago started a fight with me, and ended it with "You wouldn't understand, you're some kind of 10. A cool girl like you wouldn't get it." I was stunned to hear someone saw me that way.

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?

I remember being mocked when I wore a pair of shiny pants by a teacher in 7th grade, and being confused. I didn't realize metallic pants were weird, I just liked how they caught they light and how comfortable they were.

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

December. I was born in Canada.

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

I am from a somewhat lower class background.

What kind of work do you do?

Right now I work in sales, and I freelance write and edit on the side.

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

I am engaged.

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

I'm struggling to build myself into a form that I'm happy with.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?


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