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Violet Lavender

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I have bouncy, shiny hair and a lip color that coordinates with my outfit. When I'm wearing an outfit that fits me, and I don't have to tug at it. After I accomplished something good at work and someone compliments my effort.

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

I notice many different kinds (races, sizes and ages) of women. The ones I notice most have coordinated outfits and are wearing bright colors. I admire their creativity in putting outfits together.

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

I find nail color and designs fascinating, as well as body tattoos. I like hearing the story behind them. And as I said before, I like the combination of outfits women put together. Ooh -- tights and shoe combos can be super fun! Mostly because I'm clueless about pairing them, myself. Also, I like it when men wear something more daring than the usual white or blue shirts. A gingham pocket square always piques my visual interest.

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?

Gosh. Probably late twenties even though I was an art major. I'm a bit more savvy now and enjoy my outfits, even though I lean toward classic styles.

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

I don't wear billowy clothes. Tailored clothes and empire waists look best on me. Billowy sack-like outfits can look great on others, but it's a hard and fast no cloth sack rule for myself.

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

See above about the billowy clothes.

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

My old roommate wears some pretty wacky stuff, always mixing fun patterns. I took a cue from her to be more adventuresome in how I dress myself. I don't remember a particular conversation, but we discussed fashion, color and pattern a lot.

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

I don't have a unified way. I'm not very regimented and I like what I like. I do wish I could wear more of a variety of clothes, but they aren't cut for my proportions and I can't afford to tailor everything.

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

Black fitted and flared dresses. They look good on me, and they are classic. I need to not buy more though!

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

Oh yes, anyone who I see wearing a piece that I gave them always makes me smile.

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

I tried grey jeggings. They don't fit me well, so I refused to participate.

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

My mother passed down her pear shape but not her larger chest to me. Her style is a bit older: floral patterns that I'm not a fan of for example. Grandma's curtain type prints. She and I both like deep blues, however. She taught me how to sew as a child.

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

Oh sure. I'm always looking for new ways to pair or wear things. They don't always work on me, but I'm a visual sponge. I notice how others wear scarves. I wear a gold initial necklace that was my grandmother's and a few of her opal rings.

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

In my thirties I stopped wearing mini skirts, because I was working in a more conservative atmosphere. Not politically, but clothing-wise. Or maybe I felt I aged out of mini-skirts.

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

I have tons of overtly political tees, from campaigns and candidates to "this is what a feminist looks like" shirts. I also wear shirts from where I grew up so that people understand we're not all yokels. When I wear my long boots, I do feel like I'm going to kick ass that day. Otherwise, there is no over-arching message that unifies my wardrobe.

16. Please describe your body.

It's pear-shaped: a size 14 on the bottom after gaining weight post hysterectomy and a size 6 on top. My body hasn't bounced back yet. I love my curves. I like my long fingers; they're kind of elegant. I have shy pinkie toes that curl under like my dad. I have full lips, blue eyes, long, brown hair and white skin.

17. Please describe your mind.

It's always racing with ideas, worries, inspiration and excitement. I'm a voracious reader and researcher. The best quality I like about my mind is that I'm a great problem-solver -- very resourceful.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Conflicted -- I may be leaving a job for another soon. It's a hard transition, but I'm excited for something new. Overall, I like my clothes and have learned to live within a tight budget.

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

My hair is in a ponytail, I have a little bit of makeup today on, because I took a friend out for her birthday lunch. Some smokey eyeliner, blush and foundation. I have on a long, black, super-comfy, knit, half-sleeved and scoop-necked dress on from Target. It's like a mullet: shorter in the front and longer in the back at the hem. It's one of the most comfortable things I own. It's cut on the bias, not like most dresses I see. I get compliments from girl friends on it, and I think it looks elegant even though it's a bargain.

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

Because it's a part of me as a person. It's self-expression. It's an aspect of creativity. I enjoy dressing myself and helping others choose outfits, but I don't feel pressured to look put together every waking moment.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My roommates, my mom, my sister, my girlfriends. Sometimes I will compliment strangers on their scarves or outfits. Anything I think is cool or neat looking.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Work definitely affects what I buy. There's no posted dress code, but a fair amount of lawyers and lobbyists work there, so I tend to wear dresses.

Institutions less directly affect how I dress than my health. After having endometriosis, my weight has fluctuated so much, that it would determine which pants I could wear when. That's when I started wearing more dresses (and tights in the winter.)

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

Eh, I mostly tend toward "classic" looks. Outfits that would not look dated if someone looked at a photo of them years later. I don't know that it's important to call it that per se. It's just what I like and that's the closest I can come to describing it.

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

Geez. I think I was a freshman in high school and bought purple stirrup leggings and a purple sweater. It did not look good on me. Any shoes that have been too uncomfortable to wear or that have caused a blister. It's so hard to find well-made comfortable shoes for women. Why is that?!

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

Cutting the lining out of skirts that are too tight. They fit just right after I cut the lining out. It feels like you are ripping tags off of mattresses and committing a minor crime, but it works. I also pin tops with a safety pin if they don't close correctly. Buying dresses that tie in the back are flattering on my body shape.

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

Possibly. I haven't given it much thought. I buy bright paisley calendar/organizers so I can find them in my purse. I had a purple car before so I could find it in parking lots easily. I loved that car. I tend toward cool, bright colors.

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 bought a new set of shorts and a top for when I had a hysterectomy. I wanted something uber comfortable, and because of the endometriosis, I was too swollen to fit into any of my shorts I already had.

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?

Yes to the clothing part. Yes, in other areas too. I have a great deal of discernment. I think it comes 1) naturally 2) from life experience and 3) from particularly hard challenges.

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 how to launder and sort clothes, how to care for underwear or delicates, how to hand wash and how to iron and line-dry. I remembered all of that. I occasionally read hints from Martha Stewart or Jolie Kerr.

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

I will kick the eye makeup up a notch and recently I've learned how to do winged eyeliner. Sometimes I curl my hair to give it bouncy waves. Clothing wise, I chose a pretty dress that fits well.

In the winter, boots and coat with a pony and sunglasses look dead sexy on me. Rawr!

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 just that -- clothes that you don't have to think about how they fit. They don't scratch, itch or pull. They might feel soft to the touch like the dress I'm currently wearing. Confident people are not focused on their insecurities or shortcomings and are unafraid to handle the day, whatever is thrown at them.

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?

Timeless looks are always elegant, but ultimately wearing what makes you the most happy and fits well is the key to building a solid wardrobe you enjoy.

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

Colors and patterns. I can't get enough of them. In art, on clothes, in nature. Just everywhere.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Browns that are combined with other muted colors with no variance in shades. I just think of mud combined with sludge and more mud.

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?

Most of the time, but I try on clothes in the store just to make sure. I don't want to waste time returning items. Yes, I know that separates, a-line, flared, and empire styles look best on me, so I gravitate toward them. I also look good in pinks, blues, purples, navies, creams, salmons, and blue-greens, so I usually choose those. I love black, but I should probably buy more navy items as it goes better with my skin tone. Black tends to make me look washed out.

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 don't really understand this question. I don't disassociate my appraisal from myself. It's not based on anyone.

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

I am considering the temperature, whether or not I'm swollen (some foods make my stomach swell so that can determine what size I am that day,) and what venue I'm dressing for. I tend to be more excited to dress for leisure rather than work.

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

To wear something coordinated, creative, with a punch of color, that I feel comfortable and confident in. Comfort is my biggest goal. My holy grail is finding comfortable, stylish and affordable shoes.

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

Dressing up conveys a nicer venue that warrants a dress and maybe no flip flops. Perhaps I may wear a pair of heels. I may paint my nails. Who knows!

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

In my utopia my uniform would be a shift dress that fits with a snazzy jacket, but those are hard to find to fit me in real life.

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

You is a classic look as I described earlier. For whatever weird reason, ballet inspired looks are a favorite: blush and petal pinks with beige, gray and black. Not me would be shapeless sack clothing and anything that's super orange or orangey red. I hate jumpsuits with a passion.

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

I was raised in the South. That may have influenced me to be a bit more preppy and we do wear bright colors there.

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?

Not really. Perhaps in 3rd grade during an unfortunate time in the 80s when puff paint shirts had their 15 minutes of fame?

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

Ugh I hate straightening my frizzy hair regularly, but I've had managers comment before when I wore it naturally curly. Makeup I don't wear much, but that's ok, because I don't like wearing a lot daily anyhow. Clothing, I make sure my dresses don't reveal my ass when I bend over or squat to pick up something.

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

We don't have an explicit dress code. I may wear something super girly like a cardigan, a flare dress and heels. Most women there wear flats and dress on the hipster side, so a dress can feel like a transgression from the norm.

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

No. I like to wear sundresses to picnics and museums if that counts.

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?

It would be if I had one, especially one I may find ugly.

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?

A flare dress. I like how the skirt bounces and twirls. I like the shape of it.

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 don't wish to have a man's body, but I do like the rainbow of ties from which to choose. Although I think it would be harder to have more pressure to fit in clothing wise.

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

Maybe regent era with all of the empire waist lines? I like my voting rights, though.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

From some angles I look really nice. I sort of think my face looks different in every photo.

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

Different things. Sometimes, it's oh, that's a really nice photo. Other times, it's eh, not the best angle.

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

It's cliche and basic, but I like Audrey Hepburn's style. Visually, I loved Alexander McQueen's work, but I don't emulate his style.

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

Not really.

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

Skinny pants. I can never find ones that fit properly!

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?

Probably skinny pants, short shorts, shift or bandage dresses.

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

Not really. I wear what I like.

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

Wear what makes you happy.

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

Lots of kinds of perfume gives me migraines, so I don't wear it. I'd like to find a scent that I can tolerate. Perhaps lavender or violet. Something light.

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

Ugh dewrinkle my clothes either by ironing or tossing in the dryer. My body? I take showers.

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

Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don't. If I don't wear it, coworkers ask me if I'm feeling ok. That annoys me.

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?

Overly hipster outfits that seem fake, like someone is trying too hard. I'm not interested in them because it's like the clothes are wearing them rather than them wearing the clothes if that makes sense. Like they may not like the clothes themselves, but they're following a trend just to fit in for whatever reason.

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

Flared dresses, fitted dresses with some give at the bottom, striped pieces, knit tops, skirts, flats, heels. Not a lot of jewelry -- it's not in my budget. I do have a few geometric pieces from a museum gift shop.

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

My flare dresses!

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?

Some uncomfortable 4-inch gold heels. I save them for costumes or Halloween. I can wear them for a few hours, but it's not something I wear on the regular. I maybe wear them once or twice a year.

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?

Items that held up over time that didn't fade, rip, loose shape, change color or need to be replaced. Reef flip flops are super comfortable and last years. Best $24 I've ever spent on footwear. Knit dresses. They are versatile, packable and still look good with weight fluctuations.

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'm going to have to donate a cute black party dress. It shrank in the wash, and I'm a little sad about it. I would love to have it in my current size, but it's probably 10 years old by now.

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

A knit flare dress of course!

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

I'd buy more navy and prints. Maybe I'd invest in one wrinkle-free white button-down shirt because I hate ironing.

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

Probably a suit. I'm sure it's gone by now.

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

When I bought my first fitted and flared dress. I used to not wear dresses at all as a teen.

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

The Holy Grail of shoes I described earlier. Also a shift dress that fits me. And a one-piece bathing suit that fits my long torso and doesn't smash my chest.

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

Fairly neat. My floor is a different story though.

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

A friend bought me a gorgeous blue and purple scarf from Turkey after her trip.

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 free coat that I got. The coat fits me so well, but it's started to rip. It makes me sad at the thought I'd ever have to get rid of it.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

When I have extra money and when there is a sale on clearance. Rarely do I buy at full-price.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Sure. I like the smell of my deodorant after a shower.

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

I do try to dress up a little at work to advance, but since I'm looking to work at home now, that matters less in my life.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Hugely. If I had a better salary, the quality and variety of my clothes would go way up.

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 carry a brown purse daily, because I don't want to switch it out with another one.

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

Someone called my black dress elegant recently and that's why I wear it more often. I didn't really consider myself a classy broad, but perhaps I am? ha!

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 don't remember my swimsuit, but I remember losing my green flip flop in the ocean when I was two.

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

I was born in 1979 in the South and live in the Mid Atlantic now.

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

I had a middle class upbringing, but we were frugal. I've always been drawn to art and bright colors.

What kind of work do you do?

research and editing.

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

single, no children.

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


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