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Jane Thomsen

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I am happy with some point of difference in the way I have dressed.

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

Individuality and style

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

Putting unusual items together to make a whole.

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?

You don't need to follow the crowd, especially if you don't like what they are wearing. The "cool girls" aren't necessarily cool. As a late teen..

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

Buy what you love whether it is expensive, cheap or second-hand. Doesn't matter if it matches other things - you can make it work.

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

Wear what makes you feel happy, but try to be situation-appropriate. Don't worry about body shape etc - as long as you feel confident you will look great.

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

Finding out from a stylish (and well-paid) woman that she trawls second-hand clothes shops.

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

I wish - two kids, a full-time job and a long commute...

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

And colourful shoes - because I love them (and they can always be worn with black...)

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

My mother after she died - she was never without her very precious (to her) pearls. We don't bury or cremate loved ones with jewellery in our family as they are passed down and worn with love, but she didn't look right in her coffin. I had been given some beautiful but simulated pearls by a close friend, and they made Mum's last outfit look just right.

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

Not really - but definitely put my own appropriate interpretation onto it.

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

She was very tied up with what was "correct" within her social group - I have rejected that.

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

Always used/adapted ideas! Rarely borrowed, or stolen.

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

When I left university and began working professionally. Got rid of all my inappropriate favourites and went all corporate...and have regretted losing some of them ever since. That phase lasted about a year I think...

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


16. Please describe your body.

Tall and slim (but not model-thin/toned)

17. Please describe your mind.

Always feverishly learning

18. Please describe your emotions.

Usually positive, but always wishing my life wasn't so hectic.

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

Skinny jeans, ankle boots (slightly cowboyish), skirt-lenth black merino singlet, patterned sweater, light make-up, hair in a messy ponytail, long stain-glass earrings.

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

Comfortable, tidy (I work in a university so don't have to be corporate), individual.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Friends, sisters

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Just work-appropriate - but that is more in terms of body coverage than anything.

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

Style is more important - taste is very subjective and limiting.

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

Oh so mainly - that may be beautiful but not comfortable, so never worn or given away.

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

Second-hand shops!

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

House fashion? Does that count? Kind of similar to my clothing - eclectic etc.

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?

Yes, comfort clothes if I am feeling down.

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, developed after many years - just being true to myself and not worrying about what others think.

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?

Yes, but I have ignored it all.

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

It depends - it is actually not about dress, but about my attitude at the time.

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?

Self-comfortable, and self-confident.

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?

Eclectic! Don't stick with one thing and experiment!

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


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?

Usually (now)

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?

Can't really say..

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

What am I doing today - what is the weather like - what is my mood like?

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

Confidence (and warmth)

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

Heels, make-up, something shiny! Depends what I'm dressing up for (I am a Burner...say no more)

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

Black, relatively slim fitting but comfortable (with colourful shoes)

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

Individuality vs constraint

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

White middle-class New Zealander of Scottish and Danish descent - means I can dress the way I do, especially living in an arty cosmopolitan city (Wellington)

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?

Yes, the aforementioned corporate uniform of the late 80s - I was finally grown-up and it was time to take life seriously and throw away scruffy individual things...

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

Heels, conservative base with some sort of funky touch to keep me happy.

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

They are fairly open, so not anything much. I don't tend to wear revealing clothes in a work situation, so that is not a problem.

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

(I am a naturist - does that count?)

47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?

Um, I kind of have to conform - but I always wear earrings!

48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?

Comforting...certainly not constraining lol!

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?

Earrings and rings! I don't know why.

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?


52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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?


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

Yes often

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

I think I could achieve anything if I tried

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 the same as I do now

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


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

There are no rules!

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

I like light perfume - but there are some I can't stand, so I keep it light in case others don't like it.

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

Clean, in good order.

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

Usually, but depends on the situation

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?

Anything I am expected as a 50-year old woman to wear because it is my appropriate thing.

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


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

My wedding and engagement rings

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 my grandmother wore to my parents wedding in 1948 - she was tiny so it is hasn't ever fitted me!

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?

Eclectic and comfortable.

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?

So many - everytime I get rid of anything I love but is no longer in fashion I wish forever I hadn't - never get rid of anything you like!

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

my Grandmother's jacket...

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

Nothing that needs ironing!

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

A black pants suit - and no.

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?

I will know it when I find it!

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

Um messy..but clean

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?

Usually doesn't happen that way..

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

When I have time and shops! If I have no money I can always go to the thrift shop.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?


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


80. How does money fit into all this?

See above

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

My wedding/engagement rings and my grandmothers plain silver ring

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

Not sure

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 can remember what I was wearing in every memory I have for as long as I can gumboots spring to mind!

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

1964, New Zealand - and still (with a time in the US)

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

Strongly middle-class

What kind of work do you do?

Academic librarian

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

Married mother of 2 boys

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

I love fashion and clothes. but can't afford to spend decent money! New clothes make me happy.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

It was fun


I have maybe already written a lot of it!

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