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Merritt Weaver

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

The moment after I've finished putting on my makeup (fully dressed) and sprayed on some perfume.

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

Yes, all the time. I love other women with colored hair, bright colors, alternative fashion; women who are rocking whatever look they've chosen. I really love subculture girls and women, particularly, where there's a certain level of symbolic communication.

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

Hmm... well, see #2. Playing with color, hairstyles, purposeful rebellion, those are things I like about presentation, I suppose.

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 went to a Catholic School until high school where I was pretty much an outcast and made fun of. But my older sisters gave me tapes of punk and indie bands. I think becoming aware of punk music and women in punk definitely influenced how women could express themselves through clothing, find like-minded others etc. Once I went to a high school where I was free to experiment with dress, I was able to engage in this type of communication and it was breath-taking.

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

Hm. I'm not good at shopping. I get overwhelmed and always need some sort of structure. I usually have to have exactly what I want in mind, or else I give up and just want to leave. I do a lot of my shopping online now, since I don't drive and live in a rural area. My rules are to buy mainly black clothes, with sparks of bright colors and neon, intercut with purchases that are just absolutely for fun and play with pattern or iconography.

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

I always come up with different rules to help me choose what to wear (otherwise I become helpless, see above). Usually I wear any new clothes right away. I also do rotations: like, rotate through my dresses to make sure they all get worn. Right now I'm rotating through my shoes; each pair of shoes I wear for four days, with 1) pants outfit; 2) shorts outfit; 3) skirt outfit; 4) dress. I've been toying with dressing by color-- like wearing all red for a year or a period and then going through the rainbow. I think that would be fun and helpful and soothing at the same time. I like Linda Montano's chakra project. Rules help me, but I'd feel weird telling others.

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

... I don't really have any friends... no conversations about fashion...

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

I like patterns and systems. I find structure very helpful, to fight off anxiety.

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 American Apparel sweatshirts and bras, but all in different colors. They're comfortable. I really like to have distinct "special" clothes though, rather than identical items.

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

My husband always dislikes what I get him. I don't buy jewelry or clothing for anyone else.

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

I really don't like high-lo hems. I just think they look stupid.

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

My mother is super cute. She loved shift dresses and Marimekko and though traditional and preppy in her style, she also was very adventurous and liked avant-garde dress (asymmetrical). She was a sewist and loved fabric, and was very interested in the quality of materials.

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

I used to feel that I borrowed from friends. Sometimes I'd have a friend with such a distinct style— a color or accessorizing pattern— that I would feel like I was "copying" them. Even after I actually knew them, I might see or wear something that would conjure them in my mind. I do like colorful shift dresses -- mini-skirts-- just like my mom.

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

As I've gained and lost weight, my style has changed. Also when I started my career - I used to wear a lot of vintage clothes, very rockabilly. But that became a weekend thing and I started wearing more boring office clothes. After five year I left to become self-employed and since then I've rid myself of the boring clothes and returned to fashion I feel better expresses myself (esp. after losing sedentary weight and being able to wear current fashion better again).

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

I do think the personal is political. Sometimes I am purposeful in rebelling against convention. Particularly when I was younger, I did feel that dressing punk could be a political act. Also I often wear straight-edge / animal rights / hardcore shirts-- sort of wearing my conscience on my sleeve.

16. Please describe your body.

I'm 5'6" and now at my lowest weight since high school: 120 lbs. I have a little belly that I need to dress for and a small torso, thinnish dancer legs. I've got tattoos on my arms and legs and hips. Sometimes I have colored blue or pink or purple hair but right now it is blonde.

17. Please describe your mind.

Crazy in all directions. Spiraling, empathetic. Gifted once upon a time.

18. Please describe your emotions.

All over the place, super low sometimes (Black days, black clothing is so comfortable and comforting), sometimes giddy. I am very erratic and feel things intensely.

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

My hair is pulled back in a bun, with a shiny purple headband. I'm wearing a tie-dyed purple sweatshirt over a black sweater with a white crochet collar. I'm wearing a straight edge swatch watch, my wedding ring, a ring I got in high school that's silver, and a ring from Disneyland with type on it that my husband bought me. I'm wearing blue jean shorts, and thigh high black socks, with pale purple platforms with lambs on them. I'm wearing pink glitter nail polish that I did myself last night, silver nail polish on my toes, purple eyeliner with pink glitter eye shadow. I did have hot pink lipstick on but I think it's rubbed off.

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

It makes me feel creative in a weird way. I dress to amuse myself. I usually don't see anyone, or maybe just someone when I pick-up takeout to eat. Dressing is expression though—I use it to communicate how I'm feeling, reference something internal or external (I love themed dressing and sometimes will make up my own themes).

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My husband.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I don't know if any institutions do. Anymore. They did, when I had a job at one. Then I felt I had to be more conservative, to be taken seriously.

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 vulgar taste, or bad taste. I know I'm cheesy, I know I probably dress too young for my age (that's political in a way, isn't it? to buck convention). I'm not fancy, and I don't have an aesthetic which stay constant. Like my moods, the way I dress shifts and changes and is erratic too.

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

I'm kind of a miser. I really don't like spending lots of money on clothing. I have clothing from when I was ten years old that I still wear (crazy, I know). So... wasteful... that would mean something I regret... probably these pointy black patent leather shoes I bought from J Crew and never wore. They were kind of expensive-- like maybe $200.

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

I wish! But no.

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

I am tasteless throughout.

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 have some clothes that make me feel powerful, certain shoes, particularly. My Doc Martens. Black boots. I feel tougher in them. I wear black whenever I feel... overcome...

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?

No, I feel like I don't know what I like. Like it could change. At the same time, I've worn pretty much the same type of thing for nearly forty years now. So...

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 think they taught me to clean my clothes, wear things that didn't smell, change my underwear. Basic healthful things. How to launder my clothing so it lasted.

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

Put on lotion and perfume.

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?

People who are confident are people who seem not to care but still look great. People who want to be comfortable? I guess they just don't want their clothing to hamper 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?

Beta Goth School Babe with Pastel and Neon Sparkles... something like that. I would never be an expert. I'm too much of a style anachronism.

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

Gorgeous patterns and texture

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Ooh, well, I hate hippie fashion. And I really don't like neutrals, bieges, brown, boring clothes (like from the Gap)

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?

Yes. I know there are certain stores (often outlets) where even if I think I like an item, I will never wear it. I have better luck from specific retailers, and I usually feel more comfortable wearing clothing that cost less (is cheaper or I got on sale). If something's too expensive, I feel like it's precious, and I'll "save it" and won't actually wear it. Which is wasteful-- so I try to avoid that.

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 like to imagine I look "cool", but I'm old enough to know that's a laugh; I probably look both like a weirdo and more normal and boring that I think I am. Honestly, I don't know what people think when they look at me anymore.

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

I do chores first (take my dogs out, laundry, cleaning) then I choose my shoes (this week) and build my outfit from there. Sometimes I put lotion on before I dress, sometimes after. Once dressed, I put on my makeup and put on some perfume. I usually consider where I'm going-- if out of the house, I wear less exposing clothes (tight with a short skirt, or shorts instead, etc.), less "crazy" clothes) and also consider how much walking I'll be doing (flats, sneakers, etc.) and weather I will need to do any bending over (or if it's windy or rainy) which will all impact if I wear a skirt or dress.

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

Self-expression, amusing myself, feeling good about myself.

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

Dressing up means I wear fancier clothes, usually a dress, and fancier shoes (no tennis shoes).

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

I like school girl style. I do have an actual school uniform I wear sometimes. It's navy, there's a cardigan, a white blouse with a tie, knee socks, and brogues. I also have saddle shoes. I think that makes a pretty great uniform. Also: all black. Black t-shirt, with black tights, black shorts, black boots. Perfect.

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

Me: animal print, black clothing (gothy), apocalyptic style, cutsie, pastel goth, mod, futuristic, punk, straight edge, cardigans, dresses with peter pan collars, Lazy Oaf

NOT Me: beige, pleated pants, norm core, couture

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

I'm mixed blood, but appear white. My dad is proud to be Irish. I used to wear some turquoise as a nod to my native heritage, but we're not from the Southwest so that always felt a little weird. I feel like people don't understand my background, so I don't really signal it any more.

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?

When I was a child I wore a uniform everyday. It was just the way it was. I didn't even own a pair of jeans until I was in eighth grade. But I remember being made fun of even in uniform, because I didn't accessorize properly or wore my skirt too long, and wore knee socks not ankle socks. All the rules. I just wasn't cool and didn't do cool things.

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

Oh, I never feel professional. I'm a creative professional now so I guess I just look the way I want to. It's different than when I worked as a librarian for a university and had to appear somewhat respectable and authoritative (though I did glom onto that punk rock librarian meme back then).

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

I work at home. I conform to exactly how I feel!

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

I wear overalls when I garden and make pottery. It's functional.

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

Not really.

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 shirt, black tights, black mini-skirt, black boots. Simple. Flattering. Always goes together. Easy to throw on and go out in the world.

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. My husband has great style. I envy how well he can dress with just a few pieces, while I seem to be all over the place with fashion. He makes smaller moves stylistically, but wears awesome clothes. Also, sometimes the clothes I like don't come in small enough sizes, so I wish I was a dude (bigger). Also, sometimes my breasts and hips make clothes hangs weird; a man's body seems easier and simpler to dress.

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

Hm. I like now, right now. Lots of ability to wear whatever you want, to pull from the past. Other eras seems so constrained.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

I look so different than what I think I do. I look older, and heavier, and uglier, than I do in my mind's-eye.

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

Debbie Harry, tumblr girls (haha), punk girls from the seventies, new wavers from the eighties

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

not that I remember.

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

preppie. anything with khakis.

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'm actually super happy with my body now. I work out and lost about forty pounds. I like what I wear. I wish I wasn't old-- it makes me sad because I think maybe I will stop feeling comfortable dressing the way I like-- but I generally wear exactly the clothes I want now.

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

Well, I like it when my husband likes what I'm wearing. He'll comment if he thinks something is cute. And I like to wear his gifts to me (he has great style and is very aesthetic). I suppose I want to repel everyone else.

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


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

Yes. I always get those samples with my Sephora orders. I have a big backlog I'm working through. And I have awesome scents (sweet vanilla, citrus, different things) that I wear. I really like smelling good. I remember when I was in college and first realized that punk girls could smell delicious-- it really opened up a new world for me.

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

Wash my face, put on make-up (cover red splotches all over my face), change my underwear, put on fresh clothing (i.e. nothing I've slept in or worn the day before). And a spritz of a scent rounds it all off.

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

Super important. I don't feel I'm dressed if I don't put on makeup. I look horrible without it, super blotchy and ugly. I need at the most basic to put on some sort of cover-up or BB cream to even my complexion. Usually I like to wear pretty dramatic makeup to complement what I'm wearing: bright eyes with eyeliner and a light lip, nude lip with smoky eyes, or mascara with a strong lip. I also like bronzer and illuminators, and lip gloss. I definitely feel like it's a mask, but it's a mask that makes me feel more like 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?

I guess... what's hip or whatever... but... I just have to do me. Some new fashions just feel weird to me, feel weird on my body, like I'm trying to be someone that I'm not.

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

Not really. A lot of stuff!

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

Leopard print hoodie with band patches.

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 have a velvet kimono that my mother gave me but my husband absolutely hates it. I keep it because it reminds me of my mom.

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 that are unique and one-of-a-kind. Also that remind me of certain experiences: a show, a trip, etc.

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 got rid of all my vintage clothes after a bad relationship. I miss those dresses, but I don't dress that way anymore (rockabilly/psychobilly) and I'm n0t part of that community, so I'm okay that I've left them behind.

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

Ugh, no. I guess a set of underwear?

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

Buy even more black clothes and limit other colors.

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

I have a fancy dress for funerals which probably doesn't fit me anymore.

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

I bought a pair of steel-tipped Doc Martens in high school. Those shoes were my life. I wore them everywhere, even to prom. I felt like they were imbued with a special power, and I feel like I look for that power, that feeling, in all my clothing now.

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

- well, I would have said a cropped pink pleather jacket but I just bought one two days ago so now I don't have a need that needs to be scratched.

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

I like to keep things organized by type of clothing (tights, undergarments, socks, dresses, shirts, bottoms, etc.) but my drawers and closet are both crammed and overflowing. I do my best to sort through and keep things organized though. And I do regular purges of my clothing since my weight has been changing and a lot of clothes no longer fit me. Make way for the new!

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

I suppose my wedding ring. It's the most expensive and fanciest thing I've ever owned. And it's perfect.

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 don't think so.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Mainly online. I keep long wishlists as well as a running list of things I've thought would be nice as I was getting dressed. I like to buy inexpensive but unique clothes.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Pleasant. But there are specific notes I like: vanilla, rose, citrus.

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

People always thought I was an artist, even when I wasn't. Now I dress now for the life I live in my head, even though it's mainly my computer that sees me. I have the privilege of dressing however I want, and I like to take advantage of that... hopefully it will continue.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't like to spend lots of money on clothing, but I like to experiment. So I do participate in fast fashion (except I wear the clothes for *eons* by taking good care of them). I have some twinges of my conscious, and I'm interested in sewing more of my own clothes or re-fashioning items, but I'm so busy I don't really have time. But yeah, I am kind of a scrooge about not spending big money on clothing.

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

Straight edge watch, wedding ring, and black plastic bracelets.

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

People used to tell me they like my style, or how fun I dressed... I don't really see many people now, so I don't get comments anymore. Nothing has caused me to see myself differently; I feel that the way I am perceived is usually consistent with how I present myself.

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?

January 27, 1977. Born and grew up in San Francisco. Live in Connecticut now.

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

I'm bi-racial but look white. My mother and I are members of a First Nations band, but I grew up in San Francisco and most people kind of laugh when I tell them my background. I am very lucky to be fairly well off now, especially being in a creative profession, but it all seems so risky. Like everything could fall apart in a second. Maybe that's why I'm so cagey with spending money on clothes. I am afraid all the good things could just evaporate. When I was younger there were times when I really struggled, and I think that's stayed with me.

What kind of work do you do?


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

Married, without kids.

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

I feel like fashion and dressing is as much an art form as painting or drawing or ceramics. Some people are truly gifted. I am an enthusiast and I know I will never be one of the greats, but I am passionate about the process.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?



A mermaid, a librarian, and an alien walk into a circus...

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