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Alice Sullivan

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

Usually after I've had a few days of working out or being active. Mostly early in the morning or late at night.

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

Yes. I admire women who have an eye for color, patterns, and outfits. Especially those with visible tattoos, or something else that makes them stand out. I also admit I admire tall women in heels.

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

Confidence is something I'm still in awe of. I do sometimes feel that way, but not very often.

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've been a tomboy forever. I didn't start dressing in a more feminine way until I was nearly 30, so makeup took a while to figure out. Especially the eyeshadow. I'd use 4 colors and my sister would say I looked like I belonged in Cirque du Soleil. Still figuring out fashion and what looks good on my body.

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

I had to learn that it is okay to spend $60 on a pair of jeans that fit really well instead of buying 4 pairs at the thrift store that didn't fit so well but were cheaper.

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

Can't say that I've had a conversation about it but I have watched a lot of "What Not to Wear," which was eye-opening, and the article about this survey was also informational.

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

Ha! No. I'm single and self-employed. I don't have a normal or unified schedule for anything...except paying my mortgage and bills.

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

Yes! I have an extra pair of my favorite heels because I love them, they're cute, they fit, and I found the extra pair on sale.

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

Yes, I sometimes give people jewelry that I'm wearing if they comment that they like it or love it.

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

I should say that I avoided the pajama jean informercial but that would be a lie. However, I was wearing them when I was in a motorcycle accident and they did protect me from road's that.

I refuse to wear high-waisted anything though.

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

Nope, I'm the anomaly in my family. I have boobs, hips, and curves where my sister and mother don't.

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

Apart from the normal phases of growing up, teenager, and then business, I would say when I began to lose weight my style began to change in ways where I felt more confident and willing to be seen and recognized.

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


16. Please describe your body.

I'm 5'4, 168 pounds, 38-D, ample hips and butt :) Long brown hair, freckles (which I love), a tattoo, and several piercings.

17. Please describe your mind.

Ha! A clusterfuck of words, emotions, colors, and melodies. So...normal.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I'm a pretty even-keel person. I'm stubborn at times, mostly positive, it takes a lot to get me upset.

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

I just took a shower so I'm in my pajamas and my hair is down, brushed, no makeup.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My sister mostly. She also has a hard time finding styles, looks, and clothes that fit her.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

When I worked in a corporate environment, we had a dress code. I didn't care for it. I felt stuffy, starched, and bored.

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

Hmm. Taste. I know goos style when I see it but I can't always put it together out of my own closet.

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

I once bought 5-inch LAMB heels. I can't walk in anything over 3.

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. I do have discernment in most areas of life. A gut feeling regarding relationships, business, and sometimes people I don't know very well. I'd say it comes from paying attention to people's actions, motives, body language, and an internal warning system.

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?

No. I just bought what was cheap and what fit initially.

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

If I'm feeling sexy, I will likely wear my hair down and curl it, wear eyeshadow, perfume, maybe a form-fitting skirt, and remember to shave my legs.

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 to me means wearing clothes that aren't constricting. Confidence is a state of mind.

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

Life. Nature. The ability to change. Grace.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Hurtful actions, high-waisted anything.

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?

Eh...not totally. I am certain I have items in my closet with the tags still on them. I admit that sometimes I'll see something in a store and think it would be something a friend would wear. If I admire that friend's style, I might buy it thinking I'll wear it...but I don't.

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?

Do I look happy? Do I feel comfortable in what I'm wearing? I'd say I generally look like a nice person who is easy-going, friendly, and has her shit together.

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

Dressing up for me means a little more effort, makeup, accessories, intentional choices.

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

Good question. Still haven't figured this one out. When I go for business meetings, I try not to look like I just got out of a college class. But I still sometimes feel like I'm playing dress-up.

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 do admire a lot of the outfits in J Crew, which seem to lean toward a unisex look, but I have curves so that's near impossible to dress that way.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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


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

Lack of wearing them? Yes.

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?

Short shorts and tall heels, more skirts, more dresses.

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

Hmm. If I'm out for a night with friends, I'm hoping to attract men who are respectful of women.

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

I do sometimes wear it. I think for the most part, a little is a nice touch.

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

I would like to lose another 20 pounds. I feel that would make me more confident, but I'm sure I'd still be just as confused about clothes then.

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

Recently, I've been wearing it in a more toned-down and natural manner. Sometimes I'll wear eyeshadow and dark eyeliner.

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

Some college friends recently described me as being a hippie or free-spirited. That was a shock to me. I'd say more eclectic. But there's probably not a big difference in those perceptions.

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

I've recently started wearing a pair of earrings I got when I was 12. They're painted leather and look like feathers. I've gotten so many compliments on them.

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?

Gosh, I have several dresses I have for "when I'm skinny," and can't fit into them yet.

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 made me feel like an adult

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 had an airbrushed t-shirt with a unicorn on it when I was a kid. How cool would that be to still have?

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

I could get rid of it all.

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

Fewer pieces, but ones that actually fit, looked good on me, and that were versatile.

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

Green heels.

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

Yes, things are by style and then by color.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Mostly when I'm bored.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I can't imagine how much money I've spent over the years on clothes just to feel a certain way, to escape boredom, or to fit in.

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

Softlips all times.

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

Sure. I was called a slut when I was 10 or 12 by my dad because I was in a water fight and got my white t-shirt wet. It was all downhill from there.

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

10/18/19, Born in Nashville, TN; live in Nashville, TN

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

White middle class (I assume...the middle-class part). Grew up poor-ish but doing well now. Mostly Scotch-Irish background.

What kind of work do you do?

I'm a ghostwriter

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

Single, never married, no kids, go on terrible first dates often

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

I read your article online and found it fascinating. I think when I was a small child, I had an amazing wardrobe of colors, patterns, fabrics...and it really represented my personality, which was outgoing and playful. Somewhere around age 8 I began to be abused and my clothes, along with my personality, changed drastically. I only wanted to be invisible so I wore bland colors, nothing that would make me stand out. Young in my career, I realize now that while I admired women and men who had a fashionable touch with clothing, I didn't know how to incorporate color or anything fun into an outfit. I still felt invisible. Now at 34, I am finally re-learning how to dress in ways that accentuate my shape, play on my personality, and I try to avoid black, gray, and brown since that's a large portion of what I wore to feel invisible. I'll tell you though, the hardest thing for me now is knowing what is "age appropriate." I'm a self-employed writer and I'm very active in I think in my mind I still feel about 20 and in college. That makes it hard sometimes to know what type of outfit to put together for dates, business meetings, and everyday wear. I'll always be learning, I suppose, but I appreciate the research you have done.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Happy to contribute and a heightened awareness of my clothing choices, and how they reflect/affect my mood.


Alice Sullivan has worked in the book publishing industry since 2001 as a ghostwriter, author, writing coach, speaker, and editor and has worked on nearly 1,100 books, including eleven New York Times bestsellers. She works with publishers, agents, and authors to develop books that are both entertaining and memorable. Connect with Alice at

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