Read Surveys (By Author)
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
Nonchalance that doesn't look sloppy; people who manage to look clean all the time; women who remember to wear lipstick on a normal day; women whose scarves are the right thickness and drape; women who mix shades of grey perfectly.
But most of my day-to-day clothing admiration energy is spent on men who manage to always have meticulously clean sneakers, perfectly fitting jeans, cool jackets, and an amazing sense of colour and proportion.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
No dresses or skirts below the knee, no shorts before the May long weekend, all pants with belt loops must be worn with belts, black bras with white shirts are actually preferable (because I read once that the only women who wear this combination are either hookers or French Canadian, and I aspire to be a French Canadian woman, though I'm also sex-worker-positive!).
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
With a mix of humour, positivity, and laziness-driven efficiency.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
White men's Fruit of the Loom v-neck tshirts, cut-off jean shorts, Converse low tops. Because together these items (in the right proportions and with the right jewelry) are the ultimate outfit, but none of them last very long on their own.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
Items have mostly been 'stolen' from my mother (much more often when I still lived in her house, and when I was especially excited about her 60s era treasure trove in the basement. There hasn't been much of interest to me among her things in the last 15 years), but I steal ideas all the time.
I believe vehemently in stealing ideas from among what we like on other people. That's how we patch together 'our' style - by noticing what we like, breaking it down, and figuring out what we can apply to our own situations. However, I do mostly try to steal from strangers, because I prefer to see my friends copy me than the other way around!
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
Partway through university, my best friend and I determined together, through a fairly agonizing process, that we should put more effort into our appearances. We had been happy to dress very plainly, wearing nondescript styles from mall stores, and never wear makeup or make an effort with our hair. But it suddenly seemed obvious that the people we'd been silently judging for their shallowness were having a lot more fun than we were.
Our initial efforts were of course a little pained and awkward, but we slowly crawled out of our shells and, partly through the power of stealing ideas and copying other people on campus, developed a vintage-heavy, somewhat 'boho,' mix-and-match mid-00s style. I can't say I look back on that style as my best period, as it sometimes went a little far, but I'm proud of my former self for trying.
My best friend, as an aside, found that this initial style awakening was just the first step in an outside-in transformation that helped her realize she was gay. Her style slowly morphed into something more androgynous and punky, and she is now a fierce queer with the coolest hair on the block.
17. Please describe your mind.
Hamster on a wheel.
18. Please describe your emotions.
"I'm sorry, I'm pregnant."
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
I am wearing a pair of maternity jean shorts (I am six months pregnant), a white men's Fruit of the Loom t-shirt, a camouflage Army surplus jacket, Harris tweed high top sneakers, and a Yankees cap. On my face, as every day, I am wearing tinted moisturizer, mascara, and blush. My hair is dirty and luckily hidden under the hat, except for a little nubbin of a bun peeking out the bottom side corner of the cap (it is also buzzed from the nape of the neck to just above the ears).
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
Of course! Both, and lots!
I have said many times, in what I hope is understood as a humble manner, that I consider my own taste to be unimpeachable. However, my hope for the world is that everyone be able to feel the same way about themselves and what they like. The affinity with what we love should be that strong in all of us. To me, taste is an instinct, an immediate reaction to the aesthetic world that tells us, 'yes, it's for me!' or 'no, get that out of here.' Of course, what makes taste so wonderful is how it can change as we change. I love to realize that I've come to like something I'd previously dismissed, or had failed to understand. I also love to clear out old things and be baffled at having ever thought something was cool or beautiful: it's a material manifestation of having grown.
Style and taste, I believe, can only be fully and completely integrated when one has access to a certain minimum of resources. This could be financial means, or the leisure time it takes to scour vintage and alternative sources, or direct access to designers, or having one's own design practice. For the rest of us, it often feels like there is a gulf between what our tastes desire and our resources allow. 'Style' is how we use those resources in creating an embodied identity, how we shape the materials around us to express something personal about ourselves, but it does remain limited by what we have available.
I myself think my taste is utterly perfect, though my style is hindered by the realities of my life. I think I do alright with what I have, most of the time.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
All areas, of course!
I like to believe that someone who saw and spoke to me often would be able to identify my apartment in a line-up.
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?
Very recently, I've started to consciously dress in a more 'professional' manner (I am sneering as I write that word) when I attend prenatal appointments at my doctor or midwives' offices. I noticed that at my first few visits, where I was dressed in my usual very casual summer style (described elsewhere in this survey - cutoffs, tshirt, sneakers), I was treated like a helpless teen mother. I was talked down to and talked over and talked about as if I wasn't in the room. I felt a complete lack of control and had to fight to have my questions answered.
I noticed that other patients were treated better right from the waiting room, and have since made the switch to dressing as though I'm coming from an office. Already I have found that I'm spoken to more directly and as though I may have actually done my research. I resent having to do it, but at least it's lessened one of the many frustrations surrounding pregnancy!
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
On the average morning I don't take more than 20 minutes for my whole routine including face washing, teeth brushing (I hate to shower in the morning), and dressing. So my main considerations are what's clean, how cold/hot is it out, am I going somewhere over-air conditioned, and will I see anyone today I need to impress in some way. Usually I decide on one item first (could be shoes, jacket, whatever) and then base everything else around what I like to wear with that item.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
Oh no. No, no, no, no.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
"This is the universe's way of making sure I will always stay humble."
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I love perfume and wear it nearly every day, in a rotation of about three lovely fragrances.
Two of my regulars were gifts that happened to capture my heart, and the other was one I smelled on someone at a house party in Berlin. I deduced it was the hostess who smelled so incredible, and proceeded to smell all the bottles in the bathroom until I located it. Then I bought it immediately at the duty free on the way home.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
It's one area of aesthetics I feel quite clueless about. I barely know how to talk about it, apply it, or shop for it. Maybe it's a holdover from a time I convinced myself that caring about appearances made one vain or shallow, and by the time I woke up to the power of dress, the makeup ship had sailed.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
A Levi's jean jacket that fits like a dream. I got it from a Value Village about 8 years ago. Over the years I've put patches and buttons on its front pockets, and they are fabulous.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
A pair of rust colored leather boots. Bought in 2005, repaired three times, still worn at least twice a week.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
Randomly and according to whim. When I feel flush with cash. When my mind's eye has become obsessed with an item and I need to find it in reality. When I have an event that justifies it. When I've spent too many mornings resenting what I see in my closet.
In thrift stores, online, and occasionally in fast fashion stores, but the latter only when some other frustration in the rest of my life has weakened my resolve and the whole thing is done in anger and shame.
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
I have some ambitions that are related exclusively to dress, as in fantasy ways in which I hope to one day dress myself, and I sometimes manage to take little steps towards those goals.
Professionally, I work among extremely style-conscious and fashionable people, so I have had to adjust my work wardrobe to fit in. This tends to mean wearing black as much and as often as possible, and choosing to dress more severely and structured, since there are only two ways 'serious' fashion people dress, and I can't pull off the other one (quirky/artist/wonderfully insane).
81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
Tinted moisturizer/sunscreen, mascara, blush; rings (wedding/engagement, grandmother's engagement, cheap silver one I got for my 11th birthday)
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't be sure this was the first moment of dress-consciousness, but a very early memory is of the dress that was my favourite at ages 3-4: it was red and white with a floral pattern, smocked with tiny puffed sleeves. I felt it made me look like Juliet. The smocking on the bodice allowed me to pull the neckline all the way over my head when in a seated tucked position, which felt like a secret hiding spot. It is certainly my first memory of recognizing the potential for protection in clothing.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
October 5th, 1984. Born in Toronto, now live in Brooklyn.
What kind of work do you do?
I teach undergraduates in the Fashion Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design. I currently teach a course called Fashion and Violence.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
Married two years, expecting first baby in November.