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Carly Physioc Fox

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

After getting a good haircut.

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

I am a people watcher so I notice the gamut, from the slovenly to the chic. I tend to notice extremes, especially an extreme detail- a bright red lip on a plainly dressed woman, for instance. What I admire in a woman is an ability to elevate the mundane, e.g. an exceptionally executed shirt dress, or interesting minimalism, great posture.

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

I admire someone who is comfortable with themselves. A woman who doesn't feel she had to pile a lot of stuff on, but rather allows her clothes and bearing to serve as a frame for her personality. Eye contact is nice, too.

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 was nine months pregnant with my third child and I realized I'd been pregnant (and therefore dressed badly and physically distorted) for the better part of five years. I realized life is too short to let a day go by in ugly clothes.

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

Buy quality not quantity. Don't buy on impulse. I used online shopping like a research tool before going in to shops. Don't listen to the store clerk in the dressing room telling it looks great - she probably works on commission. Do not buy cheap jeans. If you put it on and you feel like a million bucks buy it, even if it costs a million bucks.

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

Have a good tailor. No bows, eyelet or twinsets. No stilettos even though I am short. Stilettos look like I'm apologizing. Start off with sunscreen. Stay away from patterns in general but florals in particular. No trends. Simple and practical does not preclude chic. Find one exceptionally well cut pair of pants. Find a style that suits you and make it your signature.

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

I loved discovering Dina Vreeland. Her anecdotes communicated that fashion is art and fashion well done doesn't have to begin and end with sex appeal.

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

Work- do it hard
Relationships - put in the work
Finances - spend little, save a lot but do spend on some things (good cheese, travel) because you're going to be dead someday and you want to enjoy your life.
Chores - avoid at all costs

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

Basic long sleeves cashmere sweaters in black, navy and grey.
I buy them because they make me feel most like myself. And cashmere makes a big difference in this case.

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

A bracelet for my daughter with her month flower engraved in it.

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

Many. Pattern mixing because - BLECH. Platform high heels from a few years back because - hookers. Colored lace because I'm not the mother of the bride. Pinterest nail art because I'm not 14.

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

My mother wears microfleece all day long. That being said, when she does dress, she dresses for herself and she wears what suits her, regardless of trend and she is always immaculate. Even in fleece.

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

I do wear Birkenstocks like my mother, It cracked me up when they became a trend this year.

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

My style changed in my late 20's when I decided to pay the extra money to have everything I own tailored. At five feet tall I often have to hem petite pants.

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


16. Please describe your body.

Short. Slim. Good legs, bad tummy, no ass. Broader than I look because I'm small.

17. Please describe your mind.

Non linear, creative, not literal.

18. Please describe your emotions.

My husband says I am a spitfire. He is not wrong. When I am good, I am very good, but when I am bad, it's better if you go for a long walk and let me work it out of my system.

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

Body - black scoop neck t shirt and black leggings. I am barefoot.
Face- night cream and a pair of black "Roger Sterling" glasses.
Hair - dark pixie.

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

It's important because it's one way we present ourselves and besides, it's a hell of a lot of fun.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My sister in law.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

The only institution I've ever dressed for was when I went to the White House once.

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

I think it's more important to have taste. Style can be flaky. Taste is style intellectualized.

I aspire to have taste.

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

An evening gown. $300 for one night. Blimey.

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

I think women should always show off their collar bones. Tricks: Sometimes I play up what would be conventionally seen as a 'flaw' - my lack of stature. I wear flats a lot. And pegged trousers. As long as I stay away from girly things (ruffles and bows) it works well.

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

I am a writer so hopefully I have style there.

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?

When scared wear great foundational garments.

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?

I know exactly what I like. I am good at discernment, probably because I pay attention.

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 father was in the military. He taught my that your clothes should always be clean and there is nothing wrong with wearing the same thing every day.

Other than that, I mostly figured it out on my own.

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

Short hair, dark, smokey eye and a blood red lip will never do you wrong. Sexy is overrated, though. I'd rather be fascinating.

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 you're not squeezed into your clothes.

Confident means you are at home in your own skin. You're not putting on a show.

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?

Take time to articulate your own style and only within that framework should you mix it up, but only slightly. Don't swing wildly (preppy one day, 90's grunge the next). It will all seem insincere.

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

Malachite. Intelligence. Quiet. Pie. Emeralds. Cambridge, England.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Noise. Marc Jacobs clothing in general. Dirt under fingernails. Dressing for the body you wish you had not the one you have. Scrotums.

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?

I still make a few mistakes here and there, but after years I've really thinking things through it's nearly down to a science 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?

This other person is highly judgmental and a stickler for detail.

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

Quickly, simply and for the day I have. If I have to dress for something special it's always planned out in advance.

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

I am trying to make sure I am presenting my best self.

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

Dressing up means a little fancier than usual. Lipstick. Contacts. A higher hemline.

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

Grey long sleeve cashmere water, a slim black pant, riding boots (sounds a little menacing).


Classic navy blue Breton tee, slim jeans and white canvas converse.

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

Me is simple. Aggressively minimalist even but hopefully not without interest.

Not me: bold colors, chunky shoes, plastic clothes, low rise anything, tight shirts.

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

I am an American who grew up partly in Europe so I have always understood the importance of balancing blending in with standing out. I also did not get sucked into the perverse sloppiness that pervades a lot of American dressing. Especially wearing athletic wear when not working out.

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 poor. I wore what I could afford. I looked terrible.

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


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

I live in Washington DC but I don't wear a power suit. I do wear a trench coat.

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


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?

White shirt and black pants. It looks good everywhere and suits occasion.

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 often wish I was a man but only for opportunities, not fashion.

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

Paris 1960's.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

That I need to sit up straight.

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

Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
Jean Seberg
Diana Vreeland
Sophia Coppola

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


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

Hip hop everything.

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?

Things that work well on tall women. Sack dresses for example.

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?

Wear clothes that fit you. Sexiness doesn't mean skin. Bother- get dressed. I am tired of your yoga pants.

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

Chanel gardenia, sparingly.

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

Tailor them.

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

Simply done but a must have.

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 am not interested in being sexy. I don't want to wear skin tight short clothes. Even when I was younger I didn't want that. It usually read as insecurity to me. And the girl comes off as vapid.

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

I own what I get the most wear out of. I love clothes but I don't have many. Same with jewelry.

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

A green amber brooch my husband found in Budapest.

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?

My wedding dress. I don't; like it but I can't get rid of it.

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?

Good pants.

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?

A pair of doc martens I bought at a German flea market when I was 14. I wore them until the fell apart. Now DM's are made in China and they're not as good as they used to be.

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

A blond fur coat. I got it from an old woman I used to know. She bought it for a party in Germany in 1939 but the war started and the party was cancelled. She never got to wear it. I wear it as often as I can.

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

I'd buy only quality. It doesn't matter if it's affordable if it's cheap.

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

A pair of Frye boots. And yes.

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?

The perfect black riding boot.

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

My closet is neat and my drawers are a mess.

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

A hat. Because it meant that he knew me.

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 always think about my purchases. Too much.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Online. In season.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Like soap and water.

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

I am a writer and I sit alone in a room all day long. If I'm wearing my pajamas it shows in the writing.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Yep. If I had more money I'd have those perfect black riding boots by now.

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 glasses.

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

I overheard a man saying that I was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. I was in my late 20's but I'd never heard anyone talk to me that way before. I had not regarded myself as beautiful, ever.

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?

An ugly dress my mother sewed. I was in college and I realized that I was too old for that sort of thing. It was pink.

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

November 1982, Washington DC

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

Middle class, Second generation white European

What kind of work do you do?


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

Married with three kids.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

It was fun!

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