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Carol Hutchins

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm rested and well dressed and made-up

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

Women who aren't afraid to be themselves

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

well-groomed, adventuresome, unique

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?

Last fall when I was in Paris I realized that some French women are well-dressed and some aren't, but they are all supremely self-confident. That's their secret, I think.

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

Shop alone; don't be influenced by friends

If you wouldn't pay full price, don't buy it on sale.

Salespeople lie

Only buy things that call your name.

Never shop for specific events. You will hate what you buy and never wear it again.

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

as above

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

When I was a little girl, my mother and I were in a restaurant, watching the fashion parade go by the window. I was being critical and my mother said, "Everyone has something beautiful about them if you just look". She was right

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

I trust my instincts; they've never led me astray. The system tries to grind that out of you; don't let it.

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

Lightweight turtleneck sweaters. You add pants or a pencil skirt and a great piece of jewelry and you're good to go.

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

I make jewellery professionally, so when I want to give a friend a present, I think about their style preferences and am delighted when the gift works. You have to take yourself out of the equation - you may or may not like it for yourself, but that doesn't matter.

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

Anything that I've already done in another era. It never works a second time.

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

My mother was very conscious of the importance of clothes, but she was much more conservative than I am (partially a reflection of the times).

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

Probably - but nothing comes to mind.

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

When I took early retirement and figured that I had only myself to please. It was a great liberation.

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

I'm not trying to make a political statement in my clothes; I guess I'm just addressing the right to be free.

16. Please describe your body.

5' 3", same size top and bottom, good boobs, bad legs, like to lose a few pounds, but thankful that I have a reasonably healthy body.

17. Please describe your mind.


18. Please describe your emotions.

I wear my heart on my sleeve; am devastated by tales of animal or people abuse.

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

Longish black & white dress, black tights, comfortable sandals.

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

I think it's very important for your own self-esteem and self-expression as well as to show respect for an event or other people.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My women friends.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Perhaps they do in some subtle way, but, if so, I'm not aware of it.

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

Taste is ephemeral; it changes constantly. It's an acceptance of the mores of the masses.

Style is much more personal; it is an understanding of who you are.

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

A peach leather jacket. It was horrible.

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

I love clothing with non-symmetrical hems; it distracts from parts that you may not want to emphasize

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

I'm a 'nester'. I want home to be warm, welcoming and cozy, so I tend towards warm colours, a well-set table etc. I always worry that a mustard jar on the table might be the beginning of the end of civilization!

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 always owned a red suit to wear when I wanted to give fear the finger.

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 - and where it comes from is trusting your instincts

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 mother was French, so quite particular about clothing. My father just wanted me to look like a 'lady'. I have always rebelled against his very narrow strictures in that regard.

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

I always wear perfume, even when home alone. I don't try to be alluring, but I love to feel feminine.

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 accepting of myself and my foibles.

Confident means believing that you have a legitimate place at the table of life.

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?

Know your body, respect your personality and buy the best things you can afford.

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

Nature, the innocence of children, certain pieces of music, creative pieces of art.

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?

Pretty much. Occasionally I make mistakes, but they are fewer than they were in the past.

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 think I'm open, approachable, reasonable (unless you push my buttons!), intelligent, well-read. I'm also stubborn and opinionated and emotional. I'm very much like my father, but, to my mind, much less controlling.

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

I choose my clothes and jewelry and then have a shower etc.

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

The right clothes for the right occasion

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

Life has become more casual, but I always feel as if I'm dressing up - perhaps for the part I have to play on that day. "Dressing up" often amounts to just changing jewellery and footwear.

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

Black pants, black turtleneck, necklace, awesome coloured shoes.

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

I read a book in which the author stated that the well-dressed woman should always wear one 'impertinent accessory'. I think that's me; I don't like to be too predictable. What isn't me is doing something 'matchy-matchy'/

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

British father, French mother. It's a bit of a war between English obsessiveness with being 'properly' dressed and French 'fuck you, I'll wear what I want"

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 younger and had small children and a demanding job, I didn't care as much about clothes, having neither the time nor the money.

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

I'm not sure that I want to look professional; I just want to look like me.

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

I no longer have a workplace, but when I did, I dressed as expected except for the addition of funky shoes. Love funky shoes.

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

No - but if I'm feeling really lazy or indifferent, a black dress always works.

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

I love extravagant jewelry, unusual shoes, shots of vivid colour

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

I had to wear a uniform at school and I absolutely loathed it. My whole life has probably been a rebellion against it.

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 turtleneck, pencil skirt, black tights, awesome shoes. It's chic and easy and will take you pretty much anywhere.

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?

Never ever. How boring!

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

The twenties in Europe.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

Shoot me!

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

Love Coco Chanel

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

Have had dreams where I went to work, or some other formal place, in my nightgown. It was humiliating.

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

Something very structured, perhaps with military touches.

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?

simpler clothes that weren't designed to hide the less-than-wonderful body parts.

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

No. It's very selfish. I do it for myself alone.

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

Have a good look at your body and try on a variety of things so that you learn what looks best on you, then stick to it.

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

I always wear perfume. It makes me feel feminine and I love the idea of being associated with a particular scent.

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

Suck in my stomach

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

The older I get, the less makeup I use. I wish I could wear more eye makeup, but allergies prevent it. As your skin gets older, it gets paler, so I always wear foundation and I'm a great believer in a brilliant red lipstick; it's like a secret weapon.

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?

Not really. I think there was in my mother's day - everyone had the same hairstyle as the queen.

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

My summer wardrobe is full of colour - consisting mostly of pants and longer, asymetrical tops. My winter wardrobe is more complicated, less colourful and more dressy. But I'm a big fin or colourful scarves, earrings and necklaces.

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

Can't narrow it down to one, but I love what I call my 'swanning around' clothes - things that I wear at home - usually long floaty dresses with boho jewelry.

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?

A few things that I keep for sentimental reasons - they either no longer fit or are not longer stylish - but they have great memories, so I just can't part with them/

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?

Simple, well-cut pieces that are flattering on my body.

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?

My first 'sack' dress - bought when I was a teenager. It was my first foray into wearing what I wanted and so was very symbolic.

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

I couldn't choose; I'd have to just quietly have a nervous breakdown.

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

I'd never, ever go shopping with anyone else.

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

A camel suit that I bought on a trip to Spain. I no longer have it , but it owed me nothing.

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

Our first house, I suppose. It made me discover that I'm a 'nester'

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

The perfect cashmere coat.

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

More or less.

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

My father, during the war, brought my mother home a cameo from Pompeii. When I was older, my mother gave it to my husband, and he had it made into a ring for me. It was a gift from the three people in my life that I loved the most.

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?

Any leather purse that I bought in Europe.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I don't set aside a day for shopping; I just shop when I'm in the area or am on a trip.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Definitely. I've been wearing "Carolina Herrera" perfume for years. It isn't easy to find anymore, but I make whatever effort I need to find it.

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

I'm a writer and, more recently, a jewelry maker, both jobs that are done at home. If I'm selling my jewelry, I naturally wear something that will show it off, but otherwise I don't think much about the relationship

80. How does money fit into all this?

I like to say that I don't care about money per se, but I certainly like nice things and you don't get them for buttons, so money is more important to me than I like to admit.

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


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

Probably - but nothing comes to mind.

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 remember wanting a specific coat as a little girl. I pointed it our to my mother in the store window, but she bought the wrong one. I didn't want to hurt her feelings by saying anything, but I was bitterly disappointed. I think I was about 7.

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

1945. Born in Montreal, live in Toronto

What kind of work do you do?

writer and jewelry maker

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

married, with grown kids and small grandkids

How do you feel after filling out this survey?


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