Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
With friends, chatting, hanging out, laughing until I snort.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
I am like a magpie but with colours instead of shiny things. Anything that conveys confidence and a sense of self. Since I was 14 or 15 I've wanted to dress like the older women that wear all different shades of one colour and seriously rock it.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire most women that look like they dress exactly how they want, as long as that also looks a little like I would want to dress (because I've never found a comfortable pair of heels I refuse to believe anyone else ever has). Women who look professional but still look like themselves is something I will forever be striving for.
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 never looked or acted like the other girls. I "knew" this in highschool, though I wonder if it's a problem I created from nothing. Whatever the case my first or second year of university I decided to wear whatever I liked whenever I liked. I stopped trying to look like the other girls and felt so much happier with who I was. I started buying things I loved and stopped focussing on hair and make-up. But, honestly, the most important thing was that I taught myself how to draw on perfect eyebrows, I felt so fierce with my eyebrows in place I didn't give a flying fart about the rest.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
Buy what you love and figure out how it fits together later.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
Switch it up, if you love it, wear it. The worst thing that happens is you wear a slightly odd outfit until you get home and get changed. Honestly, no one really cares. Your friends don't care what you wear, and who cares what strangers think.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
It wasn't a conversation but a drama teacher once told me, when I was 16, that I reminded her of Tilda Swinton. At the time I was mildly offended. Now, though, it's the biggest complement anyone's given me and when I'm not sure if I can/should wear something I remind myself that Tilda would wear it if she loved it and she looks awesome always.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
No, I sometimes wonder if life would be easier if I did.
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 stripy top from Cos in three colours. I love it. Three quarter length sleeves and a nice neckline. It's cotton, it's comfy and it caters to my double love of colour and pattern. Plus it's a staple that only cost €20, three times the joy of shopping for a nice price. Generally I will buy multiples, in different colours, of things I love. I also remake copies of clothes I can't even bare to think may not be in my wardrobe forever.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
I only give gifts I think they'll love and cherish, gift giving is an entirely selfish affair for me. I just bought my sister a pair of trainers that she loves. And I've made things for people, jumpers, skirts, shawls that I've seen used and loved too.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Honestly, I'm not that trend focussed. I usually buy things I love in the shops so I happen to follow the trends in that way. You could say the only trends I actively buck are beauty regime related. I've never straightened my hair, and I rarely shave my legs. Though I think to call those things trends a little odd.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My mum has horrible skin issues and we grew up wearing only natural fibres, this is a things I stick to religiously. She also wears what she likes with a definite bias towards comfort, this too I fully embrace.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
Ahahaha, so many. My mum spent her early twenties in East Africa and in every photo I've seen of her there she's wrapped in a local textile. It's something I do too when the weather hots up though I may wear it as a skirt rather than dress. There are also lots of other items that I've had on indefinite loan from her, usually with her permission.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
As I said before at around 18-19 I stopped caring about what other people wore and "fashion" as the high street framed it and started exactly what I wanted. I think I dress far better for my personality and body since I've focussed on what I like rather than what I'm "supposed" to like.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Not particularly. I think it can be oddly subversive to be a 20-something woman wearing exactly what I want and being confident in that.
16. Please describe your body.
I'm 1.80m. I have red curly hair that in an almost constant top-knot. My boobs range in size from magnificent to blatantly in the way depending on the moon. I'm by no means skinny but also not fat. I look like a person that likes to eat but also gets around by bike. Honestly, except for the ginger-ness I look pretty average.
17. Please describe your mind.
I like to think of myself as intelligent and funny (but who doesn't). Along with those things comes an awareness of the shitty things in life that I sometimes allow myself to wallow in. I enjoy these moments of despair and panic as long as they don't stick around for too long.
18. Please describe your emotions.
Generally I'm pretty even tempered though I can also be petty and closed-off.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
I'm wearing my birckies, maroon jeans, a white 3/4 sleeve cotton top with lace panels on the front, and a light grey woollen jumper.
My head's just the usual. Hair on top of my head, hair tie looped loosely around the top knot. Gold stud earrings, bit bigger than usual studs maybe the size of medium sized pearl earrings. I have on some neutral eyeshadow, mascara, and my eyebrows drawn in. And I'm wearing my glasses, large-ish circular "tortoiseshell" frames. Full disclosure - I did put on some kickass red lipstick earlier to go out but I took it off before I left the house bc it just didn't look right.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
Though I don't do much with it I think my hair is the most important. It's how others identify me and it's also how I identify myself. That being said I often leave the house without any makeup and my hair just doing its thing.
My glasses too are a sign of who I am, my first big f-you to friends who thought they were allowed to tell me how to dress was getting a pair of amazing glasses that they really didn't approve of but I loved. Honestly, I should send a thank you card to the optician that encouraged me to get them because they really did change so much about me for the better.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
Anyone that will listen. I speak a lot to friends who I sew with, I ask for advice and show them things that I love before trying to figure out how I could make something like it. I also rely on my mum to approve of my more expensive purchases even if I know she thinks they are ridiculous. She'd never lie about it so it's a pretty good litmus test.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
I'm about to start looking for a job in a relatively conservative male-dominated field after being a student for eight years. I'm trying to figure out how I can stay true to what I like to wear whilst fitting in at work. Going to a very liberal university there's a certain pressure to be "different" or out-eco the person next to you. It's a very real pressure that feels very counter-intuitive but I try to keep in mind the ideas behind the pressure and just do my own thing.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
Taste is knowing what you like. My personal taste goes towards, colours, patterns, interesting textile, and interesting but simple shapes.
Style is having a feeling for putting things you like together. If you look in the mirror and you like what you see you have style, because most of what other people see as style is just confidence anyway.
So, do I have style? On a good day definitely! On a hungover Sunday where all I want is for someone to deliver all the food directly to my face, I highly doubt it.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
I'm not a big spender on individual items and the big ticket ones usually involve enough humming and ha-ing that by the time I've decided to by them they've either sold out or are in the sale. I bought a blazer for €50 three years ago that I've worn twice and snow-boots when Holland forgot how to deal with winter a couple of years ago and every sidewalk turned to ice. Neither of which I really regret because they got the job done though I could have not bought them too.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
If your trousers are too short just wear short boots over them or wear socks you're proud to show off.
If you've got an item that you love too much to trow away thought it's more hole than clothing you can still wear it (kind of) if the rest of your outfit it spiffing and spotless.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
As I mentioned before style is putting together things you love with confidence. And why shouldn't you be confident that you'll love it if you love all the bits individually. Going by that definition of style I got it by the bucket load.
My house - stylish. My friends - stylish. My cooking - stylish. My book collection - stylish. My city - stylish
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'll wear my doc martens if it's time to get some stuff done. I'll wear my hand knitted jumpers if I feel like I need a hug. I'll wear something homemade if I need to be reminded I'm a capable lady. I'll wear leggings if I really would rather just stay in bed. I'll find a way to wear something I bought while travelling if it feels like the winter will never end.
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?
It's all gut instinct. And, let's face it, I am sometimes way off base, but I make it work. One of the best bits of being human is getting to be stupidly stubborn and making split-second decisions and making sense of them later.
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?
What I remember most was my mum's insistence on buying clothes a couple of sized to big. Though she did it to make sure that I could wear it for more than six weeks at a time it just made me feel fat. I also felt like I spent far too much on clothes.
I've taught myself it's OK to spend money on things you LOVE. And buying the right size, whether that's two sizes bigger or smaller than you think you should wear, will always look best
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
Honestly, any of my attempts at looking sexy are met with vacant looks of meh. The days I turn heads are the days I feel great about me. Having my hair loose and flowing and bouncing about often helps. However, that warm and a pain in the bum so it doesn't happen that often.
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 is being able to do whatever you want in the clothes you're wearing without worrying about ruining them or wishing you were wearing something else. Confident is knowing that you're rocking 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?
Colour (bold), texture(rich), pattern (more), form (simple).
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
I enjoy things that do their job well, and efficiently without calling attention to themselves.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Nothing really. I can screech (loudly) about things not being to my taste but labelling it as "ugly" feels like I'm taking about someone else's potential joy in something. I may rather walk naked through town than wear a certain designer but on my naked jaunt I may see someone else looking amazing in the same item I just refused to wear.
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 have this down pat - it's all about the guilt, baby. If I bought something bc I love it it will be worn, it's just too sad to leave it in my wardrobe. If for whatever reason (often my refusal to recognise that it just doesn't fit) it really wont get worn I give it out on loan to friend with the agreement that if I ever lose the 10 kgs (and 10cm in height) I will be able to reclaim it. This has not happened yet.
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 look like a creative person, who takes some, occasionally questionable, risks with fashion. I don't always look like I take great care of myself in the personal grooming stakes. But on those mornings I don't usually look in the mirror anyway.
I look friendly but I can understand why people may be intimidated by me.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
Usually it's partially how long I can stay in bed. Some mornings I may know I want to wear one particular things and I'll just build my outfit around it. Other mornings I'll just look around for what's clean. But it all works out when you know you like everything in your wardrobe. (kinda, mostly)
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
Mainly to maintain a certain level of decency. If I can get to where I need to be without sweating/freezing that's a plus. I also want to wear something that makes me happy. This could be a pattern, a colour, or a things I just really love.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Dressing up is more of a hassle.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
plain trousers in an amazing colour with a super soft cotton t-shirt (probably a little sheer through pure love and washings) and a home-made jumper. In winter I'd wear my doc martens and in summer my Birckenstocks. I have no idea right now about the winter coat.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Couldn't say either way, because I could see a thing that I never considered "me" and absolutely love it and not take it off for three months.
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
My mum's English and my Dad's Dutch I grew up in The Netherlands, UK, US and Middle East.
Living in the Netherlands means that my clothes have to function as I bike everywhere. The UK made me aware that I don't like looking like everyone else. Houston made me aware that straight hair isn't for everyone and sometimes there no way to fit in so you might as well stand out proudly. And the Middle East reminded me that you don't have to bare skin to look incredibly beautiful.
Being able to travel has definitely exposed me to so many different colours and shapes and textiles and ways to put them together that I don't doubt that without it I would dress very differently.
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?
Every day in high school I scraped my hair back into a low ponytail and wore jeans, a hoody, and a pair of nike trainers.
My first year at university I wore dangly earrings and a scarf almost everyday.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
I might wash my face in the morning and probably take a little more care with my eyebrows. If I'm feeling particularly ambitious I'll wear some mascara too.
I'll wear more grown-up shoes too, though my definition is entirely arbitrary and will vary from day to day.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
I think it can be oddly rebellious at a university to wear bright colours. Apparently the academics I know favour a more neutral palette.
When I'm at work the colours still push boundaries as to slightly different forms. Such as a woollen circle skirt instead of a a-line or pencil skirt. I much prefer to stretch and play with the rules that exist than shit on them.
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
No, though I grew up ages 7-15 with school uniforms and loved them.
47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?
I remember putting red sparkly laces in my black school shoes because the laces were the only part of the uniform that wasn't meticulously prescribed. The year after a line was added to the footwear section.
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
I enjoyed it, it took away the need to worry about what I was wearing and how it looked as all the girls wore the same thing. There were also no arguments about what I felt I should be wearing and what my mother felt I should be wearing (no-uniform days were hellish).
Even when we came back to the Netherlands and there was no longer a uniform or even dress-code I created my own uniform of jeans and a hoody, do apparently I needed 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?
I don't think there is one. Trousers, trainers, t-shirt? It feels a little like a cop out because each of those three things mean something vastly different to me today than they did ten, five or even three years ago.
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?
No, I have all the advantages of being a man but I still get to be a lady.
Those advantages being:
height- to look over the crowd at festivals and grab stuff from high shelves
strength - to help friends move and lift stuff
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
I think we're living in a pretty cool era right now. If there's any item of clothing from any other era or culture I could probably walk around no problem wearing it.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
Nope. Though there are a couple of photos I would definitely class as keepers. Annoying I am at my most photogenic in those NO SMILING passport style photos. They make me look like the most beautiful criminal that ever was.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
Whomp, there I am! Also, do I really look that awkward in real life?
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
Yes, having all the time and money in the world just to make clothes. It was pretty awesome.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Anything flapper or cocaine chic. I just don't have the body type for it.
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?
Probably exactly what I wear now but I would look a bit better in it? Button ups would maybe gape a little less at the boob (I doubt it as every woman ever bitches about this), and I would wear absolutely everything tucked in to show off my weird flat stomach. But I have literally zero to complain about so I will wear button ups with a camisole underneath and tuck in anything I damn well please, anyway.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
Not really, I try not to encourage unimaginative and crass comments. But that's about it. Honestly, I know that there's not that much you can do about it if someone really wants to say something so just ignore them.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
Wear what you like, the rest will sort itself out.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I do! Sometimes! I like Hermes the natural oils ones. Particularly the one that is supposed to smell like a garden after the monsoon, it has tiny elephants on the box.
Perfume can tell you a lot about what a person thinks of themselves. It can also make you feel things without ever realising it.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
You are asking the wrong lady. Clothes should be clean, and vaguely fit together. I generally feel better about myself if my socks match. But, honestly, I'm probably not going to go out of my way to find matching socks if no one's going to see them.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
It barely does. My entire make-up kit is a brown neutral eyeshadow pallette from Revlon, a brown eyebrow pencil, a red lipstick, some eyeliners a friend gave me and a crusty mascara I should probably replace.
I can use any part of the "kit" with or without any other and I'll be pretty happy with myself
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?
eyeliner in general, maybe? Every person who's done my make-up has tried to put eyeliner on me. The truth is I am just super duper pale and though it can look good I'm just not used to it and I feel like I look like I've had a fight with a marker.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
Jewelry- Some earrings I got from my aunt. Gold stud earrings, and a gold and jade ring I got from my parents for my 21st birthday and a few not-expensive but very precious things I picked up while travelling
clothes - mix and match of handmade and shop bought. Most of my really basic things are 5+ years old, my more recent stuff is a little "odder" but I probably wear it far more.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
My jade and gold ring. I chose it while in Thailand with my parents and they bought it for my 21st birthday. It is everything I want to believe my clothes are. Bold but also simple and functional (as functional as a piece of entirely ornamental jewellery can be). A simple gold band with a oval piece of green(a slightly bluer apple) jade (about the size of my pinky nail) fixed onto the bad by four little claspy finger things. I guess you would call it a solitaire if there was a diamond in there instead. Anyway, I havn't taken it off since I got it except for the normal stuff.
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?
There are a few things I wear infrequently but nothing I would say I never wear. If I never wore it I would pass it along.
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?
I couldn't tell you. I've only been buying clothes for 10 years and I've only been able to buy anything close to nice clothes for the past two.
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?
So many. The wool and silk dress I shrank in the washing machine. The tights that were more hole than tights when I threw them out but were the perfect shade of grey.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
The first yoked sweater I knitted myself. It's not even that flattering but I really, really love it. Also, it's what I reach for when I've had a bit of a shit day. If someone's making me throw all of my clothes away I'm probably not loving life.
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
Nothing. I think I would remind myself that I need basics to balance the crazy, though.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
I remember buying two things in highschool. One was a merino wool sweater from H&M it was oversized and I still wear it and love it. I've darned it a couple of times but it still works. The second is a woollen drapey coat cardigan thing from Zara that I've loved and worn every winter since. They probably cost €50 each, but at the time it was a ridiculous amount of money to me. Since then my definition of "investment" has changed but I still remember these two purchases the most
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
My glasses in my 2nd, maybe 3rd year of university. I wore lenses for a while bc cute girls don't wear glasses but I went to the optician who explained that that's a total lie and no one needs to be walking round with itchy eyes. He helped me chose a pair of rayban clubmaster sunglasses in a pale blonde colour (if you google them they're not the very palest but one darker with the gold accents). I wore them for four years until the metal bits gave me a nasty case of face eczema. I loved them so much whilst my friends thought they were ugly as sin, it's then that I realised that it doesn't really matter what other people think about the things you want to wear. I should also mention that this was before this style was "cool", I don't say this to point out how fashionable and amazing I was but just that what is "ugly" one year is worn by everyone two years down the line.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
Goodness, a fantastic pair of jeans. And a pair of flat ankle boots that magically go with everything.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
I have an old closet with four shelves in it and some hooks on the back of my door. It's usually neat until I can't find something at which point I will rip everything out and just stuff it back in once I realise the T-shirt is in the washing hamper anyway.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
My mum bought me a pair of AMAZING bright blue trousers a couple of weeks ago. There's no need for her to buy them for me and they aren't really what she would usually by for me but she did and I love them so much.
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?
All. The. Time. Sometimes it's something you buy while travelling, often it's something I take with me on a trip and I end up never taking off.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
Often it's when I'm in town doing groceries and I have 30 minutes free, I'll just wonder through the city. The only time I make sure to go is when I know the sales are on, thought I will only go to Cos.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
Clean? Fresh Laundry is the only smell, except for perfume sometimes, that doesn't feel as if it's just pretend.
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
I sometimes feel a little conflicted between what I love to do (art, especially textiles, and writing) and what I have studied long and hard to do (flood management and water policy). I think a lot of what I wear straddles these ideas, or conceptions of the world. Often I dress in conservative styles but unusual colours, patterns, or textures. I think it keeps me sane to look down at bright blue trousers and crazy socks after sitting behind a computer classifying water bodies for six hours.
80. How does money fit into all this?
I don't spend a massive amount on clothes but I'm OK with that. I love the things I have, and I don't have a lot of space for anything extra.
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 gold and jade ring, and until I lost a back 3 days ago my gold stud earrings.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
Offhand comments stick with me for a long time whether they are positive or negative. Though they wont change the way I dress they may taint my view of something. And if someone has said something less than stellar about an item I'll probably not wear it around them for a while unless I am madly and deeply in love with it, in which case - fuck it.
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 going shopping with my mum for boots when we were still loving in The Netherlands the first time. I was six so I didn't understand but my parents were poor, my dad had only just finished his PhD and they had two little daughters to support. However, my grandpa used to send my mum money every now and then that she's spend on me and my sister often on clothes. Anyway, we went to a children's shoe shop and I picked out what I am still sure were the most beautiful boots. Ankle length with a zip on the inside and little snaffle bit things on the front. They were about 70 guilders (a ridiculous amount of money considering what they were living off of).
I just remember biking home on the back of my mum's bike and I was so sure that every one was looking at my beautiful, amazing, grown-up, best new boots. I was so proud of them.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
02-02-1989, Enschede, The Netherlands
What kind of work do you do?
Student Policy Science and Sustainability
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
I have honestly never thought so much about what I wear or why I wear it. And I doubt I will ever again.