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Tree Soso

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I like 100% white cotton woven (not knit) nightgowns and bathrobes. (I get mine at JCPenney on sale.)

Sitting in white cotton with my long hair hanging down and barefoot makes me feel great.

I really like jeans, interesting jackets and bags, and plain soft cotton t-shirts or peasant blouses.

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


I notice and admire anyone who has an artful approach to dressing, whether it is minimalist, neutrals, goth, wild party girl, athletic/yoga gear, conservative or bohemian. I especially enjoy color combinations or interesting jewelry that give an ordinary outfit real interest.

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

Women who are comfortable with what they have on even if it's flip flops and hair tied up with a headband and rolled up sweatpants generally look really gorgeous. Weight, race, and age have nothing to do with beauty. Whether you are 75 or 15, a woman who is comfortable with her clothing will make the clothing only the background of the conversation. Like a great landscape. Women who are uncomfortable tend to make the outfit the central feature.

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?

Once I got out of a conservative work environment, I felt a renaissance of my own style. I discovered I felt best with my hair grown out and thrown into a braid over one shoulder, interesting peasant tops, and jeans or skirts along with lots of jewelry. Although my former attire may have been considered more attractive by many, I receive far more gestures of connection based on my current style. (By the way, without realizing it, I returned to my style I had as a late teen when I wasn't particularly body conscious and felt my personal ambitions to help others were more important than clothes.)

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

-Dye your hair darker, not lighter.
-Never use bronzer or self-tanner, and allow your unique coloring to help you define your style.
-Take excellent care of your teeth and skin, and paint your nails your favorite color before you shop, so that you are shopping "whole".
-Try to shop from every department in the store or several different small stores on the same day. You will find a great shirt from the men's dept, that you can tie at the waist and mix with a bracelet from the junior department, and deeply discounted designer jeans from the discount store. Then you can go whole hog with a really interesting handbag.
-Don't be afraid to alter something you really like.

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

I show off my big round rear and never try to hide it.

Try to wear only one unnatural fiber per outfit, poly blouse with cotton jeans, not head-to-toe poly unless you are in athletic gear.)

Never concern myself with necklines, look at what you think looks best on you, not what is "sexy".

Forget your age, dress for personal style. It brings attention to your personality, not your age and bridges generations.

Anything cheap in black or navy looks more expensive than something cheap in pink or red.

Have a tiny umbrella that matches your bag at all times. When you walk down the street with a great outfit and a really terrible umbrella it destroys the effect. When in doubt, just pick one signature umbrella that fits your personality.

Shop on the cheap every time. Go through a fashion magazine, rip out the pages you like and go to second hand or discount stores first. If you cannot find it there, then graduate to the sales sections at dept or small stores. Build your style piece by piece, and don't pay attention to "age". Make it a game how cheap you can get the perfect outfit, and customize it. Keep the receipts. I bought an entire wedding ensemble (gown $565, lingerie $15, tiara $35, designer shoes $25, clutch bag $12, and wrap $14) and it looked like I spent thousands. What is key is to buy things as you find them to build an outfit. The tiara was purchased in Chinatown at a fabric store and it it stunning and looks like an antique heirloom.

Hot pink plastic bangles and earrings probably aren't right for anyone past a certain age (unless you are 80 and then it is adorable), although there are exceptions. Mini skirts over leggings look good on women of any age as long as nothing is tight. Tight shirts aren't flattering on anyone, really, and button down shirts are a nightmare unless you are going for the menswear look and your bust line doesn't make the placket bulge.

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

A friend of mine from Denmark once said that it is worth being broke for the rest of the month if you find a cool everyday skirt that you'll never find again.

A guy friend once told me that an outfit works or it doesn't and it doesn't have anything to do with a woman's weight, age, or other factors.

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

I plan my budget, think about where I'm trying to go with my life and what I will truly need (winter boots, a hat for winter, replacement sweatpants, etc.) and then I shop each time I am in an area that has all of the stores nearby so that I buy discount things from multiple stores rather than looking like an ad from one store. I only buy what fits into my vision and what makes sense for the activities I participate in with my friends.

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

Sweatpants/yoga pants. Once the waistband goes, they are destined for the charity bin because they shimmy down my big derriere when I go running. I cannot stand a bad waistband produced muffin top, or tugging my pants up.

The perfect wire-free bra. Once I got out of my conservative work environment, I abandoned the bras that make me feel like I'm in a cage all day. I don't care that I'm a DD, the world will have to deal with the real shape that I own.

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


I tend to pick things for my friends that are really personalized, after listening to their latest color loves or seeing what piece of art or trend in gardening or book that has recently fascinated them.

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

The big necklace trend. Seriously. Unless it's one of those supercool ethnic pieces, or celtic inspired, it typically looks like a scrapyard tied to your neck. Or a romper-room creation of giant beads...

Gladiator sandals. They make women's legs and feet look strange.

Candy-colored hair or extensions, candy-colored shoes or bags, nail designs, are strictly for teens and tweens.

Excessive use of tank tops as daily wear. Boring. Unflattering. NEVER for work, no matter what environment, unless you are in your office with the door closed.

Sequin tops or skirts, lace shorts, bright eyeshadow, harem pants, open toed booties, crazy bright lips, aqua nail polish, giant dots, bronzer, fake tans, or anything else that just makes the wearer look desperate and unassured.

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

My mother and grandmother dressed in classic old hollywood style. For all conservative work or social environments, I follow suite.

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

My mom and grandmother's old hollywood style. Otherwise, I've just reverted back and forth during my life from work appropriate to my own style.

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

I was dressing casually in a conservative environment. After being promoted and given an office in a visible location, I completely changed my attire and hair to look "kate middleton" rather than broke college student.

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

Other than feeling that I have a right to express myself and be taken seriously as a woman, nothing in particular.

16. Please describe your body.

Very curvy.

5'2" with tiny ankles, wrists, feet and hands. Long neck with a round face and head. My face is rather plain, pale and "elfin" in appearance, but I like it.

Unusually busty for a woman my height with a small rib cage, a round large derriere and shapely toned legs.

I look great in heels or flats.

I'm not conventionally beautiful at all, but I'm fine with it. My ears are bigger than I'd like and I could probably lose a few pounds, but I'm okay with these things.

17. Please describe your mind.

My mind is a great place to be. I have a wonderful inner life. Lots of creativity, and brainstorming about what I can do to help the world be a better place. Pursuing more education and trying to expand my world.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Generally, stable and balanced. I'm prone to bouts of extreme concern for other people. Sometimes my pride gets hurt but I realize that the world isn't about me.

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

Hair tied up in messy bun with orange yoga headband, white long-sleeved yoga top with interesting bright green and orange design along upper back, black yoga pants (rolled up), favorite white and black adidas rubber flip flops.

Face with bb creme and mascara and lipgloss, my thick glasses perched on my nose.

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

It's only important in that it can expand your understanding of yourself if you really pay attention. A favorite sweater or sentimental necklace keeps us company during our lives. Worn out old disgusting objects can give us a sense of security and belonging in a world that seems to demand that we always look our best. We are art, really, and everyone should embrace their own self as art because the human body is majestic and what we cover it with is honored.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My mom once in a while. One of my friends. Generally we comment on fabrics we have recently noticed rather than our own clothes.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Dressing for the time and place is a good approach and if you are intuitive, you will be able to figure out what might best make you feel most comfortable.

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

I don't have bad taste, in that nothing I wear would likely offend anyone.

Artful dressing that is in alignment with your own identity is more important than style or taste. This is why teens and college aged people go through so many more obvious style permutations - their identities are growing and changing. Ours are too, but generally at a slower rate.

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


Have never had a lot of money, so most things have served a purpose.

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

I love very long interesting earrings even though I am tiny. I don't care if they look overdone. With a plain sweater they look great.

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

I try to bring value to conversations I have, rather than come to conversations with a need, which may be a style.

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?


Navy pin-striped dress with a wide belt, sturdy chunky heels, and a good jacket can bring a sense of personal order to a crazy work meeting.

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 know what I like, but I try to slowly explore things that aren't familiar.

Not sure about discernment.

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?

Yes. My mother taught me about classic style, fit, tailoring, fabrics, and what is a good investment.

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

Loose hair, straightened or curly, or part of it tied back, or all of it pulled up. Depends on the rest of the outfit.

Eye makeup to play up my elfin features.

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?

I am not exotic, dark or beautiful, but I accept and appreciate my own appearance and find shapes and cuts that feel comfortable (non-binding) on my curvy frame.

It's good to walk into any room as though you have arrived to congratulate or console a good friend. If you are thinking of others you project confidence. If you think only of yourself and your clothes, you project emotional fragility and a thirst for validation.

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?

Go to a bookstore. Look at 20-30 art books and architecture books. Set aside 5-10 of those that have content that really grabs you. Work from there.

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

Pretty skin, bright eyes, and indomitable spirit, whether the person is shy or outgoing.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Bigotry, hate, judgment, negativity, and superficiality in approach to those less fortunate and their problems.

Unethical behavior, poaching the mates or partners of others, and wearing clothes that look like that's your goal.

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'm always surprised at what I end up wearing out...

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?

Interesting, kind.

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

Weather, sunlight, daily activities, amount of time spent sitting or standing, who I'll be meeting with that day.

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

Comfort. Feeling consistent with who I am.

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

Dressing up is typically for formal events. Otherwise, it's just getting dressed.

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

Jeans, rolled up, booties, peasant-cut top, interesting jacket or big sweater in a nice color, interesting bag, glasses, hair in braid.

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

Not me: head to toe one designer or store or "look"

Me: mix it up

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

Rural, agricultural, conservative, earthy.

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

Not important.

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

Answered above.

What kind of work do you do?

Grad student. Social sciences.

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

Single. Child free by choice.

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

Not sure. Thought the idea of the survey was interesting.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Tired. It's too long.


Not important.

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