Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When my hair is clean and fluffy (but not frizzy), my jeans are well lived in and have the character to show it and fit me well (most a pair of black Acne jeans) or I am dressed in a dress that looks effortless and chic. When a smile takes over my face and is framed by red lips. But beyond how I am dressed and how my hair looks and the color of my lips, being with people I love makes me feel attractive. Good company and good friends (and good wine) are style secrets that aren’t talked about enough.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I love people watching. I am a curious person and I find it fascinating to see how other people dress. I admire women with confidence. I admire older women who get dressed up – lipstick and scarves and sunglasses and all – to go sit on the patio of a café with a friend, or even just go to the post office. I admire women who take risks. I admire women who don’t follow trends. I admire women who feel honest in how they present themselves. I admire women who wear bold lipstick, and those who wear no makeup at all.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
I don’t tend to like rules, especially when it comes to getting dressed.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
My aunt has taught me a lot about fashion and has been a big influence in terms of how my style has evolved. Some of my most loved pieces I have inherited from her.
She was often the one to take me shopping for new clothes as a kid and as a teenager and, I’ll admit, as an adult too. However, at one point she said that she would stop buying me any clothes at all if I did not start paying attention to fabrics and how I care for them. This was when I was in high school and I had put a linen skirt that used to be hers in the dryer. Her warning worked. I never buy anything now without looking at the label and reading how to care for the garment. This also works as a good filter – I have to like a piece enough to be willing to wash it by hand.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a writer. I wanted to write fiction, to write poetry and novels. So I was always looking for a story, and I still am. I think that looking for a good story might be the closest I am to having a unified way of approaching my life. This applies more to work and relationships, however, than it does to finances and chores.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
I keep buying black boots, usually Chelsea boots or a close relative. I keep buying such boots because I can’t stop wearing them. Rain or shine, I wear them. Snow or sun, I wear them. I wear boots with jeans and with dresses, with shorts and with skirts. If it wasn’t for my shoemaker I would be buying even more.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
I used to dress like my best friend in middle school. She was a hippie and, in my opinion, the most beautiful person. She played guitar and mostly wore clothes she bought at Value Village and Goodwill. She wore vintage slips as skirts and camisoles as tank-tops and I started to as well. Since then I’ve borrowed some ideas from friends and family, but back then I certainly stole her style and tried to make it mine.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
It certainly has changed, but I don’t think dramatically. Sure if you look at one picture and then another, it might look dramatic, but the outfits that came between led from one to the next.
18. Please describe your emotions.
On the surface, which is why I was never a good waitress. When it comes to some topics, I am thick-skinned, but others make me sensitive. I don’t think there is much consistency between what I can roll off and what I can’t help but absorb.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
It is night and I’m wearing what is left of this morning’s makeup – Kiehl’s BB clean, black mascara, and a tad of Lancôme concealer. My hair is in a high bun. I am wearing a blue and white Breton shirt and dark grey sweatpants that I bought in Venice.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I think I have style. Style is emotional, organic. Taste is something you learn. Taste has more rules and a stricter hierarchy. Style is about instinct, about confidence, about curiosity,about ritual.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
Food – how a plate looks and the colors of a meal. I also studied art history and I now work as a curator, so art is a huge part of my life and style does, of course, relate to art.
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?
Wearing nice shoes. You’ll never look like you’re falling apart completely when you’re wearing a nice pair of shoes. We all need a rope to hang onto.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
An obvious answer, but I am always considering the weather. That and whether I will be riding my bike somewhere. If I am riding my bike, then pencil skirts are out of the question (unless they are made with a fabric that has a little stretch). I also consider whether there is an art opening or an event in the evening that I plan to go to. I am not generally someone to wear two outfits in one day. I like versatile outfits that can be dressed up with red lipstick and a black blazer.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
For some cameras and for some people, yes. For other cameras and for other people, no. I feel a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to how I look in photographs.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
Isn’t it strange that we can’t really look at ourselves from head to toe? We are dependent on mirrors, photographs and the eyes of others to know how we look. I look at some photographs and think that I look so different compared to how I see myself in the mirror. Sometimes this is for better and sometimes for worse.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Anything that I am not comfortable in. I prefer sleek to frilly and dark to light. Anything too feminine or too manicured and too fussy would just not work on me.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I love certain perfumes – for their packaging, for the moods that they create, for their histories. However, I do not love wearing perfume. I wear it maybe three times a year.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
I wanted to learn about makeup before I got too old and it would be embarrassing to do so. So when I was 20 I went to Sephora with a friend and we asked a lot of awkward questions as we got makeovers. I bought expensive Nars eye shadow, a duo of green and yellow which I think I used twice.
I like using makeup to feel more put together, but looking like me is very important. I wear pretty much only BB Cream, mascara. This is also how I did my makeup for my wedding, plus red lipstick. I do like red lipstick. It is iconic and powerful and fun.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
A Robert Plant t-shirt in the style of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn. I think it is from a tour he did in 1990 or 1991. I bought it from a second-hand clothing fair in Toronto when I was in high school. I cut off the sleeves and made it into a tank-top. In high school I wore it as part of a more hippie or rocker ensemble, sometimes with leather pants and sometimes with long skirts. Over ten years later, and I am still wearing it; however, now with tight black jeans, a black blazer, a chunky silver necklace and Chelsea boots.
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?
When I was in Jodhpur, I got a pair of Jodhpur pants made. I did some research about tailors and I went to one just down the road from the Jodhpur Coffee House. Only men worked there and they were very proud men. Photographs of the royal family that they had dressed hung on the walls. They were flattered that I wanted a pair of pants made. It took them three days and I slipped them on under a long dress the day I went to pick them up (as there were no dressing rooms).
I don’t wear these pants, but it isn’t because I don’t like them. They aren’t fashion Jodhpurs; instead, they are very much made for playing polo or riding horses, two things that I don’t do. But nonetheless, I love the pants and I love their story.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
My black leather jacket. I bought it when I was in high-school and I had a summer job working as a janitor at a tennis tournament. I was 16 years old. It was $400 (plus tax) and I saved up. Because the amount far exceeded the limit of my bank card, I went to the bank and withdrew the entire amount. I already knew exactly what jacket I was going to buy. I had been to the store, Danier Leather, a few weeks prior to look around. When I tried on the jacket the salesperson looked me up and down and said: “What are you, 12?” I’ve always looked younger than I am, but I remember how those words felt. Instead of feeling small and insulted, I spat back a strong “No.” That is all I said. I continued to observe myself in the mirror with the jacket on. I adjusted my hair and just focused on how excited I was to make that jacket mine.
I remember how long it took that sale’s clerk to count out my pile of $20 bills. I don’t think I looked 12 at that moment.
That was about twelve years ago and I still wear this jacket. In fact, it is probably my second favourite piece. I was at a party in Montreal years later and someone tried to steal it. I sensed it immediately and chased her down the stairs. The thief nervously dropped the jacket just where the stairs and street met and ran off. This leather jacket of mine certainly feels like a second-skin. It was my first “investment” piece and I will wear it as long as it is in one piece.
When I was working in Mumbai two years ago, I found a good leather-maker. I got a leather tote bag made and when I picked it up, I asked about jackets. The man told me that he could make a replica of my jacket and that I just have to send him some pictures and the measurements. So I already have a plan for when the leather around the elbows finally tears.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
I like to shop for clothes when I am traveling. I was recently in Korea and I bought tons and tons of cute tops. I usually go to boutiques and department stores here in Germany for their sales (so, like clock-work, after Christmas and in June). I am definitely an internet window-shopper and occasionally I will buy things online. I used to obsessively buy second-hand clothes and although I don’t as often now, if I pass by I good vintage store I will certainly go in.
81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
Rings. Although these days I tend to wear many tiny rings and only one not-so-tiny one, I still enjoys Janis Joplin’s advice to wear that a cocktail ring that, if necessary, will leave a good dent in anyone’s face.
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?
Similar to how I am not usually too aware of how my legs feel until they are incredibly sore, I wasn’t conscious of what I was wearing until it was somehow embarrassing.
The memory that is most vivid is less about what I was wearing and more about my closet in general. I grew up with a few older cousins, which mean that I was rich in hand-me-downs. Growing up, this was the only thing that we were rich in at home.
I remember being in elementary school and counting once how many bottoms I had in my closet. This was the 90s and so leggings very much counted as pants, so did skirts from older cousins that I never wore. I counted 60+ bottoms and was both shocked and impressed. I brought it up the next day in the school yard. My intention wasn’t to brag (or at least not to brag too much). My claim was met with grave pre-teen suspicion. My friends thought I was lying, something that I didn’t realize at first. But then a few days later when I was wearing the same pair of pants I guess for too many days in a row, a friend cruelly asked why I was wearing them again when I had 60+ options.
I don’t remember what I was wearing (cords, leggings, track-pants?), but I do remember feeling very conscious of how I was dressed. The funny thing is that today, more days that not I wear the same pair of black Acne jeans. They are just too perfect to care about switching things up.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in May 1986 in Toronto, Canada and now live in Munich.
What kind of work do you do?
I work in the field of contemporary art and also pen articles about museums, art, travel and food culture.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
I have a husband since midsummer 2013.
Sasha Gora is a curator and writer based in Munich, Germany.