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Sophie Daniel

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm having a good hair day, and don't feel too fat.

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

Yes. I notice women who are put together, who look confident regardless of their size or beauty or whether their clothes are fashionable or not.

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

Women who look "put together" from top to toe. Women who present themselves confidently.

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?

Yes, this happened several times. The first was when I had been working for a year or two after university, and finally with an income, I was for the first time developing a style of my own, one that was less conservative than some of the people around me.

In my mid-30s, I discovered a couple of designers I really liked, and had the confidence to wear some quirky pieces that made me feel fantastic.

Later, in my 40s, I grew my hair after the discovery of hair straighteners. For the first time in my life, I didn't hide from photographs of myself.

Each of these times was when I was taking a step forward in personal development, learning to be more confident and my own person.

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

Shopping as a mood enhancer. The purchase might make you feel good at the time, but you'll never wear it.

Buying something just because it fits. You'll hate it when you wear it, OR you'll never wear it. If you don't like it, you shouldn't buy it.

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

KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid

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

A workmate - on seeing the yellow shoes I had bought at lunch-time because I had been having a bad day - commented that when their partner moved to a new job, one where she was happy, she saved an awful lot of money.

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

I try to achieve balance, out of necessity, because resources - financial, emotional, physical - are limited. And so I put the effort (or finances) into the areas of my life (and people) I love, and try not to spread myself too thin.

For example, I love to travel, but to do so I don't splurge in other areas - I have no expensive jewellery for example, and an old care. And it isn't a sacrifice, because I love to travel. The same with clothes - I will buy the occasional extravagant piece, but supplement it with simple pieces (black pants, white tops etc) from cheap stores.

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

Black pants. Can't have too many. They are practical, can go with just about anything, can be dressed up or down, and are flattering. They require no thought, or prior planning.

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

When I put on weight (sigh) I gave my sister a lot of my clothes. She liked them and looked good in them - and as she hates to shop herself, I love that she could enjoy my clothes too.

I gave my other sister some costume jewellery for Christmas. It wasn't something she would buy, but she loved it.

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

Lots! I know what suits me, and so I won't wear something that is fashionable if it isn't flattering on my body.

Also, I never wear really high-heeled shoes, and especially not platforms. They just remind me that we really haven't moved on from the Chinese foot-binding culture - we're hobbled but in a different way.

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 always tall and slender, but with an obsession over a few areas she doesn't like. She's never fully appreciated the great shape she has, and tries to cover up parts of her body because she's embarrassed about them, when no-one would ever see what she sees. I've tried to be less paranoid, and to recognise what the good features of my body are.
Sadly, I didn't inherit the best features of her body (her long long legs for example), but got the worst (big hips)! Though I think I have her to thank for good shoulders/decolletage.

In terms of style, she never really developed one. Money was an issue for most of her life, and she lived in the country so only had a few "good" outfits. I've influenced her style in the last 30 years more than she has influenced mine, I think.

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

Yes. When I was at university, I saw a friend wear particular pieces of clothing that I liked, and I got similar pieces. I hope she realised that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Since then, I've been more selective, taking ideas or inspiration from a range of sources.

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

When I was in my early/mid-30s, I discovered a great shop with a brilliant owner who put together outfits I'd never have thought of. I had just left a very corporate job, and was working in a very different. male-dominated environment, and I suddenly felt free to wear more extravagant pieces, more quirky pieces, and to dress in a more relaxed style.

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

I choose not to dress too sexily, because I am an old feminist, and want to be respected because of my intellect and style choices, not just my body.

16. Please describe your body.

Tall. Strong. Pale. Overweight, but with a potential to be long and lean, except that I have hips.

17. Please describe your mind.

Quick. Open. Intelligent. Kind. Logical. Tough on myself. Shamed. Planning. Yearning.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Grateful, sad, worried, but at the same time optimistic, loving, enthusiastic.

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

My at-home, wintertime uniform of yoga pants, black zipped polyprop shirt, socks, and my hair is short. Because I went out this morning, my hair is blow-dried and styled simply, and I am wearing basic make-up (foundation and mascara, lipstick has worn off).

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

It shouldn't be important, but it is.

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

1962 Born in New Zealand (South Island), live in New Zealand (Wellington)

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

NZ European, grew up on a small hard-working farm, of Irish descent.

What kind of work do you do?

Self-employed marketing consultant and writer.

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

Married for 30 years, no children.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

A bit sad. I used to enjoy clothes more than I do now.

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