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Arcedes Dickins

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm dressed up to go out.

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

People whose clothes, shoes, handbags, etc, are coordinated and/or people who have done something unusual and creative with their clothing.

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

Striking simplicity, use of color, well applied makeup, interesting jewelry.

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, when I was about 3 years old, I admired the spectator pumps worn by my much older (21) sister and her friends. Have since tried to include spectators in my own wardrobe from time to time. My mother and older sister were always very interested in clothing. My mother sewed herself and often hired a dressmaker to make my clothes, so creativity and individuality were always encouraged in choosing clothing.

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

Go to high end stores and buy things on sale or go to stores that handle department store leftovers.

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

Match metals in accessories and jewelry--silver + silver, gold + gold

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

Haven't had it yet.

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

I wish. I'm ADD.

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

Cotton turtlenecks. Jeans. Turtlenecks get old or stained. One needs various colors for various outfits. So useful and comfortable for home life. Once you find jeans that fit, stick with them.
White embroidered shirts for summer--kind of a trademark for me.

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

Yes--gave my sister-in-law a dramatic white cape-coat that we both love. Sweaters and coats for my daughters.

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

I don't like hanging points on sweaters and jackets. Not flattering for me to have that much going on at the hips.

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

Unfortunately, I have my dad's body. I think my mother's interest in clothing and bright colors has definitely been passed down to me.

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

No actual items, but I am always on the lookout for ideas.

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

Got pregnant.

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

Only when I wear campaign buttons.

16. Please describe your body.

Getting shorter, slightly overweight, always try to shift attention to the face.

17. Please describe your mind.

Active and inquiring.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Uncertain about what is being looked for here...

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

Fleece jacket for unseasonable cold. Furnace not on yet for autumn. Clothes are from this morning's exercise class--"Life is Good" T-shirt picked up free at a trade show and redyed to a better color, jeans from LLBean, white socks, maroon sneakers with orange trim that I bought in Italy. Love these shoes, wanted more, but they were never marketed in USA. Full make-up. Silver ring, my everyday silver earrings. Hair in a knot on top of my head.

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

Wearing satisfying combinations of colors makes me happy.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Close friends, daughters

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Well, I don't put on gloves to go downtown anymore and we don't go downtown--we go to the mall, but I will dress more formally for church, concerts, etc. Casually but carefully for a sporting event.

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 both, but style probably getting more old fashioned as time goes by. Taste = knowing what combines well; Style = one's choices from what is available on the market.

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

Probably a cashmere sweater that must have contained moth eggs and got eaten away in the summer. I spray everything now.

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

Wearing the pink quilted lining of a Land's End jacket as a jacket itself. I get many compliments on it. Quilted coats are so popular in Italy that a traveler friend just knew I had bought it there

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

Cooking, table setting, placement of art work.

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?

Yes--I sometimes wear jewelry to face intimidating situations.

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 am good at discernment. It comes from growing older--one of the bounties of aging.

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?

Mostly osmosis although my mother insisted that new shoes and leather bags be polished with neutral polish before use so that they were protected.

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

Mascara a must; ditto perfume.

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?

Appearing unconcerned about appearance.

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?

Figure out your most flattering colors and shapes and keep them in mind when choosing clothing no matter what the fashion of the moment is.

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

Color--outdoors, in art, in life, and music,--and people.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Cruel actions. Something misused or destroyed.

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?


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?

Lipstick too red; overweight.
Yes, it is based on someone I once knew.

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

1. Weather
2. Where I am going and what I will be doing
3. Staying at home--usually wearing jeans-what shoes will go with shirt? What color belt? Makeup or not?
4. Going out--what pants, what top, jacket?, jewelry, shoes, handbag

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

A flattering combination of colors and textures in which I feel comfortable

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

Dressing up calls for more fragile materials (silks, etc.), more dramatic pieces of clothing (shawls, scarves) and jewelry. Fit is also more important in dressing up.

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

Pants, jacket, buttons-down-the-front shirt, silk scarf

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

Me - color, good materials

Not me - printed, ruffly dresses

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

WASP. Have always liked tailored clothes--but not boring clothes.

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?

High school in the fifties--angora sweaters, long skirts, white socks rising from loafers. Very important to show that you knew the style and could handle it with a bit of flair.

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?

White shirt and any pants or skirt..Comfortable, fresh looking

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?

I wished I were a boy during grade school years because they had so many more freedoms. Had nothing to do with clothing. That was the beginning of girls wearing jeans and big shirts, so we did dress like men then in a way.

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

Early 20th Century.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Not especially.

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

Double chin, forced smile.

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


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

Long straight hair

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?

Slimmer pants. more dresses

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

I welcome the approval of friends.

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


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

Essential. Yes, I wear it every day.

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

Wear lipstick.

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

See above

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?

Nail polish.
I don't like the look, but it is sort of required in my circle of friends.

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

Too many details! But tailored pants suits are kind of a background. Summertime is long printed skirts.

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

A gold ring with a rectangle of gold mounted on it that measures about 1x1/2" Very beautiful and dramatic. I really enjoy much of my 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?

An expensive mother-of-the-bride dress worn at the weddings of two daughters. I keep hoping there will be another occasion for wearing it.

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?


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?


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

Cable knit lavender cashmere sweater with a huge turtleneck almost cowl collar. It feels good and looks extravagant and kind of silly..

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

Don't know.

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

Don't know

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


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

A winter coat

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

No--too many things and too little space.

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

A beautiful lapis and pearl necklace given me by my son and daughter-in-law.

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?

A windbreaker given my by my oldest granddaughter. I thought I would never use it, but it folds into a pocket, is easy to carry, very warming and I use it all of the time.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Very unpredictable. Usually by myself.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Like jasmine.

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

No ambitions.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Wish I had more for clothes! I think I do well with my retired person's budget.

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

Wallet--a little purse with a shoulder string so I can dash to the store without a purse.

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

Some people in my exercise class recently commented on how well turned out I look at class--not a compliment I expected as I feel I make very little effort for the occasion.

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?


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

1933 in central Kentucky.
Live now in Topeka, Kansas (and, yes, we're tired of people laughing about Kansas)

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

Have spent many years in large midwestern cities, have a master's degree in public administration. Travel in Europe and Asia.

What kind of work do you do?

Retired from fund raising, policy analysis

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

Divorced, single for 40 years, three adult kids, eight grandkids.

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

I love clothes.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?



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