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Sarah Cameron

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I feel at my most attractive when I'm confident in myself. It's a combination of how I feel about my current situation, who I'm hanging out with at the moment, where my self-confidence is at, and how comfortable I feel with both my physical and mental self. Frankly, if I could wear Chacos, sweat pants, a tank-top, mascara, and hair in a high bun every day of my life, I would be confident as hell.

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

I notice women on the street who dress like they know who they are and what they want in the world. Maybe that's weird but I always admire the women I see who have the confidence to pull off their outfit whether is a bright red jumpsuit or a tank top and hiking shorts.

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

I admire women who exude optimism about their life and the world at large. Women who don't take anyone's shit, can speak up for themselves, and respect others impress me.

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've never felt like things clicked for me fashion-wise. I take care of my clothes and try to enjoy how I look but I still feel like I'm playing dress-up nearly every day and hoping that people don't notice that I'm an impostor among all the adults.

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

Don't go shopping when you actually need something because then you'll never, ever find it. I can never find decent work pants when I actually need them but I can find good ones when I'm casually shopping.

Also, if you find something great that you love and that fits and it's on clearance or super-well discounted, BUY IT! I rarely feel comfortable enough money-wise to splurge on sale items on a whim so I tend to miss out on some great deals. But if I could worry less and focus more on the value of spending a little money now for a great piece, then I'd probably have a more confident and exciting wardrobe.

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

I made a rule for myself to never go out of the house in something I'm not totally comfortable wearing. Sometimes I break that rule because I have a horrible clothes day and it always ruins my day (at least partially). I get hung up on how out of place I feel in my clothes and worry about how I look. I would advise other women to take that risk of feeling out of place in order to try new styles and looks.

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

When I was a freshman or sophomore in college, I asked my mom for a Victoria Secret gift card for my birthday. I'd never been super comfortable with myself but somehow my mom and I must have gotten on the topic of bras and I realized how much I wanted a high quality bra that I actually felt good in. My mom totally understood this desire and got me the gift card. After that first purchase, I've only ever bought bras that make me feel confident and happy with myself. I'm a super strong supporter of high quality undergarments and wearing things that make you happy.

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

My main question when it comes to how I approach my life is "Will I be proud of the life I live in making this choice?" With relationships it means ensuring that the company I keep will continually lift me up (and I lift them up in turn)- of course this doesn't always work as I've been in relationships that aren't entirely positive or healthy but I've learned from those experiences. With finances, I am incredibly careful with what I spend my money on- I would rather purchase items that will last for me than things that will provide a quick bit of fun. With work, I try to do jobs that I'm proud of but so far it's been incredibly difficult to find that job that'll be a career.

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

I've intentionally bought certain shirts, tank-tops, bras, and underwear in the same brand/style but in different colors because I love the way the item fits. By purchasing multiples of the same item (always different colors though) I'm ensuring that I'll have clothes that I like to wear and fit me well.

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

I try not to buy people clothes and almost never buy people jewelry because of the fleeting enjoyment I fear they will get out of my clothing choices.

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

I refuse to participate in the wearing of Crocs, Uggs, and leggings as pants. Leggings are not pants. If I can see your underwear line, then you need to layer up.

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

My mom and I have very similar body types when compared to my sisters. My mom is slightly bigger than me but she carries herself so well. I'm always amazed by her confidence in her clothing choices. She's so put-together and knows how to dress for her body type.

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

if I went through my wardrobe and took out the items that I didn't purchase for myself, I'd have very little clothes. Honestly, a good quarter of my wardrobe are hand-me-downs from my older sister. I've never bought a pair of yoga pants because I have her old ones. My nice blazer came from a friend who was cleaning out her closet. Most of my t-shirts are freebies from work or events. I'll also admit to dressing like the people I admire in my life- especially my sisters and mother.

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

My changes in style could be best described as a "Find the differences" expert edition. My sense of style has certainly progressed over the years, especially since high school, but it's still so full of cotton shirts and basic pants that it's almost shocking when I wear any different fabrics or patterns. One huge change did come in college when I finally became comfortable wearing tank tops. I've always had bigger breasts than my friends (and sisters) and it would make me incredibly self-conscious about my appearance. I hated wearing tank tops throughout high school because I worried that my family and friends would find me inappropriate. Then in college, I fell in love with going to the library at night wearing my sweatpants, sweatshirt, and a tank-top and realized that I actually really love my bare shoulders and the way tank-tops make my breasts look good. I think I realized that I didn't have to be ashamed of my size and decided to embrace the curves instead of hide them.

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

No, nothing overtly. Except, I guess, recognizing that cleavage is fine and that if I can wear it confidently then that's more important than worrying what people think of me for exposing parts of myself.

16. Please describe your body.

I'm surprised by my small waist- I bought this lovely dress for my birthday but I need to get it altered so it can fit my waist (and it needs to get shortened!). I love my legs too- for someone who's fairly "average" in size/weight/height, my legs are really nice. I love wearing shorts and skirts and would wear heels more often if I could manage it. I also have nice breasts- honestly, I think they look great and I love dressing to feel like a classy woman. My stomach is like one of those Renaissance paintings of the naked women. It probably looks lovely but I feel like it's just soft mounds of flesh poking out in weird spots. I wish my face were slightly more defined. My little sister has beautiful cheeks and I want her cheeks. But I have a good smile, pretty decent skin (I love my skin tone- I rarely wear makeup because I don't want to cover it up), and i like my eyes. I wish I knew how to dress up my eyes better. I also wish I knew how to style my hair- it's pretty and has so much potential but I don't know what to do with it every day since it's so straight. I'm often uncomfortable with my body specifically because of my stomach but I'm really working on loving myself.

17. Please describe your mind.

It's in a constant state of questioning whether I'm living up to my potential. This morning I could barely get out of bed because I've been so stressed out about the struggles going on in my life and I wanted to berate myself for it but I also wanted to just relax for once. My mind often does not complete its thoughts because I'm already thinking past it. My little sister realized this when we lived together for a year- I will start a sentence but not finish it and not realize what I was doing. It's not that I'm absent-minded. It's that the thought was completed in my mind and had already moved on so there was no need to complete the thought aloud.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I can't right now. I'm so stressed out with anxiety about my life that I can't process them in words for you.

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

I'm sitting in bed listening to the Rhett & Link podcast of Hannah Hart while filling out this survey because I love surveys. I'm wearing pajama shorts, a tank-top, a sports bra (I don't do bra-less- that's so uncomfortable), my glasses (which I really like the frames but I think they may be out-dated and maybe I should update them soon to something bolder), no make-up, and my hair is up in a high bun so it's balanced nicely atop my head.

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

This is me at my most comfortable. It makes me feel comfortable the way I am. The bra thing is actually kind of a huge/weird deal. I don't understand the desire to take off your bra as soon as you get home. I totally get the no-pants thing- I hate wearing jeans longer than necessary. But bras, man, these ladies are too full to go without support. They're just more comfortable in a bra (plus I only ever buy super high quality bras). Also- always wearing underwear. It's just my jam (my... jim-jams... because I'm in my pajamas).

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

I've talked about clothes with all my close friends, definitely my family (primarily my sisters and always with my mom, sometimes my brother, never my dad), and trusted coworkers too.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I went to a Catholic middle school and high school where I either wore a uniform or dress-code each day. This completely influenced me in college in that I never wore sweatpants to class. I always dressed as if I would see someone important and wanted to be prepared for that kind of event. This prepared me well to dress for the professional world. However, it also deeply affected my self-confidence as a young woman. I constantly feared my teachers' reactions to my clothes- what if they're considered too short, too tight, to revealing? For a very long time, I thought that girls were naturally supposed to get in trouble for how they dress while boys could do whatever. Now though, I totally disagree with that an fully support any movement where young girls are encouraged to dress for themselves and boys are taught to be respectful of girls no matter how the girl is dressed.

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

I don't think I have much taste or style. I'm super basic- does it fit? Does it look alright? Do I like how this looks? I wish I were more adventurous with how I dress but I feel like I've been in a fashion rut for years due to chronic under-employment, having so little money for so long, and trying to focus my energies on other things like my relationships with family and friends, my potential career, and my creative side.

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

I bought this shirt in middle school that I thought was so edgy and beautiful and would completely define my style as a human being. It was this awful, linen, flesh-colored shirt with 3/4 length sleeves, ruffles, and a crochet/lace-up front. It literally looked like a shirt worn by an extra in the Lord of the Rings. It wasn't even super expensive but oh my gosh, it was hideous. I actually just got rid of it last month because I was officially packing up the last of my stuff from my parents' house. I realized I had to get rid of it because I had bought it in 8th grade and clearly, at 25 it would never, ever fit me again. I did keep the handmade Elvish cloak that I made for Halloween though. :-)

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

The only thing I can think of is that when I put on mascara, brush it up and towards the inner side of your eye to open up the eyelash.

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

I actually love the idea of home decorating. I have very little furniture and no money to spend on this task, but I try to get high-quality items that are unique and beautiful and express who I am. I'm a strong supporter of high-quality bed sheets so my bed is quite nice.

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 have this sweatshirt that's two sizes too big and I'll wear it when I need a hug. It just envelopes me in warmth and makes me feel pretty and small and safe because it's so big and comforting. I got the sweatshirt from a volunteer/job I had right after college.

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?

I know what I don't like because I know something won't look good on me or I don't like what the style would say about me. I'm still working on knowing what I like and wearing what I like.

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?

My mom taught me how to do laundry which I pride myself in and enjoy doing. I love the feeling of freshly laundered towels and sheets. She never taught me to iron but I've picked up how to do that and wish I had an iron to take better care of my clothes.

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

I try to dress up my eyes to feel sexy. I also wear bras that I feel sexy in (so ones that are comfortable, pretty, and make me look nice). If I can highlight my legs and chest while minimizing my stomach, I feel confident.

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?

Confident- someone who has accepted themselves and feels like they can express themselves honestly and positively without demeaning others

Comfortable- someone who feels in control of their situation and is in a positive space

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?

As long I am happy with myself and how I feel as a result of how I look, then all is well.

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

Mountains, breathtaking landscapes, positive thoughts, words on a page that speak to me at a time where I need it, fresh baked goods, babies, my dad's laugh, my sister's dog's total joy in doing stuff with me, confidence and bravery, compassion

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Selfishness, disrespect, any sort of prejudice, actions that demean other people, apathy

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?

Yes- I won't buy something if I have any feelings that I won't wear it. I often don't buy things even if I know I will wear it.

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?

That "outer eye" is usually myself from the past. Would 15 year old me be interested and proud of me-from-the-present? I try to be that person that I always looked up to.

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

Being able to take a comfortable shower is always the most important part of my day. Without a shower, I feel out of place and uncomfortable. Some days I know what I want to wear whereas some days I go through tons of different outfits and I don't know where to start.

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 actually take issue with this question because I don't see why I have to adhere to stereotypical gender roles in fashion. No, I don't tend to dress like a man but I don't think I should be ostracized for wanting to wear typically-manly clothes like vests, ties, or nice suits. I think women can look great in these clothes if they wear them confidently.

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

I really like Downton Abbey and would love to wear outfits from the 1910's in England. I think that era began to play with the idea of formality versus dressing for comfort and it would be fun to dress that nice on a daily basis.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

No. I'm not against photos of myself but I feel like I'm really bad at posing for photos.

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

Why did you turn your head that way?

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

I don't understand the general public's love of perfume but I've never been able to detect more than the faint scent of alcohol from most perfumes.

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

Shower! And make sure my clothes are stain free. :-)

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

Jean, cotton shirts, plain colors, and a lot of mix-and-match options. Also, pretty dresses and a great collection of rarely-worn shoes.

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

I would buy less plain shirts and more professional-looking blouses. I would also buy more interesting pants, skirts, and dresses. I'd work at matching cute shoes to these outfits too. All of it would have a slightly utilitarian feel but with classic, feminine undertones.

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

I "invested" in a pair of Chacos sandals because I needed a pair of summer shoes that would allow me to walk for miles without causing my feet to act up. They are still my favorite shoes and I am very glad to own them. I also invested in a nice, dark red wool coat for winter and it's the only piece I've ever dry-cleaned. One of the buttons fell off last winter so I have to figure out how to fix it- or maybe it's time for a new coat? But I really do love the color of this one.

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

The Chacos shifted my outlook on shoes. I still by crappy shoes because I like the style over their comfort but that purchase did instill in me a desire to buy higher quality shoes that would last and look great.

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

I'd like a pair of super low cut socks that won't slip off my feet when I wear low cut shoes.

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

I keep my closet organized by color. It's very helpful to be able to look at my clothes by color and decide what I'm in the mood to wear.

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?

I bought a shirt at the Gap a few years ago that was purchased on a whim because I had a coupon. I actually love the way it fits and particularly how it still hasn't shrunk or gotten distorted.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I shop when I have the time, am in the mood to shop, an have the money to do so. All three of those factors have to be in place and I have to shop alone. That's usually when I get the best pieces.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I like to smell clean. I'd rather not have a distinguished "scent" except for the scent of clean laundry and washed hair.

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

When I have to dress for an important work event or interview, I dress like I have everything to prove and the confidence to wow an audience. At least, that's my goal. When I'm most in my element, I'm usually wearing something that I don't have to think about, doesn't ride up anywhere, and allows me to move freely.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Money is everything with my style. I've never been in a situation where I'm perfectly comfortable financially. I recognize that my personal style is directly affected by my lack of money because I end up either buying great pieces but few and far between or not buying things at all. If I were more comfortable financially, I would take more time with my clothes and style, but I have far more important things to take care of before that can happen.

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 vividly remember being told that my shirt was too tight and my shorts were too short when I was in 8th grade by this horrible English teacher. It was a free-dress day and I had carefully selected my outfit from my sister's closet. I had felt cute and confident, which was exceedingly rare as an 8th grader, and that teacher completely slashed my self-confidence. She instilled in me a sense of doubt and shame about my body that took years to correct.

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

I was born in 1989 in Colorado and have moved around the US throughout my life. I've spent most of my life in Minnesota but don't know where I feel most at home.

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

I grew up in a pretty conservative middle-class household, both politically and religiously. My parents have worked hard for what they have but I don't think my dad often recognizes the privileges he has in society. In recent years, I've clashed with him over ideological differences which is very difficult for me because I respect him more than any other man in my life.

What kind of work do you do?

I work at figuring out my career and my life. That's the best I can say.

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

I've just lived through the most stressful summer of my life to date and went from feeling very confident about myself and my future to doubting every decision I've ever made. It's been exceedingly stressful in every way and want things to calm down. I like filling out surveys and this gave me the chance to stop focusing on my summer and focus more on myself as a whole person.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I feel sleepy which was actually my goal- I haven't slept well in a really long time and am looking for ways to relax myself before bed.

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