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Sarah Campbell

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When my outer self reflects my inner self.

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

I notice women who have the courage to dress like who they are, to express their true nature in how they look.

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

I love to see women celebrate themselves no matter how they look and no matter what age they are.

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?

Well, it was about time. I was nearing 75 and finally figured I had a right to show who I am in what I wear and how I present myself, something I had struggled with all of my life. Something just clicked for me one day and I suddenly blossomed.

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

If you love love love it, buy it. When in doubt, don't (buy it).

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

Wild is good.

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

Do what feels good.

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

Can't seem to find the perfect bag.

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

When I left my long marriage and headed off to college, I gave away my conventional clothes. It felt good and still does.

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

I don't do trends.

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

All the time I was growing up I kowtowed to my mother and grandmother, who bought my clothes, and never found out my style or the colors that really look good on me. It has taken me a long, long time to recover from that and to know who I am and feel good about expressing who I am.

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

I have some clothes and costume jewelry from the 1940's that belonged to my mother and grandmother that I love.

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

In the 1970's I owned and ran a vintage clothing shop for about a year. My husband was not supportive of the venture, but I loved everything about it. I dressed in clothes from the 30's and 40's and loved the look. I sold the shop to save my marriage. I felt like I had betrayed myself when I became a corporate wife again, dressing in conventional clothes. It was another 13 years before I admitted that the marriage wasn't working and left it, taking myself--and my style--back for myself.

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


16. Please describe your body.

Short, slim, boyish, old.

17. Please describe your mind.


18. Please describe your emotions.

Happy now!

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

I wear natural or non-toxic makeup and my naturally silver hair is styled like Judi Dench wears hers.

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

It is vital. I am a creative person and part of that creativity is expressing myself daily in what I wear.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Mostly my sister, but also my girlfriends.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

They don't.

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, and to me that is more important. Style can border on tasteless (in the opinion of some people). I think style is innate, taste, acquired. Style is personal; taste is cultural.

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

No, I don't. Well, maybe a canvas Filson field jacket back when I lived in the country. It was so stiff that I never was able to wear it.

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

A black and white checkered scarf works wonders with almost any outfit.

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

Yes, an eclectic 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?

Yes, sometimes simple (introverted) black knit clothes are calming.

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, yes, yes! I guess my discernment comes from knowing who I am.

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?

Not really.

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

Way past that stage of life.

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?

Comfortable for me means clothing that physically feels good because it fits my body. Confident for me means the courage to dress like who I am.

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?

Every day is an adventure in being who I am. I love when women tell me that they would like for me to take them clothes shopping.

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

A woman who dresses herself in her own uniqueness.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

A woman who is dressing by standards that are not her own.

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?

A pretty good judge, but I don't always know what will end up being my favorites.

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

I am considering what appeals to me at that moment, not what I might have planned to wear when I thought about it last night.

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

Expressing who I am.

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

Dressing is expressing; dressing up is paying a bit more attention to cultural convention while remaining true to myself.

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

Layers of wild colorful and patterned clothes--skirts over pants, shirts over shirts, scarves over scarves.

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

Me: layers of colors and patterns. Not me: fitted, conventional clothing, trendy.

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

Southern white middle class; that was something I had to 'get over'.

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?

When I left my marriage and went back to school in the early 90's at age 55, I fell into a sort of hippie look that I would have loved to wear back when it was popular. I think it was something I just had to get out of my system--plus it was as far from 'corporate wife conventional' as I could find at that time.

44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?

I'm not a professional.

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?

Sort of the Steve Jobs look: black turtleneck and slim jeans. Still love that look, though I don't wear it much.

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 did the Annie Hall thing for a while.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

I wish I were photogenic.

54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

Anna Piaggi.

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?


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?

Sleeveless shirts.

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


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

Be yourself, please yourself.

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

I'm allergic to perfume and any kind of scent and wish it would all go away. It is intrusive.

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

Wear long sleeves.

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

I wear a minimum but necessary bit of makeup--mostly eye makeup.

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?


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

Wild and colorful layers of clothes, lots of colorful scarves and costume jewelry.

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

My present fave is a pair of café au lait and black striped leggings. I wish I had several pairs.

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?

A trench coat. It's not me but I can't get rid of 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?

Slim, fitted jeans.

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?

Oh yes, it was a Missoni coat that I bought on sale back in the 70's, a wool short coat, reversible, one side knit in lovely banded colors, blues and greens and mauves, the reverse a beautiful black and white tweed. I took it to the cleaners for winter storage and neglected to pick it up when I left my marriage. By the time I remembered it, it was gone. I would have worn it every winter for the past 33 years. I still have the Missoni scarf that I bought with the coat.

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

My café au lait and black striped leggings.

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


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

That Missoni wool coat that I lost. I would definitely still be wearing it.

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

The first vintage piece I bought: a dress from the 1940's.

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

The perfect bag.

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

My (small) closet has spilled out into my (small) bedroom, but I love seeing my colorful clothes hanging on the walls. My (few) drawers are neat.

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

My grandfather gave me a rhinestone pin to wear on a prom dress.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

When my favorite shops get in new shipments.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Just clean.

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

Since I am an artist I love dressing in an unconventional way.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't have much but enjoy spending what I can on clothes.

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

My shoulder bag, a one of a kind piece made by a local artist.

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

I always thought my mouth was my least attractive feature--and then a man told me that my upper lip was sexy. Blew my mind.

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?

When I was 4 years old, I had a yellow and black striped sundress that seemed to attract yellow jackets, as every time I wore it I got stung by one.

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

July 20, 1937; South Carolina; South Carolina.

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

I am not a conventional Southern lady.

What kind of work do you do?

Retired from being a corporate wife; now an artist.

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

Divorced with 4 grown children.

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

I'm fascinated with clothes and with women's attitudes about clothes. I love reading about any woman's history/story as told through her clothing.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Like I'd love to have your book.


I grew up in a small town in the South in the 1940's, wanted nothing more than to marry and have kids. I got to do that and then I got to have another life after that. I went back to school and graduated at age 61. I'm an artist (retired, but still dabbling) and love expressing myself in what I wear. It took a long time for me to be comfortable with that, comfortable enough to embrace it rather than simply let that wild woman out on rare occasions, after which I would fade back into the woodwork. I'm so happy knowing who I am now, embracing my quirkiness.

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