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Lauren Matthews

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I've spent all day doing something I love. When my body feels good.

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

All the time. All kinds. Especially the ones who know their power, who dress in a way that feels authentic or surprises me. The ones who seem to have a secret with themselves.

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

i like when women experiment with their self-presentation and don't necessarily take it too seriously. i like when it is explorative. i like when women let their clothes augment them rather than drown them.

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 think it is happening now, slowly. i've been letting my style dictate itself rather than my mind dictate it, ie, "I always wear a bow in my hair" or "my look is 'mommy drinks'". i think the click is occurring in slow motion as i watch what i gravitate towards, and why, rather than decide beforehand how i want to look. it feels more organic and cohesive; before it felt like a costume.

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

don't buy it if you can make it. don't shop when you feel fat or sad because that dress you buy may always make you feel fat or sad. wait for a week before purchasing to see if it still makes your heart sing. or ignore all the rules and do what feels good.

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

don't wear too much of things in the same vein. go with your gut. experiment, play dress up. forget to clean your room for two weeks and see which items end up side by side in the clothing pile. don't they look nice? you wouldn't have ever thought to pair them if you hadn't made that mess. always show your ankles if wearing tight pants. always look just a little messy, even if you are going to a gala. too polished or perfect is boring and not that beautiful. wear things differently than they are "intended" to be worn.

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

i don't think i have had that yet. or it has been a series which i am still having; it's not one single conversation. it is an evolution of them. once i read something leith clark said about sunday dressing that i could never forget: her rule was something like, she couldn't wear anything that was on the floor, or on sundays she could "wear whatever she wanted" -- dress like a lunatic type of thing. and how it gave her all of these ideas. it made me realize all these self-imposed rules i come up with, and how if i let go of them and trying to look good, that dressing could be so much more interesting.

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

Navy striped things - i can't seem to stop - I just like them in every iteration. And black shapeless dresses. I guess it's like anything in art; you obsess over an idea until you finally somehow move on to the next. I also think I buy things that I've owned before, accidentally, because they are part of my subconscious and i'm drawn to them over and over.

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

most of them i come around to. at first i avoided pointy toed flats and then the d'orsay style became popular again and i thought they were pretty. fashion is about assimilation and repetition - the more i see it, the more i warm to it, often.

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

I have her body, exactly, to a T. So the same type of stuff looks good on us. It is a helpful reference as I age. Style-wise I think we gravitate towards the same textiles, the same organic shapes and motifs.

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

All the time. I love hand-me-downs. I constantly borrow and reinvent ideas of the people around me, because they have great taste.

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

When I lived in Paris I made an abrupt shift from wearing abrupt shift dresses -- really short, very colorful, any fabric would do -- to wearing longer hem lengths in a much more subdued palette, focusing more on the quality of the textile: really soft cottons, linens, fuzzy cashmeres.

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

I guess. I'm a woman who can elect to wear whatever I please. I think that is inherently political, and fortunate.

16. Please describe your body.

short legs, long torso, knock knees, pigeon toes. flat feet. little wrists and ankles, round breasts. strong back. long neck.

17. Please describe your mind.

curious, keen, a good playground most days.

18. Please describe your emotions.

immediate, reactive, large, endless.

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

on my body: black repettos, funny white clown-doll ditsy-printed large-collared blouse, silk spaghetti-strapped black short skort-ish romper (surprise! romper).

face: rose oil and sunscreen

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

it's important if you find it meaningful; if you are excited about what you choose to rub into your cheeks and slip onto your feet. it's important when you give it importance.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

a lot of people! my friends, my sister, my mom, my coworkers.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

they either make me want to "dress the part" or flout it. i usually can't completely forget about them when i dress for something, thought i wish i could. i've learned that i'm most comfortable if i at least consider the institution in question.

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

i aspire to have both. i know i have taste. i hope i have style. i'm working on style. i think in a way they are equally important. taste to me means discernment and education. style means self-awareness and a connection with your soul.

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

ugh yes. these terrible shoes in paris that at the time weren't terrible.

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

yeah. tent dresses when you don't like your body. schoolgirl skirts when you want to distract people. tennis shoes with fancy dresses so no one thinks you are overdressed.

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

i strive to: in my home, in my writing, in my interactions.

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 spent 4 months at the most terrifying job. The environment oozed toxicity. I only wore clothes that felt like a comfort: warm and soothing sweaters, coats for hiding under.

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 do know what I like in fashion and clothing, but it is always changing. The same goes for discernment in most areas of my life. I have immediate gut reactions to things, but the more I see, the more that can change. Some of it never changes. I don't know where my discernment comes from. Some of it feels inherent, though it could have been taught from a young age and I've just forgotten I learned it.

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?

Yes. My mother let me wear whatever I want, but I wasn't allowed to buy whatever I wanted. Nothing white because that was impractical. Nothing too expensive because, having worked in the clothing industry, she knew what was worth it and what wasn't. When I needed something of good quality, like a suit for public speaking, she took me to a consignment shop. At the time I was embarrassed, but now I understand that she was teaching me about the true value of clothing, and how to get something really good for less -- versus something overpriced, trendy, and acrylic.

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

I guess I wear high heels but I'm not sure that really makes me feel sexy.

To feel alluring -- I wear makeup, usually just on my eyes. I wash and tousle my hair. I wear a dress I love. I wear magic totem jewelry.

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 means, not thinking about what is on my body. Confident means the same thing I guess.

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?

I'd say, I like to have fun with what I wear and try new things, I don't like to have a defined style, I like to emulate movie characters and book characters and feelings. I like to wear things which make me "feel good", and that means a different thing on a different day.

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

Simplicity, or things imbued with time -- well crafted, full of soul.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Overwrought things.

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?

I am sometimes a good judge of this. I've figured out a few key rules. I just don't always like to heed them.

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?

I don't think I can even see her, I just see me. I feel like I have no idea how I appear to the outside world.

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

I pull outfit ideas that i've recorded in my notebook, or i get an idea from something i'm looking at, or what i'd planned on wearing doesn't work and i have to come up with an alternative. if i'm going to work i consider if it's appropriate.

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

It depends on the day. Sometimes, invisibility. Other times I'm experimenting and I don't really know what the end goal is -- just sating some type of sartorial curiosity. Mostly, though, I want to feel comfortable and pretty. I want to like what i see when i look in the mirror. but i don't want to have to look in the mirror too much.

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

dressing is daily and dressing up is for occasions, but you can dress up daily and just dress for an occasion, too.

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

button down, schoolgirl skirt, lace up repettos, baseball cap, big wool coat, sunglasses, anklet or two.

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?

I wore dresses and bows every day. I was obsessed with the idea of branding myself, or becoming someone else, because i didn't think i liked what i was. i also didn't really know who i was without some sort of stylistic definition. I think also I was mourning my childhood in a way, having a last hurrah with really girly things. but mostly i was looking for a life raft, and a way to stand apart from the crowd, and a way to hide beneath a facade.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

not really, but i'm not un-photogenic, either.

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

huh. so i look like that? or: ick. or: yes!!! the camera picked up what i was putting down!

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

Tons. Those are the saddest from which to awake, because you don't have the things you thought you had.

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?

such an interesting question. i'd wear sack dresses, and cut offs on the weekend.

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

repel: people who make me feel endangered. attract: everyone else.

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

do what feels good. if you dig it, you'll emit those "i dig myself" vibes, and other people will like those vibes, whether or not they care for how you are dressed.

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

i love it, i love it, i love it. yes i wear it. i love the idea that you can recognize someone by their smell. or that someone's scent can announce their arrival.

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

brush my hair. wash my face. work out so my limbs have oxygen. i don't iron my clothing. sometimes i don't even mend it. but i do feel it needs to look considered to an extent. it needs to feel a little cohesive in my mind.

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?

fancy, red carpet attire. it's so formulaic. i actually feel this way about most "good dressing". i feel like when an outfit is good enough to be blogged about, it's boring. i like it more when something is in flux. i'm not interested because in a way it is too easy -- no one is exploring or searching or learning.

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?

yes. a small black suede fringed cowgirl vest from my dress up box. someone must have tossed it. i think it's funky and want to see if it still fits.

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

wow. i guess one striped shirt from a thrift store in paris. but i can't imagine...i am so bad at throwing things out.

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

brass ankle cuffs.

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

not at all. i try to color-coordinate my closet. but my drawers are a disaster. i wish they weren't.

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

a coral ring from my boyfriend when we were first together that was surprisingly perfect. my friend stacey always gives me surprisingly perfect clothes also, but she is a costume designer, so it might be cheating.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

yes. good.

80. How does money fit into all this?

it would be nice to have unlimited funds to buy whatever i wanted. but for the most part, i've grown to appreciate the challenge of creating "the look for less", as they say. i think if i could buy whatever i wanted, my life would be cluttered and my mind dull.

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

i've been carrying around one hat or another to protect my skin. i usually wear aquaphor on my lips and always have it with me, as well as nivea skin creme in the tiny cobalt tin. i always wear a little silver bracelet which was a birthday gift from my mom, and a little gold ring which i bought to replace another little gold ring, which was a gift from my mentor which i lost.

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

when i was 1st grade someone made fun of the heidi braids my mom had done for me that morning. it was a beautiful crown of braids in my blonde hair. i thought it was delightful and was crushed when my classmate told me otherwise.

recently i've been feeling more like people better understand what i want to communicate with my style. i've also gotten comments lately that made me realize in some ways, i look the way i've always wanted to look, which is a funny thing to feel, because it doesn't mean as much as i thought it might.

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 remember being in preschool, 4 or 5, and getting my new, red, round, plastic glasses. they had tiny pictures of mickey mouse on the sides, at the joint. i remember being thrilled with them and very proud to show them off at school. inextricable from this memory is the girl who, not long afterwards, came to class with pink glasses with minnie mouse on the side. i was furious: not only was i no longer the only one with glasses, but this girl had one-upped me. i hadn't even considered minnie, and she was clearly the better, pinker choice.

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

august 16th, san francisco, los angeles.

What kind of work do you do?

design, writing

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


How do you feel after filling out this survey?

exhausted, intrigued


lauren matthews is an artist and designer living in los angeles.

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