Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When my hair is clean and my hormones have agreed to let my skin be clear and glowy, when I've had maybe two large glasses of wine and when I have matching underwear on.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire a woman with a consistent style, anyone with a signature, whether it's red lipstick or a whole uniform. Or a turban or a collection of hats. I like that a signature implies both care and effortlessness at the same time.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
a) What are some dressing rules you follow?
I'm not big on rules! My main thing is trying not to look like a mess, because I have a natural tendency towards looking like a mess. So I try to do one element that looks neat, like a collar or buttons or a high-waist. You have more room to look chaotic that way.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
When I was about 19 my friend and I were sitting outside the lecture theatre, smoking cigarettes and commenting on every girl who walked by and what she was wearing. We thought we were very cool and trendy and edgy; in retrospect we were idiots and I in particular looked like a fashion-crazed fool. But after an hour or so we figured out at the girls who we considered the best-dressed were not the girls who wore the clothes that we may have coveted the most, but the ones who had a consistent style, a steady palette and knew the silhouettes that worked best for them. It took me another few years to actually put that into action. But I realised then that style is about knowing what you like and why you like it, more than anything else.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
I counted 7 pleated skirts in my wardrobe the other week, different lengths and colours and pleats but still, I think I have an affinity with them somehow left over from convent school education - they still feel simple and easy and yet nonetheless smart and neat enough to pull together a girl as messy as me.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
When pastel coats were popular a couple of winters ago I so badly wanted one but knew the trend wouldn't last longer than one winter, so denied myself. Still regret it. Will keep waiting for pastel coats to make a comeback.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
Not so much consciously, but I think every woman does it unconsciously. My best friend in college and I lived in floral dresses, black tights, lace-up boots and olive parkas, like blonde and brunette twin version of each other. I've stolen some vintage shift dresses from my mother, have been doing so since I was twelve. I stole a leather pencil mini from her when I was 13 that only fits one of my thighs now.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
When I moved to NYC I started working in a store that sold second-hand designer clothing, so for the first time I had access to cheap labels that I had only read about in Vogue. When I moved to London, after NYC, I wanted to smarten up and be taken a little more seriously as a human rather than an undergraduate with a penchant for floral tights and miniskirts. But I was so broke at first that the change was very so slow and incremental. I think now, after 18 months, it's changed entirely, though.
16. Please describe your body.
I'm naturally quite slim, around a UK size 8 and I have long legs which I believe are my most marriageable asset. I have a small chest and proportionally larger butt.
17. Please describe your mind.
18. Please describe your emotions.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
I am wearing a white lace pinafore dress from Topshop with a blush pink silk shirt under it, black tights and black patent leather jazz shoes and cotton underwear. My hair is loose to my chest and I'm wearing three rings on my left hand, all small, one silver band, one gold band with diamonds and one gold ring with two rectangles on it. I have one large black onyx ring on my right hand and I have a turquoise teardrop pendant around my neck.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
I think it's as important as you want it to be. I have very close friends who couldn't care less how they're dressed, but I think (generalising here) most women do like the allure of 'pretty things', aesthetically-pleasing trinkets or baubles, whether that's clothes or accessories or a painting. I don't expect all women to care the way I might, but I think style can have a powerful effect on the way you see yourself in the world, so if it is important, it is because it's a positive thing.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
Professionally, as a fashion writer, basically everyone I meet. My non-fashion friends grab me at parties to ask me opinions on black-and-navy, or where to buy a winter coat. My fashion-friends and coworkers endlessly want to discuss the new Dior collection. But there's a difference in how we talk about clothes and how we talk about style, I think, and on a more personal, meaningful level, there are not many people I discuss style with. I have some very like-minded friends online, scattered around rural Canada or Texas or NYC or Sweden, and the last few years have provided an important ongoing conversation with them that has done much for my personal style, I think.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I do! I think both style and taste are a constant process, and like your sense of self or identity, they evolve as your life changes. Style is about making decisions, and about how those decisions change your way of thinking, about yourself and the world too.
Style is a little more inside you, whereas taste is determined by what you see and what you learn, especially of the tastes of those around you. I like to think style is a little more innate, or at least deep-seated. E.g., I like delicate costume jewellery because my mother wore it when I was growing up, not because it's in the magazines I read and because the people around me wear it. Or I like pleated skirts because it speaks to a girlish frivolity that I don't want to let go of, rather than because I saw Lou Doillon wearing one and thought it was a good look.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
I have scoured my memory and can't think of anything, which means it was probably very very expensive, very very stupid, and I've blocked it out. Last year I let a sales assistant convince me to buy a scarlet silk shirt for €100 instead of the same one in oatmeal and I wish once a week I had bought the oatmeal one instead.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Oh god, I wish. I do think that wearing a smart coat or jacket lets you get away with a lot more underneath it, though.
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 had security-blanket long hair for about four years, which I would effectively hide behind in situations I didn't really like.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I'm not sure how to make myself feel sexy or alluring. It's not something I give much thought to or plan, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. Other than applying perfume and ensuring I walk with a wiggle, I don't think I can control it.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
I've had processes in the past, but nowadays I generally let my mood guide me to whatever colour I want to wear (navy, white and black are my favourites), then build from there.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
I am trying to present a self to the world which will be acceptable for whatever tasks I have to complete that day. Sometimes that task is: seem confident and together when conducting an interview or doing a job I might otherwise feel uncomfortable doing. Sometime it's: feel damn good and go out and have fun.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
I have a cup of tea at hand when I'm getting dressed and I have a drink in my hand when I'm getting dressed up.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Black or navy pleated skirt with a blush pink silk tank top, leather jazz shoes and a simple light knit jumper in cream.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
I brush my hair. If I'm interviewing someone, I have a basic-ish uniform I'll default to, of linen shorts and a sleeveless shirt in the summer, and a pleated skirt, shirt and jumper in the winter and always a trenchcoat. It's my 'lady reporter' outfit and dressing the part does help me feel at ease, I think.
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?
Often when cycling to work I long for the ease with which a man can look stylish on a bicycle. Recently I was behind a guy at traffic lights, and he had on some dark chinos, turned up at the ankle to reveal perfect soft blue ankle socks with white polka dots. I've tried to emulate that look but can never get the proportions right on my own body.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
I don't really think about it - I look as photogenic as any happy 24-year-old woman will. I generally prefer myself outside of photos, though: it's like hearing your voice on tape more than a strictly vanity thing for me.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
I need to get new glasses - I wonder if this is how the general public sees me - I wonder how I will see this photo when I am 50.
It also depends on whoever else in the photo with me, obviously I will internally shriek more if I'm next to an incredibly attractive woman than if I'm next to my boyfriend.
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
So many. Joan Didion, Jane Birkin, Anna Karina, my mother. All of those women with big eyes in black and white photographs from the past. Madeline, from the books of the same name. Rei Kawakubo, Winona Ryder, old school Tina Brown and Anna Wintour, all those types.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Anything overly polished, anything that involves a professional, like blown-out hair or a manicure or eyebrow maintenance. Anything that requires large breasts or Joan Holloway-type curves.
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?
I have never felt that my comfort with my body has stopped me from wearing what I'd like to wear.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I love perfume, but sometimes it does repel me a little. I do wear it every day, though, and feel strange without it.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
There's nothing I have to do, really, other than wash myself. I am very lazy on the whole. As I said I like lipstick and I need to have my hair brushed (or else I look like a Victorian street urchin), but I don't feel a need to remove body hair or anything like that.
I have had very bad acne in the past few years and have finally figured out how to deal with that, which has made me a lot more confident in a way, but mostly means that my skin is one less thing I can pay any attention to.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
I'm wearing quite a lot of makeup today. I like the ritual aspect of it in the morning, though never spend longer than ten minutes. I'm wearing very pink lipstick and a little black eyeliner in addition to foundation, highlighter and powder. Lipstick is one of those small things I like to do to make myself look like a 'real person' when I might not be feeling like one.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
I have a blue and neon orange sports bra from H&M which I genuinely adore.
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?
I have a black PVC minidress by Luella, with a big heart cut-out on the back. It's too small, also I have never ever worn PVC before. But it belongs in my closet and I love it.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
A baggy black sleeveless sacklike dress I got in Stockholm which is machine washable.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
I think the idea of an 'investment' piece is a little made-up, probably to get women to spend more money on hyper-marked-up items. I think it's more important to look for quality. Some things last, and some things you'll still love and wear in years to come, but the idea of investing in them is a little troublesome. All clothes do decay if you actually wear them, too.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
The perfect black sleeveless linen dress
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
When I am sad or when I need something. I shop sometimes online but mostly I stalk out an item that exists only in my head. This may well involve compromise in the end, but I love the hunt as much as I love the finished product, usually.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
It's horrible, but I like perfumes that smell wealthy to me.
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
Oh it totally does. I love hearing things like Joan Didion's uniform as a writer, of famous women's signatures and staples. And about women's cherished outfits and how they dress to convince themselves of their own capabilities. I don't believe in living beyond your means and 'dressing for the job you want' and all that, but I am a big proponent of faking it 'til you make it, and dressing definitely plays into that. Plus it contributes to a certain romantic notion I have of myself in the universe, a way of creating a narrative about yourself.
80. How does money fit into all this?
It provides a constant sense of dread and a lack of control which prevents me from accumulating a disgustingly large wardrobe, thank god.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
Half-asleep once, on my way to an interview my boyfriend told me I was dressed like a lady anthropologist from the past. That is now one of my favourite modes of dressing to resort to, especially when I look at my wardrobe and have no ideas.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
March 20 1989. I was born in west London and live in north London but grew up between 6 and 22 in south Dublin.
What kind of work do you do?
I am a fashion/cultural journalist and writer for the likes of Bon, Style.com, The Sunday Times, Elle, the Irish Times and more.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
My boyfriend and I are living in sin, we have no children.
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I wanted to be a fashion journalist originally because I believed that clothes and style are written off as trivial women's things in the media, but that they are important to everyone, men and women, in a greater context. In the three or so years I've worked in this field I have learned a lot about how women see clothes and what they really want from them, and I know that not everyone cares about style in the way that I do. But I think enough think critically about these things to make them worthy of greater attention, and I personally could talk about why I wear what I wear until the cows come home. I have had a lot of fun answering these questions!
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Like I want to go home and throw out all the trash in my wardrobe.