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Jennifer Hansen

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

It has more to do with my mood than with my hair, clothing, or make-up.

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

I do notice women. I admire those who smile and have open, expressive faces, and who appear comfortable in their own skins. The rest is secondary, though I can also appreciate a really well-put-together outfit if it is worn naturally rather than to get a reaction.

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

I admire women who wear a smile as their proudest, most central accessory. I admire the well-chosen piece of jewelry--less is more. I admire a woman who has somehow created her own style rather than cramming herself into whatever is hot at the moment.

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?

When I was around 40, I stopped wanting to wear much of anything that was uncomfortable. I hadn't gained weight or changed anything else, but I suddenly didn't want to conform to fashion or fads if that required discomfort.

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

I believe it's better to buy a few good pieces that are perhaps pricey but well made rather than loads of clothing that is inexpensive and shows wear quickly.

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

I don't really follow rules about dressing other than not to look truly slovenly.

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

Fairly recently, I found myself defending my reasons for allowing myself to go gray. It was terrifically freeing.

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

I practice mindfulness.

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

I have several pairs of jeans and several of capris. I also have a number of slightly fitted t-shirts. This is probably my favorite go-to outfit for casual wear. I keep buying these pieces because they're comfortable, easy to wear, and flattering to my shape.

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


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

Many, and always because I either didn't like the look on anyone, or because I knew it would not look well on me.

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

I was raised by my grandmother, and I've definitely adopted a more tailored style from her.

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


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


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


16. Please describe your body.

5' 8", 130 lbs., slender arms and legs, heavier through hips and thighs.

17. Please describe your mind.

Generally calm, placid, thoughtful, and inquisitive.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Also calm, deep, but not mercurial.

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

Skirt, fitted top, hair clipped up in half-pony.

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

It is comfortable and cute, stylish in a sort of Bohemian way, and I like the colors.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My daughter, my friends, and my husband.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I work in education, so that institution partially dictates the way I dress on workdays.

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 more taste than style. I think they're both important, but taste ranks higher. Taste has to do with knowing what works and what doesn't, what suits someone or a situation, etc. Style has to do with specific clothing/accessory/hair choices, and might not fit certain others' ideas of good taste.

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

I've purchased a few pairs of shoes I later regretted buying.

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


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

I have style in terms of my interpersonal navigational ability.

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 do calm myself in certain clothing I wear at home: comfort clothing, I call it.

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 feel I'm good at discernment, though occasionally it has worked to my disadvantage when I've skipped over an option I too quickly decided was not right for me. I believe this comes from my grandmother, who was quick to judge/decide.

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 grandmother taught me to invest in good shoes and bags, and to purchase quality pieces that are timeless. She was right!

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

I try to wear clothes and do my hair to make myself at least quasi-attractive. I'm not interested in being a siren; I do like to look nice, though. So, I try to buy clothes that suit my body and age and intention. I want to feel good in my clothes and not feel as if they are wearing me in terms of making overt statements.

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?

See answers above about women I admire.

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?

Consider your shape, personality, and time commitment before you purchase clothes or take on a new hair style. Make your clothes and hair fit who you are, and not the other way around.

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

Authenticity, sincerity, kindness, enthusiasm.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Hatefulness, flaunting, manipulation.

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?

If I have any sort of niggling feeling, I don't buy it. It's always a mistake.

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 have an outer eye.

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

I consider what I'll be doing at work that day, what the weather is like, and what is most appropriate for my position.

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

Comfort, style, and a bit of self-expression.

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

Dressing up involves more consideration of my husband and his preferences, and a bit more glam.

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

Tailored slacks, more feminine blouse, tailored jacket, medium heels, subtle but interesting jewelry.

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

Me: tailored clothes, casual wear, a touch of the Bohemian, interesting but subtle jewelry.

Not me: flash, gaudy, too tight or too sexy, in-your-face fashions.

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

WASP = repressed.

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?

Mostly the same all my life. I take a few more risks of late.

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

I try to always be well groomed, neat, and in clothes that are not too worn or in need of repair. I wear a bit of make-up, and my hair is always neat.

45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?

I conform to the norms of the educational setting. I see myself as a model for the students in a professional setting.

46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?


47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?


48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?


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?

Nice jeans, fitted t-shirt, sweater/blazer/jacket, boots or heels. I like that it's simple yet stylish and I believe I can wear it well.

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?


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

England, Late Middle Ages.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

I compare myself unfavorably to the way models look in magazines.

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


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?

Lots of ruffles and fussiness.

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'd probably wear sexier, more tight-fitting clothes.

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?

Please wear things that actually fit you rather than clothes that are too small.

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

I wear it occasionally. Generally, I think less is more.

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


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

I wear minimal make-up. I don't want a costume to dress in, and I don't want to recreate my face in a way that doesn't resemble what I actually look like.

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?

Tailored, classic pieces. A few outliers in the jewelry department, but I always feel self-conscious wearing them.

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

I have a peasant skirt I've owned and worn for 18 years. It was expensive, it still looks nice, and I still get positive comments about it.

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 red dress that I wore on my 20th anniversary, and I've worn it only one other time. I guess it has sentimental value.

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?

Classic pieces that don't go out of style.

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?

My favorite pair of jeans.

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

I'd plan more carefully in terms of being able to mix and match pieces.

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

I bought a full-length gown for the Oscars. I've worn it twice since, and I still have it.

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 great leather jacket.

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

Things are pretty neat, but not in the OCD category.

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


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?

Not really.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I shop online quite a bit because I detest strolling through stores. I do enjoy Nordstrom because they actually help you. I also enjoy personal home sales (e.g., CaBi).

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Like myself, yes.

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

I do believe that if you dress the part, you're more likely to get it.

80. How does money fit into all this?

If you want to have a high-powered position, you'll have to somehow find the money to fund the wardrobe required.

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

Wedding rings.

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


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 feeling very awkward wearing a dress when I was very young, and arguing with my family about why I had to wear one. We were required to wear dresses or skirts to school until I reached the fourth grade. I was more of a tomboy, and I thought dresses were stupid.

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

2-20-61. Burbank, CA. Fair Oaks, CA.

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

WASP, middle-class upbringing, more affluent now, but only in upper middle-class range.

What kind of work do you do?

Administrator in a middle school.

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

Married with three children.

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

I like nice clothes, but I'm not a slave to fashion. It's just not the most important thing to me.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Interested in some of my own responses. It has clarified how at rock bottom, I really don't think clothes are very important. Yet, I do take pleasure in looking nice, so it seems a bit of a paradox.

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