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Adrien Jackson

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I let my concerns go and just own the outfit/the moment. That is usually accompanied by a dress and a cocktail.

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

If a woman looks naturally flawless, I’ll notice – I think especially if she has great skin/complexion. Also, I have big breasts that I have always been self­-conscious about, so I notice if other women do – I look at how other women handle that.

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

I admire when a woman appears confident and comfortable – especially if she can present herself this way without showing too much skin or dressing too scandalously. Just keeping it classy.

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 am not really sure. I think the biggest difference has been living with other girls my age, starting when I went to college. They inspired me to care about all this sort of stuff more. Coupled with learning a lot about gender and sexuality during college, I definitely pay more attention to how I and others look and dress.

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

Not sure I have any.

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

Not sure I have any for this, either.

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

I can’t say that I am very into fashion – I just don’t really know that much about it. But during college, I took a lot of courses on women and gender, and we often discussed the role fashion has in feminism and female confidence. I think it’s made me value fashion more. Now, as I get used to my place in the professional workplace, I am starting to reevaluate the importance of the type of outfit that makes me feel the most successful.

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

With confidence. Finding logic and rationale and moving forward. Dealing with problems calmly – the freak out should be about what you had to do to get to the solution, not what you are GOING to have to do.

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

Dresses. I love how I feel in them.

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

Not yet!

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

Any that I don't think look good, whether that is just for me/my body type specifically, or in general. I'm not a huge fan of crop tops or leggings as pants, for example. I also don't buy into trends for the sake of looking fashionable. I see that as a waste of time.

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

My mother raised me like a little boy when it came to fashion (it doesn’t help that my unisex name is also spelled the “strictly male” way – Adrien). This is largely because she does not care about fashion. I have never seen her wear make up or paint her nails in all the years of my life. She has never dyed her hair, either, even though it went gray when I was still very young. She was taught to care more about saving money and being financially responsible than care at all about the trends. She keeps the same clothes for years and years on end.

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

I think you are naturally influenced by the people around you, whether you notice it or not. Living with my friends has inspired me to pay more attention to my make up and nails, for example. I think those are the biggest differences.

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

I think that's often a part of growing up. How I felt as a person and how I perceived my general appearance and place in school, family, life, etc. definitely made me adapt different styles at different points.

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

I don't think so. I just try to respect myself with how I dress.

16. Please describe your body.

Average height and weight, blonde, blue eyes. Still, I’m not LA standard at all.

17. Please describe your mind.

A work in progress.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Also, a work in progress.

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

I have work today, so I am wearing pants and a nice top and a cardigan. I have basic make up and my hair down. This is pretty usual for me on a day like this.

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

It was never important to me, but it is now to the extent that I believe in the freedom of choice. It troubles me how much women are restricted in how they are allowed to present themselves. And, it really bothers me how clothing choices can become an "excuse" for rape, etc. I don't believe in that at all.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

I can’t say that I am very into fashion – I just don’t really know that much about it or talk about it. But during college, I took a lot of courses on women and gender, and we often discussed the role fashion has in feminism and female confidence. I think it’s made me value fashion more and discuss it a bit more.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

They don't, I don't think -- luckily.

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

Not totally. I am never sure what is trendy and stylish, but I do dress in a "normal" way. Tastefully. I think being tasteful is more important than stylish -- I think there are a lot of blurred lines these days. People dress more to be stylish or provocative versus appropriate for the situation/moment.

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

I'd buy something that didn't really fit because I liked how it looked so much. Never a good idea.

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

Not really, unfortunately.

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

Probably not.

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?

As I’ve gotten older, I get really bothered by the natural ways women are put down by society, especially in the work place. That’s why I like to dress professionally and confidently – I think that it helps create the persona that I am a force to be reckoned with.

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 and no. I think I have a fair sense of what I've liked thus far, but I believe that that can always change, and that some of the best surprises are when you expect one thing and the opposite tends to be true.

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?

I've mentioned this already, but not really. My mom was more about saving money and reusing my brother's clothes versus teaching me that stuff. I never knew how to do my hair, makeup, etc. until I got older and either my aunts taught me, or my friends in college. That's also why I am not very good at any of it.

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

I like to wear dresses and skirts – that’s when I feel most sexy/confident. Otherwise, I try to just dress in a way that allows me to feel good and be comfortable/able to move around and dance without a mishap. That helps me feel my best.

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 to me is when I don’t feel like I am going to have a mishap (nip slip, underwear showing, etc.), and I don’t feel overly conscious of any part of my body. For instance, pants make me hyper conscious of the feeling of them around my waist, and that makes me uncomfortable and, ultimately, unconfident. I have found that the absolute sexiest thing you can “wear” is confidence.

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?

Find a way to be comfortable. You shouldn't need to think about the outfit as you are wearing it. That will help your confidence shine through.

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

Confidence, happiness, self respect.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Cattiness, jealousy, scandalous/provocative just to makes others uncomfortable.

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 think I have gotten better at it over the years. I have to feel really comfortable in it when I try it on. I don't want to have to convince myself I should buy it -- that's when it usually ends up staying in the closet.

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 just try to think if this is how I want others to see me. Am I happy with the look? Why am I dressed that way -- for myself, or for others?

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

Generally I just try to choose a good outfit for work and go. I want to make sure that I look presentable and am picking something I will be comfortable in for the whole day.

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

Comfort, confidence.

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

Dressing is just the usual putting on clothes for a typical day. When I am dressing up, I am doing something out of the ordinary and putting in a lot more effort and thought. It's fun to dress up once and a while.

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

Business casual, probably.

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

What's "me" is probably dressing more for myself and being able to be comfortable and confident. What's "not me" is trying to dress for others and match any certain style or expectation.

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

I’m white, middle class, American. Pretty typical. I think by far the biggest difference is between growing up in Boston and then coming to LA for adulthood. There’s a huge difference both in the way people dress and the way that style/dress is viewed. In Boston, weather plays more of a role versus here, it’s all about fashion/Hollywood.

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?

Sure. I went through a lot of phases. Dressed like a boy as a kid, I had a punk phase, a wacky phase full of odd colors and patterns. Now, I am pretty standard.

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

I like to dress up a bit -- just business casual. I like to look presentable and put together and ready to work. It makes me feel professional.

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

I "rebel" in that I dress up a bit more than everyone else. If I just wear casual t-shirts and jeans every day, it will feel like I am just lounging at home versus motivating me to work.

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

Never had one, no.

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

Not applicable for me.

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

I go back and forth on this. There's a beauty to not needing to worry about styling and what to wear, but there's also some fun in the individuality.

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?

Dresses, probably. I like how they make me feel, the comfort of them.

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?

They have it a lot easier and sometimes I am envious of that. But otherwise, no. I spent my childhood years in boys' clothes -- that was more than enough for me.

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

I think I would love to live in the '20s. "Midnight in Paris" really inspired me in that regard.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Not at all. I don’t care enough to try to look good in every photo, and I would not say that I am a natural.

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

Depends on the photo!

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

I love the styles of Audrey Hepburn, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts.

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

I don't think so.

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

Anything that requires a lot of skill. I am terrible at doing hair, for example.

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?

Maybe even more dresses.

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

Not really. I don't want anyone to react too negatively or positively.

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

Respect yourself.

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

I just got into this. I always wear the same one every day. My best friend inspired me to get a "signature scent," and I like "Flowerbomb."

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

I like to have an outfit that matches. I like to take the time to do my makeup. But most importantly, whatever it takes to feel comfortable and confident.

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

I've started to care more about makeup over the last couple of years. I rarely leave the home without at least a little bit of foundation and mascara (that's my favorite).

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?

A lot of girls really like to flash their stomachs and/or cleavage. I'm just not interested.

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

I own a lot of H&M-style clothing. Colors, patterns. A lot of dresses and gold jewelry.

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

It's stupid, but my cousin and I wear these gray sweatsuits and I love it. They are so comfy and cheap, and it always reminds of spending time with her.

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?

Items that have sentimental value and are tied to important experiences in my life. Red Sox jerseys, a shirt I bought when I went to Rwanda, etc.

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?

Anything that's versatile. I don't like to dress the same way day in and day out, so anything that can be styled in a bunch of different ways.

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?

Not really. I try not to dwell like that.

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

My Spartan Race t-shirt. I am so proud that I made it through that. Clothing is ultimately replaceable, I think.

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

I would choose more solid colors. I have a fairly colorful wardrobe, but I would love even more of that, especially for office attire.

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

Honestly, I haven't really reached that point of investing into an item of clothing. I'm sure that will happen soon....

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

Not really, no.

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

Nothing, really. I am not fashionable enough for that.

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

I try to keep things clean and organized. I am a bit of a neat freak.

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

Yes. My aunt gave me a charm necklace after I graduated college, filled with charms that she felt represented me. It’s one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever gotten.

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?

A different aunt gave me a necklace when I was in 7th grade and she thought she was going to move to Russia. She had won it, and I'm the closest thing to a daughter that she has. How important it was to me that she picked me to give it to and took the time to explain it all mattered more and more to me as I got older.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I shop probably once a month. I always need to try an item on – I can never buy clothing online/without trying it out first.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I love the smells of nature and flowers and the rain. Subtle smells.

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

I try to dress to keep myself inspired and motivated. I like dressing up for work, even though the culture is really relaxed. It separates who I am when I in the office and out, and dressing nicer keeps me going during the day.

80. How does money fit into all this?

It does in the sense that I don’t see myself even walking into a designer store any time soon. I want cheap and comfortable. I am far too clumsy to invest in an expensive clothing item.

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

This changes over the year. It used to be a necklace for a while. Lately, the only common thing is my FitBit.

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

All the time. I feel as though it has taken/continues to take me a long time to really get a sense of my body/appearance. Given my childhood, it took me a really long time to be able to consider myself beautiful – that’s still difficult for me. But it’s through people complimenting my hair, eyes, clothing choices that I’ve learned to accept it.

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?

Yes, it was in fifth grade. Growing up, my mother would always dress me in my brother’s hand­-me-­downs and cut my blond hair into a bowl cut. I finally grew sick of it – I threw a tantrum when I wasn’t allowed to wear a dress on my birthday and I demanded that I get to grow my hair out. Of course, it was right after my mother relented that I got lice...

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

July 1991. I was born in Massachusetts but I currently reside in Los Angeles.

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

I like that I have the freedom to choose how I want to dress and present myself. I know that that is not the case for all young women in the world.

What kind of work do you do?

I work at a technology company as an executive assistant.

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

Single, never married.

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

I like that I’ve learned to find inner peace and acceptance – to find the difference between having goals for bettering how I look versus resentment for the current state of things.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Pretty good. I'll be interested in others' responses, as I am sure they will run the gambit.

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