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Stevie Mackenzie Smith

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

On a dancefloor with a swishy skirt and comfortable heels, good enthusiastic dance comrades and the right music for throwing my hands in the air.

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

I notice appealing outfits, intriguing auras, handsome haircuts, signs of ‘offness’ in just the right proportion. I notice women who look like me, and women who I’d like to look like. I notice women who have worn something I dislike but also admire. I am constantly excited about the variety of people in the street and how my feelings and approach to dressing flips and changes in accordance.

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

An attention to detail; like a refreshing use of colour, strange little accessories, and unusual items that made me ask where they’re from. Recently I met my best friend for a coffee and she was wearing an ultra-clean white jumper and these small fluffy pom-poms which she’d turned into a hairband. That sort of thing. I admire consistency and experimentation (which can go hand in hand) or something about someone’s style that feels inherently ‘them’. All of these things along with a confidence of movement.

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

If you’re grinning at yourself in the changing room mirror, buy it.

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

Always remove the stickers from the soles of new shoes.

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

There hasn’t been one isolated incident, but I always enjoy talking to people who find the same conflicts in enjoying and consuming fashion as I do. I have one friend who really just gets it and we’ll indulge in talking about style and fashions together. She is wild about creating personas with each outfit that she wears and she’ll actually give them names. She’ll say something like “today I’m feeling sartorially constant with the late Byzantine ascetic virgins.” When went to see Nymphomaniac at the cinema and she told me a week in advice that she was already planning this incredibly sexy leather and lace-based outfit to wear. She is fantastic.

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

I rarely buy clothing or jewelry for other people. I think it’s too personal to ever be sure. I find myself feeling apprehensive if somebody has been brave or generous enough to try with me, and this stays in my mind. I recently bought my Granny a pair of earrings; she is ill and I wanted to tell her I was thinking of her, whilst supporting a close friend who has recently started a jewelry line. She wears them when I see her, which is either because she loves them or because she loves me. Either way, regardless of whether a gift is successful I think wearing it when you see the other person is a kind, generous act. I mean to do this more.

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

I was always interested in fashion in a way that my Mum isn’t. She has, however always reminded me of the importance of good posture and dressing to compliment your body. I try to stand with my shoulders back where possible, but find that dressing to compliment my body is often in opposition to dressing in items I’d like to wear. I never had to think about dressing for my body as a teenager and sometimes miss being able to go all out and pull it off.

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

I’ve never looked to friends or family for specific ideas; I think I’ve borrowed or stolen more from film and fashion.

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

I often wear a small pin badge which says ‘we are the many, they are the few’. Actually, I wear this to work quite a lot. Small accessories that are like a wry middle finger are always good in my book. I like the idea of wearing a slogan t-shirt with an obscene or subversive message underneath a killer tuxedo. Maybe I should just get one printed. I’m also making an effort to stop buying clothes from companies or individuals I ideologically oppose. Rather than bemoaning tax-evading companies from my kitchen table, I’m going to stop supporting them with my money. I think it’s important to consider the implications of consumerism, of buying new items and from large chains.

16. Please describe your body.

I have long legs and great boobs. I am mostly slim though I have a bit of a tummy and a chin which often likes to merge into my neck. I can be pretty self-conscious about my tummy and my chin but when I stand in front of my mirror naked I feel pretty good. Sometimes this feeling leaves when I put on clothes and they don’t hang the way I would like. I’m in my early twenties and definitely have more of a womanly body now than I ever had before, and I really enjoy eating food which plays a big part. I am enjoying my changing relationship with my body; I have a greater respect now for really feeling within myself and my body, and I feel that most when I’m dancing or swimming outdoors; those are the times I feel most alive.

17. Please describe your mind.

I’ve thought about this and I don’t know if I can. I feel like I would need to take my brain out of my head and climb inside it with somebody else who knows me well before I could even begin!

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

My hair is freshly washed and worn down. I cut it myself two weeks ago. It’s shorter and blunter and I love it. I feel proud of just doing it myself, of saving money and gaining instant gratification. I’m wearing a polka dot shirt which was given to me for free and which makes me feel good and professional and attractive. Slim black Levis jeans, Birkinstock sandals and a wonderful pedicure paid for by my Mum. I can’t stop gawping down at my green toenails and smooth heels and wondering if I would pay for a pedicure myself. The current fascination tells me probably, yes.

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

It’s very important stuff and completely intertwined with who we are. It’s the fabrics and colours and smells that we associate with childhood, or the people who made an impression on us because they looked different, or goo, or walked a certain way. Much of it is to do with confidence and acceptance of the self, if those things are ever truly possible. Of undressing with other people, or alone. Clothes are tied up with memory and identity in a very special way. Like so many of the everyday additions in our lives, they're both mundanely constant and endlessly exciting.

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?

Recently I felt upset and lonely and dressed in simple, dark clothes that made me feel tall and slim and took myself off for a glass of wine. But first I pulled my hair up and out of my face, because that's always a good start. I think my Mum taught me that, that having long hair in your face and getting stuck in tears just feels like pushing an already emotional mood into the dramatics.

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 am pretty discerning in all areas. I always think discerning is good, but sometimes it can merge with stubbornness, too. I think comes from always having felt confident in myself, of having my own tastes and interests. I think that's where my parents, and my Granny, all really excelled in bringing me up.

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

Definitely a denim apron that smells of bread and has some paint splatters. (Even though neither baking or painting is required of me on a day to day basis!) But it's what makes me think 'uniform'.

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

29 July 1991. I was born in England in Newcastle, I grew up in Bristol and I now live in Manchester.

What kind of work do you do?

I work in the creative industry. I split my time between learning to project manage in a design studio and working with for a cultural consultancy agency. I know what my roles are but I constantly find it difficult to articulate what I do to others, which makes me feel bad. When I'm not working I try to write.

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

I'm single

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

I grew up being incredibly into fashion; I started writing my blog when I was 15 and it became pretty well known for a while, and the focus was always fashion. I became less interested in that industry as I got older and actively disliked it for a while. I used to attend fashion week and feel dazzled and excited by it, and then eventually sort of repulsed and excluded from it. But I've always remained interested in the idea of 'style' which I view as being aside from the circus of the fashion industry and more tied into people and their personal stories and art and culture. Fashion of course makes up a part of this but it's so much more interesting when it's part of this bigger picture.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I feel relieved and inspired.

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