Read Surveys (By Author)

Elena Goukassian

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

when i haven't seen myself in pictures for a while.

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

yes, specifically women who have an unusual style and an air of confidence or a "i don't care what you think about my clothes" attitude.

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

the confidence issue is always the most important for me.

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'm still waiting for the click. although i suppose i've always had kind of an unusual style, mostly as a rebellion against...well, maybe against myself? or other people's expectations?

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

i'll never pay more than $20 for jeans--a ridiculous rule left over from when i was in high school.

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

i have an ongoing rotation of clothes, so that i don't end up wearing a few favorite outfits all the time. so i pretty much force myself to wear clothes i don't like, in order to get my money's worth, i guess?

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

not sure i've ever had a transformative conversation about fashion or style.

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

whenever i can't make a decision right away (on anything and everything), i flip a coin. i'll either do what it says or want to flip it again, which tells me what decision i should be making. it's silly, but i feel like it saves time on mulling about things.

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

i never buy two of the exact same thing. i'll get it in different colors, but never exactly the same. that's actually another stupid shopping rule i have. i always kick myself when my favorite shoes are completely worn out and the style is discontinued.

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

not that i can think of.

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

i won't do skinny jeans. i don't like how they kind of creepily hug my calves.

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

oh yeah, definitely, both. i'll often find myself wearing outfits that are so her style, it's uncanny. we also trade clothes sometimes. we have very similar figures.

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

yes, all the time, although mostly from acquaintances rather than close friends of family. maybe i like to pretend i came up with them myself?

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

not really.

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

you can read politics into anything. i suppose it's "political" that i despise formality and that it shows in how i dress.

16. Please describe your body.

average height, skinny, small breasts, wide hips, no butt.

17. Please describe your mind.

wow, what a question. not even sure where to start.

18. Please describe your emotions.

see #17.

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

i never wear makeup. my hair is in a bun. i have on two rings i've worn every day since i was 13. i'm also wearing small stud, turquoise/silver earrings and a gray/silver bracelet a friend made. clothes: weirdly striped cream/turquoise shirt that's kind of short, so i also have a black tank top underneath; blue jeans from the thrift store (with a thigh hole i hadn't noticed when i was buying them, but it doesn't really show and they were only $2); and grey moccasins with a beaded thunderbird on the front.

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

i wouldn't say any of it is important, per se. my rings and bracelet have sentimental value. that's about it. well, what do you mean by "stuff"? if it's a general "how people dress" stuff, i'm mostly fascinated by the sociological connotations (which is also why i chose to fill out this survey)

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

no one really.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

i'd like to believe that they don't, but i could be delusional.

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

i have style, i guess. i also definitely have taste, but it doesn't show in my clothing--it's more like taste for art or music or literature. i think the word "style" is more about originality and "taste" is a judgment.

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

i know that i often ruin expensive items the first time i wear them (which is why i don't buy expensive things usually), but i can't think of anything specific.

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

not consciously...

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

yeah, i feel like how i dress is an extension of my style in general, which is always informal and non-confrontational.

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?

no, i never do that. i have other methods for those situations that don't involve how i'm dressed.

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?

absolutely, i am the pickiest person ever (although you wouldn't know it to look at me). i often go "shopping" for 2 hours and come home without buying anything. and it's not just clothes, i'm really picky about almost everything (relationships, music, books, art, friends, buildings, etc.--but not food. i'll eat anything, that's more a survival thing). discernment is in my blood. my parents and brother are exactly the same way.

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 mom tried to teach me to iron everything, but i hate ironing, so i never do it. i guess most things i just picked up along the way.

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

nothing. i feel ridiculous and uncomfortable when "trying to be sexy."

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?

they probably mean the same thing. well, if you're too comfortable (in pajamas all day), i'll judge. but i'll probably judge anyway. confidence is great, but not cockiness. everything in moderation. that goes for comfort as well.

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?

oh god, i would never be considered an expert. my philosophy is randomness within reason.

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

i don't think about beauty that much. i feel like it has kind of an artificiality about it that i just don't like. i don't like "beautiful" art either. when i think of someone who's beautiful, i also often think they're vapid. it's terrible, i know. well, ok, the natural world is beautiful (and not vapid, but rather profound). humans and things humans create are not.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

lots of things. not sure i can define it.

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 force myself to wear what i buy.

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 ever get that deep into it. i'll usually check that nothing is out of order, grimace at myself for some flaw or other, decide not to care, and then just leave.

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

i check the weather report and have certain rules clothes accordingly, after that it's all based on the rotation. unless the outfit looks really bad, in which case i'll change it a bit.

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

doing it as quickly as possible with as little thought as possible.

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

dressing up involves a much larger time commitment and more mirror checks. and more thought, obviously.

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

i like variety. i wouldn't wear a uniform.

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

too many things to list specifically. generally i'd just go back and say informality is me and formality is not me.

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

my dad's armenian, my mom's bulgarian, i was born in bulgaria, and we immigrated to spokane, washington when i was 4. i really haven't thought about that before in terms of clothing, but i hate the sight of workout clothes of any kind--short shorts, leggings, big white sneakers. i guess that's a european thing?

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?

nah, i've always dressed pretty much the same.

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

nothing. i don't like "feeling professional." or, rather, my clothes should not be any indication of how good i am at what i do (and it shows).

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

my job actually has no dress expectations, which is one of the reasons why i love it. i wear whatever i want and it doesn't matter. my work is what matters. that's how it should be.

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

no to all.

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?

constraining. it's boring when everyone wears the same thing. (not to mention that whoever chose the uniform is controlling the others by making them all the same. like in the military. you lose your personality to conformity.)

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?

i've always worn variations of my archetypal outfit.

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?

not really. i've always loved dresses. but i do sometimes envy men for being able to own just one suit that they can wear all the time, whereas women have to buy different dresses for everything. it's more about the money and the hassle of shopping, though. i do enjoy my variety of dresses.

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

probably my parents' generation (1960s/70s)

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

not at all.

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

"oh god, is that what i look like?"

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

not that i can think of.

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

a lack of clothes, yes. but clothes? i can't remember, so maybe not?

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

one where i would have to suck in my stomach and have good posture the whole time. so tight-fitting dresses and super high heels are my worst nightmare.

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?

the same thing i wear now. it's not my body i'm uncomfortable with. it's more myself in general, i think.

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

not consciously. well, i guess attracting likeminded people and repelling superficial airheads?

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

no, i'm not the right person to ask.

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

i don't. well, maybe to a wedding. i think it's a strange concept. my mom always said people wear perfume to cover up the fact that they're not clean and that a clean person smells much better than perfume. so, she probably had some influence on me on that front.

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

i try to keep my legs shaved (when necessary) and eyebrows plucked. other than that, nothing. well, cleanliness. i need to be clean to be presentable.

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

it doesn't. i'll only wear it when i go to the opera or a wedding. and even then, it's just eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick.

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?

hmmm...i can't think of anything

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

my clothes are mostly natural fibers and my jewelry is mostly a collection of gifts throughout the years.

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

well, i do have a couple dresses i really like (they're exactly the same, except different colors). they're really comfortable, and they can be both fancy and everyday, mostly defending on accessories.

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 lot of these. they're mostly clothes my mom bought me that i feel bad about throwing out. although some of them have come into the rotation years after i got them. so there's the guilt, but also the hope that maybe one day i'll like them.

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?

i have no idea. probably tickets to travel cool places. and drinks at bars with friends. and concerts, museums, and plays. nothing material.

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?

i can't think of anything.

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

no idea. but i'd base the decision on practicality and sentimentality.

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


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

i've never had enough money to buy an "investment" item. and even if i did, i don't really like the idea of it, so i probably wouldn't do it anyway.

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

not that i can think of.

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

well, i recently (finally) got a mondrian dress, which i've been wanting for years. so that was the last thing i'd been on the hunt for. i guess i've wanted some wool shorts you wear with tights for a long time, although i can't say i've been "hunting" for them.

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

yes, it's all very organized. i have a system of putting newly washed things on a certain side and wearing what's on the opposite side, so that the rotation goes all the way through. this goes for pants, shirts, hats, dresses, scarves, everything.

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

yes, but i can't think of anything specific.

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?

no. i always over-think, never under-think.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

i only shop for clothes when i need something. then i have my 5 regular stores i go to to find it.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

i'm not really aware of how i smell most of the time. is that bad?

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

it doesn't.

80. How does money fit into all this?

i'm cheap. but i'm also poor, so i have an excuse (right?).

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

my rings from middle school i've worn every day for 15 years.

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

not that i can think of.

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?

not a particular moment, but my mom dressed me for way longer than any other kids (and it showed). i always looked like a doll--in a good way, but still a doll. so, when i was about 11 and most of the other kids already dressed themselves, i got made fun of. awareness came from the outside.

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

3/30/1986. born in sofia, bulgaria. currently live in washington dc.

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

i think i've already covered these in the questions. although, i'll add that i lived in seattle for a long time, which i think is somewhat significant to my style of dress.

What kind of work do you do?

i have lots of jobs: writer/editor at an art magazine, freelance arts/events writer, record store employee, and co-organizer of an alternative education organization.

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

single, no kids.

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

i think we've covered everything.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

a little more self-aware? i think all this is really fascinating! especially the sociological connotations.


i trust you to create a bio from the info i've provided.

Share This Page

Read more surveys (By Author) Read more surveys (By Question)