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Sydney Dow

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I feel most attractive in the morning on my day off, after a shower, when my hair is cooperating, and I get to dress cute and casual.

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

I do notice other women on the street. I mostly notice and admire women that look confident, and have an eclectic style. Also, women that have nice butts, because I feel like L don’t have a nice butt.

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

I admire in other women when they present themselves in a way that best suits their unique assets. Women that embrace their own size, shape and skin tone, no mater what that combination may be.

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’ve always marched to the beat of my own drummer. But there was a time when I tried to just fit in. However, when I got to high school I found a group of misfit kids that I really clicked with and that gave me the courage to dress and present myself the way I wanted without regard for what others thought of it. I cut off all my thick curly hair myself, started dressing in goth/punk fashions and I finally felt like I was representing myself. My style has evolved over the years but I’ve always stayed true to me.

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

When shopping I always looked for thins second hand first, rather then brand new (not including undergarments). I’m usually on a budget and I feel like second hand clothing gives me the best value, and I like the feeling of repurposing something. However, I know if everyone did this I wouldn’t have all these great second hand items to choose from.

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

For myself I avoid things with too much color or really busy patterns, because I feel like that doesn’t suit my personality. I also stay away from the colors green and yellow, because they’re not very flattering against my olive skin. But I think all those things look fine on other people.

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

The most transformative conversation I had on style took place when I was in high school. I wasn’t considered to be one of the cool kids and I often dressed kind of weird. In one of my classes, one of the popular girls asked me why I dressed the way I did. I told her I dressed the way I wanted and to express myself. I expected her to have a snide comment in return but she actually said that was cool and she wanted to dress in a way that was unique as well. The next day she came to school in an outfit that looked similar to something I would wear. I was flattered and it made me realize the only wrong way to dress is to dress for others and not for yourself.

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

Throughout my life I just try to be true to myself and to leave a positive impact in everything I do.

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

I have tones of clothes and jewelry items with skulls and in particular, day of the dead art. I just tend to like day of the dead and skull paraphernalia. Not sure why but I’ve always liked creepy things so I have a lot of it and I seem to keep getting more.

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

My sister is a belly dancer and at a thrift shop I once found a shirt with a printed black dot and lettering that read, “Push to Start.” It was perfect for her and she loved it. Several years later it’s still one for her favorite shirts

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

I usually don’t participate in fashion trends unless I think it already suits my style. However, with those hideous Ugg boots, I said No Way! Those things were and still are some of the ugglies articles of clothing ever created my man.

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

I have a similar build to my mother but she’s much taller. My mother is 5’10”, I’m 5’6”. We both have long thin legs though and I’ve liked that about myself. Also, my mother is very fashionable and I like to think I am as well, in my own way.

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

When I was a teenager my dad gave me some of his old hippie clothes. I thought those clothes were just the greatest thing ever and I wore them all the time. My dad thought it was cute.

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

When I was in middle school, like most kids I just wanted to fit in and not get picked on. So I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to dress like everyone else. I still got picked on and I was always self-conscious of my appearance. Once I entered high school I just dressed like me and my style has stayed about to same.

16. Please describe your body.

I’m 5’6” I have thick very curly hair that changes color about every 4 months. I have long thin arms and legs, and my legs are a little hairy because I don’t like shaving. My shoulders are square. I have a small waist and fairly large breasts. My stomach is kind of round. My butt is a little flat on top but round at the bottom. I have dark olive skin.

17. Please describe your mind.

I’m creative and I think things through thoroughly. I’m intelligent and I understand most things that are explained to me.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I’m usually pretty happy but sometimes I get depressed. I’m pretty open with my emotions with people I know, but I’m withdrawn with people I don’t know.

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

At this moment I’m at work so I have on my chefs uniform. It’s a black long sleeved double button chef’s coat with the sleeves rolled up to just above the elbows. Solid black chef pants with an elastic waist. They’re meant for a man so the crotch of the pants is too low and I have to roll up the bottom. I have on skull printed socks and well worn solid black clogs. My hair is tied back and stuffed under a black skull cap that has pink calk stripes. I have on large plastic frame black and wood print wayfarer glasses. The only makeup I have on is a little powder and peach blush

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

My uniform is very important because it protects my body from heat and spills. My shoes are comfortable and easy to stand in all day. Although my uniform is not particularly attractive it’s very practical. I’m sometimes mistaken as a man while in uniform, despite my curvy figure, but I still like my uniform because it makes me feel professional and assertive.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

I have a few friends I talk about clothes and fashion with. But mostly I like to just wear what I like

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

The institution of the culinary arts world effects the way I dress, at least at work, because it’s a very male dominated field so I take great care to dress professionally and not too girly I feel it helps me to be taken more seriously at work.

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 both taste and style. To me taste is knowing how to dress your body well and with class. Like knowing what fabric cuts work best on you and knowing what sizes work west on you. I think style has more to do with how you put clothing items together and what kinds of colors and patterns you like to wear. Taste is wearing a nicely fitted dress. Style is choosing a dress with a funky pattern and pairing it with boots.

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

I once bought a pair of big gothic industrial style boots that had to be imported from the UK. They cost me around $400. I only wore them a couple of times before I gave them to a friend. Luckily she got more use out of them.

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

I think I have good music style.

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 have an old knit hat that my dad gave me. When I feel stressed or anxious, or depressed I wear that hat and it makes me feel comforted. I even wear it to bed sometimes.

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 would say I do know what I like when it comes to fashion. Generally I also know what I like in other areas of my life. I am particular about some things. I’ve gone out shopping for hours and come back empty handed because I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for. Not sure where I get it from, maybe my general lack of funds and not wanting to waist my money on things I don’t need or I’m not going to wear.

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 and dad both taught me to care for the things I have in general, not just clothing, so they’re last. My mom taught me a lot about style and dressing with respect for yourself no matter what your personal style is

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

When I want to feel sexy I like to wear lacy things and dressed. I also like to show a little cleavage. I’ll wear a bow or flower in my hair and a bold lipstick.

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?

To me feeling comfortable with yourself or confident means knowing who you are and just excepting that for what it is and making the best of what you have. Emphasize what you like most about yourself and accept that everyone has something they don’t like about themselves.

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?

My style philosophy is to start with lots of basic pieces in neutral colors, add in some cool funky pieces with some spooky touches and you’ve got yourself an outfit!

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

To me natural things are beautiful, and I really like bugs and spiders in particular.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

To me, very fake, plastic, and manmade things tend to be ugly.

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?

Generally I’ve gotten pretty good at judging whether I’ll actually wear something after I’ve brought it home.

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?

When I look at myself before going out I try to remember that most people are too worried about what they look like to really notice what you look like so I try not to over think it. Although, I do like to say, oh you look good today or something to that effect. If I feel like I really do look like a mess I’ll just ask my husband if I look ok and he always says I look pretty and that helps me feel better.

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

Most work days I just roll out of bed, wash up, through on my uniform, and hit the door. On my days off tough, I listen I music while I’m getting ready, I take my time applying my makeup and styling my hair. Then I put together an outfit I’ll feel comfortable in for the occasions of the day

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

When I dress I like to feel a little bit like a rock star; like a rock star on her day off.

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

For me the only difference between dressing and dressing up is the effort I put into it. I’ll pretty much dress the same but with just a little more sparkle.

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

If I had a uniform other then my work uniform it would include big plastic glasses, a black shirt, a black A-line frilly skirt, old converse sneakers, and a hair flower with a spider on it.

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

Frilly spooky stuff is me, and khaki Capri pants are not me.

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

I’m half black and half white but I feel like my cultural background hasn’t played a large role in how I dress.

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?

When I was in middle school, and I was trying to “fit in” I dressed in a lot of denim. I wore a lot of white and baggy shirts. I knew that wasn’t what I really wanted to wear but I wore that kind of stuff regardless. Now I wear a lot of dark colors, I hardly ever wear denim.

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

When I want to look professional I usually pin my hair back, because it does tent to look a little unruly. I usually wear dark slacks and a button down shirt. I also don’t wear too much makeup or makeup that’s too bold.

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

At my work I just wear a typical chef uniform the only thing that’s rebellious about my work fashion are the colorful socks I wear.

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

The only “uniform” I wear in my extracurricular activities are the steam-punk clothes I wear for my steam-punk group gatherings.

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

I usually conform to these uniforms because they’re things that I enjoy and have opted into doing.

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

I find it comforting to have a uniform, particularly at work, because it’s very continent to know what to wear and not have to think about it.

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?

An archetypal fashion I could have worn probably would be mid 80’s goth. I’m often inspired by that fashion.

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?

I often wish I were a guy. I like how comfortable and functional men’s clothing is, they always have pockets and underwear that doesn’t give you a wedgie. I still like being a girl though so I think I’ll just get some guys underpants.

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 wouldn’t change the era I live in for fashion sake because right now I such a free time in fashion. You can dress how you like and the internet provides a vehicle to find others that like the same kinds of fashion no mater what that may be.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

I do not think I am photogenic at all.

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

When I see myself in photos I usually think, Oh well, another bad photo.

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

I wouldn’t say there’s one figure in particular that I draw form for style.

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

I don’t recall having a dream involving clothes.

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

I think I would just look awkward if I tried to dress like a party girl in a tight mini dress, at least I certainly feel awkward.

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?

If I looked more like I wanted I think I’d pretty much dress the same, just in a smaller size.

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

I think I try to attract cool creative people with my fashion

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

I think a dressing rule I’d like to convey to other women I just to dress in our size, no matter what you decide to wear make sure it actually fits your body

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

I wear perfume sometimes and I think its nice in moderation.

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

I have to have my hair done in order to feel presentable.

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

I like wearing makeup and I like to have on a certain amount before I go out.

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?

I feel like I’m expected to like bright, floral, colorful styles because I’m a girl. I’m just not interested in that kind of stuff though, because I’ve never felt that expressed my style.

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

I mostly own a lot of black clothing with funky patterns, and most of my jewelry has skulls or spiders.

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

Right now my favorite fashion item is a large spider pendant that’s covered in dark grey crystals.

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 tan button up shirt with purple flowers on it. I think I’m keeping it because I feel like it business casual but I don’t wear it because I don’t usually need business casual clothing and I don’t really like the shirt anymore. Actually, know I think I’ll just get rid of it.

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?

Over the years I think the most valuable things I’ve purchase were staple items. Like a good coat that I could pair with all my clothing and good durable shoes.

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 used to own a pair of striped stockings. They were black and sheer vertical stripes. Not only did they go with anything but they made my legs look even longer. I wore them out though and I’ve been trying to find more like them ever since.

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

If I could only keep one article of clothing I would keep my knit cap my dad gave me, It’s the only article of clothing I couldn’t replace.

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

If I were rebuilding my wardrobe from scratch I would get better staple pieces this time.

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

The first investment item I bought was a long black button up coat. I do still own it and wear often in the winter.

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

It seems like I’m always on the hunt for clothes with classic cuts and creepy prints.

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

I keep my closet organized buy types of items; all the dresses are together, all the pants are together and so on. Some of my drawers are organized but some are not, like my pajama drawer seems to always be a mess.

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

Before we got married my husband gave me a silver pendant necklace with and anatomically correct heart. I loved it and at the time I thought, yeah he gets me.

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?

Right before I vacation trip once, I ran into a resale-clothing store and picked up a cotton black hoodie. At the time I thought I just needed something simple and light for that trip but over time I’ve continued to wear it quite often.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I usually shop during the weekdays because the stores are less crowded and I usually hit up resale shops first.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I usually like to smell like vanilla and coconut.

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

Outside of work ambition doesn’t really play a part in the way I dress.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Like most normal people I do have a budget so I do have to stick to it when I’m shopping for clothing. I like to make sure that if I am spending a good chunk of money on a clothing item that it’s a staple pieces I’ll be able to get several years of use out of.

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

I wear at least some foundation makeup almost everyday, because I have some acne scars that I’m self-conscious about and I like to cover.

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

I used to be very self-conscious and in my freshman year of high school a very pretty girl that rode the same buss to school told me I had a very cute nose. I didn’t think it was true but nonetheless it made me feel good and for the first time I thought maybe I could be pretty too, in my own way.

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?

The first time I remember be conscious of my clothing was in elementary school. I don’t remember exactly why but I wanted to wear color-coordinated outfits and I talked my mom into letting me do it. So for a week I wore a different color from head to toe. Red then blue then purple and so on. The last day I wore all black including a black pageboy hat. I remember thinking I was really clever and stylish.

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

My birthday is March 20, 83. I'm from Houston Texas originally but I've been living in Sacramento California for the past 2 years.

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

I like that I'm mixed I feel like it gives me the freedom t define who I want to be and how I want to act without judgement.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a chef.

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

I am married. Just got married this year. I don't have any kids and I don't plan to ever have kids.

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

I consider myself to be creative.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I feel as though I've accomplished something. Even though it's a small think. It's a lot of questions to think about and answer.

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