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Joanna Steinhardt

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

After yoga or other physical activity.

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

I look at most women but I'm an observer by nature. I admire young women often, especially around that age when they're becoming conscious of themselves as sexual creatures and they begin to decorate themselves like woman, not girls.

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

I love older women with fabulous style. I admire women who make themselves beautiful no matter what their bodily shape/size etc. I see this as both an act of devotion and resistance.

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?

Last time I was in Mexico, taking in the gorgeous colors and the beautiful women that are powerful, warm, and feminine all at once. Real femininity is powerful and a little scary.

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

No pencil skirts. But they look great on other people! Also, no big earrings. (My ears are already gigantic, no need to emphasize this.) You gotta work with what ya got!

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

I hate mixing too many patterns or being too bright but I appreciate it on others. It's just my personality.

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

Extend life (in the broader sense)! And try to enjoy it! Play and imagine. Create boundaries for life to flourish within them.

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

Because they're the exact fit for my body. Or I'm obsessed with some form or texture.

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? 

Skinny jeans that are so low, you have to shave the top of your pubic hair!?! Who in the world thought this was attractive? I find it degrading. Women should be women, not girls!!

And then so many flash-in-the-pan trends that function only as "planned obsolescence" and are not even flattering. Like those lace shorts that began to appear last summer, for example.

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

Yes totally! Hourglass+pear. Jewish hips. She's a true shopper and saver and I've inherited many of her old clothes.

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

Yes! All the time.

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

Gradually since my 20s and drastically in the last year. Something in my 30s made me more insouciant and adventurous.

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

I like to dress butch occasionally, when I feel like it. It's a way of saying to the male gaze, "go away." Sometimes, you don't want people admiring you.

16. Please describe your body.

Massive thighs! Tiny waist. Ancient feminine form but a horrible mis-fit for today's clothes, which are all minimally tailored (it's cheaper for all the big companies that way) and made for (imaginary) women shaped like young men. Finding a good pair of jeans was a saga.

17. Please describe your mind.

Used up! I'm a graduate student.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Up down self aware, horizontally creeping like a vine.

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

Cut off jeans, brown american apparel "boy beater" tank top, silver bracelet with inlay (from esty), handmade silver necklace that I bought from a cute traveling hippie in southern Mexico.

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

Self-representation is always important. We dream ourselves into being in this way.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?


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


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

Little waist + big butt/hips => put a belt on

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?

Yes, just generally planning an outfit can have this effect on me. Over-planning is sometimes the first sign that I'm freaked out by something.

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 grandma (who I got my figure from) were always telling me to "try it with a belt." They were right!

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

Wearing vintage high-waisted tailored skirts that actually fit instead of the unstructured crap they sell these days.

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?

Feeling embodied in a natural way.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

The double whammy of clothes that are both faddish and unflattering.

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?


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

Color, feel, vibe.

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

Who will I be today?

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

The level of flair and fanciness. And if I can/should bike in it.

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

Vintage fitted skirt and clean cotton top, tucked in.

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?

As a teenager, I wore a lot of subcultural signifiers but completely ignored my body. I was uncomfortable in my body.

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

clicky shoes.

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

Some social roles warrant a uniform and it can help to embody those roles when you put on the 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?

A beautiful knit dress from 70s that I inherited from my mother and wear with a belt.

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?

Yes, just because it would be fun to wear men's clothes and have them fit right. And to walk down dark alleys at night, etc.

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

Hey, I'm not bad looking!

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

So many...

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

Anything with a pencil skirt.

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'm pretty happy with my body and what I can (and do) wear.

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

Attract men with character; adventures. Repel douchebags.

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

Wear clothes the naturally flatter the female form and most of all, wear clothes that you like, and just rock it.

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

Be clean and not too smelly.

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

Not much.

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

simple and interesting

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?

Several garments. I keep them because they're amazing creations in their own right. And maybe I'll wear them one day?

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?

Well-made shoes. Totally worth the price. A simple black skirt that goes with everything. Good jeans. Some wonderful scarves. A few key pieces of jewelry that I think of as my power pieces: they make me feel protected and powerful.

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 lost a bracelet when I was around 11~12 that I wish I still had. If I hadn't lost it, I'm sure I'd have saved it and still be wearing it.

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

A comfortable simple dress (probably black) that can be worn in a variety of ways with different accessories.

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

Spend money on well-made classic items that will last. Don't buy those stupid cheap clothes that are only mildly exciting...but are on sale.

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

A good winter coat (Paul Smith) on sale at the old Century 21 at the World Trade Center (RIP). It lasted many years and fit great. The lining finally wore out but the shell really held up.

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

Fitted, tailored, reasonably high-waisted skirts (with pockets!) in the 1960s style but made of flexible & breathable material for an active urban lady like me.

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

I try.

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

When, during a visit to the Israel Museum, in the ancient history section, an ex-boyfriend called me over to look at a little fertility figurine and said, "look! It looks just like you!" He was right. She had serious hips.

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

1978. I live in the Bay Area.

What kind of work do you do?

Graduate student.

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

Single, no kids.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Like I want to go through my closet and try on clothes!

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