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Henriette Igles

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

After a walk

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

Yes. A clear sensibility, confidence, vision.

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

How they draw attention without being haughty

How they give me ideas

How they seem friendly yet self-contained

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?

When I finally let my curly hair be curly. I had recently divorced someone who wanted to be with someone with straight hair. I loved my curly hair and it felt great bouncing around on my head!

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

Put it back. You don't need it. Wear what you have.

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

Be comfortable. Feel confident. If it makes you feel like crap take it off.

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

A poet friend who is a seamstress talked about clothes in a way that made me see them as works of art. Another friend, an actor, talked about costumers, which had the same affect.

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

No. The only thing that unifies it all is how my brain is cranking and what my mood is.

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

Merrell's walking shoes... comfort! I can go anywhere, and walk all day in them. Same with Dankso clogs.

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

Yes, but it was a scarf. She loves it, but it's not a big commitment item.

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

Slut wear. Shabby chic--so insulting.

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

A strong sense that the clothes make the woman and that you can always present yourself well by being pulled together. Her body type (slim, tall) is very different than mine (short, dumpling like), so I always felt dumpy and wore baggy clothes to hide myself, and to rebel. I wasn't going to care about clothes like she did (because I wasn't as easy a clothes horse as she was). Ironically my daughter is a clothes horse and always looks beautiful and pulled together.

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


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

Divorce: I stopped dressing Latina fashionable and went for a laid back style like my former hippie youthful self. it felt great.

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

Yes. I never buy retail. I only shop at Goodwill stores and consignments shops (except for underwear and sometimes for shoes).

16. Please describe your body.

Short, short-waisted, sturdy. Kind of like a D cell battery or a tugboat.

17. Please describe your mind.

Keen, lithe, quick, sharp.

18. Please describe your emotions.

ATffectionate, demonstrative, intuitive.

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

Turtleneck tunic (royal blue), black pants. Cool kind of large earrings, short hair.

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

Not so much.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My sister and a poet friend. To my students in poetry workshops; clothes show up often as signifiers in my poems.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Media present a cookie cutter image of women. Clothing and beauty and health items are sold by multinational conglomerates at mega stores. It flattens out difference and is oppressive.

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

I don't have much style or taste in my appearance. But I have an amazing aesthetic sense for literature and visual art.

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

A pair of tall leather boots that felt like chamois and were the color of clarified butter. Beautiful, easily stained, ultimately useless and wasteful.

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

Anything goes with black pants. Have plenty of vibrant scarves and pashminas.

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

My writing and teaching

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?

When I wear clogs, I feel taller and more powerful.

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 wonderful at discernment in writing, in ethics, in personal relationships. None at all for fashion.

My discernment comes from paying keen attention to people and my surroundings and from meditating.

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?

Yes we were taught how to take care of our clothes and expected to keep them clean and neat.

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?

Not feeling on display

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

Simplicity, a coherent vision

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Harsh, busy, fractured

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?

If I have meetings, if I have interviews, if I have to speak to a large group of adults (as opposed to students)

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

compliment my features

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


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

Ecru shirt or sweater, black pants, textured scarf

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

Born Midwestern Irish and German. Married Latino... fusion to the max.

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 an actor and going on auditions I looked like an actor (in the 80s, early 90s)—big hair, big shoulders, pencil skirt, cleavage, high heels, big earrings.

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

my professionalism has nothing to do with clothes and make-up and hair

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

it's not a comparative thing for me

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


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?

Black kettle cloth square necked jumper, granite gray tunic length vest, nubby scarf

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 indeed (on the clothes, not on the body). In the past I've worn men's suits and loved it.

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

Bruegel's era in the Netherlands

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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


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

georgia o'keefe

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


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

gala wear

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?

jeans, white shirt

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


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

be yourself

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

I've been wearing patchouli oil since college, so that 45 years

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

Presentable is relative to a popular standard, which usually means looking under 40 years old. I'm 65 and look like it, but I feel presentable.

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


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

basic, mostly cotton, color in tops and scarves. hoop earrings, occasional long necklace, simple watch

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

My grandmother's pin very art deco with her initials, about 2-inch square gold. I wear it on the lapel of a blazer or coat

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

I have never bought an investment item. I don't invest in clothes. I invest in books and cultural events and fixing nice meals for family and friends.

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


78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

sandalwood soap

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


80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't have much, nor do I want much

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

raw silk chartreuse shawl

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

Somebody said I looked like Judy Davis in Impromptu and I felt very differently about myself after that... more assured.

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

April 2, 1949, St. Louis, Missouri. I now live in Asheville, North Carolina.

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

Midwestern, white/northern European, married into a Cuban family, the into a New England family, now divorced. I earn $40,000/year.

What kind of work do you do?

Teach college; poet

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

Single, 2 kids, 4 grandkids

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

Fascinating as cultural history

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

tired to think that so much thought and money goes into clothes, hair and make-up.

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