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Barbara Dyce

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

In the Fall when I can be more creative with clothing and can layer or accessorize depending on activity. I can also feel better about how I look by accentuating some things and hiding other, less flattering parts.

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

I notice most women on the street, but tend to check out further those women who I consider have a sense of style.

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

I prefer what I would describe as a European look - well-made clothes, flattering, but with a little flair

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 grew up in northern England and my first trip to London in the sixties,gave me a whole new perspective on clothing, eg. Biba

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

Clothes have to be finished properly - seams, etc. Clothes can't look cheap.

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

I usually wear plain colours - very rarely do I wear anything that is patterned - the most I allow is a vertical stripe or a tartan accessory and art t-shirts. I don't recommend this look to anyone as it's just a personal preference

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

I think I had that conversation in the 60's in England when my eyes were opened to fashion in London and I came home to talk to my friends about all the fabulous clothes I'd seen (late teens)

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

Yes and no. There are some things that have to be done regularly and are generally approached in the same way, eg. paying bills at the beginning of the month. There are other things that I approach in different ways to escape monotony, eg. going to work by a different route (although I'm newly retired); chores. I prefer to switch things so as not to be bored but I do have some routines.

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

black t-shirts; they have to be well made and not flimsy; getting harder to find good ones, so when I come across a well-made one, I buy more than 1 at a time. Black t-shirts look good with jeans, skirts, under a jacket, they are the most versatile tops and yet they are not "shouting".

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

No. I feel jewelry and clothing are very personal and I don't give either as presents.

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

I have refused to participate in wearing flimsy, cheap, throw-away clothing - which is most of the clothing in the chain stores; I don't wear revealing clothes, so I never participated in the bare midriff and the decollete look

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

I have my mother's body (my sister does not).
We grew up not having a lot of money and my mother used to make a lot of her own clothes. She always dressed well on special occasions - not showy, but wearing clothes that were flattering in their cut and type of material. Her accessories were nice touches that added some elegance to her outfit. I think I try for this look although, I like to be a little more daring and creative.

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

I've borrowed clothes in my younger years; I used to borrow a couple of items from my sister-in-law, especially shoes; I borrowed a pair of brown, velvet pants once, that I never returned to a friend of a friend.

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

Yes, I tried to dress as a small town conservative Canadian when I was first married; that wasn't me and as soon as I entered university as a mature student I went back to being me.

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

Yes, I don't buy cheap, throw-away, clothing. I try to buy clothes that are not made under unethical circumstances, although this is exceedingly difficult to maintain. I do research to a certain extent on where clothing is coming from and try to be aware of human and environmental factors related to the making of the clothes.

16. Please describe your body.

Short and somewhat pudgy around the middle; not badly proportioned, otherwise.

17. Please describe your mind.

Ordered when need be and undisciplined when I don't want to conform.

18. Please describe your emotions.

In check when they need to be but otherwise they have free reign

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

I am wearing my red tartan pyjama bottoms with a black stretch, sleeveless, slim shoulder strapped top and a black hoodie; I have a pair of reading glasses on - they are the kind you buy in a gift store so they are dark brown rims with turquoise legs/arms. My hair is slightly unkempt as I have not brushed or combed it yet, this morning.

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

I think clothing is a way of identifying oneself - making a statement about who you are and differentiating oneself from others. It's a way of trying to be individual when life tries to impose conformity.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Two of my girl friends and my sister. I do compliment clothing of others that I know.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Work is the place where I have most been affected by what I had to wear; I'm now retired so that is not an issue any more.

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 style - which to me implies knowing what looks good on certain body types and what complements. Taste is similar to style in that it's individual and subjective and could be interchangeable. Taste can be used more widely, whereas style tends to be related to clothing and a certain look.

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

A very expensive winter coat that I got very little wear out of and that I decided didn't look that good on me - I donated it after a couple of months.

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

I like to think that I hide my pudgy middle fairly well.

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

I don't have particular styles in furnishings but I like to think I have taste and can put things together well.

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 dressed a couple of times where I wanted to feel stylish, yet comfortable but not overly dressed up and formal.

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 know what I like in fashion and clothing and I carry that to other areas of my life; that would include my living area, the garden, the balcony, my car (which I have given up since retirement for environmental purposes). I get this from my mother and my father.

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 mother taught me about the importance of how clothing is finished - seams, bias-binding, placement of darts, etc. She dressed stylishly on important occasions even though her clothes were home-made. My father treated his clothes carefully and he took care in dressing. His clothes were always, ironed or pressed and brushed with a clothes brush. I think for both of them the fact that they were not rich didn't mean they had to look poor.

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

I tend not to go for a sexy look but I do like to feel attractive and so I wear makeup on occasion to accentuate my eyes and I wear clothing that I consider looks stylish and interesting and suggests a person of substance (not body, but mind) and someone to find out about.

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 comfortable usually means that you are feeling confident. Comfortable in one's skin, means being confident, to me.

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?

Nothing garish or cheap-looking; well-made, flattering, clothing, adding a little bit of flare and creativity with accessories

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

Animals are really beautiful.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Ostentaciousness and a lot of the housing developers throw up

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?

Yes, by now I have it mostly figured out.

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?

A person who dresses well, but not to stand out. A person who wants to be noticed for style but in a quiet, yet tasteful way.

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

Depending on weather, my clothes are chosen to mainly hide the parts that I'm not too fond of so I like to be somewhat creative with certain items. I like to think that I have style and an art to putting things together.

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

A look that is stylish and in keeping with present day trends yet not being slavish to fashion; a look that is individual as much as one can be currently.

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

Dressing up means getting ready for a special occasion - wedding, dance , date.

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

understated, with lots of black, with some shape to complement the figure

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

I am more in the background than out front but not totally invisible

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

I grew up in England and spent a couple of years in Madrid, then Brussels before coming to live in Canada. All of that background has influenced 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 first came to Canada and was newly married, I tried to dress like people in the community where I lived - a small conservative town. I was trying to fit in and it was a disaster. As soon as I attended university as a mature student, my life reverted back to being me.

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

When I worked and had to attend important events and meetings, I had clothing that was more tailored - suits, e.g. My hair and make-up generally stayed the same. My jewelry changed to more subdued for professional occasions

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

When I worked I would sometimes wear jeans, knowing that it was frowned upon.

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


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

In my younger years, growing up in England, I had a school uniform. I was very creative with it in that I used to roll over the waist of the skirt to make it a lot shorter (got in trouble at school for this) and I would tie my school tie around my waist as a belt, sometimes. I would wear different shoes to the uniform shoes - got in trouble for that, too.

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


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 do like tailored looks and shoes that are considered male-ish

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

I liked England (London look) in the 60's - Mary Quant, Biba, e.g.
Also like the 1920's look

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Depends - not really

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

I usually don't like photos of me

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

I admire lots of people - can't be specific

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

yes - but can't think of anything specific; vague memories of clothes being torn

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

Anything that was considered frothy

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?

Skirts/dresses all year round

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

I like to think that I would attract those with discerning taste

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

Some things are better left to the imagination

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

Having been in a workplace that banned it I got out of the habit of wearing it; I wear it sometimes for special occasions, although even that is becoming difficult

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

Disguise my pudgy middle; hide my knees in summer

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

makeup is for fun and I don't wear it much in the summer

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?

the plunging neckline isn't a look I like and I don't succumb to that look as I don't find it flattering or sexy. Again,some things are better left to the imagination

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

I now own some skirts - knee length; coloured opaque tights; funky shoes (lots); jeans; pants with straight legs that have a bit of lycra in them; a couple of good suits (jacket and skirt); a number of jackets of varying lengths and styles; a number of tops that are fairly fitting and different dark, plain, colours; some brightly coloured 3/4 sleeve cardis; lots of t-shirts - black, a couple of dark red, mid-green, pink and some art t-shirts; light coloured capris; bermuda shorts (but never to go in the street with); fall coats; winter coats; winter boots.
scarves; jewelry consists of: earrings (lots), bracelets ( a number); a few necklaces

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

I love a pair of silver earrings that I consider to be artsy; I have an item of clothing that is hard to describe - it is a long top that has a couple of layers and goes to the knee. I can wear a number of things underneath and wear opaque tights and either shoes or short boots and with the earrings it is a look I love.

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?

A pair of heeled shoes. They are not comfortable, but I love the look of them and can't bear to part with 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?

Anything that can be mixed and matched is useful

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?

A plum-coloured, long, straight, skirt made of a wool crepe and lined; very flattering, gorgeous colour; wouldn't fit now and wouldn't have much occasion to wear it now, either.

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

a black linen jacket with a nehru collar and Indian-style with slits up the sides and which sits just above the knee

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

I would buy only things that I love and feel good in and not try to waiver from that thinking by buying something to "spice" things up or something that doesn't fit in with my style

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

I bought a suede coat and a leather coat so that I would have 2 good coats - pricey but they lasted forever. I would not do that now.

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

a pair of beautiful shoes in my teens; shoes are very important, still.

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

A good, really well-made t-shirt; for a time in the 80's I had these, but never since, it's an ongoing thing; I come close but not quite, sometimes

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

Mainly tidy and neat.

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

A silver bracelet when I was younger. I lost it.

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?


77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

seasonally and when I need to replace certain items, mostly.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Yes, so use body lotions and creams; very rareley where actual perfume

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


80. How does money fit into all this?

more so, now that I am retired as I do not have as much disposable income, so my purchases are more considered

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

lipstick and sunglasses

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

Yes, someone commented on a bright colour I was wearing, which is not the norm and said that I should wear bright colours more often - I didn't agree with that statement

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?

I have always been conscious of what I was wearing from a very young age; I had an older sister and I hated hand-me-downs and preferred to wear clothes that my mother had made especially for me.
I was once forced to wear a pair of hand-me down shoes when I was about 9 years old and as my siblings have often reminded me over the years, I told my mother I was going to run all the way to where we were going so that no-one could see my shoes

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

September 15, 1951; born in north east England; living in Toronto, now

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

I grew up poor but not impoverished; my parents stressed education as a way out of economic hardship; I have followed that to the best of my ability

What kind of work do you do?

I am retired but I have mostly worked in post secondary education as teacher, counsellor, then senior administrator

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

divorced, no children; not currently in a relationship

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

I am interested in how people dress, but am not interested in fashion fads or celebrities;

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

exhausted, but have confirmed how and what I think about clothing and me and it's ok

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