Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
After a reading or a class, when I did not sweat through everything and everything goes soft again. Whenever someone I love looks at me. Anywhere near my sister. Running under streetlights late at night. Anyplace I know food, songs, or ritual.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
I notice and admire anyone on the street who says or replies hello.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire my mother’s hands—it always looks like she’s had a pro manicure, but she does it all herself.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
I need to budget for new running shoes twice a year, because I run every day and have a plate in my ankle; if it's not well-cushioned things start to scrape. Otherwise outside of bands and politics I don't wear logos, and will tape or Sharpie over them. These days that last rule seems much less urgent, however it's morphed into habit.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
Just wearing a belt man, Stacey and Clinton are right! Also, dry shampoo. Also, cutting the necks out of band t-shirts even though I don’t always feel cool enough to do it. I always feel cool once I’ve done it.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
At eighteen, I was newly back in the world after a bad illness. I’d lost a lot of weight and was learning how to take up space again. At the same time, a friend was beginning to transition, so we taught each other how to walk in heels and sit mostly gracefully in skirts. It was sweet and real and still really helpful.
I talk with my sister a lot about shape and color, too. She’s the one who convinced me that I'm a redhead so I can wear pink, and no it won't make me look like a little girl.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
I buy and wear through a lot of gray tshirts, because one of my uncles always did and he died before we met so it makes me feel closer to him. Also, if I find a bra I like I buy a couple because barf, bra shopping.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
An ex had that glittery Spaceman 3 shirt for all the fucked-up children, it just sat in his closet and it smelled like his Camel Reds and oh my god I loved it. He loved it too but he never wore it. One year on my birthday he said I could have it if I promised to wash it very carefully, always, and I realized that was an impossible responsibility. So I said no. Everything I’ve adapted is for pretty sentimental reasons—I used to wear one of my best friend’s ties as a belt, and now I hook my belt over my left hip because I saw my dad wearing his that way in a picture.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
When I turned twenty-one, I started a writing program at a local jail and realized admin wasn’t going to trust me as much, right away at least, if I waltzed in with purple hair. So I dyed it back to red. I never dyed it again, however I do still wear rainbow necklaces sometimes.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
Black jeans with the cuffs rolled up, a gray t-shirt, a belt from Uniqlo, and shoes no socks. Five rings, five earrings. A blue-gray manicure, hair twisted up on top of my head. A little mascara. A little scruff on my chin.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
One of my prized possessions is the neon-green National Lawyers Guild hat I earned as a Legal Observer.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
my handwriting, my bookshelves
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?
There's always at least one navy or gray hoodie in my closet. When I fuzz it out I buy another.
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 feel sick if I'm wearing rent, food, or book money.
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, my mother taught me to clean and fold my clothes and polish my shoes.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
black dress, one piece of jewelry too many, loose hair and perfume
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?
I would talk about radical feminist nuns, or I'd just tell stories about different parts of my outfit.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
ocean, freckles, hands, monsters
34. What do you consider very 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?
Yes, my budget dictates it.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
I like fifteen minutes in bed before I actually have to get out of it - after that, the question is where I'll be working that day.
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
Comforting, if I like the team the work or the band.
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?
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
Yes, if someone I love is taking the picture. Otherwise sure, but I have to remind myself to look into the lens.
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?
The Muppets, Patti Smith, Gertrude Stein, Brandi Chastain, John Carlos
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
On long runs sometimes I daydream choreography, and if I focus I see the clothes people are wearing while they're dancing. Generally though, no clothes.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I do, I love it for mood or armor or lift.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
I wear it every day, there really is something to the mascara-and-lipstick thing even if you’re just going to the grocery store, and especially if you’re someone like me who spends days inside solo. Put on some pants, put on some lipstick, be a human. However I don’t wear a lot of makeup, and I don’t really spend more than 3-4 minutes putting it on. Lipstick, mascara, perfume, BB cream, and sometimes the Nars makeup stick in Orgasm, which I treated myself to last birthday and really love, though I feel like a goofball for loving a makeup stick. I probably spent more time writing this paragraph than I do applying makeup every day.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
Today, my rings: a claddagh, two eyes of Horus, a chain of hearts K. wore in junior high and gave me when I left town, and a river of grass from Knot & Splice in Chicago.
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 brown crocheted scarf my mother wore when she was pregnant with me - it accidentally got a big moth hole, which made me cry.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
The most expensive item I ever bought - by far! - was a wool trenchcoat my sister and I found shopping sale racks at Macy’s. We don’t live in the same city right now, and I did need a coat, so we went out together and she helped me find a good one; it was light not dark and that was a first for me. I wore it almost every winter day for years. My sister is the best.
On that same note, wool socks mittens hats and scarves from surplus stores in Chicago. Without them my February body was turning blue.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born a Scorpio in Omaha. I grew up in Seattle, lived in Chicago for a decade, and now I'm in Denver.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
In the very beginning my parents gave me a dime every week for taking out the trash and clearing the kitchen table. I could spend half on whatever I wanted and the other half went in a Cornhusker waterbottle bank for college.
What kind of work do you do?
I'm a writer.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
I live with a small gray cat named Hero.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Pretty good, thank you - I never thought very much about my style, but talking this much about it made me realize maybe I do have one!
Mairead Case (@maireadcase) is a writer in Denver. She wrote a book coming out from featherproof October 2015.