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Meg Rosenfeld

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When dressed for cool weather, in nice jeans, a sweater over a turtleneck, boots or clogs with a bit of lift in the heel (not much), and with my hair at just the right length. A scarf and hoop earrings round out this decidedly un-fussy look.

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

Women near my own age who look well-put-together but practical, the look I strive toward.

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

Their scarves stay in place! mine don't. And, nowadays, they're generally closer to the current fashion than I.

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?

Yes. I was 40 and in very good physical shape, and had recently discovered Banana Republic--the old version, before it was eaten by GAP. I had learned how to put together a classy but casual look that showed off my good points (legs) and hid the not-so-good (tendency to have a pot-belly.) I also started working as the assistant and publicity-writer for the director of a regional ballet company, and so it was important that I look my best (in my own way). My boss generally approved of how I looked, and that was important to me, since there's a strong visual component to the performing arts.

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

My "shopping" method is to order clothing on-line from L. L. Bean! I hate stores. I get my tops, sweaters, jeans, even my jackets, from Bean. One rule is that if I find a top that really fits well, is comfortable, easy-care, and flattering, I buy it in additional colors. This isn't always easy: I'm a "spring," and not many manufacturers cater to my coloring.

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

Be comfortable, wear things you don't have to fuss and fidget with; carry an attractive but practical bag (shoulder-strap purse, or small backpack), and make sure you can walk and even, if necessary, run in the shoes you're wearing! I do a lot of walking, and ride public transportation, and abhor having stuff hanging out of bags or pockets, waiting to be stolen or lost.

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

Probably talks I had some 50 years ago (yeah, I'm old) with a dear friend who was a very eccentric dresser, simply because she was too tall to wear most things, but she had great style.

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

I'm very organized, a creature of habit. I like to feel that I'm ready for whatever may come along. If someone called me right now and asked me to meet them in a nice place, I'd need to put on much nicer jeans and top, and add earrings (I have double piercings) but that would take only five minutes. If an emergency arose and I had to run out of the house, I could reach into my closet and grab a jacket and my day-pack, and be ready to leave.

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

Jackets. I live where it's often cool and windy, but seldom really cold (or hot.) I like to fine-tune my jackets!

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

Just my husband!

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

low-cut, skin-tight jeans, because I'm elderly and have too much fat around the middle. I would look revolting. Also, high-heeled shoes. I can't wear them any more, and never did well in them even when young; I was always turning my ankle.

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

She was taller (VERY tall) and thinner, but had the same sort of taste in clothing. She looked great in pants, loved being out of doors, and never wore fussy stuff.

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

As a college student, living several hundred miles away from where I grew up, I had to copy my new friends' clothing styles in order to fit in (at least to a degree.)

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

I went from Mod to Hippie, but so did a whole lot of other people! 8-) Hippie really suited me, and that's still my basic look.

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

Yeah; you'd know I'm a progressive, I think. Right-wing women dress a lot fancier.

16. Please describe your body.

Well, I've lost some height, but used to be a bit taller than average. Broad shoulders, narrow hips, not much butt, good legs. I've put on weight in the belly and boobs, starting around age 50. Ugh. If jeans fit in the waist, they stick out in the hips. I've done a lot of hiking and dancing, so I'm still very flexible even though arthritis has cramped my style somewhat.

17. Please describe your mind.

I'm an introvert, intuitive, bookworm, gardener, musician, loner, love studying languages; I do a fair amount of writing; I'm very organized and love keeping my house, which is over 100 years old, neat and pretty in an old-fashioned way. Unlike most people of my type, I still attend the church I was brought up in, and have a strong faith. I think God wants us to enjoy life, take care of the earth and each other, and bring our best selves to God in the end.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I have a strong sense of justice, a good (very silly) sense of humor, and a nasty, quick temper and regrettably foul mouth. I'm a bit of a show-off. I love my husband, daughter, granddaughter, and a small group of friends, but really enjoy being alone. I very seldom cry; much more likely to hit something and swear. I often step into a fantasy world that involves exploring trails through the woods and mountains.

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

Very old navy blue Oregon Shakespeare Festival T-shirt, with the neck cut down, with an ornate dragon on the front and the words "Come not between the dragon and his wrath," from Act I of King Lear. L. L. Bean Comfort Waist jeans, stone-washed blue. Brown cotton socks and a very old pair of Ecco sandals, flat-soled, with Velcro closures. My hair, which is straight, still mostly brown, and medium-short, has been washed and blown dry, parted on the left, and tucked behind my ears, in which I'm wearing tiny post earrings in the form of turquoise flowers. I'm wearing my usual gold-framed glasses, no make-up; my plain wedding ring and diamond engagement ring with it, and a clunky old Casio wrist-watch.

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

I think that for women in particular, how we dress ourselves reflects how we think about ourselves and how we expect to interact with the world around us. This usually is something which develops over the course of one's lifetime, I believe.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

No-one really. what's to talk about?

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I avoid institutions which would require dressy clothes! living in California, I have the freedom to be casual, and am very thankful.

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

Yes, but only as regards myself and my house. I like specific colors and combinations of colors, to wear and to surround myself with. I can't think of a real difference between taste and style.

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

Hmm . . . no. I do remember lots of smaller wastes of money, when something didn't turn out to fit right or hang right or something like that. (that's the down-side of mail order, though you CAN return things, usually.)

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


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

Definitely: how I keep my house, the paint colors, the furniture, its arrangement, décor in general. it's an Edwardian row-house and while not all our furniture is of that era, I do like to get things which look either early 20th century or timeless. and my garden is definitely English style: lots and lots of blooming plants and some vegetables, all together in the same beds.

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 was younger, I would wear boots with a bit of heel in order to intimidate people (I hoped!)

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 definitely know what I like as regards most things, from books and music to houses and places. I would be embarrassed if I'd lived this long and didn't have strong likes!

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?

Just how to wash, iron, and mend my things. My mother wasn't much into clothes.

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

Take 'em all off! really.

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 like you belong in the world just as you are. It's a perk of being old.

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?

Wear what makes you feel good, makes you feel like YOU, and what you can move easily in.

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

The natural world; music; favorite passages from books and plays.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Rap; garbage; modern houses.

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?

No . . . just me.

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

"will this top be too thin for my black bra? should I go dig out the light-colored one?"

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

Decency, neatness, comfort, good colors, and how to coexist with today's weather.

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

dressing up involves nylons and a skirt, and I do it as seldom as possible!

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

Jeans and a T-shirt, what else?

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

Jeans and a T-shirt are me; a sweater is me; a longish skirt is as me as a skirt gets; a hat with a brim is me; a clan-tartan scarf is me; anything dressy or fussy is definitely not me.

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

My mother's family was Southern; I grew up in coastal northern California; my step-dad was from the North of England; my early childhood was a time of genteel poverty (i.e. you don't ask for ANYTHING); we were Episcopalians--I still am--and that denomination, at least in California, gives one a unique combination of eccentricity (think Monty Python) and cockiness.

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?


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


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

the last place I worked was a state university, where I was the world's oldest TA; I wore--wait for it!--jeans and a T-shirt.

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?

Hey, guess what: jeans and a t-shirt! Even as a toddler.

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?


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

The one I've always lived in: Post WW II California.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

No! no-one in my family is.

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

"Oh, s---!"

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

not that I can remember

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

Dressy "lady."

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?

A smaller size of jeans and T-shirt 8-)

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 comfortable, be yourself!

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

Yes. Generally I just wear actual cologne, from the city of Cologne: echt Kölnischwasser.

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

Wash; apply lotion, talcum, and cologne; put on clothes.

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

Not at all, any more. Occasionally, a light touch of lipstick.

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

Yes, but so can you, if you've been reading all this!

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

Probably my tartan scarf comes closest. My mother bought it for me 51 years ago in Victoria, BC. It was a noble deed on her part, because the tartan was my father's, and she'd divorced him years before.

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 coat that belonged to my mother. It doesn't fit me, but I can't seem to give it away.

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

Maybe my biggest, warmest jacket. It's very pretty, light-weight, water-repellent, goes with everything, and has an interior zippered pocket where I can put my bus-pass.

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


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

Waterproof, nice-looking leather walking shoes or low boots, that look good enough to wear while walking downtown in a foreign city (with black jeans) and are totally comfortable, enough so that I can wear them on a moderate hike. I actually have one pair--they're Eccos--in dark brown, but would love a pair in black, but I'm told they aren't going to be made any more. This makes me furious!

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

Absolutely neat and organized.

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

Many times, especially jewelry. this would be something that's not expensive but has meaning to me personally.

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?

Yes--a very plan black cashmere pullover sweater, V-necked, which has ended up being my warmth layer of choice to carry with me, in a stuff-sack, in my day-pack when I'm going out for the day, and to bring along when I'm traveling.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

On-line, as needed; not often.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Yes: fresh. that's why I wear 4711, echt Kölnischwasser.

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

I have few ambitions these days other than to take good care of my home, garden, and family, and to continue to learn and study. all of these things can be easily accomplished while wearing . . . . . guess what . . . . jeans and a T-shirt!

80. How does money fit into all this?

Hey, I'm cheap to maintain.

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

A jacket, but not always the same one.

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

a very snotty demi-friend once said "Is it true that you don't care what you look like?" since the honest answer would have been, "No; I'm actually glad that I look better than YOU without half trying!" I just made some flippant reply.

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 was about two and looking in the mirror on my mother's dressing table. I had on light-green overalls over a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a cardigan which I think was navy blue. My hair was pulled up over my forehead and fastened with a barrette in the shape of a dog. I thought it looked stupid.

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

February 13, 1946; born San Jose, California; now live in San Francisco

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

white, born poor, achieved middle-class mostly not by my own efforts; working hard and being responsible were major values.

What kind of work do you do?

I've worked as a high school teacher of English and drama, as the assistant to the director of a ballet company; as the bookkeeper of a small manufacturing firm; as an office manager; and, unpaid, as a stage manager. Currently describe myself as "retired."

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

Married, 44 years; one grown-up daughter who lives nearby, is married, and has a six-year-old daughter whom we see often--we are lucky!

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

Hmm. Well, I'm a woman who has passed the age of wanting to be attractive to men, and am now interested in feeling, as the saying goes, "good about myself." mostly, I do!

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

fine, thanks!


I've lived all my life in California. BA and MA in drama, UCSB, 1967 and 1968; MA in English, Sonoma State University, 1982. Lived almost 35 years in Santa Rosa and love it best of all places, but San Francisco is OK. I'll be buried in Santa Rosa. I'm a perpetual student, love books, love theater, would have liked to be a stage manager but had no "connections."

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