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Hannah Tandeta

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm wearing something cute.

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

Women with grey hair who also look hip and stylish, not dowdy.

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

When they are cute but also age-appropriate. Not too much boobage.

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 had a guy roommate who noticed my really nice shoes. Why then? He was missing his wife. But really, neither he nor his wife wear really cute shoes, because of their disabilities.

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

No beige.
Avoid Macy's, who must not treat the workers right, because they're usually horrible, dumb, and rude.
Appreciate honest answers from sales-people, especially if they tell you something you try on is wrong for you. This kind of honesty is not easy to find.

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

No beige.
When the going gets tough, put on some cashmere.
If someone compliments a particular item you're wearing, it means the whole outfit is working.

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

No, really not.

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

1. Blue sweaters. A pretty color that isn't black, but goes with most everything. I need a heavy one, a light one, a pullover one, still don't have a cashmere one.
2. Bras that don't quite fit. I'm old and I'm cheap, so I go to Target, but really, they don't ever fit right.

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

A tiny pair of hoops for my older daughter. She wears them every day, so I know I was right (for once).

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

Shoulder pads in the 80s, I'm too petite, and didn't like to look like a football player.

Shredded clothes, not age appropriate.

Jeggings: gross.

Current trend of platform shoes, I did this in the 70s and really f'd up my ankles.

Shorts for anything but hot days at the beach. ugly.

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

My mother adopted me, so I don't have her bod. She was very sharp and stylish, I will never be up to her level. Mainly because I don't have her big budget, or time on my hands for the hair-dresser. But I do appreciate the need to look sharp when the occasion demands it.

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

I have them so deeply internalized that I can't remember them. I am sure that all my ideas come from somewhere.

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

In 1993 I started a new career as a lecturer. That was the beginning of dressing as though I was going to speak to a room full of people, and had to project intelligence, capability, trustworthiness, sophistication, and hipness. And stay age appropriate, not looking like someone trying too hard to look young.

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

Everything. I like looks that communicate independence and being in charge of myself. Meaning: I don't ever want to look corporate or like a secretary. (no insult intended to secretaries).

16. Please describe your body.

Used to be petite, now experiencing middle-age-spread. Can't complain about my weight, just that bulge in the middle.

17. Please describe your mind.

Sharp, but a little less than it used to be.

18. Please describe your emotions.

This question is too hard.

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

Hair is down loose, cut in a long bob, but in need of a trim.
Wearing loose khakis, with a dark blue tank top under an a-line blue-plaid smock.
and no shoes.

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

Because fashion is a language, and it is important to understand what I am communicating to others and what they are communicating to me. I teach art history, and frankly, it's all about the clothes. The iconography of dress...very important to visual culture.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My kids. They're cute and look great in everything. Also my friends.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Institutions don't, but the job I'm doing for them does. I want to appear as though I care enough about my students to make an effort.

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

Yes I have taste, perhaps better taste than style. I don't quite have enough money to really have style. My taste frequently leads me to the most expensive item on the rack. But then, it's beyond my budget. So I have to keep looking. Sometimes this means wearing old things.

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

A strapless bra that I didn't need for my daughter's wedding. The dress had cups sewn in already, I just forgot to notice. Then the bra was terribly uncomfortable, and I've never worn it since. It was overly padded, and I really didn't need the extra.

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

A cute jacket makes up for a boring outfit underneath.

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

Yes, the inside of my house looks pretty good. And I have good art on the walls.

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 the going gets tough, put on some cashmere. As I said earlier. Not just being cute, sometimes that sweater really helps.

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 seem to have poor discernment in men. Otherwise, I trust my instincts, though I'll admit to a lot of dithering before making decisions. Turns out a lot of dithering helps me make the right choice.

I know what I like in furniture, food, friends, art, music, literature.

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?

I can't remember actual lessons, I guess I just picked things up.

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

Cute panties, nicely fitted pants, minor (definitely not major) cleavage. Cute shoes.

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?

Comfortable is often an excuse for sloppy. This is fine if nobody's looking at you. If you go out in public, put the jammies away, and have some respect for the public sphere. This is your public face, and I think it should be worthy of respect.

Confident is usually an act, but all you have to do is practice!

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?

Everything has to fit. Clothes that are too tight or too short, or that have to be yanked up or fidgeted with are a distraction to the wearer and everybody can see that you're not at home in your clothes.

No beige.

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

Cashmere and love. Oh, wait, aren't they the same thing? OK, silk is nice too.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Prejudice, anger, sloppiness, apathy.

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?

Sometimes I make mistakes. Who doesn't?

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?

I find this question too hard.

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

The weather, the type of job I'm doing that day, what's clean, and what would be fun to wear.

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

A well-put-together look, appropriate for work, not corporate, age-appropriate but still really cute.

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

Dressing is putting enough clothes on to avoid arrest. Dressing up is getting yourself into a nice, attractive, appropriate look.

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

A suit with trousers, not a skirt. Really cute shoes, usually in a cute color. A feminine blouse. Casual but nicely cut hair.

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

Cute dress with leggings and nice shoes, that's me. Cahsmere, definitely me.

Beige is not me. Blouses with bows on the chest, not me. Very high heels not me (sadly). Very short skirts are not me, nor low cleavage or side-boob.

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

I'm a Jewish American Princess raised in the suburbs. I hope with all my heart this has not influenced the way 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?

Yes, I was hippie in the early 70s. Armpit hair, patched blue jeans, halter dresses made of Indian bedspreads, no bra. It was about an anti-establishment statement, as well as horrifying my parents. Women's liberation too, the hair and the no-bra or make-up thing.

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

Lipstick. Can't lecture without lipstick. Hair blown-straight. Slacks that fit nice.

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

I don't think anybody at my workplace cares in the least. But I want the students to know that I care enough about them to make an effort. I don't come to school looking casual, but try to project that I'm here to get the job done.

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

Yes, I sing in a choir with a dreadful out-dated costume. Makes me nauseous. A drapy black suit consisting of baggy baggy baggy trousers with a crotch down to my knees, a black shell (with a burgundy back, which sometime we wear to the front) and a repulsive black jacket with handkerchief hem.

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

I will begin a campaign to get rid of them on Tuesday. Wish me luck. Last night for our performance, at least, I had nice earrings and good make-up.

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

It annoys the hell out of me.

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?

I have a short black dress with 3/4 sleeves and a wide neckline that I wear with leggings. It's wonderful, hides my figure flaws, is comfortable, and still looks smart. Especially with chunky jewelry.

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 have frequently wished women's jackets were tailored more like men's with inside pockets and a buttonhole for a flower. Other than that, no.

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

You know, kimonos look beautiful on everyone.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

That I look terribly old! and why do I have that lame expression on my face?

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

Audrey Hepburn, my fashion idol. Also Kate Hepburn when she wore those gorgeous trousers.

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

Constantly. Either I know what I'm wearing, or there's a garment missing, like pants.

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

Dyed hair. I can't really afford the upkeep.

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?

Everything! Especially if it showed off my waist (which now I don't).

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

No one especially.

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

No beige. And keep your booty inside your clothes. Boobs too. It's not classy.

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

I do, but I'm very careful about it. Most commercial perfumes REEK.

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

Laundry. Bathing.

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

A little lipstick is good. For performances I do the full-face, but not normally. It's too hard on my problem skin, and takes too much time.

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?

I guess there are a lot of current trends that are aimed at women younger than me. I avoid them, because they're just not for me!

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

Simple shapes, not too girly, modern.

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

A goldenrod and black houndstooth cropped jacket. It's so totally cute, that people comment every time I wear it.

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?

I have my mother's black mink jacket. I have only worn it once. Fur is not politically correct, but it's my mother's, with her initials embroidered inside. And what if I have a power-failure and no heat?

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?

Hate to say it, but classics in black are the best buys. They last a long time, and go with everything. Sad to be so boring, but there it is.

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 had a black velvet dress which I dithered about for weeks before buying. It was really cute, but I stopped wearing it for performances, because I felt sharper in my black silk suit. Then the bad cat peed on it, and it had to be thrown away. Sad.

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

The black dress. Even if I had to throw out my leggings, I'd still look okay.

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

Start with bras that fit. Get things altered to fit.
Fit fit fit fit. If I weren't so poor, I'd do it, but instead, just make do with things that don't quite fit.

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

Nice black wool trousers. Yes, I will keep on wearing them until I can't anymore.

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

Red cashmere sweater. Adorable. Even if I am old.

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

A replacement for the world's most beautiful raincoat. I lost the most gorgeous raincoat in an airport. I've never been able to replace it: black with red wool lining, buttoned on one shoulder with an asymmetrical red collar. Fantastically cool.

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

Fairly tidy. I hate looking for things.

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

My (now-ex) husband gave me a chocolate color cashmere pullover. Best gift ever. Still have it, even though he's long gone.

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?

My daughter found a pair of grey pants on the sale rack, and I tried them on as a whim, and took them home. Magically, they fit perfectly, and I wear them constantly. My great fear is that they're going to wear out.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

When I have a job at a new school, I buy something new. Otherwise, I am on a tight budget.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Like arpege. Or roses. or carnations.

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

I am prepared to dress for success, but don't get that many interviews. I try to dress for the job I want, rather than the one I have: artistic, cool, hip, luxe.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't have nearly enough to match my taste level.

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

Black briefcase. Rectangular, sharp, elegant and utterly necessary.

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

A student told me I was the best-dressed person at the college. That was the nicest compliment ever.

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 chasing this boy I wanted to make ask me out. Black dotted swiss, dropped waist, with peter-pan collar and cuffs. ultra adorable.

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

Born 6/18/52, Oakland California, which is where I live now.

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

Jewish American Princess from the suburbs, now urban and marginally employed.

What kind of work do you do?

I teach art history.

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

Separated, two grown children.

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

I'm about to be a grandmother, but hope I don't look it.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Tired, and behind on my chores.


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