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Crystal Ockenfuss

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm completely done up - heels, dress, makeup

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

I like women who are bien sur la peau - people who are at ease and fully inhabit their look - whatever that is.

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

Women who can pull of lots of tattoos or unusual colored hair. Also anyone who can pull together an outfit around one stunning accessory

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 discovered vintage for myself and realized I am a dress girl!

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

don't really have any of these

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

Always match your underwear
wear the highest heels you can stand

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

When my now husband but then boyfriend told me my old Bundeswehr parka had to go

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


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

shoes - how many black high heels can anyone woman need?

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

all the time - love finding things at flea markets or thrift stores that i know will fit a friend's style perfectly

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

I do not do track suits - not even in velour
I do not go out wearing pjs

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

My mom is TINY. I don't think we've ever shared clothes except when she borrowed some of shirts in high school. She was pregnant and suddenly needed a medium.

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

Yes. My hairdresser is my inspiration. I always think of Jill when I try some style outside my comfort zone.

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

When my kids hit 7 and 8, I decided to start wearing heels. My husband is 6'3". I'm 5'4". It was a revelation to be face to face with him (more or less).

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

No really. But I feel very strongly everyone should be able to dress anyway they want. I've always admired the Bay Area's tolerance.

16. Please describe your body.

I am curvy. Not overweight but I have plushy tits and a substantial ass with a real waist in between.

17. Please describe your mind.

Sharp. Sarcastic. Hyper well educated.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Open. Passionate.

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

I am wearing Black Market/ White House Noir jeans in black (size 6). A black and gray floral surplice blouse from Lovestitch, size L. Victoria's secret demi bra and matching panties (also gray). Simple silver sandals.
My hair has been washed and blow dried but not really styles.

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

If I know I look my best, it makes me more confident. That can't be a bad thing. Also, I use my clothes to express myself. I like it when I hit the perfect combo of elegant and edgy.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My girlfriends

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I work for the local Opera so I have a lot of leeway in what I wear. We're all pretty creative.

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

Style. Even bad taste can sometime lead to great style.

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

Yes. My wedding dress. In retrospect, it would have been better to rent.

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

push up bras - need I say more?

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

My writing and my home

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?


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 do. It's come from lots of experimentation and experience.

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 parents are NOT my style idols.

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

loose bedhead hair
show some cleavage
soft flowing fabrics

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 often translates into 'sloppy'
confident is definitely an attitude - the kind of woman who finds she has toilet paper stuck to her shoe, just reaches down and gets rid of it. Confidence allows you to live your life with joy and ease.

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?


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

A person who knows what he or she wants

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?

Once I got the hang of a measuring tape and found a good tailor, I could pretty much guarantee that my finds would be worn.

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 see a woman in her forties who loves her body and isn't afraid to show it off.

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

I decide based on whether I'm working or not.

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

here in northern CA, I'm happy if my layers are attractive and functional

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

dressing up has way more bells and whistles - esp. in the makeup dept.
dressing should fit the weather and your activities

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

Jeans, Tees and earrings

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

Vintage is me. Logos are not me.

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

I'm german but I don't think it's played any role.

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 pretty grunge oriented in college and a preppy in high school.

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

I wear real foundation vs. BB cream. I try harder with my hair.

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

it's so creative I'd have to dress ultra conservative to rebel!

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?

not applicable

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

I wore one for years in school and came to appreciate it, if only because it allowed me to sleep longer.

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?

not really

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'd love to be a man.

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

turn of the century (1900) - I'd look great in a bustle

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

that it very rarely resembles me or my memories of the event

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

I really admire Iris Apfel. Love her look. Also the woman who developed Russo Olio

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

not that I can recall

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

jumpsuits. way too short for that

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?

body con dresses

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

I like it when men look at me

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

F---K rules!

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

Love it. Nag Champa body lotion made by a friend is my signature scent. Try never to run out of it.

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

matching underwear (thanks mom!)
Don't like my bra straps to show and I always make sure my panties don't show. Also, no stains on clothes or holes not meant to be there.

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

I'm not great at it but it is so much fun!

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?


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

way. too. much.

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

Love my Bally leather jacket (best $100 I ever spent on Ebay), also my black leather harley biker boots.

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 fantastic yellow satin heavily beaded fish tail gown. I WILL find the occasion!

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?

platform shoes changed my life

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?

gorgeous nude suede dress

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

I really can't answer that. Maybe that leather jacket I mentioned earlier

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

edit better

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

I spent $75 on black leather booties I wore into the ground. everyone thought it was too much at the time but they were perfect

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

wedding dress certainly changed my life! :

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

I'm always hunting for something

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

a catastrophe

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

grandma's brooch, dad's ring and my wedding rings.

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?

3x sweater at a thrift store that has turned out to be the perfect yoga coverup (I'm an 8 but somehow this works!)

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?


78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

nag champa - I prefer men's scents

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

yes. I want people to see a woman who has great style and a certain amount of bravado

80. How does money fit into all this?


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

never skip body lotion

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

A very elderly man once stopped me at Safeway and told me his late wife had the same vintage dress I was wearing. He asked me if he could touch it. I was very moved.

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?

first mini skirt I ever bought. In Europe. I felt so sophisticated

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

1967. Born in Buffalo, live in the San Francisco Bay area

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

white upper middle class

What kind of work do you do?

I work for the SF opera

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


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